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New San Diegan Trains Getting a Late Start

March 26, 2000

Amtrak's much-heralded roll-out of new train cars for California's San Diegan line, which was scheduled to begin next month, has been delayed, along with the renaming of the line as the Pacific Surfliner.

Amtrak West spokeswoman Jennifer McMahon attributed the delay to "a misunderstanding with the manufacturer," Alstom, regarding the delivery date. She said no "exact day" has been set, but delivery is expected to begin by early June, with the entire fleet of eight trains to be replaced by spring 2001. The San Diegan, running between San Diego and San Luis Obispo, is Amtrak's second busiest run after the Boston-New York-Washington corridor.

The new cars sport larger windows, wider seats and easier entry (doorways are about 10 inches above the platform) than current cars, some of which are 30 years old. There are laptop outlets in coach as well as in business; business class also gets personal in-seat audio and video systems.

The delay is an embarrassment for Amtrak, which has repeatedly postponed introducing high-speed cars in the Northeast while the cars' makers, Alstom and Bombardier Inc., fix design problems.

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