|Service type||Inter-city rail, higher-speed rail|
|First service||June 1, 2000|
|Current operator(s)||LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency, in partnership with Amtrak and Caltrans|
|Annual ridership||1,634,087 (FY22) 94.3%[a]|
|Termini||San Luis Obispo|
|Distance travelled||350 miles (560 km)|
|Average journey time||8 hours, 45 minutes|
|Train number(s)||562–595, 761–794|
|Class(es)||Coach Class, Business Class|
|Rolling stock||Siemens Charger locomotive|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Operating speed||41 mph (66 km/h) (avg.)|
90 mph (140 km/h) (top)
The Pacific Surfliner is a 350-mile (560 km) passenger train service serving the communities on the coast of Southern California between San Diego and San Luis Obispo.
The Pacific Surfliner is Amtrak's third-busiest service (exceeded in ridership only by the Northeast Regional and Acela Express), and the busiest outside the Northeast Corridor.
Like all regional trains in California, the Pacific Surfliner is operated by a joint powers authority. The Los Angeles – San Diego – San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) Rail Corridor Agency is governed by a board that includes eleven elected representatives from the six counties the train travels through. LOSSAN contracts with the Orange County Transportation Authority to provide day-to-day management of the service and with contracts with Amtrak to operate the service and maintain the rolling stock (locomotives and passenger cars). The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) provides the funding to operate the service and also owns all of the locomotives and some of the rolling stock; with Amtrak owning the rest.
Portions of the line in southern Orange County have been suspended three times in 2022 and 2023 due to coastal erosion.
The 350-mile (563 km) San Luis Obispo-San Diego trip takes approximately 8+1⁄2 hours with an average speed of 41.2 miles per hour (66 km/h); maximum track speed is 79 to 90 miles per hour (127 to 145 km/h). Much of the Pacific Surfliner's scenic route follows the Pacific coast, with the tracks being less than 100 feet from the ocean in some locations. However, trains travel inland through expansive farmlands in Ventura County and industrial backlots in the Los Angeles Basin, San Fernando Valley, and parts of Orange County.
As of October 2021[update], the Pacific Surfliner operates ten daily round trips between Los Angeles and San Diego. Four round trips run north of Los Angeles: two run all the way to San Luis Obispo, and two run to Goleta (near Santa Barbara), with Amtrak Thruway motorcoach service over the rest of the route to San Luis Obispo.
Thruway motorcoach connections are also available to San Pedro; to Palm Springs and Indio; and to San Jose or Oakland (with connections to Capitol Corridor trains) via Paso Robles.
Because the stations at the ends of the line do not have wyes to turn equipment, trains are operated in push-pull mode. The locomotive is at the rear of the train, pushing the train from Goleta, San Luis Obispo or San Diego to Los Angeles. At Los Angeles, the train reverses at the station, and the locomotive pulls the train to San Diego or Goleta/San Luis Obispo, respectively. Run-through tracks are proposed at Union Station in Los Angeles to ease congestion and reduce time spent waiting to enter or depart the station.
LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency
Local agencies along with the host railroads formed the Los Angeles–San Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor Agency (LOSSAN) in 1989. The Pacific Surfliner is operated by Amtrak under the Amtrak California brand with funding provided by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). Serious discussions were held in 2009 regarding the local agencies administering the service rather than Caltrans. California Senate Bill No. 1225, passed in 2014, allowed LOSSAN to amend the joint powers agreement and become the sponsor of state-supported intercity passenger rail service in the corridor. In mid-2015, LOSSAN assumed oversight for the Surfliner. They are also working with Caltrans to assess rail operations from Los Angeles to San Diego to develop better connections, close gaps in the schedule, and optimize the assets of the railroad. The ongoing North Coast Corridor project plans to increase rail capacity on the route of the Surfliner in North San Diego County.
The route is the successor of the San Diegan, a Los Angeles–San Diego service operated since 1938 by the Santa Fe Railway. It had been one of the Santa Fe's premier routes until Amtrak took over operations in 1971. Initially there were three daily trips, but the schedule was expanded to six round trips during the 1970s with funding from the state of California. In 1988 the service was extended to Santa Barbara to provide the Central Coast with an additional train to Los Angeles, followed in 1995 with one trip a day going all the way to San Luis Obispo. To better reflect the route's extent, it was renamed the Pacific Surfliner in 2000. The route is named after the Surf Line, which now comprises the route's busiest section from Los Angeles to San Diego.
