Southern California is a train lover’s paradise, especially if one loves riding trains and not just watching them pass by.
For riding pleasure, we have the San Diego Trolley with its ubiquitous red cars. The Trolley system has 53 stations, 54 miles of tracks, and three routes (Orange Line, Red Line, Blue Line). It will take one down to the Mexican border, out east to Santee, to downtown San Diego, and all around downtown. Its average of 122,400 riders on week days makes it the nation’s fourth most-ridden light rail system.
There also is a historic streetcar that runs circular routes downtown on the Silver Line. Looks like this:
There is the Coaster, which travels between downtown San Diego’s historic Santa Fe Depot and Oceanside, 38 miles north.
Once you get to Oceanside, you can hitch a ride on Metrolink all the way to the historic Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.
Or you can choose to ride Amtrak from downtown San Diego all the way to downtown Los Angeles, one of the most beautiful routes on the entire Amtrak system.
Once in Oceanside, you can take the Sprinter east to Escondido, about twenty miles and just a few miles from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
If your preference is for freight trains, BNSF serves the San Diego area.
BNSF doesn’t make it easy to watch their trains, though. Their tracks are in heavy industrial areas and usually behind high walls and fences.
To watch freight trains, I highly suggest taking a day trip to Los Angeles or Palm Springs and watching the Union Pacific trains build America.
You can often catch the historic ATSF 3751 steam engine making its way around California since it’s based in Los Angeles.
Every few years, the Union Pacific’s own historic steam engine, #844, cruises through Southern California pulling historic passenger cars.
If you’re in Los Angeles, where traffic is a horrible mess at all hours of the day, park the car somewhere and take Metrolink or Metro Rail. The trains are fast and clean, and the stations, especially those of the newer Metro Rail, are public works of art in and of themselves.
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Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.