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No. 14 Detour over Tehachapi, 28 April 2018

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Just a brief recount of my experience...

 

I am a "rare mileage collector", and that coupled with the stunning scenery, has caused this trip to be on my "bucket list" for a long time.

The first time I learned of this detour due to track work, several years ago, I simply could not get the time off from work to go.

The last time I heard of it, I managed to get the time off, booked my hotel and flights, and was all set to go, when at the last minute I learned that due to inclement weather, the scheduled track work was cancelled, and the train would operate over its normal route....so I cancelled just in time.

So they say, "third time is the charm", and indeed it was...

 

I learned of this current detour, once again thanks to the ever-helpful member's of AU. Since I retired in November, getting time off is no longer a problem.

So once again, I lined up my flights, and booked a hotel, keeping close watch on the Amtrak website for any last minute changes.

I must mention, that the Amtrak website had no travel advisories indicating this detour, until just a day or so before. The only indication was that sales to the bypassed stops were blocked, but that in itself is no guarantee, since they sometimes will block "short" segments for yield management purpose.

I did call the Amtrak call center, and got a nice agent who checked and verified for me, that the train was indeed scheduled to do the detour.

 

So....packed my overnight bag, and set my alarm for "0 Dark Thirty" to wake up, shower up, and take a couple of local buses from my home to catch the first flight of the day (at 0545) from LGA via DFW to LAX. Arrived in LAX 1137. Headed to the hotel shuttle stop, and immediately caught a shuttle over to the nearby Westin-LAX. A very nice airport hotel, clean, excellent bed, and nice furnishing's. Took a nap, and woke up for dinner. My Starwood Gold status gave me free wifi, and a $10. restaurant voucher. So I tried their Grill, and just had some Fish and Chips for dinner. Very tasty, accompanied by peanut cole slaw. Just enough to satisfy me. I then took a long walk (about a mile and a half), over to the Aviation Blvd. Metro Rail station, to see their operation. Since I was departing on a Saturday, it would have meant doing a couple of transfers to get to Union Station, so I decided that this time, I would just use the Flyaway bus. I caught a free LAX shuttle back to the terminal, then my hotel shuttle back to the hotel. Had some tea from the in room coffee pot, accompanied by some cookies I brought from home...used the wifi for a little while, watched TV for an hour, and set two alarms to wake me up at 0500.

 

Jumped out of bed, showered, put on a cup of coffee, and got dressed. Headed down to the lobby to check out, and caught a shuttle at 0600. Got to the terminal and caught a Flyaway bus, that departed around 0620. It only took about 25 minutes to get to Union Station, in light Saturday morning traffic.

I then went in to 'check in' at the ticket window, and was advised to return after 0830 to window one for seat assignment. So I headed over to the often recommended here, Phiippe Restaurant for a hearty breakfast....I was not disappointed. Delicious! Upon leaving, I picked up a beef dip sandwich to go, to have aboard the train.

 

I spent the rest of the time walking throughout Union Station, and what a beautiful structure it is...it's been many years since I last was here, and a lot of things have changed, especially the new addition to the far side. At 0830, I went to window one, and received my seat assignment. I overheard one couple that also came a long way to ride this train, but for the scenery along the coast. They were very disappointed to hear of the detour. I then headed up the ramp to track ten, walked to the end of the platform, where I met several friendly rail fans awaiting the train. They had booked space aboard the private car, Tioga Pass, which was to bring up our markers. They paid $300. to my $58. (senior rate) to ride to Oakland in luxury, including lunch and dinner prepared on the private car, with its open observation platform. They were surprised I had come so far to ride the detour, and were even more surprised that I learned of the trip well before some of them had, again courtesy of AU....

 

The train backed in, and I boarded my assigned coach, '13', dropped my jacket and bag at my seat, and headed right for the Sightseer Lounge. There were only 88 paid passenger's on board, so getting seats in the lounge was never a problem. I sat at a table, and plugged in my phone to watch the Verizon Navigator app, which shows the owning railroad on all the tracks on the map.

I met a very nice bunch of people, who generously shared their vast local knowledge of the route we were taking. Included among them were some veteran and retired railroad employees, some of which worked this route back in the day. Also aboard, was the Amtrak manager of operations in Oakland, a charming lady, who promised us she would use her influence with UP dispatcher's she knew from when she worked for them, to get us 'priority' handling.

