California State Railroad Museum Trainmaster Event
round trip via the Amtrak Coast Starlight
Thursday through Sunday, Nov. 11 - 14, 1999
This will be a brief summary of my travel on the Amtrak Coast Starlight rather than
the usual blow-by-blow coverage with times and radio frequencies. If you want to view more
detailed information about a trip on the Amtrak Coast Starlight, try some of my other
travelogues of this trip.
I will be placing the ENTIRE travelogue of this round trip to Sacramento and back in this
one travelogue. So, if you are reading this before this round trip has been completed, please
check back for further details!
Ray Burns and I came up in Pacific Business Class in the Amtrak San Diegan as we usually do
when we are connecting with the Amtrak Coast Starlight. Even though it is only one stop, it
is about a 40 minute ride and the train tends to be very very full since it is also the train
during the rush hour. I've taken this train before in Unreserved Coach and have had to stand
the entire way to Los Angeles! Pacific Business Class avoids that problem.
There weren't too many seats remaining in Pacific Business Class, but we did find two together
facing the reverse direction of the train. As you might already know, there is no longer a
Car Attendant dedicated to the Pacific Business Class car on the Amtrak San Diegans.
Personally, I like this situation better. I was able to immediately get my coffee and orange
juice. When there was a Car Attendant, it would often take 30 or 40 minutes before they got to
each passenger after they boarded. Often, on this short segment, I would be almost in Los
Angeles by the time they came with some coffee! This was not necessarily the fault of the Car
Attendant, it is just that it takes some time to attend to dozens of people. Self-service can
often be a lot faster.
There was one major drawback: Without a Car Attendant, the hundred or so pastries that were
placed in the car, according to the Conductor, were taken by the 45 passengers that boarded
the car prior to Fullerton leaving no remaining pastries for those boarding in Fullerton!
Unfortunately, I think they might have to move the pastries to the Cafe Car and only give
them out on presentation of a Business Class ticket stub like they do for the wine and
cheese in the afternoon.
The Amtrak Coast Starlight was already boarding passengers across the platform from where our
San Diegan arrived. We stepped off the San Diegan and headed quite a ways to the left down
the platform to our Sleeping Car.
There were a lot of people in the Amtrak Coast Starlight Pacific Parlour Car before the train even left Los Angeles!
This is quite a change from the old days when they used to not even open the car until the
train departed Los Angeles. Even then, it used to remain fairly empty for the first couple
of hours. Not today! Every table in the Parlour Car has at least two people seated and
every large swivel chair is already occupied. The Car Attendant has already made two rounds
with the coffee and all the fruit and pastries are availalbe. This is much better than the
days when they would not allow anyone into the car until the train was underway!
The Conductor on this segment of our run was Dennis Stuart. Ray and Saylor Runyon had run
into him and his wife when they were traveling as passengers on a prior Amtrak Coast Starlight
trip. Dennis wrote down his web address for us and it looks like it says
"panddstuart.aol.com". I could not get that URL to work, so if you are reading this Dennis,
please e-mail your URL to me at
and I'll be happy to post it here!
Something unusual on this train: we are carrying some of the northbound San Diegan Business
Class passengers from Train #769 ! The crew set up an area downstairs in the Cafe Car to
serve coffee, juice and pastries to those Pacific Business Class passengers.
In Glendale we picked up the passengers from the westbound Amtrak Southwest Chief. That train
must have been running late and they probably bused the passengers from San Bernardino to
Glendale straight down the I-10 freeway saving time by skipping all the time in and out of
We made a very short unscheduled stop in Ventura to let off passengers from Train #769.
Normally, the Coast Starlight does not stop in Ventura.
We arrived into San Luis Obispo early and arrived on-time just after the arrival of our
sister train, the southbound Amtrak Coast Starlight Train #11.
If anyone that we took pictures of on the train sees their photos mislabeled or there names
spelled incorrectly, please e-mail corrections to me at:
I'll make those corrections immediately!
Monica & Enrique joined us for lunch earlier. They were going to the Klamath Falls area and
will be returning on the same train that we will be on!
Don & Alice Kuder and Shirley & Tony Buccheri. Tony stopped us as we were heading to a
seat to enjoy the Wine Tasting, pointed to a document on his table, and asked if we were the
author of that material. Sure enough, he was pointing to a print out of a previous travelogue
that I had written a while ago! Although I've run into many people on the trains that are
frequent visitors to TrainWeb, I think this was the first time I've seen anyone traveling with
a print out from our web site!
Frand & Jeane Kearney They were sitting across from Don, Alice, Shirley and Tony and also
joined in our conversation.
Cory Robideaux was the Pacific Parlour Car LSA.
I just noticed that we have 3 cars of the American Orient Express in tow! I didn't see them
in Los Angeles, so I'm not sure when or where we picked them up. They may have been on the train
in Los Angeles and we just didn't notice them down the other end of the train.
