Amtrak Surfliners (San Diegans)
The Ticket to 2000 and Beyond
The New Amtrak Surfliners (San Diegans) Passenger Equipment
To Be Delivered Early In The Year 2000!
Amtrak announced a $100 million investment to purchase new passenger trains for the San Diegan corridor. To kick-off this announcement, a special Amtrak train did a whistle-stop tour from Los Angeles to San Diego between 11 AM and 3 PM today, Wednesday, February 18, 1998. The consist had a locomotive at each end. A newly remodeled Amfleet Concept 2000 Custom Class Car followed the lead locomotive. After that was one of the 3 dome cars that are being refurbished to be put into service on the Central Coast San Diegan. A regular coach car followed the dome car. Information and artistic renderings of the new San Diegan equipment was on display in the dome car.
Those of you who are familiar with my travelogues know that I usually write them while the trip is in progress and I write each event as it happens in real time. I am writing about most of what happened today after the fact. However, I thought it would be humorous to still post what I wrote this morning before I knew how the day would turn out. The times listed below are only approximate, but I do know that everything started pretty close to lunch time!
I have heard a rumor from three different sources that there is supposed to be a special train on a Whistle Stop Tour going down the Amtrak San Diegan Route today, Wednesday, February 18, 1998. The latest rumor is that it will be regular Amtrak San Diegan Equipment, but will have displays on board of the new Amtrak San Diegan equipment.
I have also heard a rumor that some Amtrak officials may be on hand, such as Gill Mallory, the President of Amtrak West.
I don't know the validity of any of these rumors, other than I think there is a very excellent chance that something special will be stopping at many stations along the San Diegan line today. So, if you have some time on your hands, come stop by the Fullerton Santa Fe Depot or any of the stops along the San Diegan route and take your chances!
TrainWeb is located right here in the Fullerton Santa Fe Depot. We have a couple of video cameras and a still camera handy. If anything interesting shows up, we will post the story and the photos to this page within minutes of the departure of the train.
(Note: TrainWeb moved to La Plata, Missouri, in 2006. Click Here for information on our new facility in Missouri. For information about our involvement in La Plata, Missouri, with the Depot Inn & Suites, our new live RailCams, and the future Silver Rails Resort, click here.)
We got a call from one of our sources within Amtrak that a special train will definitely run from Los Angeles to San Diego today. It is believed to have information and drawings of the new Amtrak San Diegan equipment on display. However, the time that the train will pass through Fullerton is still not known.
Ray and I usually dress casual in the office unless we are expecting special guests. We dressed casual today as usual. Thinking that there may be some media and cameras in Fullerton when this train arrives, we at least put on our white T-shirts and caps with the "trainweb.com" logo.
We heard over the scanner that the dispatcher is holding movement of a freight train to make way for the Amtrak Special! I started watching out the window for any activity. I heard the arrival of an approaching Amtrak locomotive before I saw anything. But, in moments I saw an Amtrak locomotive start to pull into the station followed by a Concept 2000 Custom Class Car and a rare Amtrak Dome Car!
I ran down the stairs with my webcam. Ray followed right behind with the still camera. I started taking video of the train, especially the Dome Car. I saw some of the people from the Fullerton Railway Plaza Association on the platform and said hello to them.
Dawn Soper, who Ray and I had met before in relation to some other Amtrak projects, was on the train. She greeted us on the platform and invited us onboard! Naturally, we accepted immediately! Jack Wilson, Product Line Manager of the Amtrak San Diegans, also spotted us and, not knowing that Dawn Soper had already invited us along, invited us again! Naturally, we accepted again!
I was very excited about this opportunity and totally forgot about our office. Fortunately, Ray remembered the office was still open. He ran back to grab a cell phone battery, his jacket, and locked up. Ray heard the call to "Board!" and almost fell down the stairs trying to get to the train before it left! Fortunately, we both had plenty of time to get on board. On this special "whistle-stop" run, "Board!" often means it is time to start thinking about getting back on the train. Don't depend on such a liesurely pace on a regular run!
In the first photo above you can see the Dome Car after it arrived into the Fullerton Santa Fe Depot. The middle photo shows the Amtrak San Diegan Service - The Ticket to 2000 and Beyond banner with the Mayor of Fullerton, Don Bankhead, standing behind the center of the banner and Amtrak West President Gil Mallery standing behind the left side of the banner. The third photo is a close-up of the banner.
Click on any photo below for a larger image.
Ray and I went up into the Dome Car. The above photos were taken from inside the Dome Car. The photo on the right is of the Fullerton Santa Fe Depot platform. This is one of the Dome Cars that is going to be placed into service on the Amtrak Central Coast San Diegan in April or May of this year. The dome will provide a beautiful view of the coast. The Amtrak San Diegans travel right along the shore for part of the distance between San Diego and Oceanside and then again for almost another hour between Ventura and Santa Barbara. However, the trains on which these dome cars will be used, the Amtrak Central Coast San Diegans have almost an additional two hours of running along the coast between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo!
This is just one of three Dome Cars being restored by Amtrak West. Two of them will be placed into service on the Amtrak Central Coast San Diegan and the third will be held in reserve. These Dome Cars will be used as the Cafe Cars on those trains. Most of the seating is at tables. This seating arrangement will be preserved and make it an ideal place to enjoy beverages, snacks or light meals while watching the coastal scenery.
