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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | Countywide

New Amtrak Trains Start Run on Friday

May 23, 2000|CATHERINE BLAKE

Modernized Amtrak trains will be moving through Ventura County beginning Friday.

Eight new trains will be phased in over the next year, and travel the corridor from San Diego to San Luis Obispo, with stops in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara.

The former San Diegan rail corridor has been renamed the Pacific Surfliner in a marketing effort aimed at stimulating interest in rail travel, according to Amtrak spokeswoman Jennifer McMahon. It is Amtrak's second-most heavily traveled line, serving 1.5 million riders a year, she said.

"The old trains were very old. The average age was 30 years old," she said. "The new trains will be much more comfortable for long distances."

The new trains will have five double-decker cars that seat a total of 422 people. Among the improvements are larger windows and seats, train information on digital display boards and upgraded food selection.

Some of the cars also will have outlets for laptop computers.

Train speeds will not be increased, although the cars do have the ability to go faster, McMahon said.

At present, there are four trips daily between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, with a stop in Ventura. The cost is $34 to travel from Ventura to Los Angeles and back and $19 for a round-trip ticket to Santa Barbara from Ventura.

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