|Service type||Inter-city rail, commuter rail|
|First service||December 12, 1991|
|Current operator(s)||Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority, in partnership with Amtrak and Caltrans|
|Annual ridership||674,039 (FY22) 90.2%|
|Termini|| Auburn |
|Distance travelled||168 miles (270 km)|
|Average journey time||31⁄4 hours|
|Service frequency||15 round trips (weekdays)|
11 round trips (weekends)
|Train number(s)||520–553, 720–751|
|Disabled access||Train lower level, all stations|
|Baggage facilities||Overhead bins, luggage racks|
|Rolling stock||California Cars|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Track owner(s)||UP, JPBX|
The Capitol Corridor is a 168-mile (270 km) passenger train route in Northern California operated by Amtrak between San Jose, in the Bay Area, and Auburn, in the Sacramento Valley. The route is named after the two points most trains operate between, San Jose (which hosted the first state capitol of California) and Sacramento (which currently hosts the California State Capitol). The route runs roughly parallel to Interstate 880 and Interstate 80. Some trips run from Oakland to San Jose, while a single daily round trip runs all the way from San Jose to Auburn, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Capitol Corridor trains started in 1991.
Like all regional trains in California, the Capitol Corridor is operated by a joint powers authority. The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) is governed by a board that includes two elected representatives from each of eight counties the train travels through. The CCJPA contracts with the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District to provide day-to-day management, and Amtrak to operate and maintain the rolling stock (locomotives and passenger cars). The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) provides the funding and also owns the rolling stock.
The First transcontinental railroad was completed to Oakland from the south in 1869. Following the completion of the California Pacific Railroad in 1879, most long-distance service of the Southern Pacific (SP) reached Oakland from the north. Long-distance service from the south ran to San Francisco via the Peninsula; some trains had Oakland sections. The Western Pacific Railroad (completed to Oakland in 1910) and Santa Fe Railroad (completed to Oakland in 1903 over the former California and Nevada Railroad) largely ran long-distance service with limited local stops. Commuter service around Oakland was largely provided by the electric interurban trains of the SP-owned East Bay Electric Lines (1911–1941) and Key System (1901–1958).
By the end of the 1930s, the SP operated five daily local round trips plus a number of long-distance trains between Oakland and Sacramento. The Oakland Lark and an unnamed local train (an Oakland connection for the Coast Daylight ) provided local service between Oakland and San Jose on the Coast Line. The inland Niles Subdivision was served by a daily Oakland–Tracy local and a commute-timed Oakland–San Jose local (which ran via Centerville and part of the Coast Line on the northbound trip and Milpitas southbound).
The Oakland–San Jose trip on the Niles Subdivision was discontinued on September 29, 1940, followed by the Oakland–Tracy trip in 1941. : 37, 40 The two Oakland–San Jose trips on the Coast Line were discontinued on May 1, 1960. : 7 The last local service between Oakland and Sacramento was the Senator, discontinued by the SP on May 31, 1962 (though long-distance service continued). : 140
From the 1970s to the beginning of the 1990s, three Amtrak intercity trains operated in the Bay Area: the long-distance California Zephyr (Oakland/Emeryville – Chicago) and Coast Starlight (Los Angeles – Seattle), and the regional San Joaquin (Bakersfield–Oakland). Of the three lines, only the Coast Starlight ran between San Jose and Sacramento—once a day in each direction, and at inconvenient times (southbound early in the morning, northbound in the evening). In 1977, Amtrak approved an additional Oakland–Sacramento round trip, the Sacramentan; the service was never operated.
In 1990, California voters passed two ballot 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.
One of the ballot propositions, Proposition 116, provided the name Capitol Corridor—so named because it links the location of California's first state capitol, San Jose, with the current location, Sacramento. : 7 The service was known as the Capitols until April 29, 2001, when Amtrak renamed it the Capitol Corridor.
The Capitols originally ran via the Coast Line from Elmhurst to Santa Clara, with no stops between Oakland and San Jose. In 1992, after the completion of track and signal work, the Capitols were rerouted onto the Niles Subdivision further inland between Elmhurst and Newark. The new route allowed the addition of infill stations at Fremont in 1993 and Hayward in 1997. : 33 The Oakland 16th Street station, which had been damaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, was closed in 1994, and replaced by new stations at Emeryville in 1993 and Oakland-Jack London Square in 1995. : 33 Additional infill stations were added at Santa Clara – Great America in 1993, Oakland Coliseum (with a close connection to BART) in 2005, the existing Caltrain station in Santa Clara-University in 2012, and at Fairfield–Vacaville in 2017.
One daily round trip was extended east to Colfax via Rocklin and Auburn on January 26, 1998. The trip was cut back to Auburn (with the Rocklin stop retained) on February 27, 2000. : 73
Service was gradually increased from the original three daily round trips. The fifth round trip was added in November 1998, followed by the sixth in February 1999.
