If you're traveling along any part of the Pacific Surfliner rail route July 19-21 -- the seasonal opening of Del Mar racetrack and Comic-Con -- make your train reservations right now or risk not getting a seat.
That's the word Monday from Amtrak, which is requiring train reservations in anticipation of a heavy passenger load on the weekend of those two big events in the San Diego area. Comic-Con, which draws about 130,000 visitors, is set for the San Diego Convention Center from 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m. July 18 to 20 and 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. July 21. Farther north, the Del Mar racetrack in Del Mar opens for the season on July 17.
The Pacific Surfliner operates daily service between San Luis Obispo and San Diego by way of Los Angeles, and Amtrak is requiring reservations for all passengers traveling during the mid-July weekend. Coaster and Metrolink passes won't be honored that weekend. The only passengers who won't need reservations are those with multi-ride tickets -- a 10-trip pack or a monthly pass.
"Since space is limited, it is important that those wanting to travel during this time period plan ahead and make reservations as early as possible," Bill Bronte, chief of Caltrans Division of Rail, said in a statement. The statement also said Amtrak would add extra equipment during the heavy travel weekend, including an exclusive cafe dining and lounge car for travelers who upgrade to business class.