The Amtrak Southwest Chief and its predecessors travel between Los Angeles and San Bernardino via the Pasadena subdivision (formerly the 2nd district). Santa Fe westbound freight trains also use this route.
The ATSF Pasadena line is operated as:
Starting from Mission Tower (MP 140.0), where tracks trail in from Los Angeles Union Station to the west and Redondo Junction to the south, the Two Main Track, CTC, line, with maximum speed 15 mph at the junction and 30 mph for apssenger trains and 25 mph for freights north of that, heads north along the west bank of the Los Angeles River, past a grade crossing at North Main Street, signals at Broadway (MP 139.4), where the line reduces to single track, Track Warrant Control, Automatic Block Signals, bridges carrying North Broadway and Spring Street overhead, and a small yard at Water Street (MP 138.7), before turning northeast and starting to climb, bridging the Los Angeles River on a through truss bridge on the grade.
This segment of the route includes a 600 ft. climb in the ten miles between Los Angeles and Pasadena (an average grade of greater than 1%, with a ruling grade of over 2%). The line east of the Los Angeles River bridge heads northeast and crosses Avenue 19, San Fernando Road and I-5 on bridges, followed by Avenue 26 and Avenue 33 at grade. It crosses the Pasadena Freeway on a bridge into the Highland Park (MP 135.9) area of Los Angeles, crossing Avenue 37, Figueroa Street, Avenues 43, 44, 45, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, Figueroa Street again and the adjacent Avenue 61 at grade. It then turns east and crosses the Pasadena freeway on a magnificent high steel trestle into South Pasadena, passing the 1,698 ft. siding at Olga (MP 134.2).
The line then crosses Arroyo Verde Road, the intersection of Pasadena Avenue and Monterey Road, Indiana Avenue and Orange Grove Avenue at grade, turns northeast and crosses El Centro Street at grade. The South Pasadena depot (MP 133.7) is at the intersection of Meridian Avenue and Mission Street, crossed at grade, followed by grade crossings at Hope Street, Fairview Avenue, Magnolia Street, and the intersection of Fremont Avenue and Grevela Street.
The line then crosses the Pasadena Freeway on a bridge and turns north into Pasadena, passing beneath the intersection of Columbia Street and Fair Oaks Ave on the turn, and passing the 475 ft. siding at Raymond (MP 132.7). Through this area the embankment of the former UP Pasadena Branch is visible. Passing through the area of the Pasadena Power & Light generating station along Railroad Street, and then crossing Glenarm Street, Fillmore Street, Pico Street, California Avenue and Del Mar Boulevard at grade. The Pasadena depot is located on the east side of Raymond Avenue, across from Central Park, on the 1,702 ft. Pasadena siding (MP 131.7), where there is a 20 mph speed restriction. The Santa Fe line crosses Green Street, Colorado Boulevard and Holly Street at grade before descending alongside Memorial Park into the tunnel under the eastbound lanes of I-210 and coming to the surface again in the median of that freeway.
The line has run in the median of the freeway only since the opening of the latter in 1972. Previously it had run along the north side of Walnut Street, crossing every north-south street at grade across the entire city of Pasadena except for a bridge over Rosemead Boulevard. Today’s freeway runs along the former Santa Fe right-of-way from Kinneloa Avenue east into Arcadia, so the post 1972 line approximately resumed its old location east of that spot. A spur descending from the freeway median exists along the old right-of-way as far west as Allen Avenue, serving inter alia the Avon factory near the old Lamanda Park station location. Within the freeway median there is a 1,772 ft. siding at Lamanda Park (MP 128.0), the same location as the connection to that spur, where the speed limit has risen to 60-40. Naturally, the railroad line has the same overbridges and underbridges as the freeway along this segment.
