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Surf’s Up!: Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner Launches 13th Los Angeles–San Diego Route

by Elyse Glickman

Dec 17, 2019

© David Tonelson | Dreamstime.com

Travel Tips

Southern California is always an alluring holiday destination for families longing to escape colder temperatures. Beyond the sunshine, palm trees, beaches and theme parks, however, road traffic can be less than paradise — especially for those unaccustomed to rush hour on the 5 and 405 freeways, the most commonly used routes from San Diego to Los Angeles and up the coast into the Central Valley. Californians will tell you, Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner is the perfect alternative to road travel, from its scenic vistas to the many options it offers travelers heading north and south.

 

Enjoy the splendor aboard The Pacific Surfliner, traveling along a 351-mile route through San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, with portions of the route hugging the Southern California coastline. In anticipation of this year’s holiday season a 13th route was added, offering greater mobility across the busy state. The new southbound Train 578 departs Los Angeles at 1:15 p.m., arriving in San Diego at 4:12 p.m. Existing northbound Train 591 will be renumbered to Train 593, departing San Diego at 5:25 p.m., arriving in Los Angeles at 8:34 p.m.

 

The train station at Solana Beach in the north coast of San Diego County, Calfornia, serves the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner. Photo: Adeliepenguin | Dreamstime.com

“This service expansion represents the initial benefit of a decades-long, multi-hundred million dollar capital investment by the state of California to add a third track and grade separations between Los Angeles and Fullerton, which will greatly expand capacity and reduce delays for passenger and freight trains on this busy rail corridor,” said Chad Edison, chief deputy secretary for rail and transit, California State Transportation Agency.

 

All Pacific Surfliner trains will feature comfortable, reclining seats with power outlets, WiFi, bike and luggage racks, a free and generous baggage policy and an onboard Market Café that offers fresh food, snacks and beverages for everybody, and California wines, cocktails and local craft beer for the parents. The improved amenities and a total of 26 trains a day between Los Angeles and San Diego promise to add to the already impressive numbers of riders (3 million riders in 2018), solidifying its status as the busiest, state-supported, intercity passenger rail route in the United States. Furthermore, extra railcars have been added to increase capacity on Pacific Surfliner trains traveling between San Diego and northward to San Luis Obispo.

 

Ticketing and reservations are available via Amtrak.com, Amtrak mobile apps or by calling 800 USA RAIL. Boarding documents can be self-printed, or customers using a smartphone or mobile device can present the e-ticket to the conductor by email. To ensure the most trouble-free experience, Amtrak offers the following suggestions:

 

  • Arrive and ride early: The busiest travel days are Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday, but morning trains typically have more availability. Stations will be busier than usual and customers are encouraged to arrive 45 minutes before departure if picking up tickets or checking baggage.
  • Splurge a little: Pacific Surfliner trains feature power outlets, large picture windows, an onboard café car, spacious seats, ample leg room and no middle seat. For an optimal experience, treat the family to business class for guaranteed seats, complimentary snacks, drinks and other perks.
  • Keep spirits and baggage light: Customers can bring two bags (measuring up to 28 inches by 22 inches and 11 inches deep, weighing 50 pounds or less each) and two personal items (measuring up to 14 inches by 11 inches by 7 inches deep and weighing 25 pounds or less each) for free. Checked baggage service is also available at a number of stations.
  • Stay on track with the schedules: Check holiday schedules and train status before arriving at the station on here or with the Track A Train MapAmtrak app or @PacSurfliners on Twitter.

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