A Purple Surfliner to Indio

The “Coachella Express” from Los Angeles to the weekend all-star outdoor rock Festival in Indio
April 24, 2008
Photo report by Robert Manning, RailPAC Director

The train, led by F59PH locomotive 458 arrives at Indio

A special train called the “Coachella Express” arrived in Indio at 5 PM from Los Angeles carrying several hundred music fans from all over the world who will be attending the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and who chose to ride the train to get there.

RailPAC member Tony Escarcega waits for the train to arrive at the temporary platforms

The train carried 300 Festival goers to hear Prince, among others, this weekend.


(l-r) Amtrak VP Richard Phelps, RailPAC’s Robert Manning, and Indio Mayor Lupe Watson

When the train arrived the music fans were greeted by an array of Indio City officials, Amtrak dignitaries and news media from around the greater southern CA Area. This was truly an exciting event just to see the train arriving into Indio, stopping at the temporary platform, and watching the fans detrain.

Lead locomotive 458 is the “National Train Day” promotion unit, with “Get Your Choo-Choo On” and “Coachella Express” on the side.

In this writer’s opinion the real main event was watching Amtrak’s Surfliner train consisting of seven cars (4 coaches, a business class coach, a Cafe car, and a Superliner Lounge) and two engines arriving into Indio. Most of the Indio City Council including Mayor Lupe Ramos Watson, Mayor ProTem Fesmire, Council member Ben Godfrey and Councilmember Mike Wilson (also member of Riverside County Transportation Commission) were all present. These council members are all promoting daily Amtrak service to Indio from Los Angeles. Mayor Watson pointed out that a beautiful transportation center will be located at the present temporary train platform, and train service would be a focal point for this center. Indio City Manager Glenn Southard commented on how important passenger train service would be to the Coachella Valley and that this service is one of his most important Projects.

Richard Phelps, Amtrak’s Vice President in charge of transportation, agreed that passenger train service from the desert area could and should happen. With this type of enthusiasm and support I think that we may see Amtrak daily service in the Coachella Valley a reality!

Surfliner locomotive 450 brings up the rear of the Coachella Express consist.

I would like to thank two fellow RailPAC members: Michael Moreland Human Services Supervisor/Senior Center for the City of Indio for introducing me to the city staff, and avid train rider Tony Escarcega for helping with the photos.
Robert Manning, Palm Springs, CA