Trip Reports & Reviews

Coast Starlight: Amtrak Sleeper Train – San Francisco to Seattle

Noel

Noel Philips

We took a trip onboard the Coast Starlight: Amtrak’s sleeper train from San Francisco to Seattle! We travelled in a family room with 4 beds.

First stop was to get across to Oakland to catch the train. This was a task easier said than done – the traffic was absolutely horrendous.

It took us well over an hour to get from downtown San Francisco to Oakland.

We soon arrived in downtown Oakland, but it turned out we needn’t have rushed.

I think its fair to say that Oakland station is not the nicest place to spend an evening. In hindsight we’d have probably been better getting a hotel for a few hours – but by the time we’d realised that it was getting pretty late anyway.

At last there was the sound of a train horn, and the lights of our train came into view.

It turned out that the reason for the delay was tremendously sad. The train had hit a pedestrian in Los Angeles. The delay was frustrating, but when we found out the reason why it put it all into perspective.

The coast starlight route winds the length of the west coast. It starts in Los Angeles, heading up the coast of California to San Francisco. From there it heads inland through northern California and past Mt Shasta. It passes into Oregon, and heads up through the mountains to Portland. After Portland it heads through the Cascade mountains into Seattle, taking just over 34 hours to complete the journey.

As we rolled out of Oakland, we pulled into an Amtrak depot where they had to replace one of the trains engines following the events down in Los Angeles.

I fell asleep in the Oakland depot.

When I woke, we were still in California – and passing through the town of Redding.

Heading north through California we passed through the forests to the south of Mount Shasta.

Thanks to the delay we got a great view of Mount Shasta in daylight, usually the Starlight passes during darkness.

As we left Mount Shasta behind we headed for the border with Oregon.

Amtrak’s sleeper cars are on two floors. Downstairs are family rooms, accessible rooms and bathrooms, and upstairs are more coachettes. There’s coffee available at the top of the stairs, complimentary for sleeper passengers.

Meals in the dining car are included for sleeper passengers too, and are really good quality.

The coach section of the train was pretty busy today. I’ve mentioned this in my previous Amtrak video but I wouldn’t recommend taking a coach seat on trains of this length.

The observation car gives you some great views and is a good place to sit for a few hours watching the world go by.

Pretty soon we were arriving in the first station in Oregon – Klamath Falls.

We headed to the observation car for a couple of hours while we let Rach catch up on some sleep back in the room.

Some of the towns here in oregon are really tiny.

We climbed the mountains in the centre of Oregon as we saw yet more fantastic scenery.

We pulled into Eugene, Oregon for our second fresh air break.

Back on the rails again, and we headed down to dinner.

Tonight I opted for the delicious signature steak, which is in my opinion, the best meal you can have on the rails here in the US.

As the sun set in the west, we pulled into Portland, Oregon.

By the time we left Portland, it was night and we crossed the border into Vancouver Washington.

I’d set an alarm to go off at 1am, and when I woke we were coasting through the suburbs of Seattle, heading towards Union station.

We pulled into Seattle just before 1:30am, just over five and a half hours late.