FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 18, 1999
LOS ANGELES--A whole new wave in passenger rail service is heading to the shores of Southern California next spring. Amtrak will introduce the Pacific Surfliner along its San Diego to San Luis Obispo passenger rail corridor, replacing the San Diegans. More than a new brand name, the Pacific Surfliner service will feature eight new trains with improved customer amenities and upgraded stations along the route. These investments in customer service will help make Amtrak's second most popular corridor, serving 1.5 million customers, even more in demand with travelers.
In a ceremony with California Gov. Gray Davis, Amtrak's Chairman of the Board, Gov. Tommy Thompson said, "Pacific Surfliner service marks the next wave in passenger rail for the Southern California and Central Coast corridor. Amtrak's $125 million investment in new trains is our largest single investment ever in any state, because we believe that as California's population continues to swell, passenger rail will become a solution to the state's congested highways."
Since 1990, the state of California and Amtrak have invested more than $500 million in the Southern California and Central Coast route. The service improvements included upgraded tracks for better on-time performance, faster travel times, as well as new and refurbished stations and increased service (11 daily round trips).
"Investing in improved rail service is an investment in California's future," said California Gov. Gray Davis. "California's prosperity tomorrow will depend on our ability today to move people and goods. Ultimately we hope to establish a transportation system that efficiently moves everyone and everything - everywhere in the 21st century. This effort is an important step in that direction."
California leads a long list of states investing with Amtrak in corridor development, such as Virginia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan that each recently announced multi-million dollar capital investments in passenger rail. The development of intercity passenger rail corridors to relieve road and airport congestion and spark downtown economic vitality is one of five components of Amtrak's business plan to make the railroad operationally self-sufficient.
"Earlier this week, the Texas Transportation Institute ranked the Los Angeles area the most gridlocked in the nation. "Amtrak believes its investment and more than $52 million in capital this year from California will make the corridor an attractive alternative to the automobile by eventually offering faster and more frequent service," said Amtrak West President Gil Mallory.
The gleaming new trains will replace locomotives and passenger coaches that are up to 30 years old. The new five-car, double-decker trains will offer customers more reliable service. With seating for 425 people, customers will be able to choose from a variety of service levels, including reserved Pacific Business Class and coach service. In the coach-cafe car, customers will enjoy upgraded and healthier menu selections, featuring local wines. Business and leisure travelers can take advantage of outlets for laptop computers, relax in wide comfortable seats, gaze out the large panoramic windows, receive train information on digital information display boards, stow luggage in large overhead compartments and easily board the train through electric sliding doors.
To complement the improved on-board service and amenities, stations are being refurbished in Santa Barbara, Surf and Goleta and automated ticket machines are being installed for greater customer convenience.
Before adopting the new brand name Pacific Surfliner, Amtrak conducted extensive market research, including focus groups. The research showed that current and potential customers from the Southern California and Central Coast regions believed that the Pacific Surfliner brand better reflected the new service than the current San Diegans name. In addition, Pacific Surfliner was found to evoke strong images of train travel, relaxation, comfort and scenery, and the personal freedom to choose how you spend your time. The teal blue Pacific Surfliner logo of a wave with a train graphic conveys the coastal route and the supreme level of service.
The first of these contemporary new trains will debut in April 2000 with all eight in service by spring 2001. Each train will be powered by new General Motors Electro-Motive Division F59PHI locomotives. The trains will be maintained in Los Angeles at Amtrak's new locomotive service center and at the passenger car and service inspection facility under construction.
Today, under new leadership, Amtrak is turning the corner to become a successful business enterprise. In 1999, Amtrak enjoyed record passenger revenue powered by the third consecutive ridership increase in a decade, bringing total ridership to more than 21,509,000 customers. As part of its turnaround, Amtrak is focusing on growing public and private business partnerships, improving and guaranteeing consistency and quality of service, introducing high-speed rail in the Northeast this year, and developing other high-speed rail corridors nationwide.