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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

16-06-14 PHOTOS: San Diego Trolley

So when I fly out to Southern California I make it a point to avoid the LA Basin as even if I found something remotely redeemable in that metroplex, it's airports are not transit accessible and far from anywhere I would want to be. Therefore I utilize San Diego as my SoCal port of entry as it not only has a rich transit scene and a pleasant climate, but one can easily connect with one's choice of Amtrak long distance route out of LA via a short Surfliner ride.

This year I was conducting a do-over of my 2015 Sunset Limited trip that, due to an unfortunate placement of a private car, turned out to be a complete waste. After scheduling time to stuff fish tacos in my face and visit the beach, I still had more than enough left over to take another tour of the San Diego Trolley network and wander around downtown. I am actually no stranger to San Diego, as this would be my 4th visit since 2009, however I had still not ridden the full length of the Orange Line nor had I ridden either the Orange or Green lines since my first trip back in 2009.

You can find the full set of photos, which also include Amtrak and Coaster content, here.

Transfering from the airport bus to the Green Line trolley I spent a few minutes taking pictures at the former Santa Fe station, southern terminus of the Surfliner corridor. Amtrak handles most of its maintenance at LA, but they do keep a protect F59PHI at San Diego, just in case. This time #460 was filling the role.

Coaster cab car #2303 was at the southern end of the trainset that was currently laying over at the station providing mid-day service on the line to Oceanside. Despite Metrolink's freakout over the safety of this type of cab car, and their beefier replacements, in various types of accident, Coaster, Metrolink and ACE have no compunction against operating the type. 

Milwaukee Road private car "Montana" was also hanging out on a station track. The car lives in LA and the owners had decided on a short trip to San Diego to entertain a client.

Passengers shuffle out of Green Line LRV #4017 at Santa Fe Depot. The westward track serves both the Green Line as a station and the Orange Line as a terminal. A separate berthing area is provided for each service as Green Line trains will often pull up behind Orange Line trains to allow passengers to transfer. 

MTS LRV #3005 is seen here on the head of a train stopping at Washington St. The 11 3000 series S70 LRV's were purchased in 2004 for the construction of the Green Line. They are about 10 feet longer than the rest of the fleet and may not be able to operate on the downtown loop, restricting them to the Green Line service.

MTS LRV #4052 arrives at the Olde Towne Transportation Center, which also provides a connection with Coaster and Surfliner trains. The 65 4000 series LRV's were purchased to supplant the original U2 trams purchased from Germany in 1981.

The Green Line loops west through a valley north of the city, eventually joining with the opposite end of the Orange Line before terminating at a "towne centre" in Santee. The Green Line is the only part of the San Diego Trolley system no built on an existing right of way as is evidenced by numerous elevated sections like this one at Grantville. The route was partly motivated to serve the San Diego Chargers' stadium.

The San Diego Trolley was the country's first modern Light Rail system and line several successors, it operates under an FRA waiver to allow freight service on the original rail lines the Light Rail took over. While the freight traffic on the orange line is greatly reduced, a customer in an El Cajon industrial park still gets shipments.

Here we see MTS LRV #4039 at the Santee terminal. Since the 4000-series delivery was completed, the MTS has moved to sandwitch the older 2000-series SD100 cars in the interior of 3-car trainsets for ADA reasons. 

Due to a single track segment, Orange Line trains must terminate at the intermediate El Cajon station, requiring a transfer for anyone headed directly downtown. Here is a video of Green Line LRV #4039 departing El Cajon before I switched to Orange Line LRV #4034.

Southern Pacific heritage is on display along the Orange Line. Unlike the Santa Fe, which reached San Diego along the easier coastal route, the Southern Pacific was forced to use the San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railway line that ran overland from El Centro, CA, entering Mexico and then reaching San Diego from the south. 

MTS LRV #4034 at the 12th and Imperial transfer station.

Coaster Cab Car #2310 makes a mid-day run back to the yard before the evening rush. The single track between the Station and the yard is not signaled and the switches must be lined by hand.

Another Green Line train at the Santa Fe depot with MTS LRV #4015.

Coaster cab car #2303 again as it passes the southbound signal for CP-ASH, adjacent to the Little Italy trolley stop.

MTS LRV #3007 at Little Italy.

The large San Diego rail yard south of the convention centre hosts Light Rail, Coaster, BNSF and short line traffic. 

Sitting in the yard was the San Diego and Imperial Valley Railroad's entire fleet consisting of two 3GS21B gensets, #702 and #703.

Although the U2 LRV's were technically retired in January 2015, a large number were still hanging out in the yard, including a wrapped example.

MTS 2000-series #2014 appeared ready for Comic Con duty.

Shortly before my departure on a late afternoon Surfliner train I caught a refueling operation underway at the Santa Fe depot. Amtrak Surfliner F59PHI #461 was getting topped off while #460 continued to stand watch.

Tune in next time as I continue my 2016 cross country Amtrak trip with a short layover at Amtrak's Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal.

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