Amtrak San Diegans Trainsets

These are the trainsets (consists) of the Amtrak San Diegans
and which trainsets have been seen on which train numbers.

News: At the annual TRAC meeting (Train Riders Association of California), held at the
Santa Ana Depot on Saturday, November 15, 1997, the following was announced:

Bids have been submitted to Amtrak West for new trainsets for the San Diegans. One of the two proposing bidders must be selected by December 31, 1997, to avoid a likely price increase. Both proposals call for bi-level cars. One builder is proposing cars similar to the current Amtrak California Cars. The other builder is proposing cars similar to the current Metrolink Cars, but I assume those cars would have more comfortable and less dense seating than the present Metrolink configurations. These trains would each have 5 cars per trainset. If a bidder is selected before January 1, 1998, then we should see those cars in service before January 1, 2000.

In the meantime, the San Diegans will be receiving new Amfleet Concept 2000 cars to be used as "Custom Class" cars. These are the same cars being used on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) as "Club Class Cars". I rode in these cars myself and found them to be a tremendous improvement over the current Amfleet I cars. The windows were a bit larger, but more than that, the interior was all modern with plush seats. There are wide armrests and cup holders at every seat as well as an AC electric outlet at EVERY seat for notebook computers! If they configure these the same as the "Club Class" cars on the east coast, then there will be double seats on one side of the aisle and single seats on the other side of the aisle. "At seat service" will probably be introduced in these new "Custom Class" cars just like the "Custom Class" service in the San Diegans Superliner Cars. These new Amfleet Concept 2000 "Custom Class" cars should start to make an appearance in just a few weeks.

Three Bud built Great Dome cars are being refurbished for use on the San Diegans. Two of these are expected to be used on the Central Coast San Diegans that travel all the way from San Diego up to San Luis Obispo. These will probably be used as non-revenue Food Service Cars so that everyone can enjoy the view from the domes, especially on the very scenic coastal stretch from Santa Barbara to San Luis Obispo. While two are in service, one of the domes might be stored and exhibited at a rail museum, but will be fully ready for service to substitute for either of the ones in active service. There is an 80% chance that these cars will be ready by Summer 1998.

Some of the older F40PH locomotives will have their engines removed to make room for baggage and be used as combo Cab Control / Baggage Cars, affectionately known as "Cabbage Cars". By using this combo car, it will reduce the length of the San Diegans by one car and reduce maintenance costs.

Two of the major goals of the San Diegans are to reduce the travel time between San Diego and Los Angeles down to 2 hours and to provide hourly service. Naturally, this heavily depends on completing the project to expand the full length of that corridor to double tracks.

Also of news, but not directly related to the Amtrak San Diegans, is the refurbishing of the Pacific Parlor Cars on the Amtrak Coast Starlight. Two of these are already done, the third should be in service by the end of this year, and the fourth by the end of the first quarter in 1998. The improvements include plush lounge seating, a buffet, and a large screen TV video theatre downstairs as well as many other upgrades.

The Following Is For Historical Purposes Only And Is No Longer Being Kept Up To Date As Of December 16, 1997.

Occassionally making note of the numbers of each car on the Amtrak San Diegans proved to be an interesting exercise for a couple of months, but there no longer seems much purpose in continuing this effort. So, unless someone would like to volunteer to maintain this page, there will not be any further updates.

The cars that make up each trainset remain pretty consistent, and the trainsets used for each train at each time of the day are also fairly consistent. Knowing what cars were on what trains for the past few days, I could predict with at least 95% accuracy what cars would comprise a San Diegan train expected into the station at any time.

However, looking at the flip side of that, up to 5% of cars might get shuffled around among trainsets each day. That still allows one to make predictions about tomorrow's trains that are 95% accurate. After a few weeks of just reshuffling 5% of the cars among trainsets each day, the below information departs drastically from reality!

I have found some patterns of how trainsets are deployed. I have listed those below and will add to that list as I discover more about which train numbers share the same trainsets. Unfortunately, I can't give you a number or anything to identify these trainsets since the actual cars that comprise each trainset change over time!

Here Is The Information That Is No Longer Being Updated:

The locomotives used with each trainset change frequently. I have named each trainset using the identifying number of the Cab Control Car.

When locomotives or other cars are changed on a trainset, it is almost always done when the trainset is in the Los Angeles Union Station. Also, changes are usually only made on trains that have a termination point in Los Angeles. In other words, changes are not often made on a train that has passengers on it traveling through Los Angeles.

Because of the addition of so many San Diegans as of the October 26, 1997 schedule change, almost every car available has been put into service. San Diegans used to be composed of an almost random mix of Amfleet I, Horizon and Metroliner equipment plus a few California Cars. Since the Amfleet Cars have a beverage area, the Amfleet Cars are now being used exclusively for "Custom Class" and you won't find any at all being used for regular coach seating.

Actually, there aren't even enough Amfleet Cars to equip all of the San Diegans with Custom Class. At least one San Diegan trainset is using a Horizon Car for Custom Class. In that trainset, you do not get the extra seating room that is normally in "Custom Class." Also, since the Horizon Cars do not have a beverage area, you are instructed to go to the Dinette and present your "Custom Class" ticket receipt for free coffee and juice. Free newspapers are still provided and the "Custom Class" upgrade price is the same. The Cab Control Car is often closed to passengers and only open when the rest of the train starts to get crowded.

The "Custom Class" Cars on the California Car sets is actually an Amtrak Superliner Coach Car. These cars have the most leg room and most comfortable seats of all the Amtrak San Diegans. Service is provided "at your seat" just like in air travel. I've been told that the free newspaper, coffee and/or juice is brought to you at your seat by a Car Attendant devoted to serving the passengers in that "Custom Class" Superliner Car. I've heard that even free wine is served at your seat.

All of the San Diegans (except the ones using California Cars) have a Metroliner Cab Control Car on one end of them. The usual configuration is one (and sometimes two) locomotives, a baggage car on some runs, an Amfleet I Car used for "Custom Class", a Dinette (usually a "Horizon" type car), several Horizon Coach Cars, and then an Metroliner Cab Control Car. The locomotive is in the lead for San Diegans heading toward Los Angeles. The Cab Control Car is in the lead for trains heading out of Los Angeles south to San Diego or north toward Santa Barbara.

Train #9638 seems to have gotten itself turned around on or before Friday, November 7, 1997. As of Monday, November 10, 1997, it is the only San Diegan that heads toward San Diego with the locomotive at the head end. That also makes the "Custom Class" and Cafe Car at the "wrong" end of the train relative to all the other San Diegan trains. I don't know how long the train will remain in this reverse position before they turn it around to be oriented like all the others.

The times indicated below are for the Fullerton Amtrak Station.
DA = Daily, MF = Monday through Friday, SS = Sat/Sun/Holidays.
nnnnn = Identifying number of car connected to Cab Control Car.
(#) = Number of times I've personally seen that trainset used.

Some of the San Diegan Equipment Roster information was provided curtosy of David Curlee, Amtrak West Editor of Flimsies West Magazine, (

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San Diegans Page / Amtrak Route Index / TrainWeb Travel Page

visits since November 2, 1997. - copyright © 1997 Liberty Information Network
Last Updated: 12/16/97 - WebAuthor: Steve Grande -