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Surfliner to Coast Starlight connection?

Surfliner to Coast Starlight connection?

Old Mar 3, 16, 2:57 pm
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Surfliner to Coast Starlight connection?

Hi, so I decided on the Coast Starlight for my one-zone trip and it is booked in mid-May. Then after attending a travel show and speaking with an Amtrak rep, I added the Surfliner to my itin before the program change.

I thought I was being really smart and it would be cool to go from San Diego to Seattle. But upon recent searches for hotels in San Diego, I found a review which mentioned a delay taking the Surfliner which caused them to miss their Coast Starlight train.

Yikes! I have the 763 scheduled at 6am out of San Diego connecting with the 14 out of LA departing at 10:10am. It should be enough time to connect.

But should I try to cancel the Surfliner portion of the trip? What would happen if we missed our connection?

Thank you!
CherylD is offline  
Old Mar 3, 16, 4:57 pm
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While nothing is guaranteed, I've taken that surfliner many times and you are very unlikely to be more than just a few minutes late. It's the first train of the day so it will be ready to leave on time. I've even done the connect with the 14 once and had well over an hour to relax in the "lounge" in LA. If you really are worried, you can take a Surfliner up the night before and stay in downtown LA instead of San Diego. Finally, if you missed it they would probably stick you on the bus/central CA train and have you meet up with the 14 in Sacramento- missing the nice (but slower) coastal route of the 14.
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Old Mar 3, 16, 8:02 pm
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It's likely there will be a fair number of people connecting from the Pacific Surfliner and Southwest Chief - enough that they may hold the train for a few minutes. On time performance of trains can be found here:

https://www.amtrak.com/historical-on-time-performance

If you're an anxious traveler who can bear no risk a start in LA might be the right alternative.
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Old Mar 4, 16, 7:04 am
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Thank you for the replies. I did find the on-time performance stats and for this particular train and it was about 79%.

Is the Surfliner worth adding on? The rep made it sound very cool.
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Old Mar 4, 16, 8:57 am
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ASMAD

I use the Amtrak Status Maps Archive Database to look for on-time performance and connection statistics. From that home page, you can click on Search Connecting Trains and get information on train 763 connecting to train 14 at LAX—or other combinations of arrivals and departures at other stations.

For the past 30 days, it shows 0 of 29 connections missed for your itinerary. There is no arrival time for 763 on Feb 06, so that doesn't count as a connection made or missed.

Poke around the site. As I understand it, the site has no affiliation with Amtrak. For that matter, again as I understand it, the site gets its data from a site that has no affiliation with Amtrak. It is wonderful what railroad travel enthusiasts will do.
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Old Mar 4, 16, 2:36 pm
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Originally Posted by CherylD View Post

Is the Surfliner worth adding on? The rep made it sound very cool.

It is very cool- about half of the route is right along the ocean and you'll see the surfers out as the sun rises. But you will get ocean views that are just as good and better on the Coast Starlight past LA, so I wouldn't call it a must do. Do it if you want to spend a little time in San Diego and get every last bit of enjoyment from your one-zone trip.
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Old Mar 9, 16, 7:13 pm
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Amtrak connections are guaranteed. If your reservation is for 761 connecting to 14 then they wait for for 761 (within reason. Probably wont't wait 12 hours) but they will still get you to your destination on their dime. If you buy the tickets separately, then train 14 will leave without you if train 761 is running late.
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Old Mar 10, 16, 8:20 am
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Yes, Amtrak guarantees the connection, but that doesn't necessarily mean what it appears to mean. If 763 misses the Coast Starlight, Amtrak will likely put the OP on a bus to Bakersfield followed by a train or train and bus to Sacramento, for a midnight boarding of the Coast Starlight.

Fortunately, the connection is usually reliable. Of course, I wouldn't care if 763 only missed the connection once in a year, if I were riding it that day, I would be disappointed at best.

If I were in the OP's position, I would take the Surfliner and my chances.
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Old Mar 12, 16, 8:11 pm
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I am somewhat regular Surfliner rider and occasional Starlight rider. As others have mentioned, 763->14 is a guaranteed connection. AFAIK, the 14 always waits for 763 when it is running late. The connection is over an hour at LAX.

This happens rarely but actually occurred to us on one trip last year. It is an easy transfer because the two trains park across each other on the same platform at LAX.
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Old Apr 3, 16, 9:57 pm
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Perhaps not totally germane, but is it not true that being booked on the Starlight in a sleeper car gets you automatic business class seating on connecting trains?

We rode the 763 to the 14 recently on a Saturday and I was surprised that the 763 was so full. The conductor put our family of four together in coach as he was unable to seat us together in business class.
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Old Apr 4, 16, 9:58 am
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Originally Posted by zippy the pinhead View Post
Perhaps not totally germane, but is it not true that being booked on the Starlight in a sleeper car gets you automatic business class seating on connecting trains?
For AGR sleeper redemptions only (not paid bookings), it used to be policy to grant Business seating on the short-haul leg if the segment was required to complete the zone-based redemption. This was true for any corridor route except Acela. Now that AGR is revenue-based, one can redeem whatever combination of trains and classes is desired and pay the prevailing variable cost.
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