HANFORD — Passengers thinking of riding a train to Sacramento will have a chance to arrive earlier starting in January.

Amtrak for the San Joaquin Valley – serving San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Stockton, Merced, Fresno, Bakersfield, Wasco, Corcoran and Hanford – plans to make a schedule change that will allow an early morning arrival in Sacramento, said Dan Leavitt, San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority Manager of Marketing and Outreach.

The new early morning train ride will be called the morning express train and get to Sacramento around 8 a.m.

For the early arrival in Sacramento, the train will start in Fresno instead of Bakersfield at about 4:30 a.m. 

For riders south of Fresno, there will be a bus to get riders to the train station in Fresno in time for the early morning train to Sacramento.

“In the next few months, we are hoping to get people’s attention and increase ridership by having one train leave earlier in the morning for Sacramento,” Leavitt said. 

Leavitt believes part of the reason why people decide to drive rather than ride the train to Sacramento has to do with how late the earliest train arrives (around 11 a.m.).

“We want to enable people to take daily rides including business travel and we hope to get more people excited and more people riding the train,” Leavitt said. “This is the safest way to travel, and its on time performance is very good. The deal with visiting a big city is parking, and if you drive there, it’s bumper to bumper traffic.”

Luis Medina, 23, lives in Clovis, and boards the 702 train from Fresno to Hanford at least twice a week to visit his girlfriend.

 “…I don’t have to worry about driving and it’s really relaxing,” Medina said.

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