Making Tracks


Austin White, a Lancaster 2-year-old, is a train travel enthusiast. So much so, his mother Shauna says, that the sight of a tandem truck on the road can get him excited and confused enough to start exclaiming “trains!” and “choo-choos!”

One might ask how a tot from the Antelope Valley acquired this attitude. Simple. His family took him on a train ride.

It was a family train excursion arranged by Austin’s mom, who is a travel agent. But since last month it’s become easy for any child to have a taste of what Austin experienced--without having to go farther than the Antelope, Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys.


Local families can hop on the Metrolink line, which recently started running Saturdays with stops in Lancaster, Santa Clarita, San Fernando, Burbank, Glendale and downtown Los Angeles.

The 11 a.m. Saturday departure from Glendale, for instance, provides a ride out to the Princessa station in the Santa Clarita Valley--and you can come right back to Glendale by 12:40 p.m. For a daylong excursion, leave Burbank at 9:17 a.m., arriving at Lancaster at 10:42 p.m., having seen some desert poppies along the way. Then take the shuttle bus, which ferries passengers to the Lancaster Factory Outlet Stores. Shop till you drop, grab a snack and catch the 4:21 p.m. train back to Burbank, arriving at 5:44 p.m.

Antelope Valley families can ride the line the other way--and visit Olvera Street across from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. Leave Lancaster at 8:43 a.m. and get back at 6:18 p.m.

The train-ride portion of the outing takes about 90 minutes each way. Round-trip fares for this particular trip, depending on where you board Metrolink, are about $10 for adults 18 and older or $7 for youngsters, seniors over 65 and the disabled.

The new Saturday schedule also provides Metrolink service to San Bernardino and back, via Union Station. But for the present, the Metrolink line in Ventura County, which runs east-west through the San Fernando Valley, operates only Monday through Friday.

“It’s great entertainment for kids, and they don’t have to stay in their seat,” Shauna White says of the train-riding experience. So, when recently asked by a teacher from Santa Clarita Elementary School about a Metrolink train excursion for a group of 101, she readily volunteered to help.


White points out that it isn’t necessary to have a group that large or use a travel agent to take a family ride on the Metrolink. The normal procedure is for people to call Metrolink for schedule information and the location of the station nearest home.

The Santa Clarita teacher, Sally Dixon, has used Metrolink for several school excursions and strongly recommends it as a weekend family experience because of the educational value to kids.

“They’ll learn so much about things along the route they didn’t know before--how different it is from what they’ve been seeing from a car,” Dixon says.

The younger kids get the most excited, she reports: “For the 9-, 10-, 11-year-olds it’s magical. By junior high they get jaded.”

Countering the usual perception that travel with little kids is a miserable experience for everyone, Dixon recites a comment she has heard coming from young train travelers: “Are we already here?” instead of “Aren’t we there yet?”


Santa Clarita Metrolink Line, Saturday Family Excursions, call 808-LINK (no area code) for station locations, schedules and fares between Los Angeles and Lancaster, through the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys.