Spirit of California

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Spirit of California
Service typeInter-city rail
LocaleCalifornia, United States
First serviceOctober 25, 1981
Last serviceSeptember 30, 1983
Former operator(s)Amtrak
StartLos Angeles, California
EndSacramento, California
Distance travelled552 miles (888 km)
Average journey time12 hours 50 minutes
Service frequencyDaily
Train number(s)15, 18
On-board services
Seating arrangementsReserved coach
Sleeping arrangementsBedrooms and roomettes
Catering facilitiesOn-board cafe
Rolling stock
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Track owner(s)SP

The Spirit of California was a passenger train operated by Amtrak between Los Angeles and Sacramento, California. It operated from 1981 to 1983 with financial support from the State of California. It was the first overnight service between the two cities since the Southern Pacific Railroad discontinued the Lark in 1968 and one of few state-supported Amtrak trains with sleeper service. The train used the Southern Pacific's Coast Line, complementing the Coast Starlight which served the route on a daytime schedule.


The last overnight service on the Southern Pacific's Coast Line was the Lark, which ended on April 8, 1968. During the 1970s Amtrak operated the Coast Starlight, which departed Los Angeles every morning for Seattle, Washington. The southbound Coast Starlight arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area in the morning and in Los Angeles by dinnertime, and at the time did not serve Sacramento, the state capital.[1][2]:50

The new train departed Los Angeles at 8:25 PM, arriving in Sacramento at 9:30 AM the next morning. The southbound train departed at 7:55 PM and arrived at 9:00 AM the next day. The California Department of Transportation, Caltrans, budgeted $1.7 million towards the train's first year of operation and expected 160,000 passengers the first year, rising to 300,000 in five years. The train carried coaches, a cafe, and two sleeping cars.[1] Service began on October 25, 1981. Caltrans held a naming contest, with the winner "Spirit of California" announced on December 24.[3]

After taking office in January 1983, Governor George Deukmejian cut funding for the train, and Amtrak supporters scrambled to find additional funding. It was proposed that the state of Nevada fund the train for service to Reno, but this proposal was never passed by the Nevada legislature. The Spirit of California was discontinued in 1983, running for the final time on the night of September 30–October 1, 1983.[4]


The Spirit of California's usual consist was:[5]


  1. ^ a b "New LA-Northern California train service set". Lodi News-Sentinel. October 22, 1981. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
  2. ^ Amtrak (October 31, 1982). National Train Timetables. Retrieved April 18, 2015.
  3. ^ "New Train 'Spirit of California'". Ventura County Advisor. December 24, 1981. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
  4. ^ "Amtrak on the Property" (May 1986). Passenger Train Journal, p. 27. PTJ Publishing.
  5. ^ "Amtrak standard consists, February/March 1982". Pacific News. 22 (1): 10. November 1982.

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