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 San Bernardino Depot 
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The historic San Bernardino Depot opened on July 15, 1918 by the Santa Fe Railroad. The Mission Revival style depot was the largest station west of the Mississippi when it was opened. The historic depot was in rough shape until it was sold by the Santa Fe Railroad company to the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) in 1992. It took until 2002 for SANBAG to raise enough funds to restore the depot and today the building contains a historic waiting room with wooden benches and ornate green and brown tiled walls. This waiting room includes a coffee shop at one end and is open for most of the day. The station contains the offices for a number of government agencies including SANBAG’s successor, the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority, San Bernardino Council of Governments, and one of many offices of the Southern California Association of Governments. One area is the home of the San Bernardino County History & Railroad Museum, open primarily on Saturdays.

The stop has received continuous Amtrak service from the Southwest Chief that replaced the Santa Fe Super Chief/El Capitan. This train was named the Southwest Limited between March 1974 until 1984 because the Santa Fe railroad revoked Amtrak’s rights to its chief trademark because it perceived the service as not up to the standards of the Chief name. Amtrak’s Desert Wind to Los Vegas and Salt Lake City (where the train combined with the California Zephyr) also stopped at this station during its entire existence between October 28, 1979 and May 12, 1997. Today, Amtrak Thruway Bus service to Bakersfield for San Joaquin train connections to Northern California stops along Third Street, streetside of the depot. The station had an Amtrak ticket office until 2004 when it was closed. Politically motivated signs in the windows of the history and railroad museum ask Amtrak passengers "to write their Congressman and State Assemblyman to restore Amtrak Ticketing, Information and Baggage service to the San Bernardino depot".

Metrolink trains arrived at the station with the San Bernardino Line on May 17, 1993 when trains were extended 25 miles east from Montclair and the Inland Empire/Orange County Line on March 4, 1996 when trains were extended north from Riverside. On December 16, 2017 all Metrolink service was extended one mile to the San Bernardino Transit Center (named San Bernardino-Downtown on timetables), with this stop now referred to and signed by Metrolink as the San Bernardino Depot. This extension was the first phase of an extension to Redlands, that will be primarily operated as “the Arrow” using DMUs with some limited stop Metrolink trains to Redlands also operating on the new line/extension providing rush hour through service.

The station is along the southern side of the BNSF San Bernardino Intermodal Yard. Mt. Vernon Avenue crosses the yard area, just west of the depot, on a long bridge that provides excellent views of the yard and mainline BNSF trans-con tracks. When I last visited the station in 2013, the stop consisted of a low-lying platform area for Amtrak with passengers having to generally cross a few siding tracks to get on and off the Southwest Chief. This area has received a number of modern San Bernardino, CA Amtrak signs. Metrolink trains stopped at a simple but well-designed for terminating trains, 6 track with 3 island platforms station area. These platforms begin with bumper blocks on four of the tracks just west of the depot and run east ending with a pedestrian crossing. The northermost two tracks continue straight past the platform area to serve additional train storage tracks east of the depot. This leads to a pedestrian pick-up and drop off area with an arched and covered entrance area with a clock tower, along the station’s main parking lot. These platforms are uncovered except for small canopied sections at their western ends over the wheelchair mini-high platform ramps that require bridge plates.

As part of the extension to San Bernardino-Downtown, the station was transformed from a terminus to a through station for Metrolink in Spring 2017. Today, just three of the original tracks and only the southernmost platform remain, the same as the original Metrolink terminal station design. These are no longer used by any trains but I assume still used for off-peak and weekend train storage. The northern track is now shared with the new through-side platform. The grand arched entrance at the western end of the platforms is still there but the tracks are now gated off. Instead passengers board trains using a side platform that runs along the sides of the depot and an island platform for two additional tracks (the north track used by the Southwest Chief only and south track by Metrolink trains). To reach this outer platform, a pedestrian bridge with a staircase and elevator down to each side have been built arriving at the station area between the bumper blocks of the original terminating tracks and the depot.

The station has a total of 777 parking spaces, these spaces are primarily in lots to the south of the original platform area including extending west under the Mount Vernon Avenue bridge. A third of these spaces are in a 352 space parking garage. The garage is located across 3rd Street from the main parking lot. Parking spaces directly in front of the depot are signed as for persons with depot business only and not the general public.
Photos 1-39 taken on February 26, 2012; 40-73: June 20, 2013; 74-79: June 26, 2013

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Last Updated: 12 April, 2020
All photos are by Jeremiah Cox
All histrocial dates unless otherwise noted come from: Edward J. Simburg, Railroad-Freeway, Agoura, CA: Yerba Seca Publications, 1998
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