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My First Sprinter Trip

by Chris Guenzler

I had always been out of town when several pre opening trips were run but I knew I would have time once it opened. I was riding a Sierra Railroad Steam Trip the day after Winterail 2008 when the line finally opened on March 9th, 2008. Finding out that line was opened I decided to ride the line after work one afternoon that week. So one day after working all day at McFadden Intermediate I headed straight to the Santa Ana Train Station and made the train to head south to Oceanside and the Sprinter.

Surfliner 578

Surfliner 578 came into Santa Ana on time and I took a seat in Car 4. The train stopped in Irvine then Laguna Niguel then San Juan Capistrano where a large school group boarded. The now crowded train then headed towards Oceanside along the Pacific Ocean Shore.

Near San Onofre Creek a view looking south. We met Metrolink 808 at Los Pulgas before we arrived into Oceanside on time and on the platform closest to the station.

The First Sprinter Trip

I walked over to the Sprinter Station and purchased a Day Pass for four dollars. I walked down to the south end of the platform to take a few pictures.

Passengers were waiting for the Sprinter to arrive into Oceanside.

A Sprinter arrived into Oceanside. I then boarded the Sprinter for my first trip aboard it

The inside of the Sprinter.

We took off and I got to see what the operator sees after the Sprinter passed CP Ocean.

Joining me were Howard and Sherla from Escondido. The Sprinter running along the Amtrak route passed Escondido Jct where the BNSF local joins the line each night it runs to do freight business comes off the mainline. At CP Railroad the freight local enters the line the Sprinter uses during the day and early evenings. The train crossed Oceanside Blvd before turning east to the wye and the Coast Highway Station our first stop. This route was all new mileage for me except the north leg of the wye I once entered onto on a San Diegan Race Train advanced 574 that ducked into here to get out of the way of a northbound San Diegan. We reached running along Oceanside Blvd before we went under Interstate 5. That route took us to the Crouch Station our next stop.

I was surprised to see open land along this corridor. The train reached CP True where double track starts taking us to the El Camino Real Station. There was a cement plant on the north side as we made our way to the Rancho Del Oro Station. Since Oceanside we have been running along Loma Alta Creek. The train made its way to the College Boulevard Station. At CP School the double track ended as we passed by light industries and family homes. We then passed the last of the open land along this route. The Sprinter next stopped at the Melrose Drive Station. The line next passed between family homes as we reached CP Angel and more double track. Next was the Vista Transit Station before we ran to the yet unopened eastbound station of Escondido Ave {Vista} Station. At CP Avenue that double track ended and there were great views looking north down into Vista and the mountains. There were fills and cuts along Santa Fe Ave as we wound through the hills to the Buena Creek Station. The Sprinter next crossed Buena Creek before passing through the hills overlooking homes and light industries. We ran along Mission Road and at CP Missy we returned to double track. Our next stop was at the Palomar College Station with the school across Mission Road. The Sprinter ran to San Marcos Civic Center Station before we came to our next control point.

At CP Loop West the freight low line takes off going straight while our route curved off to the south to reach Cal State San Marcos. The tracks use a blocked fill and bridges to get up and over CA Highway 78 before it curved to an elevated station of Cal State San Marcos. The college is off to the southwest. Just east of there at CP Shelley the double track ended and we recrossed CA Highway 78 then dropped down to CP East Loop where we rejoined the freight line.

The train ran by CP East Loop. A few minutes later we ran along Mission Road passing back under Ca Highway 78 to the Nordohl Road Station. At CP Holdout we returned to double track before we passed the Sprinter Shops and a lumber yard that gets freight cars before we pulled into the Escondido Transit Station. I detrained for a quick picture.

The Sprinter was waiting in Escondido before I boarded for my return trip to Oceanside. My ticket was checked at the door before I found a seat on the opposite side of the train so I could enjoy the views from that side.

On the way back to Oceanside we passed the Sprinter Shop on the way back to Oceanside as I relaxed the whole way back. We pulled into the Oceanside Sprinter station right on time and I got off the train.

I walked away from the Sprinter but I was not done yet.

Two views of my Sprinter 4006.

That Sprinter has a green signal for its next trip back to Escondido while I waited for my Amtrak train to Solana Beach.

Surfliner 582

This train came in eight minutes late and I boarded for the short trip down to Solana Beach. I made several phone calls about this weekend's trips to ride the Sprinter before I relaxed the rest of the way there. I visited the Solana Beach Station before going across the bridge and down to the Track 2 to wait for Surfliner 589.

Surfliner 589

The train pulled into Solana Beach and I boarded Pacific Business Class for my trip back home to Santa Ana. Conductor Egan took my Business Class Ticket as the train rolled north towards Oceanside. Once we left there I decided to try for some sunset pictures through the always dirty and water spotted windows on these Surfliner trainsets.

Sunset along the West Coast of the United States.

Two pictures of Catalina Island on a beautiful evening. At CP Songs we sat and waited for both Metrolink 608 and Surfliner 784 costing us over twenty minutes. After quick stops at San Juan Capistrano and Irvine we slowed for the new "Shoo-fly" on Track 1 at Jeffrey Road where a new underpass is being built. The train arrived into Santa Ana ending yet another Amtrak adventure and first trip on the Sprinter.