 

We departed 5 minutes late, account of a brake test, and were soon merrily rolling along. I have posted detailed times passing by many of the points along the way in a thread on the detour. I must say, that whether, she really had influence, or was just joking, the UP really gave our train the railroad...we lost maybe 25 minutes the entire day meeting a couple of passenger trains and several freight trains. We did make a very quick stop at the Santa Clarita station to eject an unticketed passanger(!)...less than a minute. The longest delays were about 32 minutes at Bakersfield, changing crews, and then about 45 minutes wyeing the train at Lathrop, part of which was about 15 minutes walking the train, when the crew somehow managed to "big-hole" it while backing up with the tail-hose....

We also dropped some pilots at I believe was Niles Junction for a few minutes. We never sat too long in the hole to meet a freight. We finally arrived in Oakland, Jack London Square station at 2156.

 

The train was a typical Coast Starlight consist other than the PV at the rear....I did not bother to record the engine or car numbers, sorry if anyone wanted those...I was only in the coaches and the lounge...did not visit the diner or the sleepers. I will comment that the train was clean, but it is somewhat showing its age. I did not care for the harsh red and yellow colors in the lavs, done some time during a past refurbishment. Not the way I remembered from the last time I was in a Superliner. I checked out the Business Class coach on the rear...it had the same seating as the other coaches. I can't see the value of them, at $96, IIRC, at least on this train, even with the small meal voucher and bottled water included. The only thing I purchased on board, was a cup of coffee at lunch time, to have with some cookies I brought from home. Dinner time, I had my Philippe beef dip sandwich, with bottled water and more cookies from home...

 

The scenery was spectacular going around the loop...and due to recent rains was an uncharacteristic green for Southern California. Also enjoyed seeing the rest of the freight only scenery on the UP lines thru the valley, and on into Oakland...

I was glad to make the trip, and also earn double AGR points along the way....I took some i-phone pictures, but still don't know how to post, sorry...

 

When we arrived in OKJ, I called for an Uber cab (no time for BART), and for $41.00, I got a fast ride to SFO, in plenty of time to catch the 'red-eye', at 2330 back to JFK nonstop. Arrived at 0740, caught a couple of buses and got home around 0900.

 

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One of the riders in the PV was an AUer. He doesn't post much here. I'm friends with him on FB and saw his pics.

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Sounds like you had a great trip! Thanks for taking the time to write all that. :)

 

I took some i-phone pictures, but still don't know how to post, sorry...

 

Do you have the ‘Amtrak Forum’ app? If you do, the easiest way is to just tap the little image icon (while posting), and select the photo(s) you want to upload. Hope that helps.

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I do not....if I get it, can I edit my post, and add photos already in my phone?

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I do not....if I get it, can I edit my post, and add photos already in my phone?

Yep!

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I think I've got it...By George, I'm sure I've 'got it'!!! :):D

 

Sorry for the reflections....I think I'll try to post my video of the Loop, next...

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I'm having a problem with the video...when I click on the '+', it only shows my still shots to choose from, not the video...

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Anyway, now I'll have to learn how to add photo's on my laptop. BTW, in case anyone couldn't figure out that first photo, it was taken out the "railfan window" looking down at the PV

Tioga Pass...

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I'm having a problem with the video...when I click on the '+', it only shows my still shots to choose from, not the video...

you can’t attach videos through the app. The easiest method is to upload it to YouTube and attach the link.

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BTW, in case anyone couldn't figure out that first photo, it was taken out the "railfan window" looking down at the PV

Tioga Pass...

Thanks! I was wondering about that!

 

Oh, and to upload photos from your computer, if memory serves, you need to click the more reply options button and then the image icon. Then just locate and select the image you want.

Edited by cpotisch

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BTW, in case anyone couldn't figure out that first photo, it was taken out the "railfan window" looking down at the PV

Tioga Pass...

Thanks! I was wondering about that!

 

Oh, and to upload photos from your computer, if memory serves, you need to click the more reply options button and then the image icon. Then just locate and select the image you want.

Edited by cpotisch

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Thanks for all your help!

I tried sending my video to youtube, first in HD then SD, but it would not publish...(from my phone)

Edited by railiner

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