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Friday, Mar 01 2013 08:06 PM

Passenger trains will be diverted over Tehachapi Loop

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A northbound Amtrak approaches the Green Street crossing in downtown Tehachapi on a previous occasion when passenger trains were diverted through the Tehachapi Pass due to track work as they will be in late March and possibly early April. Photo by Linda Gordon

A southbound Amtrak just before the Tucker Road crossing west of Tehachapi on a previous occasion when passenger trains were diverted through the Tehachapi Pass due to track work as they will be in late March and possibly early April. Photo by Linda Gordon, Trains Etc.

Have you ever wanted to ride a train through the Tehachapi Loop?

You now have a chance as Amtrak is planning to detour its southbound Coast Starlight between Oakland and Los Angeles in March and April due to track work.

Instead of its normal route along the California Coast, train No. 11 will travel Union Pacific's ex-Southern Pacific route via the San Joaquin Valley and Tehachapi Loop.

The detours are planned for March 13-15, March 24-30 and April 8-10.

Seattle departures of the train are one day earlier.

Amtrak warned that the track work may end early, so detours may not last all the way into April so it is recommended that anyone wanting to make the trip make reservations now as tickets will sell out early.

To clarify, the trains will not stop in Tehachapi. It is not particularly easy to figure out how to be on one of these trains as you have to book a Coast Starlight route train that normally runs on a different route, hoping that you will pick the right one. So don't expect to find something on the Amtrak website to make this easy, but there is some discussion by railfans online that might help — CLICK HERE to read.

It is important to know that you cannot book a ticket on a San Joaquin route to go through the Tehachapi Pass. The San Joaquin route runs people by bus from Bakersfield to Los Angeles. But the Coast Starlight is a through route from Seattle to Union Station in Los Angeles, and that is the route that is not expected to run along the coast on the dates previously referenced — the train will be diverted through the Tehachapi Pass instead (but will not stop here).

And Amtrak is not promoting this as an excursion — from its perspective this is just a necessary diversion for track maintenance.

For more information about the Coast Starlight route, or to book tickets, visit www.amtrak.com

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