Posts Tagged ‘Sacramento California’

Comparing Notes

June 1, 2020

An Amtrak conductor talks over business with the locomotive engineer who has just come on duty in Sacramento, California, on the eastbound California Zephyr.

I don’t know what they were discussing. It could be making sure they have the same set of train orders or that they are on the same page for how a certain operation will be handled.

No. 6 makes a long stop in Sacramento and boards a heavy load of passengers.

But soon it will be on its way toward one of the most scenic rides in America over Donner Pass on former Southern Pacific tracks through the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Working the Baggage Car in Sacramento

May 15, 2020

Sacramento is a major stop on the route of Amtrak’s California Zephyr. Judging by the load of checked luggage being loaded into the baggage car of No. 6, many of those boarding there are planning to travel a long distance.

In the top photograph, one carload of bags have already been loaded with another in the process of being put aboard.

In the bottom photograph an Amtrak crew member checks to see if any late arriving bags are on their way.

Both images were made on June 1999.

California, Texas Rail Development

April 2, 2020

The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission is soliciting public comment on its proposed Valley Rail Sacramento Extension project.

Plans are to expand Amtrak’s San Joaquins and Altamont Corridor

Express services to the greater Sacramento area through the construction of six rail stations and track improvements along the Union Pacific Railroad’s Sacramento Subdivision.

The expansion would two new San Joaquin roundtrips operating on the Sacramento, Fresno and BNSF Railway Stockton subdivisions, as well as an extension of existing ACE service to the proposed Natomas-Sacramento Airport Station.

Work on the UP would involve construction of new stations in Lodi, south Sacramento, Sacramento City College, Midtown Sacramento, Old North Sacramento, and Natomas/Sacramento Airport.

Three public meetings are tentatively set for April and May while written comments are being accepted via email and mail until May 15.

In other developments, XpressWest said it has taken steps to secure private debt funding for its $4.8 billion plan to build a 170-mile high-speed, electric rail line from Southern California to Las Vegas.

The service would be operated by Virgin Trains USA, which operates the Florida intercity rail service Brightline.

XpressWest officials said if the funding is secured, rail line construction could begin later this year with service launching in 2023.

Texas Central said this week its $20 billion high-speed rail project between Dallas and Houston  is now “shovel ready.”

Officials said construction will begin once global financial markets have stabilized and the federal approvals process is complete.

“Our immediate next step is to continue working with our partner organizations and federal and state agencies, led by the Federal Railroad Administration, to finalize our permits,” said Texas Central CEO Carlos Aguilar. “The current schedule we have from the federal government anticipates that will happen by July 31.”

Aguilar acknowledged there is a chance the project will not proceed on schedule.

“This is one of those moments where we have to acknowledge how small our world really is,” Aguilar said.

“Our engineering partner is in Italy; our operation partner is in Spain; and our technology provider is in Japan. Our financial partners are in those countries, as well as here in the United States.”

He said the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated things in those countries.

Texas Central said it anticipates its project will create more than 17,000 jobs during construction and have a multi-billion-dollar economic impact across the United States.

In the short term, though, it has laid off nearly 30 employees.

Early Morning San Joaquin to be Discontinued

April 11, 2019

Amtrak is citing low ridership for suspending the informally named Sacramento Morning Express, which has been scheduled to enable San Joaquin Valley residents to travel to Sacramento at the start of the business day.

The service began a year ago, leaving Fresno at 4:25 a.m. and arriving in Sacramento at 7:46 a.m. It made intermediate stops in Madera, Merced, Denair, Modesto and Stockton.

State transportation policy makers had hoped that the service would expand ridership beyond leisure travelers.

Amtrak plans to continue operating two daily round San Joaquin roundtrips between Bakersfield and Sacramento, and five between Bakersfield and Oakland.

Officials said the Sacramento Morning Express could return after track and other infrastructure improvements are made over the new few years.

The train averaged 50 passengers a day compared with 130 per day on other trains that operated later in the day.

“It’s revenue driven, and it wasn’t carrying its weight,” said Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa. “It may take a few years, but I’m pretty confident that it’s still necessary.”

The early morning train launched on May 7, 2018.

Amtrak’s San Joaquin service overall continues to do well, carrying 1,078,707 passengers from October 2017 through September 2018, the most recent fiscal year.

Transportation planners said business travelers to Sacramento may someday benefit from an expansion of the Altamont Corridor Express, which currently operates four roundtrips on weekdays between Stockton and San Jose via Livermore.