Installation of positive train control along the route was completed by November 2018.
In response to low ridership as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Capitol Corridor schedule was reduced to five daily trips on March 21, 2020, with discontinued Auburn service and many trips ending in Oakland. Three runs were added back on June 1 and Auburn service restored.
Additional stations have been proposed along the route at Hercules, Benicia, and Dixon.[ citation needed ]
The Capitol Corridor Vision Implementation Plan is a long range outline of possible improvements to the service; several realignments along existing and new right-of-ways were considered and studied. Near term suggested improvements include double tracking between San Jose and a realignment to the Coast Subdivision and a new station at the Ardenwood Park-and-Ride followed by track improvements between Emeryville and Richmond. Later goals include tunneling under Jack London Square to eliminate the street-running section there, rerouting freight traffic over another right-of-way between Sacramento and Martinez, and eventual electrification of the line.
The 2018 Senate Bill 1 allocated $93 million in funds for the Capitol Corridor, partially for planning the realignment to the Coast Subdivision. As of June 2020 [update] , the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the realignment (branded as South Bay Connect) is expected to be completed at the end of 2020, followed by the Final Environmental Impact Report a year later. Design is to take place in 2022–23, with construction beginning in 2024. The project is to have a single new station at Ardenwood (at SR 84); stations at Hayward (at SR 92) and Newark Junction were considered but rejected.
Two daily Capitol Corridor round trips, along with some Caltrain service, were planned to be extended to Salinas as part of the Monterey County Rail Extension.Initial service will have intermediate stops at existing Caltrain stations at Tamien, Morgan Hill, and Gilroy; future phases will add new stations at Castroville and Pajaro/Watsonville.
A third track between Sacramento and Roseville is planned to start construction in 2021,which would allow an initial increase from one round trip per day to three, with plans for up to ten. Extension east to Reno, Nevada was deemed unlikely in the Vision Implementation Plan due to heavy freight traffic over Donner Pass and lack of funding, though plans for such an expansion are being studied in 2022.
Extending service to downtown San Francisco by crossing the bay is being considered as part of a proposed second Transbay Tube. A study of a joint project providing a second crossing for BART began in 2019.San Francisco has not had direct intercity rail service since 1971.
During fiscal year 2017 the Capitol Corridor service carried 1,607,277 passengers, a 2.9% increase over FY2016. as of 2017 [update] , Sacramento is the busiest station on the route, the seventh busiest in the Amtrak system and the second busiest in California.Revenue in FY2017 was $33,970,000, a 5.3% increase over FY2016, with a 57% farebox recovery ratio. It is the fourth busiest Amtrak route by ridership, surpassed only by the Northeast Regional , Acela Express , and Pacific Surfliner . In large part due to the route's success,
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, including those connecting to the train via Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach from San Francisco,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.
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.On August 13, 2012, the Capitol Corridor dropped from 16 to 15 weekday round trips between Oakland and Sacramento; one round trip was discontinued due to high fuel costs, low ridership, and a new ability to store an extra train overnight in a Sacramento railyard.
As of October 2022, trains run as follows:
|Location||Station||Service began||Service ended||Connections|
|Colfax||Colfax||1998||2000||Now served by California Zephyr|
|Auburn||Auburn||1998|| Amtrak Thruway to Sacramento |
Local bus: Placer County Transit
|Rocklin||Rocklin||1998||Amtrak Thruway to Sacramento|
|Roseville||Roseville||1991|| Amtrak: California Zephyr|
Amtrak Thruway to Sacramento
|Sacramento||Sacramento Valley Station||1991|| Amtrak: California Zephyr, Coast Starlight , San Joaquins |
Amtrak Thruway to Stateline, Auburn, Reno, Sparks, Stockton–Downtown, Redding
|Davis||Davis||1991|| Amtrak: California Zephyr, Coast Starlight|
Amtrak Thruway to Stockton, Redding
|Fairfield||Fairfield–Vacaville||2017||Local bus: FAST|
|Suisun City||Suisun–Fairfield||1991||Local bus: FAST, Delta Breeze, VINE Transit, SolTrans|
|Martinez||Martinez||1991|| Amtrak: California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, San Joaquins|
Amtrak Thruway to Napa, Santa Rosa, Arcata, McKinleyville, Sacramento
Local bus: County Connection, Tri Delta Transit, WestCAT
|Richmond||Richmond Transit Center||1991|| Amtrak: California Zephyr, San Joaquins|
Local bus: AC Transit
|Berkeley||Berkeley||1991||Local bus: AC Transit|
|Emeryville||Emeryville||1993|| Amtrak: California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, San Joaquins|
Amtrak Thruway to San Francisco
Local bus: AC Transit, Emery Go-Round
|Jack London Square||1995|| Amtrak: Coast Starlight, San Joaquins|
Amtrak Thruway to San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, San Jose
Local bus: AC Transit
|Oakland Coliseum||2005|| BART: |
Local bus: AC Transit
|Hayward||Hayward||1997||Local bus: AC Transit|
|Fremont||Fremont||1993|| Altamont Corridor Express |
Local bus: AC Transit
|Santa Clara||Santa Clara – Great America||1993|| Altamont Corridor Express|
VTA Light Rail: Green Line, Orange Line (at Lick Mill)
Local bus: VTA Bus
|Santa Clara||2012|| Altamont Corridor Express|
Local bus: VTA Bus
|San Jose||San Jose Diridon||1991|| Amtrak: Coast Starlight|
Altamont Corridor Express
VTA Light Rail: Green Line
Intercity bus: Amtrak Thruway, Greyhound Lines, Megabus
Local bus: VTA Bus, Santa Cruz METRO
VTA Light Rail: Blue Line
|Morgan Hill||Morgan Hill||Planned||Caltrain|
|Salinas||Salinas||Planned||Amtrak: Coast Starlight|
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:
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), eight Siemens Charger locomotives (numbered 2101 through 2108) 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 can appear on Capitol Corridor trains as substitutes.
