Amtrak Surfliner Route in Southern California  » Railway  »
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  • My experience, overall, has been fairly positive, although the route is frequently over-booked, the conductors occasionally rude, and the ticketing system a bit confusing
  • This can be a bit boring if your stop is not Los Angeles, but it does fit into the pre-planned schedule for the trip
  • Punctuality can be another issue - on average, I would say I arrived 15 minutes late, almost every time
  • Unfortunately, it's about your only option for passenger trains going north of Los Angeles or south of Orange County

    • by Reed
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      I have ridden the Amtrak Surfliner route, which runs from around Lompoc, California, down to the San Diego area, many times in the past six to seven years. My experience, overall, has been fairly positive, although the route is frequently over-booked, the conductors occasionally rude, and the ticketing system a bit confusing.

      The Surfliner route passes through many communities with Universities near them, including Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Fullerton, and Irvine. This makes the route very popular with college students returning home or going back to school during holiday periods, or on weekends. As a result, a large portion of the Surfliner’s business seems to


      be college students, which can be a bit frustrating when you are just a regular customer. Additionally, the Surfliner route frequently, in my experience, over-books their trains, and it is extremely often, seemingly, that the trains are “standing room only.” This can be quite a hassle, given that a train ride can last anywhere from one to five hours, depending on your destination.

      The route stops very, very frequently, and the frequency of announcements can make the ride less-than-relaxing. However, between Ventura and Santa Barbara, there is a long stretch of ocean side track, with a great view - this is obviously an exception ...


      • in terms of times where the ride is soothing.

        The train stops for the longest period of time at Los Angeles Union Station, a large holdover station from the time when trains were more frequent in the California area. Often the Surfliner will stall for a half hour or more here, changing crews and re-stocking the dining car. This can be a bit boring if your stop is not Los Angeles, but it does fit into the pre-planned schedule for the trip.

        Punctuality can be another issue - on average, I would say I arrived 15 minutes late, almost every time. There have been, however, a

        few nightmare experiences where something happens on the whole train line, and trains are hours late, if not longer. This can be exacerbated by the fact that Amtrak, during peak holiday periods, often requires reservations, still over-books the trains, and therefore you can be stuck with no seat and a train that is a few hours late.

        Overall, the Surfliner is cleaner and nicer of an experience than light rail lines or the like, but the trains are frequently over-booked, the stops frequent, and the schedules delayed. Unfortunately, it’s about your only option for passenger trains going north of Los Angeles or south of Orange County.




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    The review was published as it's written by reviewer in March, 2009. The reviewer certified that no compensation was received from the reviewed item producer, trademark owner or any other institution, related with the item reviewed. The site is not responsible for the mistakes made. 441303629640331/k2311a0313/3.13.09
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