|Emeryville, CA||Coast Starlight||Davis, CA|
|Richmond, CA||California Zephyr|
|Capitol Corridor||Suisun-Fairfield, CA|
|San Joaquin||Antioch, CA|
Martinez originally became an Amtrak stop in March 1974 when the San Joaquin began as one daily train from the Oakland to Bakersfield through Martinez. The Coast Starlight and San Francisco Zephyr (now the California Zephyr) had passed through Martinez without stopping since the creation of Amtrak before curving north and crossing the Carquinez Strait on the Union Pacific Benicia-Martinez drawbridge. Soon after the station reopened for the San Joaquin, the Starlight and Zephyr began stopping at Martinez as well with the station becoming a stop by the November 1974 timetable. Both long-distance trains still skipped Martinez in the May 1974 timetable (the first one with the San Joaquin). On December 12, 1991 the Capitols entered service with 3 daily round-trips that is now part of the Capitol Corridor. Today Martinez sees up to 42 Trains Per Day as lettering at the top of the felt board inside the station says, beneath it "In 1971 Martinez had Zero Amtrak Trains A Day."
Trains first arrived in Martinez in 1876 and began stopping at a 1880s depot that still exists across the grade-crossing of Ferry Street from todays station. This building is a decaying and abandoned and was last renovated in 1983 as an Amtrak Improvements plaque still commemorates on the exterior of the building. The building has a gabled roof and simple white walls. Brown signs say Martinez that do a poor job of looking old-fashioned. Attached to it is a long abandoned area that was clearly once a freight house. Inside is an interior (with all seating removed) of what looks like any AmStation from the era. The ceiling is made of acoustic tile with a black signage band just beneath the ceiling. There is still lettering on this line for services like 'Drinking Fountain.' The drinking fountain is still there (with the moldy remains of a Starbucks drink on top of it). Although the depot is historic seeing the interior leaves a station with little desire to me missed. In front of the depot is still a simple concrete platform with a yellow line out to one track, previous photos show that there was once an additional concrete platform bording area out to a second track but this has fully been removed with the addition of a third track through Martinez.
In addition to aesthetics, the main reason for the abandonment of the previous little station is Martinez's popularity. It is the sixth busiest Amtrak Station in the state of California and 27th in the nation. The station is a thruway bus connection point for buses from San Joaquin and Capitol Corridor Trains to Northern Coastal California destinations reaching McKinleyville. The Intermodal Facility used today was dedicated December 2001. This is a large brick building with a tall airy waiting room that includes a ticket office with checked baggage. Inside are plenty of benches for waiting passengers. There is a modern brick interpretation of a clock tower at one corner of the building. The Chamber of Commerce also has an office in the station that has its own entrance. Martinez is written in silver letters in a number of places as a type of name sign. Outside of the building is a 110 space parking lot that includes a bus loop for Amtrak Thruway Bus connections and Wheels Buses. The station parking lot has various entrances with a main driveway from Marina Vista Avenue parallel to the station and a block away with Estudillo Street dead ending at the station.
The building leads out to three tracks that include two platforms that are quite long (no need to double-spot any of the long distance trains) and begin at the grade crossing of ferry street and run west. The south platform is a side platform and serves the southern track and has the depot along it. A second canopy is towards the northern end of the platform takes up a small area and has brick supports holding up a green roof. It provides shelter for both train passengers and the thruway bus stop adjacent to it. There are white letters spelling Martinez that give it a distinctive touch. There is finally a simple island platform between the middle and northern tracks. This has just has a line of lampposts and no shelters. Ideally all trains come in on the south side platform for easiest access since access to the island platform is only provided by a series of 4 pedestrian crossings and the actual grade crossing. All along the platforms are blue signs for Martinez from 2001 when Amtrak still didn't have a unified signage scheme. These have have a silver line beneath them where direction of travel normally goes but since Martinez is just before the junction where the Capitol Corridor (with the Starlight and Zephyr) curve north and leave the San Joaquin to head south there is no direction of travel information. Los Angeles-bound travelers can depart the station from either direction, going east if their going the Bakersfield to a bus route via the San Joaquin Valley or west if their heading via the Coast Starlight or via the Capitol Corridor to Coastal Bus Connections.
There is one final railroad site near the station. Across from the station platforms along Ferry Street is old Southern Pacific Locomotive #1258. This 1921 switch engine is on static display attached to a tender, wooden Santa Fe Boxcar and and a Santa Fe Caboose. It has been situated here since the 1980s after getting donated to the City of Martinez as a museum piece by the SP to avoid the scrappers in 1959.
Photos 1-4 taken on 13 March, 2010, 5-70 on 15 June, 2013
Last Updated: 23 July, 2013