The 2020 Western Railfan Trip

*Now with more rental car carnage!

 If you’re receiving this link, you’ve been invited to participate in the 2020 Western Railfan Trip. This trip is by invite only, so please don’t share the link around. (It’s kinda like Fight Club…) Now we have that out of the way, on with the show……

So, what are you about to get yourself into? Well, the trip is a week of non-stop railfan fun, adventure and hijinx in Southern California and Arizona. You’ll fly to LA anytime Friday May 9th or early-ish on Saturday May 10 where I will pick you up at LAX in our rental victim….er…car for the week. Saturday we’ll roll around LA looking for trains and good food before heading to Victorville for the night. From that point on, times and schedules don’t matter too much as we have nowhere to be until everyone flys home from Phoenix on the following Sunday.

Along the way we’ll visit sites such as

  • Frost Flyover, Victorville, CA

  • Cajon Pass, Cajon, CA

  • Mojave Subdivision, Mojave, CA

  • Tehachapi Loop area, Tehachapi, CA

  • Colton Yard, Colton, CA

  • Fullerton Station, Fullerton, CA

  • Barstow Area, Barstow, CA

  • The BNSF Transcon between Barstow and the AZ Border including Ludlow, Goffs, Pisgah, Amboy, Danby, Needles, and Topock

  • The BNSF Transcon from the CA/AZ border as far east as Winslow, AZ including Kingman, Hualapai, Crozier Canyon, Valentine, Peach Springs, Truxton, Seligman, Crookton, Ash Fork, Williams Jct, Flagastaff, Diablo Canyon, Winslow and possibly points east.

  • The Grand Canyon Railroad

  • Possibly the Maricopa Live Steamers

Along the way, we’ll follow Route 66 for much of the trip and it provides nearly constant access to the BNSF line. Also, much of the land along the tracks is BLM Government land and as such is open to everyone. This will allow us off-road access to some of the most remote areas in the USA.

Hotels will be booked on a night by night basis with only a loose “plan of attack” each day. This allows us the freedom of spending extra time in some spots and more time at others as train frequency and maintenance windows allow.

Trains along the Transcon are frequent, with headways of as little as 10 minutes and averages often around 12-15 minutes for hours on end. Most frequently seen are intermodal trains with some merchandise trains sprinkled in. Amtrak also runs this route, but generally at night. In the LA area, freight trains share tracks with METROLINK and Amtrak California services. Also along the Transcon is the Arizona & California Railroad, which we may be lucky enought to catch.

Our ride for the week will be a Chevy Suburban, provided by Enterprise. We will definitely be getting the Damage Liability Waiver as well as every trip I’ve done so far has resulted in some damage to the vehicle.

Costs can vary, but most trips like this can be done for as little as $1,800 per person, all in. Half of that is the rental car and the airfare. Hotel rooms are split between 2 people and vehicle fuel is usually paid in a “take your turn” method when the tank gets to half full. (Don’t want to run out when you’re in the middle of nowhere!) We will also stock up before departure from LA with snacks, drinks and an inexpensive cooler. (Folding chairs can also be picked up for you if you want before you arrive) Coolers and chairs are usually dropped off at a mission in Phoenix before my departure as they are too expensive to fly home with.

Total for the rental car will be $2,000, all inclusive which makes it $500 each. To secure your spot on the trip, you can either submit a deposit of $100, or pay your rental car share in full. If you opt for the deposit, the remaining amount due for the rental will be due 30 days before the trip.

Airfare is self booked. You’ll want to arrive in Los Angeles (LAX) Friday May 9th (anytime) or Saturday May 10th. You’ll fly home from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (PHX) on Sunday May 17 at any time you wish.