Capitol Corridor

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Capitol Corridor
Capitol Corridor logo.svg
Capitol Corridor Pinole.jpg
A Capitol Corridor train in Pinole, California, in 2011
Service type Inter-city rail, commuter rail
Locale Northern California
First serviceDecember 12, 1991 (1991-12-12)
Current operator(s)Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority, in partnership with Amtrak and Caltrans
Annual ridership354,373 (FY21) Decrease −80.1% [1] [a]
Termini Auburn
San Jose
Distance travelled168 miles (270 km)
Average journey time314 hours
Service frequency15 round trips (weekdays)
11 round trips (weekends)
Train number(s)520–553, 720–751
On-board services
Class(es)Coach Class
Disabled accessTrain lower level, all stations
Catering facilities Café
Baggage facilitiesOverhead bins, luggage racks
Rolling stock California Cars
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Track owner(s) UP, JPBX

The Capitol Corridor is a 168-mile (270 km) passenger train route in Northern California operated by Amtrak between San Jose, in the Bay Area, and Auburn, in the Sacramento Valley. The route is named after the two points most trains operate between, San Jose (which hosted the first state capitol of California) and Sacramento (which currently hosts the California State Capitol). The route runs roughly parallel to Interstate 880 and Interstate 80. Some trips run from Oakland to San Jose, while a single daily round trip runs all the way from San Jose to Auburn, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Capitol Corridor trains started in 1991.

Like all regional trains in California, the Capitol Corridor is operated by a joint powers authority. The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) is governed by a board that includes two elected representatives from each of eight counties the train travels through. The CCJPA contracts with the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District to provide day-to-day management, and Amtrak to operate and maintain the rolling stock (locomotives and passenger cars). The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) provides the funding and also owns the rolling stock.


Former service

The First Transcontinental Railroad was completed to Oakland from the south in 1869. Following the completion of the California Pacific Railroad in 1879, most long-distance service of the Southern Pacific (SP) reached Oakland from the north. Long-distance service from the south ran to San Francisco via the Peninsula; some trains had Oakland sections. The Western Pacific Railroad (completed to Oakland in 1910) and Santa Fe Railroad (completed to Oakland in 1903 over the former California and Nevada Railroad) largely ran long-distance service with limited local stops. Commuter service around Oakland was largely provided by the electric interurban trains of the SP-owned East Bay Electric Lines (1911–1941) and Key System (1901–1958).

By the end of the 1930s, the SP operated five daily local round trips plus a number of long-distance trains between Oakland and Sacramento. The Oakland Lark and an unnamed local train (an Oakland connection for the Coast Daylight) provided local service between Oakland and San Jose on the Coast Line. The inland Niles Subdivision was served by a daily Oakland– Tracy local and a commute-timed Oakland–San Jose local (which ran via Centerville and part of the Coast Line on the northbound trip and Milpitas southbound). [2]

The Oakland–San Jose trip on the Niles Subdivision was discontinued on September 29, 1940, followed by the Oakland–Tracy trip in 1941. [3]: 37, 40  The two Oakland–San Jose trips on the Coast Line were discontinued on May 1, 1960. [3]: 7  The last local service between Oakland and Sacramento was the Senator, discontinued by the SP on May 31, 1962 (though long-distance service continued). [4]: 140 


A Capitols train at Sacramento in 1995

From the 1970s to the beginning of the 1990s, three Amtrak intercity trains operated in the Bay Area: the long-distance California Zephyr ( Oakland/ EmeryvilleChicago) and Coast Starlight ( Los AngelesSeattle), and the regional San Joaquin ( Bakersfield–Oakland). Of the three lines, only the Coast Starlight ran between San Jose and Sacramento—once a day in each direction, and at inconvenient times (southbound early in the morning, northbound in the evening). In 1977, Amtrak approved an additional Oakland–Sacramento round trip, the Sacramentan; the service was never operated. [5]

In 1990, California voters passed two ballot 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. [6]

One of the ballot propositions, Proposition 116, provided the name Capitol Corridor—so named because it links the location of California's first state capitol, San Jose, with the current location, Sacramento. [3]: 7  The service was known as the Capitols until April 29, 2001, when Amtrak renamed it the Capitol Corridor. [7] [8]

