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Amtrak Pacific Surfliner - On time? Business Class?

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner - On time? Business Class?

Old Aug 30, 16, 2:52 pm
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Amtrak Pacific Surfliner - On time? Business Class?

I've reserved a trip on Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner from Old Town San Diego to Los Angeles, departing 4:05 PM on a Wednesday. Amtrak's site says this train has about a 75% on-time rate. I'm actually hoping my train will be a bit late, as my conference officially ends at 4:00 PM the day of travel -- people always trickle away from this conference in the afternoon, but I like to stay as long as possible.

So I'm wondering whether anyone knows what kind of delay I can expect.

Also, I'm considering spending the extra $19 for a business class seat. I'd appreciate any comments on its value.
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Old Aug 31, 16, 7:58 pm
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The business class seat isn't worthwhile, IMO. From what I remember they're not much better than the coach seats for as short of a ride that San Diego->LA is.

Also, if you stick with the coach seat the ticket isn't actually tied to a specific departure time; I missed my original train once and they let me use the ticket on the next one without any hassle. YMMV of course (and they may have changed their policies, I haven't ridden it in a bit).
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Old Aug 31, 16, 9:27 pm
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The biggest benefit of business class is that you have a confirmed seat vs coach where tickets are unrestricted. This means that if there's an event and the trains are packed you are guaranteed a seat in business class, whereas if you were in the back you may find yourself standing. This is really the only time I'd buy business class on this route.
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Old Aug 31, 16, 9:33 pm
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You are on train 785, which is one of the busiest Surfliner trains. However, you are getting on at the second station, so you should have no problems finding a seat. Plan to have a seatmate by the time you get to Solana Beach or Oceanside.

Some prefer the business class upgrade and others don't think it's worth it. The seating is very similar to unreserved coach but you get a complimentary newspaper, snack, and drink. However, with business class you a guaranteed a seat. I purchase the upgrade only if I expect coach to be standing room only.

I believe Amtrak's OTP is based just on train's arrival at the endpoint, which for 785 is Goleta. Typically the Surfliner trains start on time and if they fall behind schedule, the delays are encountered enroute. Your train will most likely be close to on time at Old Town.
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Old Sep 1, 16, 5:36 pm
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Thanks for the information. I guess I'll stick with my coach ticket and I'll expect the train to leave on time.
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Old Sep 3, 16, 12:33 am
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Thinking this over, if you want to maximize your time at your conference:

Train 774 (SLO-SAN) turns around and becomes train 785 with about a 35 minute layover in SAN. On the day of your conference, you can monitor train 774 to see if it's running late. I think the fastest they can unload and load the train in SAN is 20 minutes. So if 774 is more than 15 minutes late, the 785 departure will most likely be delayed (nerdy supporting data).

Keep in mind that a business class reservation is for a specific train, so you must change your ticket if you change your train. Unreserved coach tickets can be used on any Surfliner.

If you like to relax with a beer, you can purchase bottles from a selection of local microbrews in the cafe car. I would do this versus paying for the business class upgrade.
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Old Sep 3, 16, 8:05 am
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Excellent information. Thanks for the tips.
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Old Aug 31, 17, 7:14 am
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i did Anaheim to San Diego in July - first time on the train - i didnt see any advantage to the extra cost i paid for business class
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