Normally when I head to the Bay Area I usually wind up at the San Jose Diridon station with its mix of Amtrak, ACE and Caltrain services. It's one of the largest stations in the west with probably more service of anything apart from LA's Union Station. Well this time I was looking for something a little different and therefore I figured that I would instead get dropped off at the Santa Clara station, one and a half stops up the line. Santa Clara is no slouch having been recently rebuilt to have a new third track island platform with a third track serving Amtrak and ACE trains that expanded capacity. It also sees some express movements, unlike San Jose where everything stops.
Another fun feature of this trip was my ability to ride Caltrain down to the town of Gilroy, about 30 miles south of San Jose. Normally this is impractical because Gilroy only get a peak direction service with three trains in the morning and afternoon. However this time I was visiting someone living in that area and I was able to spare them a long ride in to the airport.
You can see the full set of photos here.
We begin with Caltrain MP36PH-3C #927 appearing next to Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company heavyweight coach #87, on statis display at the former Southern Pacific depot.
Sitting just north of the Station were a pair of Union Pacific SD70M's,
#4862 and #5131. There is still a new for road freight engines to serve
local industry in the area despite the lack of any major yards of
The former Southern Pacific CLARA tower has been preserved and I assume
will eventually function as a museum that one can visit. The tower was
previously operated by Amtrak before being closed.
The Altamont Commuter Express runs 86 miles between San Jose and
Stockton in California's Central Valley. It is a peak direction service
with only about 4 trainets in service. Here one of their 6 Bomber
bi-level cab cars, #3305, pulls into the Santa Clara station for what is
likely the first return trip of the afternoon.
Power is provided by MPI built F40PH-2C, #3101, seen here on the third track served by the new island platform.
The Caltrain line to San Francisco diverges from the UP Coast Sub, used by ACE and Amtrak trains, just north of the station.
Unlike the East Coast, there is no pathological fear of underpasses so
the new platform does not require one to walk up and down three stories
and also maintain ADA elevators.
Here a northbound Caltrain makes a stop at Santa Clara with gallery cab car #4004 in the lead.
Here is a video of Caltrain cab car #4004 and MP36PH-3C #925 departing the Santa Clara Station.
Shortly thereafter a southbound Baby Bullet trainset with MP36PH-3C #924 running a local service pulled into the station.
Bomber cab car #113 was bringing up the rear.
As the afternoon peak began to pick up intensity, a northbound limited
stop train passed through on the opposite track led by gallery cab car
#4020 and powered by MPI F40PH-2C #921.
The old Southern Pacific depot is still in use as both some sort of museum and retail space.
Amtrak Capitol Corridor trains also stop at Santa Clara as evidenced by Superliner cab car #6963.
The northbound train was propelled by F59PHI #2006. Note the leased Amtrak Superliner coach.
Here is a video of the same Capitol Corridor train being overtaken by a Caltrain express with gallery cab car #4017 and F40PH-2 #909 after the Amtrak completed its station stop.
I'm on the move southward now, passing by the Caltrain maintenance facility. Note the former FRA Budd SPV inspection car T-10 hiding behind Caltrain #905. I'm not positive, but I think T-10 is still seldom powered.
Shortly thereafter ACE F40PH-2C, #3104 makes an appearance with the day's second outbound departure to Stockton.
Both flavours of Caltrain trainsets waiting to head north out of San Jose.
Amtrak P42DC #144 lease power pushing behind a Capitol Corridor trainset on layover at San Jose Diridon.
The ACE layover yard is located south of the Tamien Caltrain stop,
which also serves as a secondary terminal with direct connection with
the VTA light rail Blue Line. Pictured is MPI F40PH-2C #3105.
If you are interested in the southern end of the Caltrain line that runs on the UP Coast Sub to Gilroy, CA, here is a rear-view GoPro video of the route starting at San Jose. If you are interested in the ambient conversation, the cab cars on Caltrain are also used as a bike cars. Most of the cyclists present in said bike car were of the militant variety that would never reconsider their chosen form of transportation even in the face of serious injury. Their obsession makes railfans look like completely well adjusted adults. I just kept my mouth shut and tried to be invisible since my luggage had already earned their ire by taking up valuable bicycle space.
Caltrain gallery cab car #4013 at Gilroy. Fun fact, Gilroy is the garlic capitol of the United States.
The Gilroy layup yard is located next to the station track so trainsets have to make a relay move.
South of Gilroy traffic shrinks considerably with the only regular through train between the Bay Area and Los Angeles via the mountainous coast route being Amtrak's Coast Starlight. Watsonville, at the head of the agricultural Salinas valley also sends a bit of traffic north, but mostly the line is a quite home for a few remaining Southern Pacific searchlight signals.
Next week tune in as we head over the Donner Pass the old fashioned way and pop by the yard at Sparks, NV.