In rarer cases, F59PHIs 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.
Caltrain is a California commuter rail line serving the San Francisco Peninsula and Santa Clara Valley. The southern terminus is in San Jose at Tamien station with weekday rush hour service running as far as Gilroy. The northern terminus of the line is in San Francisco at 4th and King Streets. Caltrain has 28 regular stops, one limited-service weekday-only stop, one weekend-only stop (Broadway), and one football-only stop (Stanford). While average weekday ridership in 2019 exceeded 63,000, impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been significant: in August 2022, Caltrain had an average weekday ridership of 18,600 passengers.
The Pacific Surfliner is a 350-mile (560 km) passenger train service serving the communities on the coast of Southern California between San Diego and San Luis Obispo.
The San Joaquins is a passenger train service operated by Amtrak in California's San Joaquin Valley. Six daily round trips run between its southern terminus at Bakersfield and Stockton, with onward service to Sacramento and Oakland.
The Altamont Corridor Express is a commuter rail service in California, connecting Stockton and San Jose during peak hours only. ACE is named for the Altamont Pass, through which it runs. Service is managed by the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission, and operations are contracted to Herzog Transit Services. The 86-mile (138 km) route includes ten stops, with travel time about 2 hours and 12 minutes end-to-end. In 2021, the line had a ridership of 227,900, or about 8,300 per weekday as of the second quarter of 2022. ACE uses Bombardier BiLevel Coaches, MPI F40PH-3C locomotives, and Siemens Charger locomotives.
The Coast Starlight is a passenger train operated by Amtrak on the West Coast of the United States between Seattle and Los Angeles via Portland and the San Francisco Bay Area. The train, which has operated continuously since Amtrak's formation in 1971, was the first to offer direct service between Seattle and Los Angeles. Its name is a combination of two prior Southern Pacific (SP) trains, the Coast Daylight and the Starlight.
Amtrak California is a brand name used by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) Division of Rail for three state-supported Amtrak commuter rail routes in California – the Capitol Corridor, the Pacific Surfliner, and the San Joaquins – and their associated connecting network of Thruway Motorcoach buses.
San Jose Diridon station is the central passenger rail depot for San Jose, California. It also serves as a major intermodal transit center for Santa Clara County and Silicon Valley. The station is named after former Santa Clara County Supervisor Rod Diridon.
People in the San Francisco Bay Area rely on a complex multimodal transportation infrastructure consisting of roads, bridges, highways, rail, tunnels, airports, seaports, and bike and pedestrian paths. The development, maintenance, and operation of these different modes of transportation are overseen by various agencies, including the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the Association of Bay Area Governments, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. These and other organizations collectively manage several interstate highways and state routes, two subway networks, two commuter rail agencies, eight trans-bay bridges, transbay ferry service, local bus service, three international airports, and an extensive network of roads, tunnels, and bike paths.
The Peninsula Commute, also known as the Southern Pacific Peninsula or just Peninsula, was the common name for commuter rail service between San Jose, California and San Francisco, California on the San Francisco Peninsula. This service ran as a private, for-profit enterprise beginning in 1863. Due to operating losses, the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) petitioned to discontinue the service in 1977. Subsidies were provided through the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in 1980 to continue service, and it was renamed Caltrain.
The Oakland Coliseum station complex is located in the East Oakland area of Oakland, California, United States. The complex consists of two separate stations, Amtrak's Oakland Coliseum station, and Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)'s Coliseum station, which are located approximately 600 feet (180 m) apart. The stations are connected to each other and to the Oakland Arena/Oakland Coliseum sports complex by an accessible pedestrian bridge.
