Previously on Amtrak Cross Country Trips I had tended to arrive at Los Angeles' Union Passenger Terminal in the mid afternoon and then depart in the twilight period. The first time was in conjunction with my Southwest Chief with a 6pm departure and the second was with last year's Sunset Limited attempt where the schedule moved ahead 2 hours to 8pm to accomidate Union Pacific trackwork. This year the Sunset was running to its usual schedule with a 10pm departure which would provide me with an opportunity for some night action at LAUPT. I will admit to not being overly enthusiastic about my railfanning duties during this year's layover. While LA certainly isn;t hostile to photography, the layout makes its rather inconvenient to take pictures and then get back to the Amtrak lounge for sleeper boarding. Moreover I needed to walk some distance from the station to find an acceptable dinner option and after that I was content to just grab whatever shots I could during the boarding process. You can find the full set of these and other photos here.
While still on the Surfliner train, I was treated to a bit of action while passing by a regularly scheduled grass fire when a helicopter showed up to drop some water on it.
As usual, BNSF/ATSF GP60M's were hanging out around Hobart yard. ATSF
was the only customer for the GP60M, intending them to be used on fast
intermodal trains, but the industry moved past the need for special
purpose B-B truck fast freight units. Here we see warbonnet painted
#106 and BNSF painted #108.
The famous REDONDO tower is still standing at the site of the former
junction between the ATSF and Southern Pacific lines south of Downtown
LA. Previously the ATSF would cross the SP in order to run up the LA
River and then turn into LAUPT. Later a flyover was constructed and the
tower was closed. Today it stands at the head of the grade separated
Alameda Corridor trench that provides direct access to the Port of Long
LA's Amtrak facility is located
along the west side of the LA River near Redondo Jct and must be
reached by rather lengthy non-revenue moves. Here we see Surfliner
F59PHI #462 sitting next to an unidentified P42. The Amtrak facilities
support both the Surfliner corridor service as well as three long
Here we see NRE 3GS21B hanging out with two siblings
on the other side of the LA river. These genset locomotives, generally
shunned for their weak performance and unreliability, are used in the
LA basin for air quality reasons.
Power on my Surfliner had been provided by Amtrak F59PHI #461.
Re-signaled in the 1990's, the Union Terminal complex had embraced the
solid state "Unilens" searchlight replacement. However as time passed
these signals proved expensive to maintain and used plastic fibre optics
that degraded over time. At some point over the last year the Terminal
interlocking had most of its Unilens signals replaced by LED
searchlights with those that remain being gutted and reduced to a single
Red LED lamp to display Stop/Restricting indications.
Metrolink's fleet used to be composed almost entirely of Bombardier
"GO" style bi-level cars, which are aluminum bodied and lack continuous
end to end frame elements. As you might expect these have found to
perform poorly in accidents so Metrolink purchased new stainless steel
cars from Rotem, included dedicated Driving Van Trailer type cab cars
that provide an extreme amount of protection at the cost of trainset
Nevertheless, after a level crossing
accident earlier this year in which a Rotem cab car derailed, Metrolink
declared that the new cars were unsafe and went about leasing BNSF
freight power for Pull-Pull operation. I guess that someone neglected
to tell Metrolink management that "crash resistant" is not the same as
"crash proof". Meanwhile Coaster, ACE and Caltrain continue to operate
the original Bombardier cars without a second thought. Anyway, here
BNSF AC4400 #5638 is pulled along on the rear of a Metrolink train as it
departs LA Union Station.
Amtrak Surfliner F59PHI #459 was also assigned to protect duty on one of the engine escape tracks at LAUPT.
I have covered the LA Union Station building in previous posts, however I was able to capture a particularly nice shot of the disused ticket hall.
Golden Hour LAUPT with sundial.
While my Sunset Limited trainset was loading on Track 11, a Surfliner set was on Track 12 with Amtrak Surfliner F59PHI #463.
F59PHI #459 had not moved from its previous position.
Amtrak P42DC #77 would be the lead locomotive on my train.
On Track 10 the southbound Coast Starlight had just arrived with California Zephyr private dome car "Silver Lariat" on the rear.
As is to be expected, a my train was equipped with a new Viewliner II
baggage car. They certainly look a lot nicer inside than the old
The closed LA Terminal Tower and associated signals awaiting out on time 10pm departure.
Well that's it for LA and California. A 10pm departure doesn't leave much light for photos so we'll pick up next time as I tour the Gasden Purchase via the Sunset Route.