By 2021, ACE may have stations in Manteca, Ripon, Modesto and Ceres with longer range plans to expand to Turlock and Merced County along with a northward branch to Sacramento.

What Made the Coast Starlight Unique

March 10, 2017

In the Superliner era of Amtrak, the western long distant trains have all looked alike and offered pretty much the same service.

Over the years there have been a few tweaks, such as varying menu fare in the dining car by route, but otherwise there are no significant differences among the trains.

One exception has been the Los Angeles-Seattle Coast Starlight. During the 1990s a product line manager for Amtrak had former Santa Fe cars remodeled into the Pacific Parlour Cars that became the train’s signature service for sleeper class passengers.

In June 1999 I was at the Amtrak station in Sacramento, California, waiting for a excursion train to arrive that was being operated for members of the National Railway Historical Society. NRHS was holding its annual convention in Sacramento.

But the first order of business was the arrival of the southbound Coast Starlight. A few of us were standing near a doorway to the Pacific Parloir Car and we asked an Amtrak employee if we could go inside and take a look.

Sacramento is a service stop for Nos. 11 and 14 so we knew we had time. “Sure, come on up,” was the response.

So I got a glimpse inside something that made the Coast Starlight unique.

Renovated Sacramento Station Reopens

February 26, 2017

A renovated Sacramento, California, Amtrak station has opened. One goal of the $34 million dollar project was to create within the former Southern Pacific station a celebration of Sacramento’’ past and its future.

Amtrak 4This includes a mural depicting the 1863 groundbreaking of the station as a terminus of the transcontinental railroad.

Some of the station has been devoted to commercial use, including a digital video lab created by the McClatchy Newspapers, publisher of the Sacramento Bee.

Amtrak’s California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin trains use the station, which is connected to the Sacramento’s light rail system.

Amtrak said that in 2015 Sacramento was its seventh busiest station in the country.

Fill ‘er Up With Diesel Fuel

January 23, 2017

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Except in New Jersey, full-service gas stations where someone comes out and fills up your vehicle have rapidly vanished from the American landscape.

But on the railroad, it is common for someone to top off the tanks of locomotives with diesel fuel. And so it is with Amtrak.

At many intermediate stations on the Amtrak network, a fuel truck drives up before the arrival of a train and the driver gets out and puts diesel fuel into the locomotive tanks.

It is routine that is not practiced in all that many places when you consider how many stations that Amtrak has.

But it is train time ritual nonetheless and one that gets little attention from passengers or railroad photographers.

This particular scene unfolded in Sacramento, California, on June 26, 1999, as a worker fills the tanks of the Los Angeles-bound Coast Starlight.

Pointing Eastward

January 21, 2017

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Amtrak P42DC No. 75 is on the point of the eastbound California Zephyr as it makes its station stop in Sacramento,  California.

This is a crew change point and a new engineer will take the right-hand seat in the cab to man the control of No. 75 ans it, a fellow P42 and an F40PH throttle up to move No. 6 eastward en route to Chicago.

The image was made on June 25, 1999, and was scanned from a slide.

Time to Go to Work on the Head End

November 30, 2016

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The outbound engineer of Amtrak train No. 6 is climbing the steps to take his place in the cab of P42DC No. 76 as it prepares to depart from Sacramento, California, on June 26, 1999.

The train still has a long way to go to reach Chicago and shortly after departing from Sacramento the passengers will enjoy some of the best scenery that the route has to offer in the Golden State.

The route through the Sierra Nevada Mountains can be stunning.

The California Zephyr will travel through the Nevada and Utah deserts and high plateaus during nighttime hours and passengers will have yet another day of mountain scenery as it passes through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

Of course, this engineer won’t be around to see the Rockies. He’ll be getting off well before then to return to Sacramento.

Don’t Forget Your Teddy Bear

September 19, 2016

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I’ve always enjoyed photographing train time at an Amtrak stations because of the human interest images there are to be had. One such moment occurred in July 1999 in Sacramento, California, as the eastbound California Zephyr halted for its noon hour stop.

Sacramento is a major boarding point for Nos. 5 and 6 and a large crowd of passengers was waiting to board.

Among the sites that caught my eye was this young girl lugging a large stuffed toy. I imagine that she and her mother faced a long journey and her companion would be most welcome.

Not long after leaving Sacramento, the passengers aboard No. 6 would be treated to the passage through the Sierra Nevada mountains, which is one of the scenic highlights of the trip.