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The San Diego Trolley

By Stephen J. Hoskins, Tustin, California, USA.

This BAHN 3.40 layout file is intended to depict the San Diego (California, USA) Trolley system as it is in late 1996.

The Prototype

The San Diego Trolley began operations in summer, 1981 between downtown San Diego and the USA/Mexico border in San Ysidro. The original downtown terminus was where C Street met Kettner Blvd. The bumper stops for the tracks were just two huge decorative planters! The original line was actually largely single track, but ridership climbed fast and double track was being constructed on the entire "South Line" shortly after the Trolley began operations.

The "East Line" was constructed in segments, first to 47th/Euclid. It was then opened to El Cajon, and in 1995 it opened to Santee. It is quite a difference from downtown San Diego; some people at the Trolley refer to the Santee station as "Bedrock" due to the lack of development (and lots of rock) in the area.

The downtown terminus changed with the construction of America Plaza adjacent to the Amtrak Station. The trolley was rerouted THROUGH the ground level of the building, in an open, atrium-like right-of-way, and then a few feet west to a junction connecting with the "Bayside" line which parallels the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway freight tracks to the south of the Amtrak station, and the Coaster (North San Diego County commuter rail) and Amtrak (as well as BNSF) tracks to the north of the station. Presently, the San Diego Trolley runs as far as Old Town, but progress is being made on the extension of that line to run to Mission Valley (east and north of Old Town).

The BAHN Network

The trackage on this layout file is in accordance with a schematic track map furnished by San Diego Trolley Inc. As much as I have been down there and ridden the Trolley right since the first day of operation in 1981, I still had to make another trip to recheck some of the line to get things correct!

As the completed San Diego trolley layout still had enough memory, I decided to add the "other" passenger services in the San Diego area. These are, of course, Amtrak intercity service to Los Angeles (and points north) and the North San Diego County "Coaster" commuter rail trains. The scheduling for both these services represents the normal Monday-Friday times, current as of March, 1997. The Amtrak trains, normally run with Amfleet equipment, are represented by "Silverlings"; the Coaster trains are represented by green double-deck stock which looks VERY close to the prototype in this simulation. The "Coaster" uses the familiar Bombardier-UTDC bi-levels that are also used by the Metrolink system in the Los Angeles area as well as systems in Miami, Vancouver, and Toronto.

I also added a San Diego & Imperial Valley freight, which works out of San Ysidro up as far as the trolley yard, serving industrial sidings along the SDT right-of-way. I did NOT include the BNSF freight service which uses the Coaster/Amtrak route from the north into San Diego.


I would like to thank Mr. Andy L. Goddard, System Safety Administrator of San Diego Trolley Inc. for providing track schematics and for answering countless questions regarding operations.

If anyone has any questions regarding this layout file, please direct them to Steve.

Text © Steve Hoskins 1997

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