John Turner from Austin, Texas. He put a typed up story on our table which Ray read. Ray
read a few parts to me and it sounded very interesting. Since it was a rail related story, we
asked John if he could get it posted on the web so that we can put up a link to it. He said he
could probably get it posted on his daughter's web site and send e-mail to us with the URL. If
he does, we'll post a link!
Thirty minutes into the wine & cheese tasting, which was excellent, they ran out of everything
except for a few pieces of cheese! Usually there are quite a few leftovers for quite a while.
Hopefully, they ran out because of all the participants and not because they cut down on how
much they put out.
Don Schmidt, La Jolla, California. He works in web design for start up companies and was
curious about TrainWeb. It certainly seems help get the word out on the train when we wear our
TrainWeb.com T-shirts and hats.
Pamela & Matt Cantor. They were celebrating their 1st year anniversary. I think the last time
my wife and I were on the Amtrak Coast Starlight together was on our 25th anniversary. Brian
Rosenwald, the Product Line Manager of the Amtrak Coast Starlight, was also on the train and
he gave us a complimentary bottle of champagne! Matt remembered seeing the new umbrellas
Fullerton Santa Fe Express Cafe
and that the logos on our cap and T-shirts were the same.
We are going to have the same trainset and the same onboard service crew on the way back as on
the way up. I think this enhances the overall experience of the round trip rail travel. I'll
have to remember this in the future and jockey my rail travel where possible to take the same
train up and back.
Dorothy & Jim Bowers celebrating their 30th anniversary.
Derek Burns enjoying the ride.
Frank Hardine and his fiancee, Diane Fahrion - an avid railroad modeler who even has his
living room full of great model trains.
Ron, Stephanie & Cody.
Dan Andrews & Pat met us before at Railfair'99 in Sacramento. Take a look at his web site for
the Bitter Creek Western Railroad at:
Mary & Walter Schoenfeld shared a table with us at dinner. They've traveled other trains in
the world, but this was there first trip on the Amtrak Coast Starlight. They said they were
enjoying it and were thinking of a future trip up to Seattle.
Our Service Attendant in the Dining Car was Randy Jacobs. The food was excellent. Ray had the
steak and I had the chicken breast. We both had our entrees with the garlic mashed potatos and
mixed vegetables. Everyone at our table was too full to order any of the excellent deserts that
are served on the Coast Starlight!
After leaving the Jack London Square Station in Oakland, our train went into the Oakland Amtrak
Yard where the three American Orient Express cars were cut from the train. I think they were
occupied as the lights were on in all of the cars. I'll have to check the American Orient
Express schedule to see if an excursion was scheduled in this area at this time. I have not
seen the American Orient Express travel with passengers on the end of a regular Amtrak train
previously. Every time I have seen the American Orient Express before this, it was being
pulled by an Amtrak locomotive, but the rest of the cars were all American Orient Express cars.
I've always seen it as a train just dedicated to the American Orient Express.
We arrived into Sacramento at about midnight, just about on schedule.
On the southbound trip, Ray and I stayed in our Sleeping Car Room for almost the entire trip
catching up on work. The train arrived into Sacramento about 30 minutes late, but arrived
into Los Angeles at 8:30 P.M., 45 minutes ahead of schedule!
We did have breakfast when we came onboard. I noticed the "Eggs Benedict" on the menu and
wondered how come I could not recall having them on the train. This is the same menu that
has been in use for the last few trips that I took on the Coast Starlight and I knew I would
have ordered that entree if I had seen it. When I did order the Eggs Benedict, I realized why
I had never had them on the train before: they don't have them! That is what happened on my
last 3 or 4 trips on the Coast Starlight. Each time I order them, they don't have them.
Actually, I don't think they have ever had the Eggs Benedict available on the Coast Starlight.
Our Dining Car Attendant said they are trying to get new menus printed without that option.
She said there is some ingredient necessary to make the Eggs Benedict that is never supplied
to the Dining Car.
Ray and I skipped lunch and the Pacific Parlour Car Wine & Cheese Party, but I did get caught
up on a lot of my backlog of work! We did take a break for dinner. We both had the Yankee Pot
Roast which is always excellent on the Coast Starlight!
- Conductor: Dennis Stuart
- Pacific Parlour Car LSA: Cory Robideaux
- Dining Car Attendant: Randy Jacobs
- Sleeping Car Attendant: Girran
- LSA = Lead Service Attendant
- 119-- ---- ----- Geneses Locomotive
- 455-- ---- ----- F59PHI Locomotive
- 1251- ---- ----- Baggage Car
- 39021 1410 (SL2) Transition Sleeper
- 32084 1431 (SL2) Sleeping Car Kansas
- 32095 1430 (SL2) Sleeping Car Nebraska
- 39972 ---- ----- Pacific Parlour Car
- 38049 ---- ----- Dining Car
- 33045 ---- ----- Sightseer Lounge Car
- 34103 1411 (SL2) Coach Car
- 34515 1412 (SL2) Coach Car
- 34106 1413 (SL2) Coach Car
- 34136 1414 (SL2) Coach Car
- Three Cars Of The American Orient Express (northbound to Oakland Yard only)
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