New rail operator Dreamstar Lines to run luxury night trains in California
A new luxury night train company called Dreamstar Lines plans to enter the US market, with the first route being the Los Angeles to San Francisco Bay Area travel corridor. An alternative to short-haul flights, the operator hopes to run the first trains by 2024.
The new operator focuses on the “500 mile gap”, trips that are “too far to drive, too close to fly, but just right for a comfortable night’s sleep in a private hotel room on wheels”, it communicates on its social channels. If the company’s plan moves forward, the new trains could be running by the summer of 2024, Dreamstar CEO Jake Vollebregt told the Los Angeles Times.
No direct trains on the route (anymore)
As of this moment, there is no direct train between San Francisco and Los Angeles. US largest passenger operator Amtrak provides a range of long-distance travel options across California during the day, but none run directly from San Francisco to L.A. The Coast Starlight connects Los Angeles to Oakland and Emeryville, whereas the San Joaquin route connects the same Bay Area stations to Bakersfield but requires a bus trip to get to L.A. The last time a sleeper train existed between the two Californian cities was in 1968, with the Lark train of Southern Pacific.
Dreamstar night trains would travel in each direction, departing around 10 p.m. and arriving the next day around 8 a.m., Vollebregt said. One-way ticket prices are to ranges from 300 to 1,000 US dollars, depending on the type of room. This is higher than typical air travel, but below other North American sleeper trains, the CEO told the Times.
A main target of the company is to get people from short haul flights to the train. “A “short haul” flight is anything but — when you consider the time lost to check-in, security, and travel to and from remote airports”, Dreamstar Lines says on its website. “On a deluxe sleeper train, you spend fewer waking hours traveling than you would flying, and you don’t arrive feeling like you’ve already had a full day’s work.”
In the United States, the Federal Railroad Administration is currently conducting a study to evaluate the restoration of daily long-distance intercity rail passenger service and the potential for new Amtrak long-distance routes, as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) of 2021. It is thus possible the connection Los Angeles – Francisco could be seen as having potential, but this remain to be seen. According to the planning of the evaluation, in summer 2023, a shortlist of routes is to be created, and by fall of this year, the prioritised routes identified.