San Joaquin (train)
A San Joaquin at Fresno station in 2012
|Service type||Inter-city rail|
|Predecessor||San Joaquin Daylight|
|First service||March 5, 1974|
|Current operator(s)||Amtrak, in partnership with Caltrans|
|Average ridership||2,924 daily
1,067,441 total (FY11)
|No. of intermediate stops||13 (Bakersfield–Oakland)
|Distance travelled||315 miles (507 km) (Oakland)
282 miles (454 km) (Sacramento)
|Average journey time||6 hours 5 minutes (Oakland)
5 hours 10 minutes (Sacramento)
702, 704, 712, 714, 716, 718
701, 703, 711, 713, 715, 717
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)
|Track owner(s)||UP and BNSF|
The San Joaquin (sometimes referred to as San Joaquins) is a passenger train operated by Amtrak as part of the Amtrak California network in California's Central Valley. Twelve trains a day run between its southern terminus at Bakersfield and Stockton, where the route splits to Oakland (four trains each way a day) or Sacramento (two trains each way a day). At Bakersfield, Thruway Motorcoach bus service connects to Los Angeles Union Station and points in Southern California, the High Desert and the Central Coast. The San Joaquin does not continue south of Bakersfield because the only line between Bakersfield and points south, via Tehachapi Pass, is one of the world's busiest single-track freight rail lines.
The San Joaquin is Amtrak's fifth-busiest service and the railroad's third-busiest in California. During fiscal year 2011, the service carried over one million passengers, a 9.2% increase from FY2010. Total revenue during FY2011 was US$35,704,109, a 13.9% increase over FY2010.
Amtrak routed all Los Angeles-San Francisco service over the Southern Pacific's Coast Line in its initial 1971 route structure, leaving the San Joaquin Valley without service. Both the Southern Pacific (San Joaquin Daylight) and the Santa Fe (San Francisco Chief) had served the region. Beginning in 1972 Amtrak revisited the decision at the urging of area congressmen, notably Bernice F. Sisk, who favored service between Oakland and Barstow or, failing that, Barstow and Sacramento. Service began on March 5, 1974 with one round-trip per day between Bakersfield and Oakland and a bus connection from Bakersfield to Los Angeles. Amtrak chose the Santa Fe route over the Southern Pacific, citing the higher speed (79 miles per hour (127 km/h) vs. 70 miles per hour (113 km/h)) of the Santa Fe and freight congestion on the Southern Pacific. The decision was not without controversy, with Sisk alleging that the Southern Pacific lobbied the Nixon Administration to influence the decision.
In 1979 Amtrak proposed discontinuing the San Joaquin as part of system-wide reductions ordered by the Carter Administration. The state of California stepped to provide a yearly subsidy (then $700,000) to cover the train's operating losses, and it was retained. At the time the state asked Amtrak to add a second daily frequency between Oakland and Bakersfield, and to extend the service south over the Tehachapi Pass to Los Angeles. Amtrak added the second train in February 1980, but attempts to extend the train over the Tehachapi Loop foundered on Southern Pacific opposition.
Service has increased from one round trip per day to four round trips to Oakland, plus two round trips to Sacramento.
The San Joaquin runs over rail lines that once hosted several trains a day. The two primary trains in the Central Valley were the Golden Gate, operated by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (predecessor to BNSF), and the San Joaquin Daylight operated by Southern Pacific Railroad (later acquired by Union Pacific).
In April 1965, as car travel increased and ridership on passenger trains continued to drop, the Santa Fe Railway received permission from the Interstate Commerce Commission to severely curtail Golden Gate operations, with service finally abandoned three years later. The San Joaquin Daylight was discontinued with the start-up of Amtrak in May 1971.
Rolling stock 
For its first two years of operation the San Joaquin used single-level coaches Amtrak had inherited from other railroads. In October 1976 Amtrak "Amfleeted" the San Joaquin, introducing new Amfleet coaches to the service. From 1987-1989 Amtrak used Superliner and ex-ATSF Hi-level coaches. Amtrak requipped the San Joaquin trains again in 1989, this time with new Horizon coaches, when service expanded to three daily round-trips. The San Joaquin began receiving the Superliner-derived "California Cars" that it uses today in 1995.
