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Just an another Surfliner Trip

by Chris Guenzler

The above picture was taken on Sunday January 16 after I rode the set the day before to and from Solana Beach. This was Surfliner 577 taken at Batavia Avenue in Orange on a very clear day with Orange County's largest mountain Saddleback standing guard over my home county. The second unit was Cascade 467 that could not get home to Seattle due to weather related problems north of Los Angeles. I posted this picture on and got an e-mail from someone who asked if I ever just went down to San Diego and took pictures of the San Diego Trolley while waiting between trains. The funny thing was I had just done that taking pictures around the San Diego Santa Fe Station so here is a brief story of the trip down and back plus what I took pictures of that day in San Diego.

I boarded Surfliner 574 on a beautiful January afternoon and sat down in a Superliner Coach on the train that day. Conductor Jeff took my ticket and I relaxed for the trip south. The CD player was used as I read some magazines I had along. All to quick we had arrived to Irvine and soon departed heading for San Juan Capistrano. The hillsides below the homes were all green for the excess amount of rainfall that we in California had received this year. All the creeks were still running which I always enjoy seeing. The car emptied out at San Juan as the train headed for the shoreline running along the Pacific Ocean. We made the turn at Capo Beach and offshore Santa Catalina Island could be seen. It was a gorgeous day for a train ride. The beach running is one of my favorite things about riding this line as you never know what you will see. Just south of the San Clemente Pier was the latest mud slide that was contained by building a new retaining wall. It was a great day for watching Surfers and others play on the beach. With all the rains San Mateo Creek was opened to the sea where a sand bar usual blocks the tidal flow.

We curved around the point and here is the crossing of San Onofre Creek, another stream that is normally blocked by a sand bar from reaching the ocean. The train then climbed up onto the bluff and raced at 90 MPH after passing the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant. Passing the lengthened San Onofre Siding the train next sped across Camp Pendleton, home of the largest USA Marine Base on the West Coast. There was a BNSF freight picking up at the Stuart Mesa yard where the Coaster has their shops and storage yards. We crossed a swollen Santa Margarita River before passing Westbrook and Eastbrook control points prior to crossing the San Luis Rey River with the view of Oceanside Harbor. The train pulled into Oceanside on the mainline meeting Surfliner 579 on the siding. The train then sped off and twelve minutes later we stopped in the trench at Solana Beach. We ran to Crosby meeting a Coaster train that passed on the siding. The Surfliner ran along the edge of the bluff above the shore of the Pacific through Del Mar. We turned inland ducking under the Coast Highway and across the Los Penesquito Wetlands. We sped on through the Sorrento Valley and started up the steep Miramar Grade. We had a slow order from the December 16th derailment of one car in a 36 car freight train bound for San Diego that tore up over 1.8 miles of track. Five cars then derailed and destroyed the switch at CP Cumbres. Broken concrete ties littered the right away as we slowly climbed Miramar Hill. Once passed Cumbres the train sped up and ran down Rose Canyon. Our Surfliner slowed for the curves below Elvira before Mission Bay came into view. We ran to our crossing of the San Diego River and passed through Old Town. Right before we pulled into San Diego we came to a stop to wait for Surfliner 583 to leave San Diego. Our Surfliner pulled into San Diego a few minutes early. Now let the photography begin.

San Diego

One major change for 2005 is that all Surfliners are to have the engines pulling to San Diego. This saves wyeing the trains in the morning during the Metrolink rush at Los Angeles Union Station.

I walked to the Broadway grade crossing and moments later an Orange Line Trolley for La Mesa.

Minutes later another Coaster train for Oceanside came from the Trolley Yard and into the station.

An Orange Line Trolley for the Convention Center.

Two Orange Line Trolleys pass along the BNSF line.

A Blue Line trolley passed the Santa Fe depot for the San Ysidro and the border crossing into Mexico.

Another Blue Line trolley this on heading to Mission San Diego.

An Orange Line Trolley at America Plaza.

The beautiful mission style Santa Fe Depot. I then went to the Coke Machine inside the station before waiting to board my train home to Santa Ana.

Surfliner 785

Conductor Rodney took my ticket as the train left San Diego. We returned north meeting a late running 578 at Sorrento Valley. We picked up more passengers at Solana Beach and Oceanside before running north across Camp Pendleton. We slowed on the double track near CP Songs to let Metrolink 604 fly by. Now for a series of sunset pictures.


On the move again I enjoyed a fantastic sunset along the Pacific shoreline as we passed through San Clemente.

We made our way towards San Juan Capistrano crossing San Juan Creek with a great looking sky. Running into twilight we stopped at San Juan passed 582 at Avery and ran to Irvine. We passed two more Metrolink trains as we made our way to Santa Ana detraining after another 184.6 rail miles. I drove home for a relaxing evening.