Jump to content
Guest Paul D

SW Chief connection to Starlight when late

Recommended Posts

Guest Paul D

Busy making travel plans to use a rail pass. I have traveled Amtrak a lot and I know they can have very late arrivals at the end of a long route.

I want to travel the SW Chief to LA and then connect to the Calif Starlight in LA. About a 2 hour gap per current schedules but the SW Chief is often late enough to miss that connection. Some year ago I tried a similar connection in LA and the train was very late. I do not recall where but Amtrak took me off somewhere east of LA and shuttled me (and others) cross country to connect with the Starlight.

Does anyone know if Amtrak still does that when the Chief is too late to make the Starlight connection at LA? Where are the connection points for this shortcut?

Share this post


Link to post

I was on a delayed SWC in 2015. Passengers for the CS were taken all the way into LA, and then put on a bus going north. (I wasn't one of them, so I'm not sure where they ended up meeting up with the train.)

 

In our case, however, the straw that broke the camel's back was in the final stretch. Up until our arrival in Fullerton, they thought we were going to make the connection (and I think they were willing to hold the CS until our arrival), but then there was police activity on the tracks heading into LA. It only delayed us another 15-20 minutes or so, but it was enough that they had to let the CS go. If circumstances had been different, the connection points probably would have been different too.

Share this post


Link to post

Amtrak will try to maintain your connection. Depending on how late and how far you are going on the Coast Starlight, they may bus you to Santa Barbara to "catch up" to the train. Or, they may bus you to Bakersfield where you would take a San Joaquin to Sacramento to catch the CS.

Share this post


Link to post

Depending on how late you are, they'll probably either try to bus you to the Starlight or put you on the next day's train.

Share this post


Link to post

Two years ago we were 6 hours late into LAX. Amtrak put us on the bus to Bakersfield and then a train to Sacramento. It was fine except there is no food besides a vending machine in Bakersfield. The cafe car on the train to Sacramento was good, though.

Share this post


Link to post

The cafe car on the train to Sacramento was good, though.

That's because the San Joaquin is run by Amtrak California, meaning it's a state supported route with better food and service than pretty much anything Amtrak has offered on their own.

Edited by cpotisch

Share this post


Link to post

If it is very late, you may be bused from a stop on the SWC (say Barstow) to a stop on the CS (say Santa Barbara). Or if you are going to northern CA, OR or WA, they may book you on the regular Thruway bus to Bakersfield going on the SJ.

Share this post


Link to post
Guest Guest

Sound about like what I expected. I am hoping to make the connection even if it involves a bus trip to connect directly with the CS. I am going all the way to SEA on a trip with my sister. Her first train trip and I wanted it to be a great experience. She was looking forward to the CS portion and I am hoping that we don't get diverted to the SJ.

I have been watching the arrival times for the 3 into LAX and it is all over the place. Sometimes about on time while others are 5 hours late. Looks like a crap shoot on any given day.

Share this post


Link to post

If you don't want to take the gamble, can you build in an overnight layover? There's plenty to see and do in LA for a day, or you could connect to a northbound Pacific Surfliner (plenty of trains throughout the day, so if the SWC is late, you can just get the next one), stay in someplace like Santa Barbara, and get the CS the next day from there.

Share this post


Link to post

Heck there's plenty to do and see within walking distance of Los Angeles Union Station.

The Metro Plaza hotel is within walking distance.

I spent several hours just looking at art deco LAUS and the newer Metro/bus station on the east side of the tracks, and spent time across from LAUS on very touristy Olvera Street.

Share this post


Link to post
Guest Guest

I have about 18,000 miles on Amtrak via business travel and rail passes over past 15 years. I am familiar with the headaches that a missed connection can make. This trip is special because I am taking my sister on her first train trip. Will be using a rail pass and I made all my plans to include generous time between connections. The connection from the SWC to the CS is the only one that I am concerned about. As long as Amtrak can find a way for us to make that connection (bus, rickshaw or whatever), that will keep out trip on schedule.

Share this post


Link to post

The Metro Plaza hotel is within walking distance.

Except that the Metroplaza hotel is often booked full a few months in advance. Single beds are first to go. When I try to book it, it usually is 90 per cent booked at times, with sometimes only double Q's are the only available ones.

Share this post


Link to post

I have never had trouble when booking there.

Share this post


Link to post

I have about 18,000 miles on Amtrak via business travel and rail passes over past 15 years. I am familiar with the headaches that a missed connection can make. This trip is special because I am taking my sister on her first train trip. Will be using a rail pass and I made all my plans to include generous time between connections. The connection from the SWC to the CS is the only one that I am concerned about. As long as Amtrak can find a way for us to make that connection (bus, rickshaw or whatever), that will keep out trip on schedule.

While the connection is protected, if traveling past Sacramento, often they will put you on the bus connection to Bakersfield and use the San Joaquin to get you to the Starlight at Sacramento at midnight. You miss the coast running entirely that is often the highlight of the trip. Since that is a regular service, and does not require a special bus, my impression is they do that more that provide a special dedicated bus bridge to Santa Barbara or SLO.

Share this post


Link to post

Most of the time the SWC is on time into LA,but if you have a connection on the CS and you are taking the train for the scenery,an overnight in LA is advisable. If the SWC is running late and you are bused to SLO or take the San Jouquins youll be missing that wonderful stretch of ocean views between SBA and SLO. A few yenars ago I took a Surfliner to Oxnard to spend the night. Cheaper than LA and boarded the CS the next day

Share this post


Link to post
Guest Guest

I fixed my situation by going ahead and staying overnight in LA. Got a room booked at the Metro Plaza. This will ensure that my sister gets a full ride on the CS.

Share this post


Link to post

I fixed my situation by going ahead and staying overnight in LA. Got a room booked at the Metro Plaza. This will ensure that my sister gets a full ride on the CS.

Smart. Always a good idea to play it safe when possible.

Share this post


Link to post
Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×