An unrefurbished high-level Pacific Parlour Car showed up instead of the usual Amtrak Superliner Sightseer Lounge Car as the Cafe Car on the southbound Amtrak San Diegan Train #570 on Tuesday, March 2, 1999.
Ray Burns and I took a few photographs of the Pacific Parlour Car while the Amtrak San Diegan was in the Fullerton Santa Fe Depot. Realizing that once this trainset reached San Diego it would turn around and be used as the trainset for the northbound Amtrak Central Coast San Diegan Train #779, we made a plan to board this train and take it from Fullerton to Los Angeles!
Checking the schedule, we found that the northbound Amtrak Central Coast San Diegan Train #779 would be heading north out of Fullerton at 2:02 P.M. and that we could then connect with the southbound Metrolink Train #682 out of Los Angeles at 2:50 P.M. and be back to Fullerton by 3:25 P.M., less than 90 minutes after our departure!
The northbound Amtrak Central Coast San Diegan arrived pretty close to the scheduled time. Since we were way down at the end of the station so that we could get a few shots of the train coming into the station, we had to scurry up to the train and board the last coach car.
We immediately went upstairs and walked toward the front of the train. The Pacific Parlour Car was the second car from the front of the train, right behind the Pacific (Custom) Class Superliner Coach Car. We went right into the Pacific Parlour Car and sat at a table near the rear of the car. Within a few minutes, the Conductor came by and took our ticket.
The car had not been refurbished. I am not sure whether Amtrak West has 5 or 6 of these cars, but I'm pretty sure that there are at least 4 that have been refurbished with the new seating arrangement, bar, buffet serving area, swivel seats and downstairs theatre.
This car still had the old arrangement of tables. There were also a number of tables downstairs instead of the 18 seat theatre that is now featured in the refurbished Pacific Parlour Cars. The bar area was still in the old enclosed design with a square service window. A menu had been posted next to the service window.
According to the staff on the train, a trainset had been removed from the Amtrak San Diegans route for servicing and this trainset would be serving in its place, including this Pacific Parlour Car, for about a month. The trainset still featured a Superliner Coach Car that is used on the bi-level Amtrak San Diegans trainsets for Pacific (Custom) Class Service and used Amtrak California Cars for the rest of Coach Seating. The Pacific Parlour Car was used in place of the usual Superliner Sightseer Lounge / Cafe Car and the bar area was used for food preparation and sale.
On this train, food and beverages were sold all the way into the Los Angeles Union Station (LAUS). No announcement was made during the trip that the Food Service Area would be closed for inventory while in LAUS. On most Amtrak San Diegans in the past, the onboard service crews have usually turned around in LAUS which has made it necessary to close food service just after leaving Fullerton so that inventory could be taken. Passengers do appreciate it when food and beverage service remains open all the way into and out of LAUS. I saw a number of people purchase from the cafe almost right up to arrival into LAUS when Ray and I left the train.
Click on the links below to view photographs and videoclips of the unrefurbished high-level Pacific Parlour Car that was used on this Amtrak San Diegan. I don't know if this car is also planned to be refurbished or if another future is planned for this car.
Because Amtrak West is currently running a 2 for 1 special on some of their routes, it only cost us a total of $7 to get from Fullerton to Los Angeles. The normal fare on Metrolink from Los Angeles to Fullerton at 2:50 P.M. is only $3.50 per adult, so the return trip also only cost $7. Thus, this entire excursion came to a grand total of $14 for the two of us!
Added on Friday, March 5, 1999: For those of you that want to know when and where you can ride the Amtrak San Diegans trainset with the unrefurbished Pacific Parlour Car, the following will help you figure out on which trains to find it:
The schedule continues to cycle and repeat in a way that the Pacific Parlour Car is on the same trains on all even days and on the same trains on all odd days. Thus, if you want to know which train it will be on for a particular day, look at either an odd day or even day above that matches whether your target day is odd or even. Do keep in mind that this could change at any time without prior notice.