Amtrak provided food and beverages for everyone on this trip including a sandwich box lunch. Above you can see some of the food that was spread out downstairs in the Dome Car.
In the left two photos above, Amtrak West President Gil Mallery awards the Mayor of Anaheim (a) The Ticket to 2000 and Beyond. The right photo above shows the interior of the remodeled Concept 2000 Custom Class Car where Pacific Class Service is provided. Major changes to this Amfleet car include a new color scheme and the replacement of the Amfleet seats with Superliner roomy reclining coach seats!
The left photo is of the special Amtrak train at the Irvine station. The next photo shows from left to right, Jack Wilson, Product Line Manager of the San Diegans, Johnny M. Johnson, Amtrak West Director of Engineering, Gil Mallery, Amtrak West President and Ray Burns, Marketing Director of TrainWeb. Also seen in the background is Kenneth E. Bosanko, Deputy Secretary for Rail and Transit for the State of California. The right hand photo shows Ray Burns talking with the Mayor of Fullerton (a) in the Dome Car.
A view from the Dome Car of the surf near San Clemente.
At one end of the Dome Car was a keyboard instrument. I wasn't sure if it was a piano or an organ, nor did I think to ask if it would also remain after the cars were refurbished.
The left photo above shows the San Diego Red Trolly as seen out the windows of the Dome Car! The center photo shows the Dome Car in the San Diego depot. The photo on the right is Amtrak West President Gil Mallery giving his presentation in San Diego about the new San Diegan Equipment and plans for the future.
If you would like more information about the Concept 2000 Custom Class Car, then click here. When those cars debuted over a month ago I reviewed them and posted photographs. I think they are a tremendous improvement over prior Amfleet interiors and you can view those photographs and read that review by clicking here.Here is the information about the new equipment from Amtrak West's own news release:
Eight new bi-level train sets are being purchased by Amtrak for operation in the busy, state-supported San Diegan Corridor, representing $100 million investment -- the single largest investment Amtrak has made in California in the company's history. Each five-car train will include 425 passenger seats and exceed Buy America requirements and meet the standards set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Each train will consist of one Custom Class Car, one Coach/Cafe Car, two Coach Cars, and one Coach/Baggage/Cab Car.
Each car will offer wide comfortable reclining seats; large panoramic windows; electrical outlets for laptop computers; ample overhead storage for carry-on luggage; digital information display; and seating and accessible rest rooms on the lower level for mobility-impaired passengers. In addition, every car wil be equipped with electric sliding doors controlled from a single location and only 10 inches above the station platform, allowing passengers to step on and off the train with ease rather than wait for a conductor to lower and raise train steps, as is presently required.
The trains will be manufactured by the New York based GEC Alsthom Transportation Inc. (GATI). The first train is expected to begin operation in the San Diegan Corridor in early 2000.
Coach Cars (2 per train) - Each Coach Car provides seating for 90 (18 lower level, 72 upper level).
Custom Class Car - Amtrak offers Custom Class service with reserved seating for up to 77 (17 lower, 60 upper). Seats are roomier than coach class seats and are equipped with personal in-seat audio and video systems. Custom Class passengers will also enjoy special areas on both upper and lower levels, providing complimentary beverage service.
Coach/Cafe - The lower level of the Coach/Cafe Car offers walk-up counter service and at-table seating for 12 persons, as well as seating and rest rooms for mobility impaired passengers. The upper level provides coach seating for 72, and each Coach/Cafe Car is also equipped with public cellular Railfone®.
Coach/Baggage/Cab Car - Each Coach/Baggage/Cab Car provides seating for 84 (12 lower level, 72 upper level) and, on the upper level, an enclosed control booth for locomotive engineer, enabling essential push-pull train operation(1).
F59PHI Locomotives - Each train set will be pulled/pushed by a new F59PHI locomotive manufactured by General Motors Electro-Motive Division. These new locomotives feature computer-controlled fuel injection systems for maximum efficiency; specially designed cabs to protect crew members from noise and vibration; emissions well below California's most stringent standards; and a unique aerodynamic style for low drag. Amtrak will begin accepting the new locomotives later this year.
(1) Amtrak's San Diegan service is capable of operating in either push or pull mode, powered by a locomotive at one end. The cab car allows the engineer to operate the locomotive from a control booth with full view of the tracks while the locomotive is pushing the train. The push-pull capability prevents the need to turn the locomotive or train around at end terminals, allowing for expedited shifts of operating direction.
Click here to see additional still photographs that were taken of this event. These photographs include a color copy of the photograph that was printed on the cover of the National Association of Rail Passengers (NARP) March 1998 Newsletter and in the April 1998 issue of the Amtrak San Diegan News.
Only a few of the 90 images that I captured from the videotape are displayed in the above material. If you would like to view the complete set of 90 images captured from the videotape, then select one of the photo "proof" sets below. The 64x48 Thumbnail Images page will load pretty quickly while the 160x120 Quarter Page Images will take some time to load. From either, you can click on any image on the page to load a full-size 640x480 photo.