The San Joaquin is equipped with Amtrak California-fleet (bi-level, high-capacity) passenger cars of several types: coach-baggage car, cafe (dining) car, coach car, cab car, and cab-baggage car. A cab car is a typical coach with an engineer's operating cab and headlights on one end, allowing the train to be operated in push-pull mode, which eliminates the need to turn the train at each end-point. A cab-baggage is similar, but with space on the car's lower level for checked-luggage storage.
Two types of locomotives are used on the San Joaquin. The EMD F59PHI, road numbers CDTX 2001-2015, and the GE P32-8WH (Dash 8), road numbers CDTX 2051-2052. These locomotives are owned by the California Department of Transportation and carry its CDTX reporting marks. Other locomotives are occasionally seen on the San Joaquin, including Amtrak-owned Dash 8s and P42DCs. The Amtrak California locomotives and cars livery is unique to California.
The San Joaquin runs from Bakersfield's Truxtun Avenue Station northward on BNSF Railway's Mojave Subdivision within Bakersfield, the Bakersfield Subdivision from Bakersfield to Calwa (Fresno), then on the Stockton Subdivision from Calwa to Stockton.
- The Oakland trains continue west on the Stockton Subdivision to Port Chicago. At Port Chicago they cross to the Union Pacific Railroad's Tracy Subdivision to Martinez, continue on the Martinez Subdivision to Emeryville, and finally a couple of miles on the Niles Subdivision to Oakland's Jack London Square station.
Proposed high-speed rail 
In July 2012, California approved initial construction of the California High-Speed Rail system between Northern and Southern California. A US$9 billion ballot initiative was approved by the voters November 2008. In many places the route will run through the San Joaquin Valley along the same alignment as the San Joaquins. The first section selected for construction runs between Fresno and Bakersfield, and is expected to be used by the San Joaquin trains upon completion in 2017. The high speed tracks will allow trains to operate at up to 125 miles per hour, vs. the current 79 mph maximum speed on the shared freight route, resulting in an estimated travel time saving of 45 minutes to one hour.
- "Amtrak Ridership Rolls Up Best-Ever Records" (PDF). Amtrak. 13 October 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
- Solomon, Brian (1999). Southern Pacific Railroad. Osceola: MBI Publishing Company. p. 20. ISBN 0-7603-0614-1.
- "Vital Need for Passenger Train". Oxnard Press-Courier. May 5, 1971. Retrieved 2012-12-31.
- "AMTRAK to Take Another Look at Area Rail Route". Merced Sun-Star. March 22, 1972. Retrieved 2012-12-31.
- Cook, Gale (March 10, 1974). "San Joaquin Valley Amtrak Route Draws Some Tart Comments". Modesto Bee. Retrieved 2012-12-31.
- "San Joaquin train wins reprieve". The News-Sentinel. September 1, 1979. Retrieved 2013-01-01.
- "Fixup funds are part of service proposal". Merced Sun-Star. March 21, 1980. Retrieved 2013-01-01.
- "'San Joaquin' trains catching on". Merced Sun-Star. July 30, 1982. Retrieved 2013-01-01.
- "Amtrak - San Joaquin". Retrieved 2012-12-31.
- "Amtrak Will Introduce New Rail Cars". Los Angeles Times. October 18, 1976. p. B17A. Retrieved 2012-12-31.
- "Amtrak ridership up on San Joaquin line". The News-Sentinel. February 21, 1987. Retrieved 2012-12-31.
- "Valley gets added service". The News-Sentinel. December 18, 1989. Retrieved 2012-12-31.
- Cabanatuan, Michael (June 23, 1995). "SLEEK TRAIN DEBUTS". Modesto Bee. Retrieved 2012-12-31.
- Revised California HSR Business Plan, April 2012, p. 2-14
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