Amtrak Surfliner Cars vs. Amtrak California Cars
Installment #1: May 3, 2011
I am so jealous! I have not ridden in an Amtrak California Car for well over a year, maybe a few years. When the Surfliner Cars came out over ten years ago I wrote my opinion that the California Cars were far superior to the Surfliner Cars, and I still stand by my opinion to this day.
I'd have to do some research to find my review when the Surfliner Cars first came out, but I did a comparison at that time between the Amtrak Surfliner Cars and the Amtrak California Cars. Where I live in Southern California we only have the Amtrak Surfliner Cars and I sure do miss when they had the Amtrak California Cars on the Amtrak San Diegans route!
I was spending some time up in the San Jose area and figured I'd kill two birds with one stone. Amtrak Guest Rewards is running their double miles special so any trip on Amtrak will get me double miles points at this time. Plus, I haven't ridden the Amtrak Capitol Corridor for years, so a round trip between San Jose and Oakland will earn me double miles and give me a ride on a route I haven't taken in years.
So what do the Amtrak California Cars have that the Amtrak Surfliners do not? First, they have eight very large tables in every car. There are very few tables in the Surfliner Cars. Actually, I'll have to double check to see if there are any at all. There are a few facing seats for four, but they are reserved for parties of 3 or more with a sign at each of those seats telling you not to sit there if there aren't 3 in your party. The Conductors kick you out of the seats if there aren't at least 3 people in your party. On the Amtrak Capitol Corridor trains, there are no signs that you can't sit at a table for 4 people if you don't have at least 3 people in your party.
When they built these trains they only put electric outlets at a few of the tables. They have fixed that error in design and now have electric outlets at seats throughout the entire train. There are also curtains on all the windows to block out the sun when it is in your face. I don't think they had those curtains when the cars were first delivered, but they definitely do now and that is a great help.