A stop at Old Town Transit Center was added in 2004. Stops at Orange and Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo were added in 2007 but dropped in 2012. On October 7, 2013, stops were added at Coaster stations at Carlsbad Village, Carlsbad Poinsettia, Encinitas and Sorrento Valley. The Carlsbad Poinsettia and Encinitas stops were dropped on October 9, 2017, due to low ridership. The Carlsbad Village and Sorrento Valley stops were dropped on October 8, 2018, due to changes with the cross-ticketing arrangement with Coaster.
A 13th daily round trip was added on October 14, 2019.
On September 30, 2022, all rail service between Irvine and Oceanside was suspended due to coastal erosion under the track in San Clemente. Emergency repairs were expected to take at least 90 days. Full Pacific Surfliner service resumed on April 17, 2023. Service south of Irvine was again suspended on April 27 due to further erosion at Casa Romantica. Service resumed on May 27, 2023. Service was suspended again on June 5 due to continued erosion at Casa Romantica.
The Pacific Surfliner runs on track owned by several private railroads and public agencies:
- Union Pacific Railroad (Coast Line): San Luis Obispo – Moorpark
- Southern California Regional Rail Authority: Moorpark – Los Angeles
- BNSF Railway: Los Angeles – Fullerton
- Southern California Regional Rail Authority: Fullerton – Orange County/San Diego County line
- North County Transit District: Orange County/San Diego County line – San Diego
Carlsbad Poinsettia, Carlsbad Village, Encinitas and Sorrento Valley stations were previously served under the "Rail 2 Rail" reciprocal pass program with Coaster, while Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo and Orange were served under a similar program with Metrolink.
The Pacific Surfliner uses push-pull trainsets with a diesel locomotive at one end and a cab car at the other. Eight of the nine trainsets used for regular service use a fleet of 49 bilevel Surfliner coaches (39 owned by Amtrak and 10 by Caltrans), plus nine leased Amtrak Superliner long-distance coaches modified for push-pull operation. A typical six-car set has a business class car; three coach cars; a coach/café car with food sales on the lower level; and a coach/baggage/cab car equipped with coach seating, a checked baggage space on the lower level, and engineer's operating cab. The ninth trainset consists of leased Amtrak equipment: Horizon or Amfleet passenger cars plus a Non-Powered Control Unit. The Surfliner cars will be supplemented and partially replaced by new Siemens single-level cars beginning in 2020. In 2018, to provide additional capacity before the new cars arrive, LOSSAN began negotiating with the Great Lakes Central Railroad to lease bilevel railcars previously refurbished for a never-opened commuter railroad in Michigan.
The Surfliner cars were introduced in 2000–02, and were designed specifically to handle the demands of the nation's third-busiest rail line. They replaced the California Cars which had been introduced on the then-San Diegan in 1996, and had been fraught with problems in the latter part of the 1990s.
A dedicated fleet of 14 Caltrans-owned Siemens Charger locomotives began pre-revenue testing in October 2018 and entered revenue service later that year. The Chargers replaced a fleet of 15 Amtrak-owned EMD F59PHI locomotives (built in 1998), which were sold to Metra on March 2, 2019. Amtrak-owned GE P42DC locomotives (which are also used at other times) were temporarily used as motive power until the Chargers were ready for service. The Surfliner cars and Charger locomotives (and previously the F59PHI locomotives) are painted in a blue and silver livery that is unique to the Pacific Surfliner.
Additional Amtrak-owned cars are added (up to 12-car consists) during periods of high demand, including the San Diego Comic-Con, the San Diego County Fair, events at the Del Mar racetrack, and after the 2018 Southern California mudflows closed Highway 101. Amtrak Great Dome car Ocean View was occasionally used as an additional business class car prior to its retirement in 2019.
A Pacific Surfliner Siemens Charger locomotive at L.A. Union Station in 2022.
A Pacific Surfliner train hauled by a P42DC locomotive in 2012
Ocean View on the Pacific Surfliner in 2017
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- ^ "Amtrak Timetable Results". www.amtrak.com. Retrieved December 20, 2021.
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- ^ "LOSSAN Board discusses JPA and the Future Governance of Passenger Rail in Southern California". Rail Passenger Association of California & Nevada. Retrieved December 6, 2009.
- ^ "Senate Bill No. 1225" California Secretary of State (September 29, 2012)
- ^ Sheehan, Tim (June 26, 2015). "Valley agency takes control of Amtrak San Joaquin trains". Fresno Bee. Retrieved February 11, 2016.
- ^ Weikel, Dan (January 27, 2015) "Little-known agency keeps commuter rail network on track" Los Angeles Times
- ^ Schmidt, Brian (November 30, 2022). "Amtrak San Diego service through the years". Trains. Retrieved December 4, 2022.
