Amtrak Capitol Corridor (California) Thread

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Amtrak Capitol Corridor (California) Thread

Post by updrumcorpsguy » Sat Jul 09, 2005 11:56 am

I'm down in San Francisco on a business trip, having come down from Sacramento yesterday afternoon.

The Sacramento Station seems to be showing signs of someone caring about it - there's a nice new sign out front, and they built a handsome new counter for somebody by the doors out to the train, but the station is still sadly run down, and the area "out back" (between the station and platforms) is as jumbled as ever. Since I'm from Seattle, I have no place to talk (although King Street is coming along nicely) but I do wish this station's fate could be resolved and the building restored.

The corridor train was clean, the crew was pleasent, and the equipment well-maintained. We were held at Richmond for about 30 minutes due to police action on the tracks ahead (some sort of car wreck, apparently), but the conductors were great about keeping us informed on what was going on, and reminding people that the BART station was right next door and easily accessible if time was a consideration for them.

I've noticed over the times I've taken this train that the lounge car does not see the heavy level of patronage that the Cascades do, but this route isn't as long, and it wasn't as packed as a Cascades train usually is.

Probably the most noteworthy thing (other than the amazing scenery - this has to be one of the most scenic urban railroutes in the country) is how smooth the ride is. Whatever Amtrak California and UP are doing, it works.

After getting to Emeryville, I boarded the bus that headed into the city. It stuck me, as it always does, that not only would driving in the area make me crazy, but the private car is such an inefficiency in an urban area: Here we were, five lanes of traffic backed up and moving slowly, most of the cars with only one person in them - the amount of space wasted was truly amazing. It struck me that if you suddenly took all the cars away and just had the people walking instead, there really wouldn't even be that huge of a crowd, and there'd be plenty of space to roam. A new bay bridge is going up alongside the old one, but you have to wonder how long it will be before that to is in the same situation.

It would be great to see the lower level of the original Bay Bridge returned to rail service, but I realize that that will never happen.

I have some stuff to do here and willl be returning tomorrow afternoon via Caltrain and Alaska Airlines at San Jose (the Mineta airport) so the "Amtrak" part of my trip is over, but I thought I'd bring you this report from my little capitol corridor adventure.


Post by transitteen » Sun Jul 10, 2005 2:07 am

Welcome to my world! Traffic, traffic, and more traffic... I am still always in to transportation, first as a marketing intern for the Capitol Corridor and now working at the local transit agency (AC Transit) in service development. UP and the Capitol Corridor have a special incentive agreement. The higher the on-time performance, the more UP gets in return. The tracks haave been recently upgraded, a 2nd track has been added over the Yolo Causeway (between Sacramento and Davis), the new Oakland Coliseum Stop was opened last month adding another connection to BART as well as to the local stadiums for Oakland Raiders (football), Oakland Athletics (baseball), Oakland Warriors (NBA Basketball), and other concerts and events. Also, the tracks are being upgraded by UP between Oakland Jack London (OKJ) and San Jose. Additional trains should be in place on that segment upon completion of the project early next year. Travel times on that segment will also be greatly improved by some new double trackage. Ridership has been on a steady increase the past few years and on-time performance is 80-90+%. It's quite a contrast to UP and other Amtrak lines. If only other areas could have train service like this... then Amtrak wouldn't have many problems at all. I still wouldn't go without the CZ and Coast Starlight either around here though. I'm glad you had a nice trip. Now that darn Bay Bridge replacement... that's a whole other mess in itself!

Amtrak California:
Capitol Corridor:

- Chris


Post by transitteen » Sun Jul 10, 2005 2:13 am

An Aside: I do believe that Amtrak California has three of the top lines in the US. Surfliners are 2nd, Capitols are 3rd, and San Joaquins are 5th. The California Department of Transportation manages the Surfliners and the San Joaquins, and the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (with staff employed or contracted by BART) manages the Capitol Corridor. The independent and more localized operation (including more region specific improvements and marketing - and soon to be call center) allow for a more effective relationship with UP making service more reliable in this case.


Capitol Corridor Service suspended - 1/1/06

Post by transitteen » Sun Jan 01, 2006 11:29 pm

First I-80 was closed and train service severly delayed through Fairfield yesterday... now this from today...
From Capitol Corridor


Due to heavy storms and washout between Suisun and Martinez, Capitol Corridor train service has been halted. As of 5:30pm today, there will be no service for at least the next 12 hours. Please call 1-877-9-RIDECC or visit this site for updates. Thank you for your patience.
These storms sure are taking their toll on the Bay Area and the West Coast... both on the roadways and the rails. So much for taking the train back to Davis.

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I was stuck in it last night...

