Amtrak's Surfliner at the Encinitas station
Encinitas and South Carlsbad will be losing Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train service. Both stations receive six daily Amtrak train stops — three northbound and three southbound.
The move, effective October 9, ends a four-year “Rail-2-Rail” agreement between the North County Transit District, operators of the Coaster, and Amtrak.
“In close consultation with NCTD, [Amtrak] decided to discontinue the stops at the Encinitas and Carlsbad-Poinsettia stations in order to better align Pacific Surfliner stopping patterns with ridership demand,” says regional rail agency spokesperson Jennifer Bergener.
After reviewing ridership data, Amtrak may be pulling out of its San Diego County community stops, which are already served by the Coaster, because of the ride-sharing plan in the Rail-2-Rail agreement.
Last March, I was going to take the late-night Coaster home to Encinitas from downtown San Diego, at a one-way ticket cost of $2.50. When I arrived at Union Station, I found the Coaster trip would be run on Amtrak. So for $2.50, I rode the Amtrak instead. Amtrak-ticketed passengers paid $13.50 for the same run.
Waiting at the Encinitas platform for an Amtrak train on September 19, Brittany said, “I’m bummed." She travels Amtrak twice a month to Fullerton or L.A. “Amtrak is a much easier and nicer ride.” She said she will now have to travel from Oceanside.
Sam was waiting for his wife Laurie to board the train to San Juan Capistrano. She travels regularly to Orange County for company meetings and afternoons of golfing. “If she has to drive to Oceanside, then she might as well keep on driving [to San Juan Capistrano],” said Sam.
He said Amtrak must not realize that people can get off here, spend some time at the beach, walk through downtown, and even take a bus down to the Del Mar race track.
According to Bergener, after October 9, the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner will continue stops between Oceanside and downtown San Diego at Carlsbad Village, Sorrento Valley, and Old Town stations.
Historical footnotes: In 1969, with the advancement of car travel by freeway and local flower growers shipping their products worldwide by plane, Encinitas’ then–Santa Fe Railway station formally stopped passenger service (at the time, one would have to raise a signal flag to get the train to stop).
In the early 1970s, faced with demolition, the old 1888-built station was purchased for $1 by Pannikin Coffee and Tea owner Bob Sinclair and moved from the site of the current Lumberyard Shopping Center to Sinclair’s site at 510 North Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia.