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Amtrak San Diegans Travelogue

by Jim Robertson

September 13, 1996

Departed San Diego yesterday morning on the San Diegan, train 771. This is the first time I have ridden on the California cars, and they are as nice as you have written about in your Amtrak page. I was very impressed with the California coaches and only wish that more coaches were like this. By the way, can you provide me with some information on these coaches. Does the State Of California partially finance the construction or operation of these cars?

I inquired with the Conductor on train 771 about making my connection to the Coast Starlight in Los Angeles, and the Conductor informed me that the Coat Starlight would be leaving from track 10 and we would be coming in to LAUPT on track 9, but something happened and 771 came into LAUPT on track 12, so I had to walk down the track and into the tunnel and back up the track to the train, and I was in the last passenger coach, car 1432. The configuration of the train has been changed since the last time I rode it, and the sleeping cars are now in front of the train. The Chief of On Board Services is T.J. Howard and he has his hands full with this crew!

There have been numerous freight delays and at the present time we just departed the Eugene Station, one hour and ten minutes behind schedule. At one point the train was more than two hours behind schedule! Late last night or early this morning the engineer was going so fast around a curve, one of the train crew was thrown against a window and has his eyeglasses broken and during the same incident many dishes and glasses in the dining car were broken. I am surprised that the Conductor did not have the engineer relieved. The Conductor on the Southwest Chief did not like the manner in which an engineer took a curve and he had the engineer relieved, two Santa Fe engines came and brought the Amtrak train into the next station.

I find the service not as good on the Coast Starlight this year as when I went southbound last year. As a matter of fact so far this trip, I have not at all been impressed with the service. On the Southwest Chief the service was better than it has been on the Coast Starlight. Also on the Southwest Chief when a salad was ordered the diner had a choice of salad dressing, not so on the Coast Starlight! The food has not been up to my expectations. Yesterday for lunch I had the chicken sandwich and a bowl of chicken noodle soup. Both food items were good, but not great. Last night for dinner I had the New York Steak and it was just a regular meal, nothing to brag about. This morning I had the omelette for breakfast and I much prefer the omelette on the other trains. For lunch today I had the vegetable soup and it was good and I also had the beefburger, and it too was good.

The sleeping car I am in is the Ohio, and it is well worn. I have told the Chief of On Board Services that an exception needs to be made out on this room. The knob on the air conditioning system is missing, and one of the seat cushions has three holes in it.

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