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Sacramento, CA (SAC)

Station Facts

Sacramento, CA Station Photo

Sacramento, California

401 I Street Sacramento Valley Station Sacramento, CA 95814

Station Hours

Annual Station Revenue (2013)
Annual Station Ridership (2013)


Facility Ownership City of Sacramento
Parking Lot Ownership Union Pacific Railroad
Platform Ownership Union Pacific Railroad
Track Ownership Union Pacific Railroad


288 Long Term Parking Spaces 45 Short Term Parking Spaces ATM
Accessible Payphones Accessible Platform Accessible Restrooms
Accessible Waiting Room Accessible Water Fountain Baggage Storage
Bike Boxes Checked Baggage Dedicated Parking
Enclosed Waiting Area Help With Luggage Pay Phones
Quik Trak Kiosk Restrooms Shipping Boxes
Ski Bags Ticket Office Wheelchair
Wheelchair Lift

Routes Served

  • California Zephyr
  • Capitol Corridor
  • Coast Starlight
  • San Joaquin


Jonathan Hutchison
Regional Contact
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).

Local Community Links:

Station History

The historic Sacramento station, built by the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP), succeeded at least two earlier SP stations on that site, and is part of a complex that dates back to 1863 and the Central Pacific Railroad’s construction of the western portion of the first transcontinental rail line. Built in 1926, the station itself sits on an approximate 240-acre rail yard that was originally filled with every kind of building and equipment necessary for the fabrication of locomotives and rolling stock.

The building, designed by the San Francisco architectural firm of Bliss and Faville, is typical of the Renaissance Revival style used in many Western stations. Its three-story-high, tile-roofed, reinforced concrete frame is faced with Italian sienna-colored brick trimmed with terra-cotta. The famous waiting room includes a 40-foot-high domed ceiling, Philippine mahogany woodwork and marble floors. Enormous arched windows stream sunlight into the room, filtered through leaded, amber-colored glass. A mural depicting the 1863 groundbreaking ceremony of the Central Pacific by John A. MacQuarrie graces the east wall of the huge room.

Today the station is a key component in a massive development deal—a decade in the making—that is meant to revitalize Sacramento’s urban core and end 150 years of railroad ownership over a large area immediately adjacent to downtown. This project, the Sacramento Railyards, is reputed to be the largest infill development in the United States. In late 2006, Union Pacific Railroad finalized a deal to sell the 240-acre railyard site to Thomas Enterprises, a private development firm.

Concurrent with that transaction, the city of Sacramento acquired an 8.8 acre plot of land containing the existing rail station and an option on an adjacent 24 acres. Both areas would be utilized for the development of a new multimodal transportation facility and for relocation of the existing mainline tracks to the north. The entire railyards project came to a halt in the fall of 2010 as Thomas Enterprises was unable to meet its debt obligations and the property went into foreclosure. The lender, Inland American Real Estate Trust, subsequently took ownership of the railyards.

In order to retain tens of millions of dollars in federal grants that had been won for the project, it was imperative for the city and Inland American to move quickly to rewrite important contracts. In January 2011, a bid was announced for a project to shift the existing railroad tracks approximately 500 feet north. Moving the tracks is a key step to development of the new intermodal transportation center, as it will allow for more efficient rail operations for passenger and freight service by eliminating a long curve, freight and passenger-train conflicts and other long-standing problems.

The $45 million effort to shift the tracks broke ground on April 28, 2011 and is expected to be completed in early 2013. The plan also calls for the construction of new passenger platforms and two pedestrian and bicycle tunnels that will connect the proposed intermodal center, platforms, and historic Union Pacific shop buildings on the north side of the tracks. Once the track work is complete, extensions of Fifth and Sixth Streets through the railyards site will allow Inland American to start selling parcels for development that could at full build-out include 10,000 housing units, enough retail space to fill a large shopping mall, 1,000 hotel rooms and more than 1.5 million square feet of office space.

Much of 2011 and 2012 is dedicated to laying down the infrastructure necessary to support this intensive development. Funding for the track and road construction came from the following sources: $20 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009; $25 million through California Proposition 1B, which funds improvements to the state transportation system; and $15 million from other sources.

Prior to extensive construction over the site, the railyards must undergo environmental cleanup. Soil contaminated by more than a century of toxic, heavy industrial uses must be hauled away and replaced. Union Pacific has already removed about 500,000 tons of toxic soil, and another 200,000-300,000 tons must go. The railroad also installed a groundwater cleaning system to address residual problems from the area’s history of unregulated dumping.

The city of Sacramento, in the meantime, is moving forward with plans to renovate and improve the rail station and turn it into the region’s intermodal transportation center. In 2003, even before the land deal was finalized, the city used its own funds to put a new roof on the historic structure to keep it functioning and to prevent further deterioration. Also, in late 2006, light rail transit was extended to the station site and adds to the local and Amtrak Thruway bus service already there. According to officials, the station is now recovering from deferred maintenance, and hazardous materials such as lead paint and asbestos need to be properly removed. Plans are currently being made to do structural work, seismic rehabilitation, and renovations to the building’s historic fabric. After taking possession of the station, the city moved immediately to improve parking facilities and policies to ease existing problems.

The ultimate, multi-year goal for the station is to convert it into a regional transportation hub. Officials say that in the short range this will require more site improvements to improve pedestrian access, drop-off and pick-up, a new bus canopy, a pedestrian plaza, additional parking improvements, and other major changes. Additionally, the station facilities will require expansion that is envisioned as an extension or attachment of a new terminal building to the existing station to accommodate its enhanced role, though this would be done with sensitivity to the historical architectural details—probably by using a modern style reflecting and complementing the historic structures. The expanded facility will be sited to provide access to the new platforms constructed as part of the track relocation project. In March of 2009, $950,000 was granted from federal sources to support the first phase of the depot’s revitalization.

Since progress on all of these points requires complex agreements on political, operational as well as financial questions, the timeline for such projects to be completed ranges from two to fifteen years. The overall project is generally estimated to cost around $300 million, including site acquisition, track relocation, historical renovations, building systems improvements and new facilities. The great size and complexity of the project makes some of these figures likely to change.

In either 1806 or 1808 the Spanish explorer Gabriel Moraga discovered and named the Sacramento Valley and the Sacramento River for the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The history of the city of Sacramento began in 1839 when Johann Augustus Sutter settled at the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers, founding Sutter’s Fort and taking advantage of a 48,000-acre grant of land by the Mexican government and Governor Alvarado. That grant would change American history forever, since Mexico had just given away a literal goldmine.

After gold was discovered in 1848, thirty miles away from what is currently Sacramento, the California Gold Rush, then the largest human migration in history, changed the face of the continent. California became a state in 1850 and Sacramento became its capital four years later. For the rest of the gold rush, Sacramento would be a major distribution point, a commercial and agricultural center, and a terminus for wagon trains, stagecoaches, riverboats, the telegraph, the Pony Express and the first transcontinental railroad. Even today it remains one of the fastest growing regions in the United States.

This facility has a waiting room and is staffed by an Amtrak employee; Sacramento is served by 40 daily trains and 35 buses.

The San Joaquin corridor is primarily financed and operated in partnership with the California Department of Transportation. The Capitol Corridor route is primarily financed and operated in partnership with the State of California.