The Coast Starlight
The Coast Starlight is an Amtrak route that runs 1,377 miles from Los Angeles Union Station up the Pacific coast to King Street Station in Seattle. The name is original to the route, which began operation with the founding of Amtrak in 1971. However, the name is based on Southern Pacific Daylight trains that once ran on almost the same route.
Despite the massive size of the station, when I visited in 2010, Amtrak's operations were clustered in a comparatively narrow corridor near the tunnel to the tracks. Unlike most other trains I've ridden where seating is either first-come-first-serve or seating assignments are made by assistant conductors at train entrances, seat assignments were made at a table in the middle of this corridor. Odd.
As the route continued past Santa Barbara and between the coast and the Santa Ynez Mountains, the dropoff to the coast side of the train is often quite steep. Deep cuts of erosion seemed to extend almost up to track itself, making the journey seem quite precarious. The steady rains of recent days seemed to be causing additional track difficulty and Union Pacific track crews were spotted at various locations.