New Santa Cruz Passenger Line Debuts Saturday With Holiday Train

Grammy award winners Trout Fishing in America provide the music and the luxurious train has some other surprises for the hundreds of people who scooped up first day tickets. It will be a regular weekend route after the ribbons are cut Saturday.

Santa Cruz's newest holiday train had a sneak preview Friday and will be full Saturday with riders who scooped up hundreds of free tickets.

The train, owned by the Iowa Pacific Railroad's local branch, called the Santa Cruz & Monterey Bay Railway, will run along the 32 miles of track between Watsonville and Davenport that the county bought for $14.2 million. So far, the last miles need work, so it's current destination is Christmas Town, set up in an out-of-town field  near Wilder Ranch.

There will be music and costumed characters during the holidays and next month meals will be served on trips that leave from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

This test ride drew huge response from westside residents who took pictures, ran out without shirts on to see it and some even mooned it from atop a fence.

Saturday the train will break through ribbons and stop for an hour in Watsonville, Aptos, Capitola, the Simpkins Family Swim Center and Swift and Fair Streets in Santa Cruz. (See schedule here).

Friday the train ran on an old, unpainted engine, while its real one was being painted.

The train will run Nov. 23-25, Nov. 28-30, Dec. 1-2, Dec. 5-9, Dec. 12-16, Dec. 19-23, Dec. 27-30 and Jan. 4-6. Tickets are $25 for kids under 12 and $35 for adults.

Owner Ed Ellis took the first ride Friday, along with his wife, Peggy, who signed copies of her book, The Train to Christmas Town. They brought with them the Grammy award duo Trout Fishing in America, who have played Santa Cruz many times. A group that writes children's songs that adults can love and visa versa, they wrote a song for the train ride and book.

Ellis, a former journalist for Trains magazine, created a job where he could combine his two loves, railroads and music. He has 10 passenger lines around the world doing holiday trains this year. One, in southern Colorado, leads to a solar-powered concert stage in the mountains.

There are still two other holiday trains that run from the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, sponsored by Roaring Camp Railroad. There is a holiday lights train, which is $20 for children and $26 for adults and a Thomas Train, which is $26 for everyone.

Get schedules and tickets here.

The rest of the year the trains will haul freight and passengers as part of the county's deal to purchase the tracks and draw revenue from them.

Amber Gillespie November 17, 2012 at 06:04 AM
Karen Kefauver November 17, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Curious, who exactly got to do this test ride - on Friday?
Christine Candelaria November 17, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Love the pic you took of me and my girls!
Brad Kava (Editor) November 17, 2012 at 04:47 PM
The press were invited.
Brad Kava (Editor) November 17, 2012 at 04:48 PM
That was easy. You all are really photogenic.
Brent Futrell November 17, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Rail car Humping is often done when the engine crews are setting up a line of cars. The crew is trying to move cars quickly so they'll push a car than release it while moving. The car eventually hits the last car set in the line. One car is on the front end of the line with brakes set tight. So, BOOM! when they collide. There's the Hump. When there are many cars already in the set they'll Hump forward all down the line, then recoil all the way back. This action keeps creating a gap so the chain reaction happens for every car Humped. It's quite interesting to hear the sequence of noise. In the cases of cars with Do Not Hump signs, I believe there is usually something on that car that can be broken when sharply jarred. Ask me how I know. Okay, I'll tell you. I spent a summer way back in my mid-twenties hopping freight trains. I've traveled long distances north, south, and east to Nevada. I've been inside box cars many times when yard crews were switching cars all across a yard to make sets. I love trains, but hopping freights is not for everyone. There is a lot of danger around railroads. Beware, especially if there is Humping going on.
Brad Kava (Editor) November 17, 2012 at 07:48 PM
There's always danger when humping is going on on a train. Thanks Brent...you know more than I knew you knew.
Brent Futrell November 17, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Strange, I've heard that many times. "Say I know a little, I know a little 'bout it, Baby I'll guess the rest."
Nancy Bell November 17, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Cathy P. November 17, 2012 at 10:30 PM
ROFL, I have one of those No Humping signs on the fence in my backyard. My great-grandfather, grandfather, and Dad were Railroaders, worked for the Southern Pacific. I grew up knowing what "humping" was ;)))) Can't wait to ride this train sometime. Maybe one day in the summer from Watsonville to the Boardwalk. Might go more often if I didn't have to fight traffic and find parking...
cindyella November 26, 2012 at 08:24 AM
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Neighbor December 02, 2012 at 06:24 AM
Does any one else hate this train? It beeps loudly right by our house several times nightly!! Looking for an official compliant site!
coach22 December 07, 2012 at 08:45 AM
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