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Traveling by train in Monterey County, and beyond: new Salinas train station; “future commuter” train trip; more improvements ahead

Short link to this post: http://bit.ly/TrainsMRY

Salinas, the Monterey County seat and its largest city, will have a new train station—and more! The Salinas rail extension project is planned to integrate new rail service with existing Amtrak, Monterey-Salinas Transit, and Greyhound service (all bike-and-ride options).

Associated bicycling-related improvements will include bicycle lanes and bike lockers. The Herald reported that the new station is also intended as the main end-point for “the planned Marina-Salinas multimodal bus rapid transit and bicycle corridor connecting the Monterey Peninsula and Salinas through Marina.” (For related info, see http://www.tamcmonterey.org/programs/marina-salinas-multimodal-corridor/.)

There’s a lot for train travel

enthusiasts to celebrate. Read on.

Photo above provided courtesy of bike-and-ride train traveler Devian Gilbert.

Visit the Transportation Agency for Monterey County website for full details on the Salinas Rail Extension (and other Rail Programs).
For a summary, refer to “Salinas rail extension project set for groundbreaking ceremony” by Jim Johnson in the 8/3/18 Monterey County Herald. Johnson reports that later phases of projected improvements are stops at stations in the North Monterey County communities of Pajaro and Castroville. Those locations would also serve as multimodal transit-connection hubs.

The vision for improvements includes two round-trip Caltrain passenger trains from Salinas to Gilroy, also facilitating travel to San Jose and San Francisco, by 2021.

If you have questions about these rail projects, phone or email TAMC’s Rail Programs contact;; as of Aug 3, 2018, that’s Christina Watson: http://www.tamcmonterey.org/programs/rail/.

August 9: Salinas train station groundbreaking

On Aug 9, 2018 at 11 a.m. there will be a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Salinas station. The Salinas Railroad Museum and historic Harvey House (the “oldest home in Salinas” and first mayor’s house) will be open for tours as well. Refer to the Transportation Agency for Monterey County website for ceremony details: http://www.tamcmonterey.org/groundbreaking-ceremony-to-celebrate-monterey-county-rail-extension-kick-start-project/

August 10: Future commuter train tour

On Aug 10, 2018, TAMC and the Salinas Chamber of Commerce are offering, for a twenty dollar ($20) fee, a “future commuter train tour.” The trip starts with a 7:15 a.m. bus ride from the Salinas train station to San Jose’s Diridon Station. The return to Salinas is via Amtrak Coast Starlight along the commuter rail route. Scheduled to end at noon, the outing will finish with a walking tour of the future Salinas station. For more info, and to register, go to the Salinas Chamber website: http://www.salinaschamber.com/events/details/future-commuter-train-tour-w-tamc-14734.

Meanwhile…current public transit options

Refer to the bike-and-ride section of the Tips for Bicycling Monterey County guide for tips on making use of existing Amtrak, Greyound, and Monterey-Salinas Transit service, including MST transit connections with Caltrain, Amtrak, and more.

Not all rail lines are being converted
to trails, and that’s a very good thing! 
Below, rail lines were converted to a trail; pictured here is a City of Monterey section of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail network.

For tips about Monterey County history, see http://bit.ly/BikeToHistory.
  1. Lawrence Denis Freitas says:

    What is the latest on all this? I can’t find any more news for this year.
    Also, why is this service going to start without the stops at Castroville and Pajaro Junction? Those two stops will be where more commuters would pick up the train, especially at Pajaro Junction. Then there’s the issue of light rail: Tig-M, a firm from Chatsworth, California, has presented Santa Cruz County with a plan to run trains on the Santa Cruz Branch Line. Tig-M cars are self-propelled electric trolleys or light rail cars. They are battery operated much like a Tesla automobile. Their cars can carry either 35 or 100 passengers. Although it would take building another track next to the one between Castroville and Pajaro Junction, because light rail can’t share a track with freight and heavy passenger rail trains, I would love to see a light rail line running between Swift Street on the Westside of Santa Cruz, with a spur off to downtown Santa Cruz, all the way south to the old train station in Monterey, with that spur from Castroville to Salinas, which would be a separate track from the AmTrack/Union Pacific track. NOW THAT WOULD TAKE LOTS OF CARS OFF HIGHWAY ONE! I know Tig-M wants to present to Monterey County. Santa Cruz is going to host demonstrations of this electric powered, no emissions light rail train in the coming months. It’s a winner as far as I’m concerned.

    LD Freitas
    Aptos, California
    ps: I go to Monterey on Mondays to volunteer at the Aquarium. I would love to walk a few blocks to where there’d be a stop, hop on a Tig-M, and take it down to the Aqurium. It would be great if the tracks were put back in past the old train station (Dust Bowl Brewery) all the way to the Aquarium!

  2. Founder, Bicycling Monterey says:

    Thanks for your comment, neighbor—and for your volunteer work at the Aquarium too. You are encouraged to share your input with Transportation Agency for Monterey County’s Rail Policy Committee. https://www.tamcmonterey.org/board-committees/rail-policy-committee/. As of 9/14/19 (per TAMC website), Christina Watson is the Transportation Agency for Monterey County’s rail program planner. To contact her by phone or email, and for current updates, see: https://www.tamcmonterey.org/programs/rail/monterey-county-rail-extension/monterey-county-rail-extension-phase-1-kick-start-project/

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