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Train Riders Meetup Group Dome Car Trip 4/28/2008

by Chris Guenzler

During a train ride Tom Anderson and I took to Santa Barbara on Sunday April 27th, 2008 to celebrate the One Year Anniversary of my One Millionth Rail Mile I got an idea. Since the Great Dome would be used on Trains 763, 784 and 595 the next day and we had our Train Riders Meetup Group Meeting that evening why couldn't we all take Metrolink south to Oceanside and ride the Dome home. I called Steve who thought this was a good idea and put out an e-mail to our group inviting them along if they wanted to come. The Dome and Amfleet Cars were in Surfliner service because a set of Surfliner cars were being used on the Coachella Music Express Train on Thursday and Monday of that period. With the tracks closed because of bridge replacement at the San Luis Rey River that low level train set with the Great Dome sat in San Diego that whole weekend.

I worked an unusual day at McFadden with no power to the portables due to thieves and just some other weird things happening. I drove straight to the Santa Ana Train Station and took Surfliner 579 to Los Angeles. There I switched to Metrolink 705 for the trip back to Fullerton riding there with Ken Ruben. We had the Train Riders Meetup Group at the Slidebar Cafe with me having a Tri Tip Dinner. The meeting was beginning to break up. Other members of our group here tonight included: Pat Moran, Carol Walker, Jim Nowell and Cathy Stanfill.

The meeting beginning to break up.

Pat Moran and Carol Walker.

Chris Parker and Jim Nowell.

Steve Grande talks with Cathy Stanfill. We all said our goodbyes to those who were not going to ride the Great Dome and headed to the Fullerton Train Station across the parking lot. I got to the two north Metrolink ticket machines finding them both out of order. I then crossed the Pedestrian Bridge along with Larry Boerio to Track 2 and guess what I found there?

The South Metrolink Ticket Machine was also out of service. I called Metrolink on the station telephone to report that all of their ticketing machines were down and was told "Enjoy a free ride of us tonight!" I told the rest of our group the good news before I walked down to the west end of the south platform to wait for our Metrolink train to Oceanside. The eastbound signal at first was yellow before it switched to green before I spotted the train approaching.

Metrolink 608

The train came to a stop and I told Conductor Richard that all the ticketing machines in Fullerton were out of order. We all took seats with commuters on the upper level of the Cab Car.

Robin and AJ.

Steve and Larry.

Chris and Ken Ruben.

Tom Anderson and Jonathan Ortiz.

Jack Searight. The train took us all south stopping in Anaheim, Orange, Santa Ana, Tustin, Irvine, Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo, San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente {North Beach} before heading to Oceanside. As we neared Oceanside, I walked to the rear door to see the new bridge they had finished as we crossed the San Luis Rey River. The train pulled into the Oceanside station a few minutes early on a beautiful evening.

Metrolink 608 was now ready to head to the Stuart Mesa Yard for the night. Jonathan and I walked to the Sprinter Station for a few pictures before the last train for Escondido left.

Views from a walk around the Sprinter before it left Oceanside. We returned to the Oceanside Amtrak Station where everyone was buying their Amtrak tickets for their trip back to Fullerton. I already had an Oceanside to Santa Ana ticket.

A group picture under the old Pointless Arrow Amtrak Symbol on the Oceanside Station. Our northbound train had left San Diego late due to last minute switching moves but came into Oceanside only about five minutes late.

Surfliner 595

Surfliner 595 pulled into Oceanside and after the passengers unloaded, our group boarded the Great Dome, the last Dome Car on the Amtrak system and settled in to the far end for the ride north home.

Steve was enjoying the Great Dome.

Jack, Tom and Jonathon were all smiles.

Larry, Chris and Ken.

Jonathon and AJ.

The train headed out of Oceanside and on approach to the San Luis Rey River Bridge our engineer cut off his headlight. At Eastbrook we found a long BNSF freight waiting for us to pass with DPU's on the rear end of it. Our Assistant conductor turned off the Dome lights for better viewing. Near San Onofre we walked back to the cafe car through three Amfleet Cars. Larry remarked that this was his first time in a Dome Car and really likes the view and the ride quality of this unique car. I always enjoy any trip that I ever take in a Dome Car. The train passed Surfliner 592 at CP Serra and ran on to San Juan Capistrano. We left there and headed to Irvine or so we thought. Just north of CP Avery we came to a stop next to the BNSF 5462 South. Surfliner 592 came out of Sierra and had engine problems coming to a stop blocking the mainline. Our train would reverse directions and pull Surfliner 592 back into Sierra siding. Once our engineer had changed ends and we got a green signal, we headed back south towards the dead train. We slowed and stopped just south of the Capistrano Station after learning that Surfliner 592 managed to back into Serra and would wait for Surfliner 796 to hook up to it for the rest of the trip to San Diego. Once our engineer switched ends again, we took off heading back through Capistrano and by that BNSF auto train at CP Avery for the last time tonight. Our train now 45 minutes later ran onto Irvine before dropping me off in Santa Ana.

Surfliner 595 pulled into Santa Ana and I detrained wondering when I might get another chance to ride the Great Dome.

Our friendly Assistant Conductor.

The Great Dome.

Surfliner 595 left Santa Ana and with it the Great Dome.

Good night Amfleet Cars.

Surfliner 595 is now heading to Anaheim, Fullerton and Los Angeles before going into the Los Angeles coach yard for storage.

A few looking down the track into the station from the Santa Ana Blvd Crossing. I walked into the Santa Ana Station and showed Marti the picture of my Millionth Amtrak Mile in La Plata before I drove home a tired but very satisfied train rider.