Capitol Corridor

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"Amtrak Capitols" redirects here. For the Amtrak line connecting Washington, D.C. and Chicago, see Capitol Limited (Amtrak train).
Capitol Corridor
Capitol Corridor logo.svg
Amtrak Capitol Corridor.jpg
A morning San Jose-bound Capitol Corridor at
Santa Clara-University station before the platforms were rebuilt
Service type Inter-city rail/Commuter rail
Locale California
First service December 12, 1991
Current operator(s) Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority, in partnership with Amtrak and Caltrans
Annual ridership 1,474,873 (FY15)[1]
Website Capitol Corridor
Start Auburn, California
Stops 17
End San Jose, California
Distance travelled 168 miles (270 km)
Average journey time 3 hours 15 minutes
Train number(s) Weekdays
520, 522, 524, 528, 530, 532, 534, 536, 538, 540, 542, 544, 546, 548, 550
521, 523, 525, 527, 529, 531, 533, 535, 537, 541, 543, 545, 547, 549, 551, 553
720, 724, 728, 732, 734, 736, 738, 742, 744, 746, 748
723, 727, 729, 733, 737, 741, 743, 745, 747, 749, 751
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
(standard gauge)
Track owner(s) UP and JPBX
Route map
California Zephyr
to Chicago
0 mi
0 km
14 mi
23 km
18 mi
29 km
Placer County
Sacramento County
American River
San Joaquin
to Bakersfield
Coast Starlight
to Seattle
35 mi
56 km
Sacramento Sacramento Regional Transit.svg
Sacramento County
Yolo County
Sacramento River
49 mi
79 km
Yolo County
Solano County
Fairfield-Vacaville (2017)
75 mi
121 km
Solano County
Contra Costa County
Carquinez Strait
San Joaquin
to Bakersfield
93 mi
150 km
Hercules planned
112 mi
180 km
Richmond Bay Area Rapid Transit
Contra Costa County
Alameda County
118 mi
190 km
120 mi
193 km
Oakland Central
to Millbrae (via San Francisco)
125 mi
201 km
Oakland-Jack London Sq. Oakland Ferry Terminal
130 mi
209 km
Oakland Coliseum Bay Area Rapid Transit Oakland International Airport
138 mi
222 km
Union City Bay Area Rapid Transit planned
Alameda Creek
to Stockton
to Warm Springs
150 mi
241 km
Fremont-Centerville Altamont Corridor Express
Alameda County
Santa Clara County
Coyote Creek
Lick Mill (VTA)
161 mi
259 km
Santa Clara-Great America Altamont Corridor Express Santa Clara VTA
to San Francisco
165 mi
266 km
Santa Clara-Univ. Caltrain Altamont Corridor Express San Jose International Airport
to Winchester Transit Center
168 mi
270 km
San Jose Santa Clara VTA Caltrain Altamont Corridor Express
Tamien Santa Clara VTA Caltrain proposed
to Santa Teresa
Morgan Hill Caltrain proposed
Gilroy Caltrain proposed
Pajaro proposed
Castroville proposed
Salinas proposed
Coast Starlight
to Los Angeles

The Capitol Corridor is a 168-mile (275 km) passenger train route operated by Amtrak in California. Capitol Corridor trains operate between San Jose and Sacramento, roughly parallel to Interstate 880 and Interstate 80. One train a day continues through the eastern Sacramento suburbs to Auburn, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The trains are financially supported by California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) through Amtrak California and administered by the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority, with day-to-day operations managed by Bay Area Rapid Transit. Capitol Corridor trains started in 1991.


The Capitol Corridor is named because it links the location of California's first state capitol, San Jose (1850), with the current location, Sacramento. The rail route also travels near historical state capitol locations of Vallejo (1852) and Benicia (1853).

A Capitols train at Sacramento in 1995

At the start of the 1990s three Amtrak trains operated in the Bay Area: the long-distance California Zephyr (OaklandChicago) and Coast Starlight (Los AngelesSeattle), and the short-distance San Joaquin (Bakersfield-Oakland). Only the Coast Starlight ran once a day between San Jose and Sacramento, and at inconvenient times. The last local service between the two former capitals was the Southern Pacific's Senator which ran between Oakland and Sacramento until May 31, 1962.[2]:140 In 1990 California voters passed two 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.[3] The service was later renamed Capitol Corridor to avoid confusion with the Capitol Limited, which runs between Washington, D.C. and Chicago. In 1998 there was one round trip train that ran as far as Colfax but poor ridership was unable to sustain the extension. Today, most eastbound Capitol Corridor trains terminate in Sacramento, with Amtrak Thruway bus connections to destinations farther east. Only one daily train runs as far as Auburn.

Proposed expansion[edit]

New stations[edit]

A Capitol Corridor train passing the site of the planned Hercules Station & Terminal

New stations have been proposed along the route at Hercules, Benicia, northern Fairfield/Vacaville and Dixon. The northern Fairfield–Vacaville station is being developed by the cities of Fairfield and Vacaville near the corner of Peabody Road and Vanden Road.[4][5] Additionally, an intermodal station is planned at the Union City station, connecting to BART as part of a larger Dumbarton Rail Corridor Project to connect Union City, Fremont, and Newark to various Peninsula cities via the Dumbarton Rail Bridge.[6] The station is being planned and paid for by BART and the city of Union City.[7]


Extending service south to Salinas is planned,[8] which would add stops at Castroville, Watsonville Junction (Pajaro), Gilroy, Morgan Hill and San Jose's Tamien Station,[citation needed] the last three of which are also served by Caltrain during commute hours. Preliminary work had started to add second pair of tracks between Oakland and San Jose, which would enable most trains to run from Sacramento to San Jose.

