Discussion related to commuter rail and transit operators in California past and present including Los Angeles Metrolink and Metro Subway and Light Rail, San Diego Coaster, Sprinter and MTS Trolley, Altamont Commuter Express (Stockton), Caltrain and MUNI (San Francisco), Sacramento RTD Light Rail, and others...

Moderator: lensovet

  by Alphaboi
 
HSR seems unlikely to happen anytime soon. The Coast Starlight is about a 12 hour trip from Oakland to LA, but that's during the daytime. That's a good length for an overnight trip and there already are night busses running from LA to San Francisco. A night train from Oakland to LA would be cheaper than HSR and wouldn't need electrification. It might worth out a little faster with fewer intermediate stops.. Caltrans could run Viaggio Comforts cars with diesel-electric engines. Siemens could easily produce sleeper and couchette versions (or pods like the new Nightjets) that comply with US standards. Leave LAU in the evening and arrive OKJ in the morning. No need for a dining car; just a cafe/lounge/bar car. It'd be easy to offer much better amenities (like on board or at station showers) than busses at a reasonable price. Any thoughts?

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  by D.S. Lewith
 
What could be done is work in tandem with Union Pacific to modernize the Coast Line between Moorpark and Tamien, but should start first with between Tamien and San Luis Obispo, and between Gaviota and Ventura. This would involve double-tracking and grade separation, as well as some realignments away from pedestrians, building a new tunnel underneat Cuesta Pass, which would shave off a lot of travel time, relocating tracks between Watsonville and Castroville to CA-1 to avoid going through marshlands, and electrification between Tamien and San Luis Obispo

Other parts like a new Edna to Gaviota alignment and a new Ventura to Los Angeles alignment would require federal funding due to all the tunneling, bridging and cutting needed (especially between Moorpark and Los Angeles) to create a straighter alignment.
  by MACTRAXX
 
AB and DSL:

There once was an overnight train between Los Angeles and Oakland/Sacramento titled
"The Spirit of California" #18 northbound and #15 southbound
This service ran for 23 months: 10/25/1981 to 9/30/1983.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirit_of_California

From Amtrak April 24-October 29, 1983 national timetable:
#15 departed Sacramento at 7:25 PM, Oakland at 9:40 PM arriving Los Angeles at 8:15 AM.
#18 departed Los Angeles at 8:45 PM arriving in Oakland at 7:20 AM; Sacramento 9:35 AM.

The intermediate stops were: Glendale, Oxnard, Santa Barbara,
San Luis Obispo, Salinas, San Jose, Richmond, Martinez, Suisun-
Fairfield and Davis.

The service ended due to funding cuts during the Governor George
Deukmejian administration (CA governor 1983-1991).

A service of this type has been tried and can be successful...MACTRAXX
  by gprimr1
 
I like the idea of this of an overnight "Hotel Train." There is a bus service that popped up so there must be demand.

I think the way it competes with the Night Bus is by offering flexible embarking and disembarking times. Park it somewhere out of the way and give passengers a window of time to board at night and exit in the morning. This gives them flexibility to get on the train, get settled in, or take a shower and change into PJs. In the morning, the same, a window of time to get off the train. Early birds get off and go about their day, those who don't have to be somewhere right away can wake up a little later, showers would be available.

I would skip out on a full meal service. Board the train after dinner, and people can get breakfast after disembarking the train. A dining car is just more space and weight that could be used for beds.

I would install vending machines in a few of the cars as well as offering potable hot water at all times and fresh coffee in the morning.

I would work with vendors in the station to offer "Breakfast in Bed" pre-order option. For example, if there is a Dunkin in the station, you can pre-order your breakfast bagel and coffee, and the time you want it, and it will be communicated to the Dunkin store in the station, and they will deliver it to the car attendant who will deliver it to you. (For security, the inside of the train will be considered a sterile area, guests cannot re-enter, and vendors cannot enter.)
  by Alphaboi
 
Oh, showers would be a huge win; even if they're in a lounge at the station. I took an everight bus to Montreal earlier this year (a regular Greyhound, not one w/ bunks). What I wanted more than anything else when I got to Montreal in the morning was a shower. A train is also much better than a bus for the disabled. IIRC on Cabin disabled passengers have to travel in their wheelchair and ask the bus to stop somewhere so they can use the restroom.

