Serving Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, Oakland, Los Angeles, and intermediate points

Amtrak train numbers: 11 and 14

Predecessor railroad train numbers: None

Although the Southern Pacific Railroad's flagship trains were the Sunset Limited from Los Angeles to New Orleans and the Golden State from Los Angeles to Chicago, it is arguably best remembered for its Daylight trains, such as the Coast Daylight, running along the California coastline, and the Shasta Daylight, traveling through the forests of northern California and Oregon.

Before Amtrak, the two Daylight services didn't connect with each other, since one went up the peninsula to San Francisco while the other one started its run in Oakland. Through passengers from Los Angeles to Portland and Seattle were routed via the shorter route, on the San Joaquin Daylight through Fresno, changing trains either in Oakland or Martinez (and then changing trains again in Portland for service to Seattle).

When Amtrak took over passenger train service in 1971, it combined the Coast Daylight and the Shasta Daylight into one train three days a week, extending service to Seattle and San Diego and running via Oakland with a bus connection to San Francisco. The train now ran through northern California overnight, so the name became Coast Starlight.

Within a few years, service expanded to seven days a week, and the San Diego extension was replaced by one of the San Diegan trains, with a usual across-the-platform transfer in Los Angeles.

Beginning in 1996, as an experiment, onboard service on the Coast Starlight was upgraded with better food, better hospitality training for train employees, and a lounge car set aside exclusively for sleeping car passengers, called the Pacific Parlour Car; a satisfaction guaranteed policy was also instituted. Ridership increased, and some of the services were extended to all Amtrak long distance trains.

Condensed historical timetables:
           READ DOWN                                          READ UP
(1972)  (1980)  (1991)  (2002)                    (2002)  (1991)  (1980)  (1972)
11:30A  11:50A  10:40A   9:45A Dp Seattle      Ar  8:25P   6:50P   6:20P   5:35P
 3:45P   4:05P   3:10P   2:15P    Portland         4:00P   2:40P   2:20P   1:45P
 -----   -----   6:18A   6:35A    Sacramento      11:59P  11:23P   -----   -----
 8:05A   8:50A   8:53A   8:45A    Oakland          9:35P   9:15P   8:35P   9:10P
 6:45P   7:40P   7:40P   9:05P    Los Angeles     10:00A   9:50A  10:00A  10:15A
10:10P   -----   -----   ----- Ar San Diego    Dp  -----   -----   -----   7:00A

The Amtrak Train Names Project