27 December 2011

Rail - Another Coast Starlight detour over the Tehachapis

Union Pacific trackwork will result in another opportunity to make the rare trip over the Tehachapis. 

Starting on 1 February 2012 and running through 8 February, Amtrak's northbound Coast Starlight only, train 14, will operate from Los Angeles (LAX) to Oakland (OKJ) over the Tehachapis route.  Departure time is 10:25 am and arrival is 9:32 pm.  (Southbound train 11 will not detour from its normal route.)

Though it will go through Bakersfield, it will not make any passenger stops anywhere between Los Angeles and Oakland.  While I don't know this for certain, I would expect as in other recent detours, that it will operate over the ex-Southern Pacific line that largely parallels U.S. 99 and goes through the downtowns of all of the major valley towns.  (Amtrak's San Joaquin service operates over the BNSF ex-Santa Fe line instead.)

Additionally I would expect that this detour would use the Altamont Pass route to get access to Oakland since I can't imagine how else it could!  Too bad it will probably be dark by the time it reaches the area, as the line over the pass and then through Niles Canyon is very pretty.  This is track used now by the ACE commuter trains, and historically by the original Western Pacific California Zephyr.

Here's the post I wrote back in October '08 when I rode the detouring Coast Starlight.  That detour operated "nonstop" all of the way to Sacramento skipping the Bay Area altogether.

If you book yourself a trip on the train in the expectation that it will make the detour, you should to contact Amtrak a few days in advance to reconfirm, as track maintenance plans can change.

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