Intercity Passenger Rail Program

Click thumbnail to view larger

The State of California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has been promoting intercity passenger rail service in California by augmenting Amtrak’s basic system of interstate trains since 1976. Through Cal­trans, the State of California provides capital grants and support for station and track improvements, signaling, locomotives and passenger rail cars, connecting Amtrak Thruway bus service, and operating assistance for the Pacific Surfliner® and San Joaquin® routes.

These two California train routes and numerous Thru­way bus routes, collectively referred to as Amtrak California, are funded and managed by Caltrans, and operated by Amtrak, in addition to Amtrak’s own inter­state trains - the Coast Starlight®, California Zephyr®, Southwest Chief®, and Sunset Limited®.

The State of California also provides funding for the Capitol Corridor® which is managed by the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority in cooperation with Caltrans and Amtrak.

The Caltrans Division of Rail

In addition to Amtrak California, the Caltrans Division of Rail (DOR) manages and coordinates intercity pas­senger rail services in an effort to improve the state’s air quality and reduce highway congestion and fuel con­sumption.

The DOR performs long-range planning, coordinates with Amtrak on operations issues, administers the state rail program marketing contract, and procures and man­ages the rehabilitation of equipment.  The DOR also works with local agencies to manage the capital pro­gram for projects on the San Joaquin, Pacific Surfliner and Capitol Corridor routes which includes track and signal projects resulting in increased train frequencies, reduced travel times and improved on-time perfor­mance.

High Speed Rail Program

Click thumbnail to view larger

Established in 1996, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) is the state entity responsible for planning, constructing and operating an 800-mile-long high-speed train system serving California's major met¬ropolitan areas. The Authority has a nine-member policy board (five appointed by the governor, two appointed by the Senate Rules Committee, and two by the speaker of the Assembly) and a core staff. The majority of the environmental, planning and engineering work is performed by private firms under contract with the Authority.

High Speed Rail Program Project Vision and Scope

Click thumbnail to view larger

Inspired by successful high-speed train systems worldwide, California's electrically-powered high-speed trains will help the state meet ever-growing demands on its transportation infrastructure. Initially running from San Francisco to Los Angeles/Anaheim via the Central Valley, and later to Sacramento and San Diego, high-speed trains will travel between LA and San Francisco in under 2 hours and 40 minutes, at speeds of up to 220 mph, and will interconnect with other transportation alternatives, providing an environmentally friendly option to traveling by plane or car.

Current Passenger Rail Service

Route Map

Click thumbnail to view larger

Pacific Surfliner

Click thumbnail to view larger

The Pacific Surfliner (PSL) is the second most popular route in the country, running between San Luis Obispo and San Diego. The PSL offers 11 weekday and 12 weekend round trips from San Diego to Los Angeles. Of those, five extend to Santa Barbara and two to San Luis Obispo. PSL trains connect to Amtrak long distance trains at Los Angeles and Fullerton.

San Joaquin

The San Joaquin (SJ) is the sixth busiest route in the Amtrak system, operating six round trips from Oakland and Sacramento to Bakersfield, with Amtrak Thruway bus service to Los Angeles.

Capitol Corridor

The Capitol Corridor (CC) ranks third in ridership, and runs between San Jose and Auburn.  For more information on the Capitol Corridor visit

Amtrak Thruway Buses

Why buses? It's all about connections. California is a big place. Unfortunately, our trains can't go everywhere.  Amtrak Thruway bus routes were designed exclusively for our train passengers - enabling them to connect to our trains from many regions of the state such as the North Coast, Shasta Cascades, Gold Country, High Sierra, Central Coast, Deserts, and Southern California. Amtrak Thruway buses also allow San Joaquin passengers to connect to the Pacific Surfliner and other Amtrak long distance trains in Los Angeles.  On the flip-side, with Amtrak Thruway bus routes, train passengers can can travel to more than 175 destinations throughout California and Nevada.

Amtrak Thruway buses are luxury motorcoaches offering comfortable reclining seats, overhead lighting and onboard restroom facilities.