Post by tp49 » Mon Jan 02, 2006 3:09 pm

Coming back to SAC from the Oakland Airport we stopped at Martinez and were told that the tracks in the Fairfield marsh were washed out. 734 was stuck in MTZ for at least 2.5 hours by the time we got there. They had to bustitute all of the passengers from 2 trains from MTZ to Suisun to continue north as 738 on what was 741's set. Train was SRO all the way to SAC. The crew on 738 did a great job of informing us as to what was going on and even came through the cars to answer any questions the passengers had. Kudos to the crew for doing the best they could in a bad situation.

On the other hand since 11/14 and also 5/6 use the same tracks I wonder what they are doing for those trains as I am sure the tracks are still under water.

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cab rides on the Capitol Corridor and San Jouquins

Post by njt/mnrrbuff » Sat Jul 15, 2006 6:42 pm

The end of next month, I will be in SFO. I plan to ride the Capital Corridor and the San Jouquins. Do I stand a good chance of being allowed to photograph from the cab of any of the california cars? I have seen plenty of pictures of that.

Noel Weaver
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Post by Noel Weaver » Sat Jul 15, 2006 9:54 pm

In this day and age and with security and other situations, you should NOT
be asking for cab rides. I don't think you realize it but an engineer or
conductor is jeopardizing their job if they allow you to ride where you DO
NOT BELONG. If you happen to get hurt there, all hell will break loose and
if an company official or a government inspector happens by, chances are
that both the engineer and conductor will lose their job or at the very least
they will be off for some time without pay.
Get on the train, have a seat and enjoy your trip, don't put the crew at
risk to satisfy yourself.
Noel Weaver

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Post by njt/mnrrbuff » Sat Jul 15, 2006 10:08 pm

Always true. Never try that on NJT or MNRR territory(shoreliners and M7s). Getting to AmCal, I remember when I rode the Pac Surfliners, they blocked the cab window of my train.

Robert Paniagua
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Post by Robert Paniagua » Sat Jul 15, 2006 10:18 pm

Yeah, just stand in the passenger conpartment and see out front that way. Cab rides are OUT, like Noel says. It's not safe.
~Robert Paniagua
Moderator: WMATA :: General Railroad Operations

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Post by wigwagfan » Sun Jul 16, 2006 12:44 pm

There are plenty of opportunities (read: tourist railroads, museums) in all of California that will let you in the cab - and in at least two or three cases, even rent you a locomotive for a supervised hour at the controls of a number of diesel engines.

Another alternative is that some LRV systems' cars will allow passengers to look out the front window. Can't say for sure down in California; in Oregon it is typically not possible of MAX but on Portland Streetcar the operators are known for even leaving the cab door open (and when it is not, they usually leave the curtains open).

But on the "real thing", I would strongly advise against even asking. You might get a friendly engineer/conductor who will politely decline your request; or you might get a not-so-friendly who could do worse.
Erik Halstead - Portland, Oregon


Post by hsr_fan » Sun Jul 16, 2006 2:39 pm

Nothing beats riding in the first car of a German ICE-3 at 186 mph with a view through the front window! :-D

Gilbert B Norman
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Post by Gilbert B Norman » Sun Jul 16, 2006 3:26 pm

Several commuter agencies with push-pull equipment have restricted the use of the head car to passengers.

Florida's Tri-Rail places a barricade on the head car immediately ahead of the stairs to the upper level; I'd wager that LAMTA Metrolink does same (both agencies operate same styled equipment). When not needed such as during mid day runs, METRA closes the head car to passengers.
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Sun Jul 16, 2006 5:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.


Post by sixty-six » Sun Jul 16, 2006 4:39 pm

sometimes on NJT you can sit in the front-most seat of the cab-car and see right into the cab, as the engineer leaves the vestibule and cab doors open. Happened to me on some Bay Head-Long Branch trains and a few LB-NYP trains.

Robert Paniagua
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Post by Robert Paniagua » Sun Jul 16, 2006 5:44 pm

Also, MBCR (Boston MBTA) has the cab car open during the AM Rush thus enabling the rider to see thru the front on some trains.
~Robert Paniagua
Moderator: WMATA :: General Railroad Operations

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Post by AgentSkelly » Sun Jul 16, 2006 6:34 pm

I think this is standard on all configurations of Bombardier's BiLevel cars, but in the cab car when in push mode at the front on the left side, there's a seat that two passengers can sit in that that looks right out the front, is great.

I know GO Transit in Toronto has this on its BiLevel cars, but I would assume that CalTrain in SFO would have this too, since they operate Bombardier BiLevel cars too.

A GO Transit employee explained to me passengers can ride there because the cab door can close to one side to provide safety to the operator.

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