An expansion to Truckee, California and Reno, Nevada on the UP line over Donner Pass has been considered. However, the rail route over Donner Summit runs through a single track tunnel, which travels underneath Norden, California; traffic through this tunnel is already at maximum capacity, as Union Pacific freight traffic is at an all-time high. A trans-Sierra eastern extension has not been seriously considered because the Reno/Tahoe region already gets once-a-day service, via the California Zephyr route, and ample bus service from other companies such as Greyhound and Megabus.

Frequency and ridership[edit]

Annual Ridership
FY* Ridership
2012 1,746,397 +2.2%
2013 1,701,185[9] −2.6%
2014 1,419,134[10] –13.4%
2015 1,474,873[1] +3.9%
Amtrak Capitol Corridor (interactive map)

During fiscal year 2012 the Capitol Corridor service carried 1,746,397 passengers, an 2.2% increase over FY2011; however, in FY2013, the Capitol Corridor carried 1,701,185 passengers, which represents a 2.6% decrease from FY2012.[9] Revenue in FY2012 was $27,927,540, an 8.6% increase over FY2011.[11] It is the fourth busiest Amtrak route by ridership, surpassed only by the Northeast Regional, Acela Express, and Pacific Surfliner.[11] As of 2013 Sacramento is the busiest station on the route and the seventh busiest in the Amtrak system.[9]

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, 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.[12]

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.[13]

Starting August 13, 2012 the Capitol Corridor dropped from 16 to 15 weekday trains each way between Oakland and Sacramento.[14] The Joint Powers Authority went ahead with a plan to drop train numbers 518 and 553 due to high fuel costs, low ridership, and a new ability to store an extra train overnight in a Sacramento railyard.[14]

As of February 2013 no weekday trains run the full length of the line between Auburn and San Jose. The single departure from Auburn runs to Oakland Coliseum; of the 14 westward departures from Sacramento seven run to San Jose, three to Coliseum and four to Oakland Jack London Square. Seven trains run San Jose to Sacramento, six downtown Oakland to Sacramento, one Coliseum to Sacramento and one Oakland to Auburn.

Thruway Motorcoach services[edit]

Additional cities and regions can be reached with Amtrak California Thruway Motorcoach service:


A Capitol Corridor train with CCJPA-maintained California Cars and Amtrak-maintained P42 diesel locomotive passing through Alviso in 2016

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.[15]

The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority is governed by a Board of Directors which consists of 16 representatives from its member agencies:


A Capitol Corridor rounds San Pablo Bay near Pinole in 2011. An EMD F59PHI leads a mixed consist of 2 "California Cars" and 2 Superliner coaches.

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), and two GE P32-8WH (Dash 8) locomotives (Numbered 2051 & 2052, formerly Amtrak 501 & 502), 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 appear on Capitol Corridor trains as substitutes.

In rarer cases, F59PHI's 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.

See also[edit]

  • Train Life, a 2006 documentary films about passengers on the Capitol Corridor


  1. ^ a b "Amtrak Fact Sheet, Fiscal Year 2015 State of California" (PDF). Amtrak. Retrieved 6 July 2016. 
  2. ^ Solomon, Brian (2005). Southern Pacific Passenger Trains. Voyageur Press. 
  3. ^ "Train links Sacramento, Bay Area". Lodi News-Sentinel. December 12, 1991. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  4. ^ Fairfield Planning Dept. - TRAIN STATION SPECIFIC PLAN
  5. ^ Capitol Corridor - Issue 17, June 2004 Archived October 11, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "Summary of the Dumbarton Rail Corridor Project Study Report" (PDF). San Mateo County Transit Authority. May 2004. pp. 3;18. Archived (PDF) from the original on 18 March 2016. Retrieved 18 March 2016. 
  7. ^ SamTrans - Dumbarton Rail Corridor
  8. ^ Rahaim, Nick (5 January 2017). "Frank's Fish Market will close to pave way for new Salinas train station.". Monterey County Now. Retrieved 15 January 2017. 
  9. ^ a b c "Amtrak Fact Sheet, Fiscal Year 2013 State of California" (PDF). Amtrak. November 2013. p. 5. Retrieved 2013-12-24. 
  10. ^ "Amtrak Fact Sheet, Fiscal Year 2015 State of California" (PDF). Amtrak. Retrieved 6 July 2016. 
  11. ^ a b "AMTRAK SETS NEW RIDERSHIP RECORD" (PDF). Amtrak. Retrieved 2013-06-30. 
  12. ^ Cabanatuan, Michael (December 26, 2000). "Capitol Corridor Ridership Grows On Stretching Bay Area Commutes". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  13. ^ Capitol Corridor's Largest Service Increase Ever Brings More Direct Trains To Sacramento Archived October 13, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ a b "Capitol Corridor Trains :: News - Capitol Corridor to Adjust Service Between Oakland and Sacramento". Capitol Corridor. August 7, 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-11. 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. 
  15. ^ Sheehan, Tim (June 26, 2015). "Valley agency takes control of Amtrak San Joaquin trains". Fresno Bee. Retrieved 11 February 2016. 

External links[edit]

Route map: Bing / Google

KML is from Wikidata