Thursday, July 21, 2011

Racing Season! Time for the old trains

Apparently the players who watch the ponies are numerous, because Amtrak has to add extra capacity onto the Surfliner during the six weeks of Del Mar racing season. The conductor told me that yesterday, which was  opening day, the morning train southbound from LA to the track was so packed with standing room passengers that they couldn't pick up all the people on the platform in Irvine.

Additional capacity is accomplished by breaking up a couple of Surfliner trainsets to add their cars to the others. The missing trainsets are then accommodated by bringing out those old single level cars (with an occasional appearance by the Great Dome).

Yesterday, train #582 (southbound from LA) was so cursed. It was a sorry mishmash of cars and livery. Pulled by a regular grey Amtrak engine (not a sleek blue Surfliner engine), there were seven single level cars: two of the flat sided Horizon model and 5 of the cigar-like, rounded Amfleet, brought up at the rear by a Cascades "cabbage".

That is, an ex-locomotive in the distinctive paint job of Amtrak's Cascade line, with its engine removed, that now serves as a combination cab car (to drive the train: a "non powered control unit" ) and baggage car. Cab+Baggage = Cabbage.

I am not making this up.

The problem with these cars is that they are single level, designed for raised platforms. They are also old and uncomfortable, with worn out seats and lousy suspensions. Worst of all, the doors are manual. At every stop, the conductors must open the doors and lower the rickety folding steps. Since there are only three crew on the train, that means most doors don't open (unlike the regular Surfliner trainset, which has two efficient automatic doors in each car). So you have to queue up by just a few doors to get on and off, which makes for delays...and makes the old trainset inevitably late.

Everyone hates the old trainsets which are rotated through the different services so that the pain is equally distributed. Racing season lasts six weeks.


GNS said...

Ironic isn't it? How "racing" season slows down everything?

Anonymous said...

The racing season has long since ended and Amcrap continues to stick it to passengers and commuters with their old outdated cars. the Surfliner has become the Rudeliner! Managemnt doesn't give a rat's kyou-know-what! I would rather work late or come in early than ride the Rudeliner shitbox!!