AMTRAK INITIATIVE TO RELIEVE SURFLINER CROWDING

Commentary by Paul Dyson, RailPAC President

Agreement uses Coaster train set on weekends to relieve two of the busiest beach and race track trains.

Starting next Saturday, July 19, A leased “Coaster” train set will operate as an “advanced” Amtrak 768 and 591 return between Santa Ana and San Diego, according to informed sources at Amtrak. This eminently sensible and laudable arrangement will provide up to 840 additional seats as train 1768, 10 minutes ahead of the 768 which originates in Goleta and is the 9.40am departure from Los Angeles to San Diego, a popular train for beach goers and for the Del Mar racetrack. The return service, 1591, will deadhead to Solana Beach and run 10 minutes ahead of the 591, 1820 (6.20pm) departure from San Diego as far as Santa Ana. Amtrak will crew the train.

Amtrak has been in communication with the management at Del Mar so that the track will publicize this service to race goers. While there may be a little confusion among riders when they see a Coaster train arrive, most will appreciate the extra space. For the long haul riders, between San Diego and Los Angeles and points north this is a great benefit. The possible downside, delays caused by the additional meets (San Diego County is still 51% single track), will we believe be somewhat offset by the reduction in delays trying to load passengers into already crowded trains as happens now.

RailPAC is delighted that Amtrak is taking this initiative, which we have been recommending for some time, and we hope that this is just the beginning of an integration of schedules. What better time to begin introducing “commuter” sets for short haul passengers than on weekends?

Paul Dyson
President

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