USA: Packed trains marked the first day of revenue service on the $486m 35 km Sprinter line which connects Oceanside with Escondido in California's San Diego County.

Two earlier start dates had been missed because of problems with signals and level crossings. The California Public Utilities Commission issued a letter certifying the line for operation on March 7, and services began two days later. Breaking with a tradition set by many other US operators, North County Transit District did not offer free rides to acquaint riders with the trains.

The normal weekend timetable with an hourly service in each direction was operated on the first day, and the number of passengers seeking a ride led to extended dwell times at the 15 stations, with trains running up to 10 min late. On March 10 a regular weekday timetable was in effect, with 30 min headways and modest traffic. NCTD hopes to attract 11 600 daily riders, a goal that could take a year or more.

  • CAPTION: The Sprinter service is operated by a fleet of 12 two-car Desiro Classic DMUs supplied from Siemens' Krefeld-Uerdingen plant