Auburn station is an Amtrak station in Auburn, California. Located at the corner of Nevada Street and Fulweiler Street, it serves as the northern terminus of the Capitol Corridor line. The station is not staffed. The platform is next to a short spur track off Track 2 of Union Pacific Railroad's route over Donner Pass. Because of the geography of the city, the Union Pacific's mainline tracks are split, with Track 1 running through the eastern side of the city and Track 2 crossing the western side of the city. The California Zephyr bypasses the city on its route between Roseville and Colfax primarily via Track 1. Auburn became a stop on Amtrak's Capitol Corridor in January 1998.
Martinez station is an Amtrak passenger train station in Martinez, California, United States. Located at the west end of downtown Martinez, the station has one side platform and one island platform, which serve three of the four tracks of the Union Pacific Railroad Martinez Subdivision. It is served by the daily California Zephyr and Coast Starlight long-distance trains, five daily round trips of the San Joaquin corridor service, and fifteen daily round trips of the Capitol Corridor service. Martinez is also served by Amtrak Thruway buses plus County Connection, Tri-Delta Transit, and WestCAT local buses.
Hayward station is an Amtrak intercity train station in Hayward, California, United States. It is served by seven daily round trips of the Capitol Corridor route. The station has two side platforms serving the main track and a passing siding; most trains use the platform on the main track.
The Northern California megaregion, distinct from Northern California, is an urbanized region of California consisting of many large cities including San Jose, San Francisco, Sacramento, and Oakland. There are varying definitions of the megaregion, but it is generally seen as encompassing the San Francisco Bay Area, the Sacramento area, northern San Joaquin Valley, and the Monterey Bay Area.
The Caltrain Express (CTX) project was implemented from 2002 to 2004 and led to the establishment of the Baby Bullet express service, which shortened the transit time between San Francisco and San Jose, and certain stations in between. New locomotives and rolling stock were purchased for dedicated express service, bypassing most stations; quad-track overtake sections were added in two locations along the Peninsula Corridor right-of-way to allow express trains to pass slower local trains that were making all stops; tracks were also upgraded with continuous-welded rail; a centralized traffic control system was added; and crossovers were added every few miles to allow single-tracking trains around disabled trains. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, then serving as a California State Senator, is credited with securing the funding for CTX and one of the new locomotives acquired for the project is named for her as a result. During commute hours, the Baby Bullet is up to 20% faster than driving south from San Francisco to San Jose.
The Caltrain Modernization Program (CalMod), sometimes referred to as the Caltrain Electrification Project, is a $2.44 billion project that will add a positive train control (PTC) system and electrify the main line of the U.S. commuter railroad Caltrain, which serves cities in the San Francisco Peninsula and Silicon Valley, as well as transition from its current diesel-electric locomotive powered trains to electric multiple units (EMU). According to Caltrain, electrification of the tracks will allow it to improve service times via faster acceleration and shorter headways, reduce air pollution and noise, and facilitate a future railway tunnel into downtown San Francisco's Salesforce Transit Center, as diesel trains cannot serve underground stations.
The Downtown Rail Extension (DTX) is a planned second phase of the San Francisco Transbay Transit Center (TTC). When complete, it will extend the Caltrain Peninsula Corridor commuter rail line from its current northern terminus at 4th and King via a 1.3 mi (2.1 km) tunnel. The new terminus will be near the Financial District and will provide intermodal connections to BART, Muni, Transbay AC Transit buses, and long-distance buses. In addition, the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) plans to use DTX and the Caltrain-owned Peninsula Corridor for service on the CHSRA San Francisco–San Jose segment. Because DTX uses a long tunnel, current diesel locomotives are not suitable and the Caltrain Modernization Project (CalMod), which includes electrification of the line and acquisition of electrified rolling stock, is a prerequisite.
The California Zephyr is a passenger train operated by Amtrak between Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area, via Omaha, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Reno. At 2,438 miles (3,924 km), it is Amtrak's longest daily route, and second-longest overall after the Texas Eagle's triweekly continuation from San Antonio to Los Angeles, with travel time between the termini taking approximately 511⁄2 hours. Amtrak claims the route as one of its most scenic, with views of the upper Colorado River valley in the Rocky Mountains, and the Sierra Nevada. The modern train is the second iteration of a train named California Zephyr; the original train was privately operated and ran on a different route through Nevada and California.
The Monterey County Rail Extension is a planned commuter rail extension that would bring Caltrain passenger service south of its existing Gilroy, California terminus to Salinas in Monterey County, using the existing Coast Line owned by Union Pacific (UPRR). Implementation of the rail extension will occur over three phases, starting from Salinas and moving north. When construction is complete, there will be four trains operated over the extended line per weekday: two northbound trains that depart from Salinas and travel to San Francisco in the morning, and two southbound trains that return to Salinas in the afternoon.
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.