San Diego's two major attractions are its trolley and the Coaster commuter rail network. It also sees some Amtrak service in the form of the Pacific Surfliner, but no other long distance trains.
The San Diego Trolley (operating under the Metropolitan Transportation System brand), is widely held to be the first modern light rail transit system in North America using Siemens articulated LRV's. It also made extensive use of having freight trains run on its system before the FRA stopped giving out waivers for that sort of thing. The Trolley pioneered several innovations now common in North American light rail systems such as in-street reservations in the downtown, proof of payment and multiple unit operation.
The SDT consists of three lines, Orange, Blue and Green. The Blue Line was built first in 1981 and is the light rail line in the country that can take you to an international border crossing. This was followed in 1986 by the Orange Line, which used an old ATSF commuter RoW to travel inland. Both of these lines use classic style The new Green Line was opened in 2005 on the I-8 alignment serving the Chargers stadium and a UC San Diego.
Coaster is exactly what it says on the tin and runs up the coast almost to Camp Pendleton. The line is partly equipped with the Automatic Train Stop system which allows for speed of up to 90mph.
I had plenty of opportunity to take pictures around the old ATSF Union Station downtown where the Coaster and Surfliner terminate and Blue and Orange line trolleys also stop. I took a Blue/Green/Orange circle route on the Trolley and also took pictures around the combined Trolley/Coaster yard near the 12th and Imperial transportation center.
You can view all of the photos I took by clicking this link right here or just see the small fraction that I post below.
I will start with the old ATSF depot downtown which has kept most of its original detailing. (Specifically the ATSF tilework on the domes). Here we see the depot with a blue line trolley going past.
The inside was no different. I am sure there is some sort of interesting preservation story associated with this place.
The depot has a total of 6 tracks, 2 trolley and 4 for Amtrak/Coaster. There are two islands and two side platforms. Here we are at the north end of the platforms looking back as a Blue Line trolley departs at night.
Amtrak trainsets are based out of LA so when they arrive in San Diego they don't tend to stay very long. Here is Amtrak F59PHI #455 painted in Operation Lifesaver colors shortly before its departure northbound.
And here it is departing.
Of course the main tenant of the station are the Coaster trains. Coaster uses MPI/M-K built F40PH-2's and those Bombardier octagonal bi-level coaches that don't do so well in crashes. The Coaster trainsets hang out in large yard complex south of the downtown area and have to navigate a long single track segment with lots of grade crossings to get to the station. This track is also used by BNSF freight trains to reach the San Diego freight yards.
Here we have Coaster F40 #2103 waiting at the end of the lead track waiting to proceed across Broadway and platform at Union Station. The light rail tracks are on the left. Uh Oh, do I see bi-lingual warning signs? Someone better call Lou Dobbs!
The south end of the station is non-interlocked so Coaster employs a switchtender to line the routes by hand during the peak periods. Here the tender unlocks the hand throw points while Coaster cab car #2301 passes by.
Here that same trainset trailed by #2301 sits at the depot.