- ^ Gabbard, Dana (September 24, 2012). "History of the Surfliner, LOSSAN and a Look at Pending Legislation". StreetsBlog LA. OpenPlans. Retrieved April 11, 2014.
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- ^ "October 8, 2018 Schedule Change" (Press release). Amtrak. Archived from the original on November 26, 2018.
- ^ "AMTRAK PACIFIC SURFLINER INTRODUCES 13TH ROUNDTRIP" (Press release). Amtrak. October 10, 2019.
- ^ "Pacific Surfliner, Metrolink halt operations in South Orange County". Trains. September 30, 2022. Retrieved October 2, 2022.
- ^ "Pacific Surfliner, Metrolink facing 60-day service outage to Oceanside, San Diego official says". Trains. October 1, 2022. Retrieved October 2, 2022.
- ^ "News - Emergency Track Stabilization Work Set to Begin Next Week in South Orange County".
- ^ Connelly, Laylan (April 10, 2023). "Metrolink, Amtrak to resume full passenger train service through San Clemente". Orange County Register. Retrieved April 13, 2023.
- ^ Jennewein, Chris (April 28, 2023). "Amtrak, Metrolink Service to San Diego Still Unavailable Friday After Landslide in San Clemente". Times of San Diego. Retrieved May 1, 2023.
- ^ Lester, David C. (May 30, 2023). "Rail Service, Including Metrolink, Pacific Surfliner, Cleared to Resume Through San Clemente". Railway Track and Structures. Retrieved June 1, 2023.
- ^ Rendon, Karla (June 6, 2023). "Landslide in San Clemente Rail service out of North County again". NBC 7 San Diego. Retrieved June 7, 2023.
- ^ "Pacific Surfliner" (PDF). Amtrak. April 8, 2019. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 4, 2019.
- ^ SMA Rail Consulting (April 2016). "California Passenger Rail Network Schematics" (PDF). California Department of Transportation. pp. 15–18, 22, 25–26.
- ^ a b c d e "Chapter 9: Equipment". LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency Business Plan: FY 2018-19 to FY 2019-20 (PDF). Los Angeles – San Diego – San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor Agency. April 2018. pp. 41–47.
- ^ Alstom. "The Pacific Surfliner, Riding the California Coast" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 7, 2014. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
- ^ "STATE RAILROAD CARS PLAGUED WITH DEFECTS". Daily News. Los Angeles, CA. Associated Press. April 13, 1998. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
- ^ "New, Cleaner Locomotives Coming Soon to the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner Service". Pacific Surfliner Blog. October 5, 2018. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
- ^ "Charger Locomotive Deployment: ' The California Experience'" (PDF). Next Generation Equipment Committee - 2019 Annual Meeting. American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. February 22, 2019.
- ^ "Cleaner Locomotive Fleet Powers Up: 22 New Units Ordered for State-Supported Amtrak Corridors" (PDF). The Mile Marker. Caltrans. December 2016. pp. 31–32.
- ^ Young, Allen (November 6, 2015). "Siemens Sacramento nabs $240M multistate contract". Sacramento Business Journal.
- ^ "Metra moves to buy newer engines" (Press release). Metra. February 21, 2018.
- ^ "Official Paint Scheme and Logo Branding Guide" (PDF). Amtrak. August 17, 2018. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 18, 2018.
- ^ Solomon, Brian (2004). Amtrak. Saint Paul, Minnesota: MBI. pp. 114, 138. ISBN 978-0-7603-1765-5.
- ^ "EXTRA PACIFIC SURFLINER SERVICE AND CAPACITY ADDED FOR COMIC-CON". Pacific Surfliner Blog. Amtrak. July 11, 2018.
- ^ "Amtrak boosts Pacific Surfliner capacity in response to mudslides". Progressive Railroading. January 16, 2018.
- ^ "PANORAMIC VIEWS OF the CALIFORNIA COAST FROM THE GREAT DOME". Pacific Surfliner Blog. Amtrak. July 14, 2017.
- ^ "Amtrak's 'Great Dome' car has been retired". Times Union. August 30, 2019. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
- ^ Amtrak's Fiscal Year (FY) runs from October 1 of the prior year to September 30 of the named year.
- Amtrak routes
- Transportation in Southern California
- Public transportation in San Luis Obispo County, California
- Public transportation in Santa Barbara County, California
- Public transportation in Ventura County, California
- Public transportation in Los Angeles County, California
- Public transportation in Orange County, California
- Public transportation in San Diego County, California
- Passenger rail transportation in California
- Airport rail links in the United States
- Higher-speed rail