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Capitol Corridor

"Amtrak Capitols" redirects here. For the Amtrak line connecting Washington, D.C. and Chicago, see Capitol Limited (Amtrak train).
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A morning San Jose-bound Capitol Corridor at
Santa Clara-University station before the platforms were rebuilt
Service type Inter-city rail/Commuter rail
Locale California
First service December 12, 1991
Current operator(s) Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority, in partnership with Amtrak and Caltrans
Annual ridership 1,701,185 (FY13)[1]
Website Capitol Corridor
Start Auburn, California
Stops 17
End San Jose, California
Distance travelled Script error: No such module "convert".
Average journey time 3 hours 15 minutes
Train number(s) Weekdays
520, 522, 524, 526, 528, 530, 532, 534, 536, 538, 540, 542, 544, 546, 548
521, 523, 525, 527, 529, 531, 533, 535, 537, 541, 543, 545, 547, 549, 551
720, 724, 728, 732, 734, 736, 738, 742, 744, 746, 748
723, 727, 729, 733, 737, 741, 743, 745, 747, 749, 751
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
(standard gauge)
Track owner(s) UP and JPBX
Route map

The Capitol Corridor is a 168-mile (275 km) passenger train route operated by Amtrak in California. Although state-supported, it does not operate under the Amtrak California brand.[2] Capitol Corridor runs from San Jose, CA to Sacramento CA, roughly parallel to Interstate 680 and Interstate 80. One train a day continues through the eastern Sacramento suburbs to Auburn, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The trains are administered by the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority and managed by employees of Bay Area Rapid Transit. Capitol Corridor trains started in 1991.


The Capitol Corridor links California's first state capital, San Jose (1850), with the current state capital, Sacramento. The rail route also travels near historical state capitals of Vallejo (1852) and Benicia (1853).

At the start of the 1990s three Amtrak trains operated in the Bay Area: the long-distance California Zephyr (Oakland–Chicago) and Coast Starlight (Los Angeles–Seattle), and the short-distance San Joaquin (Bakersfield-Oakland). Only the Coast Starlight ran between San Jose and Sacramento, and at inconvenient times. The last local service between the two former capitals was the Southern Pacific's Senator which ran between Oakland and Sacramento until May 31, 1962.[3]:140 In 1990 California voters passed two propositions providing $105 million to expand service along the route. The new service, named Capitols, debuted on December 12, 1991 with three daily round-trips between San Jose and Sacramento. Of these, a single round-trip continued to Roseville, an eastern Sacramento suburb.[4] The service was later renamed Capitol Corridor to avoid confusion with the Capitol Limited, which runs between Washington, D.C. and Chicago. In 1998 there was one round trip train that ran as far as Colfax but poor ridership was unable to sustain the extension. One daily train now runs as far as Auburn.

Proposed expansion

New stations have been proposed along the route at Hercules, Benicia, Northern Fairfield/Vacaville, and Dixon. The Northern Fairfield/Vacaville station is being developed by the cities of Fairfield and Vacaville near the corner of Peabody Road and Vanden Road.[5][6] Additionally an intermodal station is planned at the Union City station, connecting to BART as part of a larger Dumbarton Rail Corridor Project to connect Union City, Fremont, and Newark to various Peninsula cities via the Dumbarton rail bridge. The station is being planned and paid for by BART and the city of Union City.[7] An expansion to Truckee, California and Reno, Nevada on the UP line over Donner Pass has been considered. The issue is the rail route over Donner Summit. Currently the only way is through a single track tunnel, which travels underneath Norden, California. The reason Capitol Corridor has not extended to Truckee and Reno is that traffic through this tunnel is already at maximum capacity. A trans-Sierra eastern extension has not been seriously considered because the Reno/Tahoe region already gets once-a-day service, via the California Zephyr route, and ample bus service. Extending service south to Salinas has been discussed, which would add stops at Castroville, Watsonville Junction (Pajaro), Gilroy, Morgan Hill and San Jose's Tamien Station, the last three of which are also served by Caltrain. There has been talk of adding a second track between Oakland and Santa Clara but funding is not available.

Frequency and ridership

During fiscal year 2012 the Capitol Corridor service carried 1,746,397 passengers, an 2.2% increase over FY2011; however, in FY2013, the Capitol Corridor carried 1,701,185 passengers, which represents a 2.6% decrease from FY2012.[1] Revenue in FY2012 was $27,927,540, an 8.6% increase over FY2011.[8] It is the fourth busiest Amtrak route by ridership, surpassed only by the Northeast Regional, Acela Express, and Pacific Surfliner.[8] As of 2013 Sacramento is the busiest station on the route and the seventh busiest in the Amtrak system.[1]

The Capitol Corridor is used by commuters between the Sacramento area and the Bay Area as an alternative to driving on congested Interstate 80. Monthly passes and discounted trip tickets are available. Many politicians, lobbyists, and aides live in the Bay Area and commute to their jobs in Sacramento, while workers in the Oakland, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley employment centers take the Capitol Corridor trains from their less expensive homes in Solano County and the Sacramento metropolitan area.[9]

