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National Train Day 2009

A Trip to Los Angeles Union Station for National Train Day

It was that time of year was time for National Train Day. I got to experience a little of it last year while taking the Coast Starlight up to Portland. Chris Guenzler and I left LA Union Station on the morning of National Train Day but the Starlight left before most of the festivities started. This year I had no long distance travel plans so I'd get to see what this whole National Train Day was all about.

The Ride to LAUS

I arrived at the Fullerton Depot at about 7:45am and found a parking space right out front. I went to the ticket counter and purchased a roundtrip ticket on the Pacific Surfliner before making my way to the Santa Fe Cafe for some breakfast. After collecting my breakfast burrito, I met up with Carol from our rail travel meetup group. Soon our 8:15am northbound Surfliner arrived. While walking to the train we saw Carl from our group board another car with a friend of his. We boarding the first car and met up with Chris Guenzler onboard.

The trip north was pretty uneventful. We did happen to see lots of BNSF units sort of mothballed in one of the yards. Apparently the slow economy is also having an affect on the rail shipping industry. At the flyover south of LAUS we noticed that old Santa Fe 3751 was not in the yard which we hoped meant that it was at National Train Day. We arrived on time and made our way to the platform.

National Train Day

This was a big shindig. The place was already filling up with people waiting for the festivities to begin. There were two musical acts scheduled to perform as well as rail cars to walk through, information booths, and even the new Disney train promoting their upcoming movie "A Christmas Carol" with actor Jim Carey.

We ran into Steve Grande from Trainweb at the booth for the Silver Rails Resort. At the booth they were also promoting the Depot Inn and Suites as well as La Plata Missouri and the local attractions including the West Winery and their new "Loco Vino" wines. There were also booths for NARP, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, the Filmore & Western Railway plus many others.

After checking out all the booths, Carl and I headed over to check out the trains. First we walked through the private coaches. We started with the Patron Tequila Express. This coach has exquisite wood work inside and a rather plush interior. This is definately one wild way to travel. It's kinda like Hearst Castle on wheels! We then moved on to the Overland Express, a former Southern Pacific club lounge car. The first think I noticed was all the headroom. For someone over 6 foot this is important. Next was the Scottish Thistle. This is another fantastic private coach that is used for special outings.

The Disney train made it's first appearance. Only one car was open for this showing but it will be back at LAUS on Memorial Day weekend with all the cars open for the public. There will also be theatre showing a trailer for "A Christmas Carol" coming out later in the year. What a great way for publicity. The car we walked through had lots of HP flat panel monitors morphing through scenes from the movie. The lighting inside was rather dramatic as well.

Last we walked through some of the Amtrak cars. We entered through a Surfliner Business Class car. We went upstairs and walked through a Superliner Sightseer Lounge car and onto a Superliner Diner. We actually got to go downstairs into the kitchen. I was surprised by the room in there. Next was the Pacific Parlour Car Napa Valley. I hadn't been on this one yet so there's something new. The last car was a Superliner Sleeper.

That was the day. It was fun and informative. Can't wait for next year.