Service changes

The Capitols originally ran via the Coast Line from Elmhurst to Santa Clara, with no stops between Oakland and San Jose. In 1992, after the completion of track and signal work, the Capitols were rerouted onto the Niles Subdivision further inland between Elmhurst and Newark. The new route allowed the addition of infill stations at Fremont in 1993 and Hayward in 1997. [3]: 33  The Oakland Central station, which had been damaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, was closed in 1994, and replaced by new stations at Emeryville in 1993 and Oakland-Jack London Square in 1995. [3]: 33  Additional infill stations were added at Santa Clara – Great America in 1993, Oakland Coliseum (with a close connection to BART) in 2005, the existing Caltrain station in Santa Clara-University in 2012, and at Fairfield–Vacaville in 2017. [9]

One daily round trip was extended east to Colfax via Rocklin and Auburn on January 26, 1998. The trip was cut back to Auburn (with the Rocklin stop retained) on February 27, 2000. [3]: 73 

Service was gradually increased from the original three daily round trips. The fifth round trip was added in November 1998, followed by the sixth in February 1999. [10]

Installation of positive train control along the route was completed by November 2018. [11]

In response to low ridership as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Capitol Corridor schedule was reduced to five daily trips on March 21, 2020, with discontinued Auburn service and many trips ending in Oakland. Three runs were added back on June 1 and Auburn service restored. [12]

Proposed expansion

New stations

Additional stations have been proposed along the route at Hercules, Benicia, and Dixon.[ citation needed]

A Capitol Corridor train passing the site of the planned Hercules station

Vision Plan

The Capitol Corridor Vision Implementation Plan is a long range outline of possible improvements to the service; several realignments along existing and new right-of-ways were considered and studied. Near term suggested improvements include double tracking between San Jose and a realignment to the Coast Subdivision and a new station at the Ardenwood Park-and-Ride followed by track improvements between Emeryville and Richmond. Later goals include tunneling under Jack London Square to eliminate the street-running section there, rerouting freight traffic over another right-of-way between Sacramento and Martinez, and eventual electrification of the line. [13]

The 2018 Senate Bill 1 allocated $93 million in funds for the Capitol Corridor, partially for planning the realignment to the Coast Subdivision. [14] As of June 2020, the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the realignment (branded as South Bay Connect) is expected to be completed at the end of 2020, followed by the Final Environmental Impact Report a year later. Design is to take place in 2022–23, with construction beginning in 2024. [15] The project is to have a single new station at Ardenwood (at SR 84); stations at Hayward (at SR 92) and Newark Junction were considered but rejected. [15] [16]


Two daily Capitol Corridor round trips, along with some Caltrain service, are planned to be extended to Salinas in 2020. [17] Initial service will have intermediate stops at existing Caltrain stations at Tamien, Morgan Hill, and Gilroy; future phases will add new stations at Castroville and Pajaro/ Watsonville. [18]

A third track between Sacramento and Roseville is planned to start construction in 2021, [19] which would allow an initial increase from one round trip per day to three, with plans for up to ten. [19] [20] Extension east to Reno, Nevada was deemed unlikely in the Vision Implementation Plan due to heavy freight traffic over Donner Pass and lack of funding. [13]

Extending service to downtown San Francisco by crossing the bay is being considered as part of a proposed second Transbay Tube. A study of a joint project providing a second crossing for BART began in 2019. [19] [21] San Francisco has not had direct intercity rail service since 1971.

Frequency and ridership

Amtrak Capitol Corridor ( interactive map)

During fiscal year 2017 the Capitol Corridor service carried 1,607,277 passengers, a 2.9% increase over FY2016. [22] Revenue in FY2017 was $33,970,000, a 5.3% increase over FY2016, with a 57% farebox recovery ratio. [22] It is the fourth busiest Amtrak route by ridership, surpassed only by the Northeast Regional, Acela Express, and Pacific Surfliner. In large part due to the route's success, as of 2017, Sacramento is the busiest station on the route, the seventh busiest in the Amtrak system and the second busiest in California. [23]

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, including those connecting to the train via Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach from San Francisco, [24] 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. [25]

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. [26] On August 13, 2012, the Capitol Corridor dropped from 16 to 15 weekday round trips between Oakland and Sacramento; one round trip was discontinued due to high fuel costs, low ridership, and a new ability to store an extra train overnight in a Sacramento railyard. [27]

