This Dec. 16, 2017 photo shows the northern California coastline from the window of Amtrak's Coast Starlight as the train journeys to Seattle from Los Angeles. Skip the hassles of traffic and airport security and hop on a coastal trek offering an old-fashioned, unplugged escape with scenic views of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle is the destination on Amtrak's 35-hour Coast Starlight sleeper train, but the relaxing journey is the main attraction. (AP Photo/Nicole Evatt)

When Will Jones hops on his favorite form of travel – a long-distance Amtrak train – it’s not for speed or convenience. In a world obsessed with hyperconnectivity, he spends days at a time confined to a massive metal tube that is often beset by delays, lacks wifi, and is one of the 21st century’s slowest forms of motorized travel.

“When riding Amtrak I tell people just chill,” Jones said, as the Santa Ynez mountains passed by in the distance. “Because you will be exposed to America.”

Amtrak riders should take note of Jones’ leisurely approach to train riding in the United States. Its fleet of hulking diesel-powered locomotives are often slower than they were 85 years ago. On the Coast Starlight, an epic 1,377-mile journey from Seattle to Los Angeles, the Bay Area portion – connecting Oakland and San Jose to Los Angeles – takes over 12 hours. In 1938, the now-defunct Daylight train cruised down to Los Angeles in less than 10.

This Dec. 16, 2017 photo shows the northern California coastline from the window of Amtrak’s Coast Starlight as the train journeys to Seattle from Los Angeles. Skip the hassles of traffic and airport security and hop on a coastal trek offering an old-fashioned, unplugged escape with scenic views of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle is the destination on Amtrak’s 35-hour Coast Starlight sleeper train, but the relaxing journey is the main attraction. (AP Photo/Nicole Evatt) 

For the foreseeable future, California’s train riders are stuck with the lumbering connection. The state’s beleaguered high-speed rail project is decades behind schedule with hopes of eventually connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles through the Central Valley. And even as President Joe Biden, known for his love of Amtrak trains, funnels billions into passenger rail infrastructure, no major speed improvements are planned for the Coast Starlight – although the train’s dated snack bar menu was recently refreshed to mixed reviews.

Avid Coast Starlight riders say jumping on the $54 one-way trip from Oakland to LA is not about saving a few hours. It’s about finding a rare space where travelers from around the world come together and unplug from the hurried flow of everyday life.

“I don’t care much about speed,” said Nicolaos Zafiriou, a Greek filmmaker. On a weekday in July, Zafiriou went to bed in Oregon and woke in Sacramento. On a trip from Chicago to Seattle, he …read more

Source:: The Mercury News

      

Amtrak’s Oakland to Los Angeles train is slower than the 1930s, but just as beautiful

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