That includes the former location of the station at Santa Anita (MP 125.9), adjacent to the bridge over Baldwin Avenue. At the spot where the freeway crosses the Sierra Madre Wash, the line exits the freeway median on a through truss bridge that crosses the eastbound lanes, passes under Colorado Street and crosses Santa Anita Avenue at grade before reaching the location of the Arcadia depot (MP 124.2). Heading southeast from Arcadia, with maximum speed now 65-55, the line crosses the intersection of First Avenue and Santa Clara Street and crosses over Huntington Drive on a bridge, turns east southeast passing over a pedestrian underpass at Fifth Street in Monrovia, crossing over Santa Anita Wash and Mayflower and Magnolia Avenues at grade. The mission-revival style Monrovia depot building (MP 122.4), with its adjacent 600 ft. siding, is on the north side of the track just west of the Myrtle Avenue grade crossing, where the line turns due east along the north side of Duarte Road.
The line crosses California Avenue at grade, bridges over Sawpit Wash, crosses over Mountain Avenue at grade, passes a hotbox detector and a 764 ft. siding in Duarte (MP 121.0), crosses Buena Vista Street at grade passes the 2,740 ft. siding at Butler (MP 120.2), crosses Highland Avenue at grade and then passes under several bridges comprising the north end of I-605 where it intersects with I-210. The line crosses the San Gabriel River on a long girder bridge, passes through the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area with I-210 just to its north, intersects with the north end of the former SP Azusa Industrial Track at Irwindale (MP 118.9), where there is a 6,165 ft. siding and a 65 mph passenger speed restriction, passes the Miller Brewing Company’s Irwindale brewery to the south of the line and crosses beneath Irwindale Avenue.
The line then crosses I-210 on a bridge while headed east northeast, crosses Virginia Avenue at grade, passes a signal at Kincade (MP 118.2), crosses over Foothill Boulevard on a bridge, passes a junction with a spur track to the north, crosses San Gabriel and Azusa Avenues at grade, and then passes the Azusa depot (located on the south side of the track) at MP 116.9. The line crosses Alameda Avenue, turns east southeast and crosses Dalton Avenue, Pasadena Avenue (Azusa) and Barranca Avenue at grade. The line crosses the intersection of Grand Avenue and Foothill Boulevard in Glendora (MP 114.4) at grade, passes signals at one end of the 2,820 ft. siding there, and crosses Vermont Avenue, Glendora Avenue, Pasadena Avenue (Glendora), Elwood Avenue and Lorain Avenue at grade, crosses over San Dimas Wash and Acosta Avenue on bridges, and passes under I-210.
The line crosses Lone Hill Avenue at grade, passes signals at MP 111, crosses Gladstone Street at grade, passes under route 57, passes more signals at the 2,100 ft. siding at San Dimas (MP 110.2), and crosses Eucal Avenue at grade. The San Dimas depot is on the north side of the track between Bonita Avenue and Monte Vista Avenue, both of which are crossed at grade. There is an active team track business on the south side at San Dimas. The line crosses San Dimas Avenue, Walnut Avenue, and San Dimas Canyon Road at grade, comes alongside Arrow Highway (to the south of the track) and crosses Wheeler Avenue, A Street, D Street and E Street, La Verne, at grade. Near Wheeler Ave. there is an 0.6-mile spur to the north to serve the Metropolitan Water District treatment plant. There are signals at the 750 ft. siding at La Verne (MP 107.9). The former Pacific Electric line comes alongside from the south and both lines cross White Avenue and Fulton Avenue at grade. Just east of Fulton is a busy industrial complex that usually has several cars of paper products on spot. The Santa Fe Pomona depot (North Pomona, MP 106.7) is on the south side of the Pasadena Sub track. There is a 3,079 ft. siding, the line crosses Garey Avenue and Towne Avenue at grade, and then the former PE line joins with the Pasadena line at Junction (MP 105.5) in Claremont.