As of July 2019, 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, and seven run to Oakland: three to Coliseum and four to Jack London Square. Of the 15 eastbound trains to Sacramento, seven run from San Jose and eight from Oakland: six from Jack London Square, one from Coliseum and one from Oakland to Auburn. On weekends, there are six round trips from Sacramento to San Jose, four from Sacramento to Jack London Square, one from Sacramento to Coliseum, and one along the entire length of the corridor from Auburn to San Jose. [28]

Stations and connections

Location Station Service began Service ended Connections
Colfax Colfax 1998 2000 Now served by California Zephyr
Auburn Auburn 1998 Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach to Sacramento [29]
Bus interchange Local bus: Placer County Transit
Rocklin Rocklin 1998 Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach to Sacramento [29]
Roseville Roseville 1991 Amtrak Amtrak: California Zephyr
Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach to Sacramento [29]
Sacramento Sacramento Valley Station 1991 Amtrak Amtrak: California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, San Joaquins
Sacramento RT Light Rail Sacramento RT: Gold
Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach to Stateline, Auburn, Reno, Sparks, Stockton–Downtown, Redding [29]
Davis Davis 1991 Amtrak Amtrak: California Zephyr, Coast Starlight
Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach to Stockton, Redding [29]
Fairfield Fairfield–Vacaville 2017 Bus interchange Local bus: FAST
Suisun City Suisun–Fairfield 1991 Bus interchange Local bus: FAST, Delta Breeze, VINE Transit, SolTrans
Martinez Martinez 1991 Amtrak Amtrak: California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, San Joaquins
Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach to Napa, Santa Rosa, Arcata, McKinleyville, Sacramento [29]
Bus interchange Local bus: County Connection, Tri Delta Transit, WestCAT
Hercules Hercules Planned
Richmond Richmond Transit Center 1991 Amtrak Amtrak: California Zephyr, San Joaquins
Bay Area Rapid Transit BART: Berrysea–Richmond Richmond–Millbrae+SFO
Bus interchange Local bus: AC Transit
Berkeley Berkeley 1991 Bus interchange Local bus: AC Transit
Emeryville Emeryville 1993 Amtrak Amtrak: California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, San Joaquins
Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach to San Francisco [29]
Bus interchange Local bus: AC Transit, Emery Go-Round
Oakland 16th Street 1991 1994
Jack London Square 1995 Amtrak Amtrak: Coast Starlight, San Joaquins
Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach to San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, San Jose [29]
Bus interchange Local bus: AC Transit
Oakland Coliseum 2005 Bay Area Rapid Transit BART: Berrysea–Richmond Dublin/Pleasanton–Daly City Berrysea–Daly City Coliseum–OAK
Bus interchange Local bus: AC Transit
Hayward Hayward 1997 Bus interchange Local bus: AC Transit
Fremont Fremont 1993 Altamont Corridor Express Altamont Corridor Express
Bus interchange Local bus: AC Transit
Ardenwood Planned
Santa Clara Santa Clara – Great America 1993 Altamont Corridor Express Altamont Corridor Express
Santa Clara VTA VTA Light Rail: Green Line (VTA) Green Line, Orange Line (VTA) Orange Line (at Lick Mill)
Bus interchange Local bus: VTA Bus
Santa Clara 2012 Altamont Corridor Express Altamont Corridor Express
Caltrain Caltrain
Bus interchange Local bus: VTA Bus
San Jose San Jose Diridon 1991 Amtrak Amtrak: Coast Starlight
Altamont Corridor Express Altamont Corridor Express
Caltrain Caltrain
Santa Clara VTA VTA Light Rail: Green Line (VTA) Green Line
Bus interchange Intercity bus: Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach, [29] Greyhound Lines Greyhound Lines, Megabus (North America) Megabus
Bus interchange Local bus: VTA Bus, Santa Cruz METRO
Tamien Planned Caltrain Caltrain
Santa Clara VTA VTA Light Rail: Blue Line (VTA) Blue Line
Morgan Hill Morgan Hill Planned Caltrain Caltrain
Gilroy Gilroy Planned Caltrain Caltrain
Pajaro Pajaro/Watsonville Planned
Castroville Castroville Planned
Salinas Salinas Planned Amtrak Amtrak: Coast Starlight


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. [30]

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


A typical Capitol Corridor train with a Charger locomotive and California Cars and a Superliner car.