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  by Gilbert B Norman
 
MACTRAXX wrote: Wed Jun 03, 2020 4:39 pm ...There once was an overnight train between Los Angeles and Oakland/Sacramento titled
"The Spirit of California"......The service ended due to funding cuts during the Governor George
Deukmejian administration (CA governor 1983-1991).
Mr. MACTRAXX, the "Spirit" was replaced by an additional San Joaquin, so it really wasn't a budget cut victim. I think it was more the case that the additional San Joaquin could simply deliver more "bang for the buck", which is what any party allocating public funds should be doing.

Reiterating points from the Amtrak Forum parallel topic, I rode the "Lark" both ways during December '63. One of the most memorable rail travel memories I hold is on the Eastbound run (there was no North or South on the SP) how I had an Engineer Side Roomette. I opened the shade somewhere near Oxnard, on a crystal clear Blue Sky morning, and was looking at the Pacific Ocean.

But I'm sorry, travel moments like such died sixty years ago; and with flights on all the "Big Four" (UA, AA, DL, SW) between four on the South (LAX, BUR, ONT, SNA) and three on the North (SFO, OAK, SJC) using any kind of overnight train will take much "re-education" of a travel market who had not even been born on A-Day.

Who knows if these niche "Owl Bus" services will even survive the COVID Recession. Their market is certainly "niche" and reviews of their service are, at best, "mixed".
  by lensovet
 
D.S. Lewith wrote: Wed Jun 03, 2020 2:01 pm What could be done is work in tandem with Union Pacific to modernize the Coast Line between Moorpark and Tamien, but should start first with between Tamien and San Luis Obispo, and between Gaviota and Ventura. This would involve double-tracking and grade separation, as well as some realignments away from pedestrians, building a new tunnel underneat Cuesta Pass, which would shave off a lot of travel time, relocating tracks between Watsonville and Castroville to CA-1 to avoid going through marshlands, and electrification between Tamien and San Luis Obispo

Other parts like a new Edna to Gaviota alignment and a new Ventura to Los Angeles alignment would require federal funding due to all the tunneling, bridging and cutting needed (especially between Moorpark and Los Angeles) to create a straighter alignment.
Sorry what planet are we on? Why would you electrify part of a route that’s going to require diesel power anyway?

These overnight buses are popular because they are dirt cheap. $25 one way. Amtrak can’t even beat that in coach, yet you want them to be competitive with sleepers? Lol ok…even a roomette split between two people will cost $140/person today. Even if half that cost was the dining car and related service, that’s still nearly 3x the bus ride cost. And a college student on a budget won’t care about the amenities or the lack of a real bed. Someone with more disposable income will just choose to fly, for $50 one way, and be at their destination in less than half the travel time.
  by D.S. Lewith
 
lensovet wrote: Sun Jun 07, 2020 6:41 pmSorry what planet are we on? Why would you electrify part of a route that’s going to require diesel power anyway?
You know we can use electro-diesel (or electro-battery) right? They exist
lensovet wrote: Sun Jun 07, 2020 6:41 pm These overnight buses are popular because they are dirt cheap. $25 one way. Amtrak can’t even beat that in coach, yet you want them to be competitive with sleepers? Lol ok…even a roomette split between two people will cost $140/person today. Even if half that cost was the dining car and related service, that’s still nearly 3x the bus ride cost. And a college student on a budget won’t care about the amenities or the lack of a real bed. Someone with more disposable income will just choose to fly, for $50 one way, and be at their destination in less than half the travel time.
My idea for an LA-SF train would be an at least daily intercity train like the Surfliner as opposed to an overnight train, actually (alternatively just merge that into the Surfliner as an extension of it and have trains run from San Diego all the way to San Francisco).
Anyways, if we are going by that logic then the California services (Surfliner, San Joaquins and Capitol Corridor) would have been dead long ago.
Yet we have people using them in spite of what you brought up.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
If CALTRAIN were agreeable to host an intercity CALTRANS train along the Peninsula, it would be a great idea.

This would allow the Starlight to become a SEA-EMY train relieving pressure from the "soon to drop like flies" Superliners and the costs of operating Sleepers and (possibly again full-service) Diners.

Through connections with the shortened Starlight can be made with San Joaquins at MTZ. Those choosing to ride the existing Amtrak-era "Coast Starlight" route will have to "overnight" in the Bay Area.