• Railfanning in san Diego

  • Pertaining to all railroad subjects, past and present, in the American West, including California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, and The Dakotas. For specific railroad topics, please see the Fallen Flags and Active Railroads categories.
Pertaining to all railroad subjects, past and present, in the American West, including California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, and The Dakotas. For specific railroad topics, please see the Fallen Flags and Active Railroads categories.

Moderator: Komachi

  by njtmnrrbuff
At the end of August, I will be visiting my brother in LA. I will get to ride the Pacific Surfliner to San Diego. What are the good spots for railfanning in San Diego? I also know that there is a train store in Old Town but it will be moving somewhere else soon. How is the store and where will the new location be?
Last year when we drove up to Santa Barbara, I happen to fall in love with the fact that the UP main runs parralel to 101 as well as the ocean above Oxnard. I even photographed a northbound surfliner in push mode at Santa Barbara. Basically, I have ridden most of the Surfliner route north of Oxnard, but it was in a car. I decided that I will also make a trip to Santa Barbara on the train. What should I expect in terms of scenery between LAX and Oxnard. I know you have the tunnel around Chatsworth as well as Santa Susana pass.
Last, my mom and I will be visiting a friend of hers in San Bernardino, and we will be going by Metrolink's San Bernardino Line. What should I expect there? I might even take the OCL to Orange, ride the IEOC Line north to San Bernardino.

  by The S.P. Caboose
In San Diego I would hang around the station area. During the day most of the traffic is passenger. Around noon there's a freight that rolls out of San Diego heading north.

Riding the Pacific Surfliner northbound out of Los Angeles can be a fun ride. It's also known as railroad Westbound. When SP owned the trackage, their headquarters where in the Bay Area (San Francisco), so everything heading towards San Francisco was Westbound and everything heading away from San Francisco was Eastbound. At Burbank Junction the mainlines split, one going thru Bakersfield is the old Saugas Line, the one going thru Santa Barbara is the Coastline. From Burbank Junction to the Northridge area the train travels at 79mph, making station stops at Burbank Airport (now known as Bob Hope Airport), Gemco (the old General Motors plant in Van Nuys---now a shopping center, with an Amtrak Station). It's a straight run from Burbank Junction to the Northridge/Chatsworth area, the tracks will run in a Northwest direction. At Chatsworth, there's kind of a sweeping curve between DeSoto Ave. and Lassen St. where the tracks will head straight north for a mile or so. The siding at Chatsworth has been lengthened from 4,056 feet to 7,160 feet, so there are two tracks that the tracks can use to make their station stop at. On the left hand side of the train at this point are the Santa Susana mountains where the San Fernando and Simi Valley's are divided. After leaving Chatsworth, the train will make a left hand turn passing thru 3 tunnels. Tunnel 28 is 537 feet long going underneth Topanga Canyon Blvd., followed by Tunnel 27 at Chatsworth Park (924 feet) and finally Tunnel 26 (7,369 feet long) leading out towards Simi Valley, where there's another station stop. The closest freeway is the 118.

Between Burbank Junction and Chatsworth is the San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles. Mostly residental, with a lot of business. There's about 1.5-2 million people living in the Valley.

As you travel out of the three tunnels, you'll be in Ventura County and in the City of Simi Valley. Mostly residental until the west end. The scenery starts to turn into more of a business area.

The tracks are dispatched by the Metrolink Valley Ventura Subdivision Dispatcher from Burbank Junction to Las Posas (Moorpark area); from here it's dispatched by the Union Pacific Dispatcher (DS50). There's the usual Amtrak's, I think 13 plus the two Coast Starlight's, Metrolink trains and nine UP freight's.

In the Moorpark/Oxnard area it's more farmland than anything else.

At the Northwest end of Ventura the tracks head along the Pacific Ocean for about 110 miles up to Devon. Highway 1 heads inland at Gaviota east of Vandenberg Air Force Base, while the trains with remain along the coastline and to the west of Vandenburg. When the Air Force is going to launch a miscle they notify the railroad so the trains will stop until after the event. Also, it's close to the time of year when whales and dolphins are migrating in the twice a year trip between Mexico and Alaska, which can be seen from the train.

In Santa Barbara the train stops a few cars away from StateStreet; the tourist section of Santa Barbara. One block away is Sterns Warf, which has some shops and resturants.

In san Bernadino, this is BNSF territory, along with Metrolink. Union Pacific's big yard is along I-10 in West Colton, a few miles away, between Pepper Ave. and Sierra Ave.

This is the main way in and out of Los Angeles for BNSF. To the north of San Bernardino is Cajon Pass. UP has trackage rights on the BNSF as well it's own set of trcks between West Colton and Bakersfield. In this area a railfan can see 4 trains in a 5 minute period of time (figure about 50 trains a day) plus Metrolink in and out of San Bernadino. It's both residental and business around this area.

Three of the better known railfan spots are in this general area. Beamont Hill, which travels between West Colton along I-10 and Indio and on into Yuma. Cajon Pass which is between Barstow and San Bernardino. Finnally Tehachapi, between Mojave and Bakersfield. Lots of traffic in this area. Beamont Hill sees 6,000 ton hot shots and 14,500 ton drag freights and evrything in between.

Enjoy your trip out here later on this summer.

  by njtmnrrbuff
I kind of figured that san fernando is still apart of La by looking at a map. it shows how sprawed out LA is. It would kind of be similar to one driving from Jersey city to Perth Amboy via the bayonne bridge, because if you do that, you are on Staten island, which is still apart of NY city. I'm looking forward to the railfanning. How many freights pass through santa barbara between the hours of 11:35 and 1:59 or between 12:48 and 4:05? thanks for the advice. However, I will not get to any freight spots in the middle of the desert because I will not have access to a car. In fact, right now, I don't drive because it is just too much hassle. maybe someday I will depending on where my job is.

  by The S.P. Caboose
During the early hours (11:35-1:59) you'll probably see a northbound manifest train from West Colton going to Portland. The later hours is more of a crap shoot. Between Los Angeles and Moorpark there are something like 10 Amtraks and 10 Metrolinks in each direction a day. The daytime freight traffic is normally ealry or late. There's a quality lumber train that i think goes thru Santa Barbara about 7:00 am (southbound to Long Beach).

If you can carpool with somebody thats about the only way, without a car to see any traffic in the desert. Tehachapi has about 30 trains a day, Cajon Pass has about 60 trains a day as does Beamont Hill.