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), eight Siemens Charger locomotives (numbered 2101 through 2108) 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 can appear on Capitol Corridor trains as substitutes.

In rarer cases, F59PHIs 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.


  1. ^ "Amtrak Fiscal Year 2021 Ridership" (PDF). Amtrak. September 30, 2021. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  2. ^ "Time Table for the Western Division #229 To Take Effect Tuesday, August 1, 1939 at 12:01 A. M." (PDF). Southern Pacific Railroad. August 1, 1939.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Vurek, Matthew Gerald (2016). Images of Modern America: California’s Capitol Corridor. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN  9781467124171.
  4. ^ Solomon, Brian (2005). Southern Pacific Passenger Trains. Voyageur Press. ISBN  9781610605076.
  5. ^ Rodda, Richard (October 28, 1977). "Amtrak-Bart Station Opens". Sacramento Bee. p. 3 – via open access
  6. ^ "Train links Sacramento, Bay Area". Lodi News-Sentinel. December 12, 1991 – via Google News.
  7. ^ Amtrak National Timetable: Spring-Summer 2001. Amtrak. April 29, 2001. p. 62 – via Museum of Railway Timetables.
  8. ^ National Timetable: Winter 2000 - Spring 2001. Amtrak. October 29, 2000. p. 62 – via Museum of Railway Timetables.
  9. ^ "Coming Monday, November 13: New Schedule and Opening of Fairfield–Vacaville Station" (Press release). Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority. November 2, 2017.
  10. ^ "Caltrans Increases Service" (PDF). Intercity Rail Passenger Systems Update (6): 11. December 1999.
  11. ^ "Capitol Corridor ready to start fleet PTC implementation". Progressive Railroading. 6 November 2018. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  12. ^ Hamann, Emily (4 June 2020). "Capitol Corridor adds back Amtrak service". Sacramento Business Journal. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  13. ^ a b "CAPITOL CORRIDOR VISION IMPLEMENTATION PLAN" (PDF). Capitol Corridor. Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  14. ^ "New Funding, New Enhancements to the Capitol Corridor" (Press release). Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority. October 9, 2018. Retrieved October 27, 2018.
  15. ^ a b "Capitol Corridor South Bay Connect" (PDF). Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority. June 2020.
  16. ^ "Capitol Corridor South Bay Connect: Project Definition Report" (PDF). Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority. November 2019.
  17. ^ Rahaim, Nick (January 5, 2017). "Frank's Fish Market will close to pave way for new Salinas train station". Monterey County Weekly.
  18. ^ "TAMC Selects LAN as Part of Construction Management Team for Salinas Rail Extension". Mass Transit. 3 January 2018. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  19. ^ a b c "CAPITOL CORRIDOR INTERCITY PASSENGER RAIL SERVICE ANNUAL BUSINESS PLAN FY2019-20–FY2020-21" (PDF). Capitol Corridor. CCJPA. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  20. ^ "Sac-Roseville Third Track". Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority.
  21. ^ Matier, Phil (February 6, 2019). "BART, Amtrak assess building new shared transbay crossing -". SF Chronicle. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  22. ^ a b "Performance Report 2017" (PDF). Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority.
  23. ^ "State of California FY2017 Fact Sheet" (PDF). Amtrak. November 2017. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  24. ^ Whiting, Sam (February 3, 2008). "Riding That Train". San Francisco Chronicle.
  25. ^ Cabanatuan, Michael (December 26, 2000). "Capitol Corridor Ridership Grows On Stretching Bay Area Commutes". San Francisco Chronicle.
  26. ^ Capitol Corridor's Largest Service Increase Ever Brings More Direct Trains To Sacramento Archived October 13, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ "Capitol Corridor to Adjust Service Between Oakland and Sacramento". Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority. August 7, 2012. 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.
  28. ^ "Capitol Corridor schedule" (PDF). Amtrak. June 17, 2019. Retrieved May 24, 2022.
  29. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Capitol Corridor" (PDF). Amtrak. June 17, 2019. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 4, 2019. Retrieved April 12, 2020.
  30. ^ Sheehan, Tim (June 26, 2015). "Valley agency takes control of Amtrak San Joaquin trains". Fresno Bee. Retrieved 11 February 2016.


  1. ^ Amtrak's Fiscal Year (FY) runs from October 1st of the prior year to September 30th of the named year.

External links

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata