Amtrak Surfliner Inaugural Celebration on June 1, 2000! The celebration train started from San Diego at 7:30 A.M. and made stops at Oceanside, Santa Ana, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara.
This page is mostly photos since we were able to post those immediately after we returned to the TrainWeb office at the end of the Amtrak Surfliner Inaugural Celebration. Additional details will be posted later. In the meantime, enjoy the photos!
Click On Each Link For Photo Highlights:
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Ray Burns, Shivam Surve, and I, Steve Grande, of TrainWeb along with Kirk Shneider, author of California by Bus, Train and Ferry headed out of Fullerton at 7:52 P.M. on the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner (the route, not the trainset) down to San Diego on Wednesday evening, May 31, 2000. When we arrived at San Diego, there were two trainsets on the track across from ours. One was a California Car trainset and the other was the Surfliner trainset! They were attached to each other F59PHI to F59PHI, nose to nose! We spent the night sharing a couple of rooms at the Best Western that is five blocks from the San Diego station.
At 6:00 A.M. on Thursday morning, we got up and were out of the room heading to the station at 7:00 A.M. We were at the San Diegan Santa Fe before the 7:30 A.M. scheduled start of the festivities. The first two tracks closest to the station building are the north and south tracks for the San Diego Red Trolly. A North San Diego County Coaster train was on the next track away from the station and he Amtrak Surfliner trainset was on the track after that. A number of people had already arrived for the speeches and festivities.
There were several small bands playing live music. Mascots from a number of San Diego attractions mingled with the guests. Free refreshments were served to the Surfliner celebrants including coffee, orange juice, bagels and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts! Newscrews from a number of radio and TV stations as well as photographers and reporters from a number of newspapers were mingling among the guests taking photos of both VIPs and other attendees as well as of the events.
I met and talked with a number of people involved in the rail passenger community that I have not run into for quite some time. Above is a photo of Jack Wilson, Operations Manager for the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner, standing to the left of me. Ray Burns also got a chance to greet George Warrington again, President of Amtrak. Ray had not spoken to Mr. Warrington since the Amtrak Las Vegas Talgo celebration.
After all the speeches, Mr. Warrington, along with a number of the other Amtrak people instrumental in bringing the production of this train to fruition headed over to christen the train. For today's train, there was an F59PHI at each end of the train. Everyone was gathered around the F59PHI that was attached to the Coach/Baggage (Cab Control) Car. This locomotive was at the south end of the trainset. Normally, there will not be an F59PHI at this end of the train as the entire trainset can be powered by the F59PHI at the north end of the trainset and the engineer can control the train from the Cab Control room in the Surfliner Coach/Baggage Car.
Two bottles of Champagne were smashed on the coupler of the F59PHI to christen the first Amtrak Surfliner trainset to be delivered! There were several poses for photographs after that. Click here for several more photos of the christening.
When Mr. Warrington, President of Amtrak, saw Ray Burns of TrainWeb kneeling in the front to get a good photo, Mr. Warrington pointed at Ray and said something like: "Ray, I guess I'll be able to see these photo on the website!" Ray and I were a bit surprised that Mr. Warrington had remembered TrainWeb from the Las Vegas Talgo Celebration. Above is a photo of Mr. Warrington pointing at Ray Burns as he made that comment.
At the festivities at the Oceanside Station, Shivam Surve of TrainWeb took the opportunity to take a picture of Mr. Warrington (President of Amtrak) with the mascot from legoland. This photo is posted above.
Photographers and video people kept coming by and wanting to photo/video me working at my notebook computer on the train. The current photographer taking my photo is from the Los Angeles Times. Maybe my photo will be in the Friday L.A. Times and maybe not. I don't know where the video people were from, but there are television crews all over the train. Some of them are probably independents as there are labels on the equipment indicating the professional videocameras are rented.
We asked Cindy Camara of Amtrak Marketing to pose with the Inaugural Surfliner Cap so that we could get a picture of the front and back of it as seen above and she was nice enough to cooperate with our request!
Although not on the itinerary for this train, the train also stopped at Oxnard and Ventura, each for just a couple of minutes to pick-up or drop-off special guests.
The GPS coordinated display was displaying a variety of messages for the first time that I've been on the trainset. During the first two days of operation, all the display showed was "Amtrak". Today, however, it displayed the following messages in the order indicated:
In between each of the above messages, the unit would display the closest Amtrak station. Later, I found out that the station names were being changed manually and not by the onboard GPS system. I'm very interested in seeing this display automatically controlled by the onboard GPS system which will hopefully be in operation soon. Now it makes sense why the only stations that came up on the display were some of the stations that were on the itinerary of this special inaugural celebration train, including:
While I was inside the Surfliner car, I noticed George Warrington and Gil Mallery talking together and went to take a photo of them through the window. As I was about to take the photo, I saw Shivam Surve of TrainWeb, walk up to Gil Mallery and ask him to take a photo of Shivam with George Warrington, President of Amtrak. At that time, Shivam did not know that Gil Mallery is President of Amtrak West! Thus, above you can see a photo of Amtrak West President Gil Mallery taking a photo of Amtrak President George Warrington posing with Shivam Surve of TrainWeb!
San Diego wasn't the only festivity location serving free food! Los Angeles was serving free tacos, hotdogs, popcorn, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, and a number of other food items! Ray and I were almost the last people to get into the line for hotdogs and they ran out of hotdogs just after serving us! After reboarding the train, I was actually sorry that I had one of the free hotdogs as they started serving free sandwiches and other food on the train! They had a type of tuna sandwich that I really like and seldom find anywhere. I had to have one of those even though I wasn't really hungry. Fortunately, they were just finger sandwiches and were not too big. In Santa Barbara, they were serving free raviolis, vegetables with dip, and cake!
Everyone we talked with had a very high opinion of the new trainset! A number of people had various suggestions of how this or that could be better or should have been done differently, but overall, just about everyone thought it was a significant improvement over the trainsets that the Surfliners will be replacing.
The following is just a start at a list of people that were on the Surfliner Inaugural Celebration train. There were many more people on the train, including just about everyone that we know at Amtrak! Little by little, as we can remember the names of the people that were on the train, we will add them to this list: Roger Bahn, George Barlow and wife, Barney Brantingham, Michael Beener, Ray Burns, Cindy Camara, Yvonne Chanatry, Steve Covell, Cindy Darlington, Mike Feenaughty, Steve Grande, Richard Hamilton, Brian Humphrey, Johnny Johnson, Bill Lewis, Gil Mallery, Raymond Mancardi, Patrick Merrill, Osvaldo Grobel Murgel, Dalton Parker, Tony Perry, Alice Pinkley, George Rainey, Charles Roebuck III, Bob Root, Gary Schlueter, Kirk Shneider, Ric Silver, Ed Stauss and wife, Shivam Surve, Cathy Vaughan, George Warrington, Jack Wilson, Debbie Woods . If you have names of additional people that I missed, please click here to send them to me by e-mail at email@example.com
If you were on the Amtrak Surfliner Inaugural Celebration Train and would like to write something about the event and your experiences, please click here to send your writing to me by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll be happy to post your writing at this website!
Everyone disembarked from the Amtrak Surfliner Inaugural Celebration Train at Santa Barbara. I believe the train will be deadheading back to Los Angeles later in the evening. Most of the people from the Celebration Train took the next southbound train that departed out of Santa Barbara at 3:50 P.M. Our Celebration Invitation served as our ticket for travel on this return train.