The tracks cross Cambridge Avenue and Indian Hill Avenue at grade, and reach the delightful station in Claremont, an erstwhile Santa Fe facility maintained in lovely condition, with Metrolink platforms on both tracks at this point. There is a parking garage east of the station and a large parking lot east of College Avenue, both on the north side of the tracks. At Claremont (MP 104.8), the right-of-way of the former PE line diverges to the north and the Santa Fe line continues east. Claremont is a lovely old college town (the “Claremont Colleges”), in great contrast to the gritty urban surroundings of Pomona just to the west. East of Claremont station, the line crosses College Street, Claremont Avenue and Monte Vista Avenue at grade, then crosses Central Avenue, Benson Avenue, Mountain Avenue and San Antonio Road at grade, crosses Euclid Avenue and Second Avenue at grade and passes the 2,353 ft. siding at Upland (MP 100.9), where the former Santa Fe depot on the north side of the track is intact but currently unused.
The line then crosses Campus Avenue, Grove Avenue, Baker Avenue, and Vineyard Avenues at grade, crosses over Cucamonga Creek, and crosses (another) Hellman Avenue and Archibald Avenue at grade, crosses Hermosa Avenue at grade, throws off an east-facing spur to the south, crosses Haven Avenue at grade and reaches Cucamonga (MP 97.7) Here there is a wye to the north reaching lineside industries. There is a bridge over Milliken Avenue, where there are other lineside industries extending from Milliken Avenue. Rochester Avenue is crossed at grade adjacent to the 460 ft. siding at Rochester (MP 95.0), and the line then passes underneath I-15.
East of I-15, there is another spur to lineside industry on the north side of the track, and the 2,700 ft. Etiwanda siding (MP 93.7) at Etiwanda Avenue, site of another at grade road crossing. East of Etiwanda Avenue, where the Kaiser steel mill used to be on the south side of the tracks. Calabash Avenue crosses the tracks (at a non-public grade crossing) at this location. Immediately east of this location is the Kaiser yard (MP 91.8), nominal destination of two daily switching turns out of San Bernardino, through which there is a third track, the “South Kaiser”. The line and yard passes under the Cherry Avenue bridge. East of the yard, the line crosses Beech Avenue at grade. There is a lineside spur and 700 ft. siding at Fontana (MP 88.8), where the maximum speed drops to 50 mph followed by the Citrus Avenue road crossing, and Juniper Avenue.
The line crosses Sierra Avenue, Mango Avenue, Palmetto Avenue, Alder Avenue and Locust Avenue at grade. There are large warehouses along the south side of the track between Fontana and Rialto, after which the line crosses Cedar Avenue at grade. Cactus Avenue is crossed at grade, and there is a spur on the north side to grain silos just east of that crossing. East of the Willow Avenue road crossing is the 1,935 ft. siding at Rialto (MP 84.9), where the maximum speed has dropped to 30 mph.
Riverside Avenue, Sycamore Avenue, Acacia Avenue, Eucalyptus Avenue and Pepper Avenue are crossed at grade before the line angles north to cross Rialto Avenue at the same spot at which it passes under the former SP Palmdale Cutoff line. The bridge crossed by the latter is longer than it apparently needed to be, because at the time of its construction there were proposals for a grade separation of the Santa Fe line and Rialto Avenue which would have required more space under the then SP line. Angling east again, the line crosses Rancho Avenue at grade and then Lytle Creek on a bridge. Alongside the San Bernardino locomotive facilities, on the south side of the line, the line meets the San Bernardino subdivision coming in from the south at West Yard (MP 82.0), where Two Main Trackjs, CTC, start, with maximum speed 20 mph. The curve from the Santa Fe ‘short way’ line from Colton, on the south side, is followed by the former Santa Fe depot at San Bernardino (MP 81.5), long used by Amtrak. On the north side of the line are the Santa Fe San Bernardino Shops
San Bernardino is 200 ft. Higher than Pasadena. The line passes through urban and suburban housing areas, with some lineside industry, all the way from (Los Angeles and) Arcadia to Claremont.