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Inaugural Sacramento Amtrak San Joaquin

On Sunday, February 21, 1999, an Amtrak San Joaquin will directly serve Sacramento, California. As far as I am aware, Amtrak has never run passenger trains directly between Sacramento and Bakersfield. A thru-way bus connection has always been used between Sacramento and Stockton to connect with the San Joaquins unless you took a big detour to connect directly between trains in Martinez.

Amtrak San Joaquin Train #702 is scheduled to depart from Sacramento at 6:20 A.M. and arrive at Bakersfield at 11:45 A.M. Train #703 is scheduled to depart from Bakersfield at 5:45 P.M. and arrive back into Sacramento at 11:15 P.M. This will be a new segment of track that has not previously seen Amtrak service. I have also heard that this particular rail route will only be used temporarily until a different direct rail route between Sacramento and Bakersfield (but still via Stockton) is ready for use by Amtrak in a few months. Thus, this service may offer passengers some unique rail scenery that will only be available for a short time before being switched to a more permanent route for this train!

Since the time that I started riding Amtrak trains, I believe this is the first new rail mileage that Amtrak has added other than the short route that they added to serve Rutland, Vermont. I have seen major Amtrak routes eliminated and one Amtrak route just barely saved at the last minute. I haven't been around for too many inaugurals and have never been at the first run of an Amtrak train on new mileage.

In recent years, Amtrak has extended some routes and created through service where only connecting service had been available. However, in all these cases, the new service was over existing routes already being traveled by Amtrak passenger trains. Having the Amtrak San Joaquins serve Sacramento by direct rail is adding new real mileage to the Amtrak rail system! Anytime Amtrak adds new mileage to their system I think is a rare event and a cause for celebration!

I have not heard of any festivities planned for this event, but I do know that several of us plan to be on hand in Sacramento on Sunday morning. Some of us plan to take the train round trip as I will be doing while others will take it one way and make other return arrangements. I will post information and photos of the event to TrainWeb.

I don't think a connection of this length has been added to the Amtrak system in quite some time and it probably won't be topped until Amtrak adds service into Oklahoma (which will hopefully start in May of this year). If you would like to celebrate the addition of new mileage to the Amtrak rail system, then make your plans now to join us in Sacramento on Sunday morning, Feb 21, 1999. Train #702 and #703 are in Amtrak's reservation system and you can book your trip through the Internet, your travel agent, or 1-800-USA-RAIL. I'll be looking forward to seeing you there!

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