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Amtrak Service To Los Angeles To Resume This Week...With A Catch

Chris Lehman

Amtrak is once again selling tickets for people from Oregon and Washington to travel to California after a wildfire damaged a trestle on the route. But the ride on the Coast Starlight won’t resemble a typical railroad journey.


The Lava Fire near Mount Shasta, California, burned a Union Pacific railroad bridge that carries Amtrak trains along the route from Seattle to Los Angeles. For about two weeks, Amtrak has canceled the Coast Starlight north of Sacramento while repairs on the trestle are underway.


While riders between Seattle and Eugene can use Cascades trains for local travel, it left Klamath Falls and Chemult without any passenger rail service. And it left the entire Pacific Northwest without any direction rail connection to California.

Starting Thursday, Amtrak will resume trains to southern Oregon by running a northern section of the Coast Starlight between Seattle and Klamath Falls. But getting to or from California will require a transfer to a bus that runs overnight in either direction between Klamath Falls and Sacramento.


In Sacramento, southbound riders can board a different set of equipment to complete the southern portion of the Coast Starlight route, which continues through Oakland and San Jose on its way to Los Angeles.


Amtrak has not offered an estimate on when full rail service will resume, which will depend on how quickly Union Pacific can re-open the tracks in northern California. But in a notice to passengers, it says the busing arrangement could last until September.


Amtrak says bus riders will be offered a rest break at a truck stop between Klamath Falls and Sacramento. The bus will also make intermediate stops in northern California cities normally served by the Coast Starlight, including Dunsmuir, Redding and Chico.



Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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