Sacramento, CA (SAC)
Opened in 1926, the historic station recently underwent a multi-year renovation that included track relocation, construction of new platforms and rehabilitation of the interiors.
401 I Street
Sacramento Valley Station
Sacramento, CA 95814
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 1,051,001
- Facility Ownership: City of Sacramento
- Parking Lot Ownership: City of Sacramento
- Platform Ownership: City of Sacramento
- Track Ownership: Union Pacific Railroad
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
The historic Sacramento station, opened by the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) in 1926, succeeded at least two earlier SP stations on the site, which 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. The station sits on an approximately 240-acre rail yard that was originally filled with every kind of building and equipment necessary for the fabrication of locomotives and rolling stock.
Designed by the San Francisco architectural firm of Bliss and Faville, the three story building with red tile roof employs a dignified Renaissance Revival style. A reinforced concrete frame is faced with Italian sienna-colored brick trimmed with terracotta. The famous waiting room includes a 40-foot-high barrel vaulted ceiling, Philippine mahogany woodwork and marble floors. Enormous arched windows allow sunlight, filtered through leaded, amber-colored glass, to stream into the space. A mural by John A. MacQuarrie located on the east wall of the waiting room depicts the 1863 groundbreaking ceremony of the Central Pacific Railroad.
The station is a key component in a massive development deal—more than a decade in the making—that is meant to create a multimodal transportation hub, revitalize Sacramento’s urban core and end 150 years of railroad ownership over a large area immediately adjacent to downtown. This vision includes redevelopment of the station complex and the Sacramento Railyards, which 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. 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. Prior to extensive construction over the site, the railyards must undergo environmental remediation. Soil contaminated by more than a century of toxic, heavy industrial uses will be hauled away and replaced.
Concurrent with the rail yards transaction, the city of Sacramento in 2006 acquired an 8.8-acre plot of land containing the existing rail station and an option on an adjacent 24 acres for $52 million. Three years earlier, the city used its own funds to put a new roof on the historic structure. Light rail service was also extended to the station site in 2006 and adds to local and Amtrak Thruway bus services. After taking possession of the building, the city moved immediately to improve parking facilities and other existing problems. The city also developed a three-phase program for renovating the facility that included realigning the tracks, rehabilitating the historic station and enhancing intermodal connections.
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. A $45 million effort to shift the existing mainline railroad tracks approximately 500 feet north began in April 2011 as part of Phase I and was completed two years later. Moving the tracks allows for more efficient rail operations by eliminating a long curve, freight and passenger-train conflicts and other long-standing problems.
Additional Phase I work included construction of two double-sided rail platforms and two pedestrian and bicycle tunnels connecting the proposed intermodal center, platforms, and historic Union Pacific shop buildings on the north side of the tracks. 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.
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 $26 million from other sources.
To combat deferred maintenance and prepare the historic station building for its next generation of service, the city broke ground on Phase II of the project in September 2014. Lasting two years, it included rehabilitation of the facade and masonry; installation of new mechanical, plumbing, electrical and communications systems; addition of bicycle facilities and new signage; relocation of ticketing and baggage facilities for improved operations; and conservation of the mural and interior finishes. Funding for the $36.5 million Phase II came from a $15 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant matched with local funding obtained through the Measure A sales tax.
Phase III, launched in 2017, includes a master planning effort for the station and surrounding area with the goal of integrating transit-oriented development and supporting a sustainable downtown community.
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.
Within walking distance of the Sacramento station is the California State Railroad Museum, which since 1976 has introduced visitors to the region’s rich rail history. Original and reconstructed buildings house a diverse collection of railroad memorabilia and rolling stock, as well as a renowned library and archives that hold materials from more than 1,000 railroads. Permanent exhibits tell the story of railroading in California from multiple perspectives, and an assortment of locomotives and rolling stock allows museum-goers to explore changes in railroad technology and design from the origins of the industry in the 19th century to the present day.
Amtrak provides ticketing and baggage services at this station, which is served by approximately 40 daily trains. The San Joaquin service is primarily financed through funds made available by the State of California, Department of Transportation, and is managed by the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority. The Capitol Corridor route is primarily financed and operated in partnership with the State of California. It is managed by the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA), which partners with Amtrak, the Union Pacific Railroad, Caltrans and the communities comprising the CCJPA to continue development of a cost-effective, viable and safe intercity passenger rail service.
- 45 Short Term Parking Spaces
- 288 Long Term Parking Spaces
- 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
- Shipping Boxes
- Ski Bags
- Ticket Office
- Wheelchair Lift