Starting on August 28, 2006 the Capitol Corridor had 16 weekday trains each way between Oakland and Sacramento, up from twelve in 2005 and three in 1992. (Seven of the sixteen ran to/from San Jose.) According to its management, ridership on the Capitol Corridor trains tripled between 1998 and 2005.[10]

Starting August 13, 2012 the Capitol Corridor dropped from 16 to 15 weekday trains each way between Oakland and Sacramento.[11] The Joint Powers Authority went ahead with a plan to drop train numbers 518 and 553 due to high fuel costs, low ridership, and a new ability to store an extra train overnight in a Sacramento railyard.[11]

As of February 2013 no weekday trains run the full length of the line between Auburn and San Jose. The single departure from Auburn runs to Oakland Coliseum; of the 14 westward departures from Sacramento seven run to San Jose, three to Coliseum and four to downtown Oakland. Seven trains run San Jose to Sacramento, six downtown Oakland to Sacramento, one Coliseum to Sacramento and one Oakland to Auburn.

Thruway Motorcoach services

Additional cities and regions can be reached with Amtrak California Thruway Motorcoach service:


The Capitol Corridor is fully funded by the state through Caltrans Division of Rail and Mass Transportation (DRMT). Caltrans managed the line from its inception in 1991 to 1997, but in 1998 the administration of the route was transferred to Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA), formed by transit agencies of which the Capitol Corridor serves in order to have more local control, while still funded by Caltrans. CCJPA in turn contracted with BART for day-to-day management and staff support; also, CCJPA makes decisions on the service level of Capitol Corridor, capital improvements along the route, and passenger amenities aboard the trains.

The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority is governed by a Board of Directors which consists of 16 representatives from its member agencies:


File:Capitol Corridor Pinole.jpg
A Capitol Corridor rounds San Pablo Bay near Pinole in 2011. An EMD F59PHI leads a mixed consist of 2 "California Cars" and 2 Superliner coaches.

The Capitol Corridor and its administration agency, the CCJPA, are responsible for the maintenance of the Amtrak California's Northern California fleet, which is used by both the Capitol Corridor and the San Joaquin routes.

When the Capitol Corridor debuted in 1991, it used Amtrak F40PH locomotives and Amtrak Horizon Fleet cars. Dash 8 locomotives were also used as they were brand new at the time. This equipment was used until the mid-1990s when most of the current state-purchased equipment arrived.

The current Northern California fleet includes fifteen EMD F59PHI locomotives (Numbered 2001 through 2015), and two GE P32-8WH (Dash 8) locomotives (Numbered 2051 & 2052, formerly Amtrak 501 & 502), and a large number of bi-level coaches and café cars which are known as "California Cars". All cars are named after mountains and rivers of California. There are two series of California Cars, the 8000 series and the newer 6000 series. Standard Amtrak equipment such as the GE P42DC, Amtrak's main locomotive, standard Amtrak Dash 8 locomotives, and Superliner cars appear on Capitol Corridor trains as substitutes.

In rarer cases, F59PHI's from the Amtrak "Surfliner" and "Cascades" trains are used. Before 2012, Caltrain EMD F40PH and MPI MP36PH-3C locomotives have been used as substitutes engines, and entire Caltrain trainsets have also been seen during busy periods, such as the peak Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

See also

  • Train Life, a 2006 documentary films about passengers on the Capitol Corridor


Route map: Bing
  1. ^ a b c "Amtrak Fact Sheet, Fiscal Year 2013 State of California" (PDF). Amtrak. November 2013. p. 5. Retrieved 2013-12-24. 
  2. ^ "About Amtrak California". State of California Department of Transportation. 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-22. 
  3. ^ Solomon, Brian (2005). Southern Pacific Passenger Trains. Voyageur Press. 
  4. ^ "Train links Sacramento, Bay Area". Lodi News-Sentinel. December 12, 1991. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  5. ^ Fairfield Planning Dept. - TRAIN STATION SPECIFIC PLAN
  6. ^ Capitol Corridor - Issue 17, June 2004
  7. ^ SamTrans - Dumbarton Rail Corridor
  8. ^ a b "AMTRAK SETS NEW RIDERSHIP RECORD" (PDF). Amtrak. Retrieved 2013-06-30. 
  9. ^ Cabanatuan, Michael (December 26, 2000). "Capitol Corridor Ridership Grows On Stretching Bay Area Commutes". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  10. ^ Capitol Corridor's Largest Service Increase Ever Brings More Direct Trains To Sacramento
  11. ^ a b "Capitol Corridor Trains :: News - Capitol Corridor to Adjust Service Between Oakland and Sacramento". Capitol Corridor. August 7, 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-11. Effective Monday, August 13, 2012, for the first time in 20 years of service the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) will reduce the number of weekday trains it operates. On August 13 the CCJPA will discontinue Trains 518 and 553. 

External links