Thursday, March 29, 2012

Meet you at the woodpile?

I try to catch Pacific Surfliner train 582 from LA at 4.10pm every evening.  Generally, it's far more reliable than 784 (5.10pm) which has to come down from Goleta and is usually late.

582 traditionally is close to on time.  It used to have a meet with a Coaster train down in San Diego County, near Carlsbad at a site called Ponto (after the creepy old storage unit on the west side of the track). But that got better and we were doing great.

Then, things really went to hell.  Actually, where they went is the Woodpile.  I don't know the proper name (all crossing points have a name) but it is just south of San Juan Capistrano, and marked by a large pile of wood in a construction yard on the west side.  And every night, 582 comes to a long sighing stop at the Woodpile and waits.

And waits, and waits, for Amtrak 785 coming up from San Diego.  Apparently 785 gets tangled up in Coaster traffic (San Diego having lots of single track where trains have to wait for each other) and 582 and its tired and hungry commuters wait sometimes 20 or 25 minutes until we can get going again.

Naturally, we complain.

But there's hope!  The new schedule coming in April will ahve 785 leave 5 minutes earlier.  Perhaps it will be able to evade the Coasters and make the meet at the woodpile more efficiently.

So we won't have to meet you at the Woodpile.


Anonymous said...

785's problem came about because the old new schedule (the January one) had a couple of minor oversights, which can be expected of a train schedule whenever they try to tweak things. The most notable one was that the way the schedule was arranged there were three trains stopped at Oceanside at once; Coaster 662, Amtrak 580, and Amtrak 785. Not very easy to do with only two tracks/platforms. A temporary solution was arranged, but it led to delays to all three trains, with 785 getting the worst of it, cascading into a Metrolink meet which was occasionally changed so as to not delay that train, but leading to more delays to 785.

The new schedule moves 580 5 minutes earlier and 785 5 minutes later so the trains now meet in Carlsbad rather than Oceanside, which hopefully clears up the huge Oceanside clusterwad shuffle which was killing everybody's OTP.

And that's how easy it is to bring the whole railroad to a standstill. Sometimes it's amazing trains ever reach their destination on time.

IT said...

So the root cause was the move of 578 (2pm out of LA) to 580 (3pm out of LA). Well, the tweak has ameliorated the delay somewhat , but not fixed it. The hash tag "#woodpile" gets some use on Twitter.

Thanks for the inside info!