Twice-Daily Rail Service Gets Burbank on Track for 1st Time in 7 Years


After two years of rumbling through on their way between Santa Barbara and San Diego, Amtrak trains will provide Burbank with twice-daily service beginning this morning.

A southbound train to San Diego via Los Angeles is scheduled to stop each day at the former CalTrain platform on Empire Avenue near Burbank Airport at 9:48 a.m. A northbound train to Santa Barbara will stop at 8:18 p.m.

The stops are the result of a three-year campaign by Burbank officials to attract Amtrak to the city, which has been without rail service since the short-lived CalTrain commuter line stopped running in 1983. A platform built for CalTrain on the Southern Pacific tracks along Empire Avenue has remained unused since the service, a joint operation between Southern Pacific and the state Department of Transportation, was halted because of low ridership.

City planners hope that the new service will be the first step toward establishment of a regional transit center that would serve as a hub linking the railway with buses, local shuttles, a park-and-ride commuter facility and Burbank Airport.

Amtrak plans to increase the number of trains that stop in Burbank by October, Amtrak spokesman Arthur Lloyd said.

Passenger train service through the San Fernando Valley between Santa Barbara and San Diego began in June, 1988. At that time, Burbank was left off Amtrak's schedule because there was insufficient parking at the platform site, said Ron Scolaro, Amtrak's chief administrative officer for government affairs.

To remedy that, Burbank leased parking from Lockheed Corp. south of the platform on Vanowen Street, said John Flynn, chairman of Burbank's Transportation Board. Flynn added that the city is interested in leasing space for more parking along Empire Avenue. That property is now used by Lockheed for employee parking, but is expected to become available after the aerospace company leaves Burbank by the mid-1990s.

City officials plan an inauguration ceremony at 9:30 a.m. today. Part of the ceremony will include a train ride to Glendale, 10 minutes away. Passengers will be bused back to Burbank, said Swen Williams, an administrative analyst with the city's Planning Department.

Southbound trains from Burbank will stop in Glendale, Los Angeles Union Station, Fullerton, Anaheim, Santa Ana, San Juan Capistrano, Oceanside, Del Mar and San Diego. Northbound trains will stop in Van Nuys, Chatsworth, Simi Valley, Oxnard and Santa Barbara.

Fares to San Diego will be $23 one-way and $30 round-trip and fares to Santa Barbara will be $17 one-way and $24 round-trip, Lloyd said.

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