Pacific Surfliner: Head-End

Pacific Surfliner: Head-End

Facing Point Media

Format: 2 DVD set

Length: 3 Hours

Time Period: 2005

Locations: Los Angeles to San Diego

Sources: Sony Hi-Def cameras. Amtrak co-operation.

Unusual and unique program  that has the viewer inside the cab of a modern, Amtrak locomotive.  This train leaves Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal with Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner. The destination is San Diego. Every mile is traversed, one foot at a time! We will reach track speeds of up to 90 MPH!

Let’s.. Ride this Locomotive!


Much more then just an average cab ride. Many extra features are included. Assorted on-screen graphic indicators provide information about this trip. Some are: Speed Limit, Actual Speed, Dwarf Signal Indicators, Location. Also, Milepost markers and block trackage. Real-time milepost data is switchable on the special features menu.

There is a chapter menu, the list looks like the station stops, along the route.

No Narration. So What! The radio traffic crackles thru the speaker. Multiple microphones are strategically mounted inside the cab. Hotbox detectors, dragging equipment, speed monitors and more. Airhorn, bell, streetside ding-ding (not audible at 80 MPH.. hello).  All this audio is heard, as they sound, when you are seated in the locomotive.

The video quality is excellent. Accurate colors and crisp imagery. Sony Hi- Def cameras really capture the action. Audio equals the very high quality of this show. Stereo microphones give us; crisp, stereo sound.

This program appears to be of a training video style standard. Bonus features include the train running in rain, fog and dusk. Dusk has a chance for the viewer to read signal aspects, on multiple signal bridges. A tour of the Surfliner is included.

It is quite a thrill to ride the entire journey of the speedy passenger train.

DVD 1:

 Immediately, we are transported into the cab of an Amtrak F59 locomotive. Quickly departing LAUPT, the train gets clearance and proceeds with the departure. The view is a clear one. Right through the locomotive windshield. All natural soundtrack. No interviews, no swapping stories. This is all business, from a single-minded approach. You will sit in the cab of a high speed passenger train, on a busy railroad corridor. All of the action happens on this sunny, southern California route.


Once the train begins to get rolling, it is hard to turn away from the screen.

We pass through such towns as; Anaheim, Irvine and stop at San Juan Capistrano Station.

It is quite a thrill, to ride in the cab of a speedy passenger train. This show is just like being there. I can see where riding the progression along the route could be habit forming.

DVD 2 :

San Juan Capistrano Station has the locomotive stopped and waiting for the highball. Quickly, the train is underway. Radio chatter announces the train is clear of the station. The signal indicates a clear block with a 60 MPH speed limit.

South of San Clemente, the engine winds out where the speed limit is 70 MPH. On this stretch, the train is practically oceanfront. The beach is visible. and it beckons a vacation.

Soon, we hit a straightaway where the 90 MPH limit is established. Airwave annoucement from a trackside detector breaks the sounds of a working engine. There is some camera shake as we hit 70.  Clear weather and a green signal. 80 MPH now, more intense vibration. 88 and we are rock and rolling.  90 MPH and it’s oh baayybbeeee !   What a Gas !

Views of the beach, the ocean, some scenery are seen. The view is always a straightahead one. As the train gets closer to San Diego, the windshield is not as clan as it was in LAUPT. The viewpoint is still a great one, just remember, you are looking through the windshield.

It might be a good idea and enhance the fun factor, to brush-up on your signal knowledge. Not a must, but for the right viewer, this does add interest.

Checkout some Southern Pacific Signal Aspects and Indications. Diverging Advance Approach, is one.  A red indication with a G plate, is another. Yellow/ Lunar Approach appears as the train enters San Diego. Red/ Lunar Approach as the Amtrak train eases to a full stop at San Diego Depot. What an attractive city to depart the train!

Suitable for everyone. Kids will like the lively action and all of the sounds. I believe that many people would at least be curious to see what an engineer’s view is like. Railfans will be quite enamored with this one of a kind presentation.

Pacific Surfliner is not just a train video. It is an experience of it’s own. Ride in the cab of Amtrak Train 567. That experience is an enjoyable one.

Rating: 5 Stars


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