Chico is split in two on the south-west side by a very busy railroad, owned by Union Pacific Railroad. It follows S.R. 32 (the portion known as Walnut or Nord Streets) at a distance of a few blocks. Trains can be seen and heard traveling up to 70 miles per hour at all times of the day. Very often there is at least one train waiting silently south-east of West 9th Street (northbound S.R. 32) for an oncoming southbound train to pass. These trains, and those slowing to stop for a northbound train to pass, can be a source of great frustration to drivers and pedestrians alike. Trains can be especially long and if they're heavy enough, they can take forever to accelerate. The density of freight trains that pass through Chico make it difficult for regular passenger rail service to be established, though Amtrak does pass through at odd hours of the day for its Coast Starlight passenger service. If you want to take a train to Seattle, then you had better be prepared to board at 2am!
Train engineers regard Chico as a dangerous city to pass through because of its dense college student population. In so few words, trains and alcohol do not mix. Despite feelings of unease, locomotives are very often seen rushing through town in mere minutes to help transport goods in a timely, competitive manner. But it wasn't always like this; trains used to pass through Chico at 25mph on The Esplanade (long ago!). This began to change starting in 1995 with Union Pacific's acquisition of Southern Pacific. UPRR began to gradually increase their freighter's speed limit, and in 2003, the 70mph limit was established1.