Music News

Amtrak offers free ride to Coachella festival campers

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - The Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival has partnered with Amtrak to provide a limited number of festival campers with a free train ride to and from this year’s event, which is set for April 25-27 at Empire Polo Field in Indio, Calif.

“I think it’s the first time (Amtrak has) has ever done anything like this for a music festival,” Paul Tollett, president of festival producer Goldenvoice, told “Anything we can do on a big level is what we’re pushing for.”

The free train ride, dubbed Coachella Express, will transport 500 festival campers from Los Angeles’ Union Station on April 24. The train will arrive later that day at a temporary train platform in Indio. From there, campers will be transported via a shuttle bus to Coachella’s camping check-in area at Empire Polo Field. The Amtrak train will head back to Los Angeles on April 28.

Coachella Express will be available to festival-goers with a camping ticket for this year’s three-day event, Tollett said. Reservations for the train will be available via on a first-come, first-served basis.

Based on the European model, where a significant number of fans use trains to reach large-scale music festivals, Goldenvoice’s partnership with Amtrak will help reduce the event’s carbon footprint, Tollett said.

“Those train tracks go right past this place,” he said, noting that Amtrak CEO Alex Kummant welcomed the collaboration. “(Alex) really liked the idea of getting kids talking about trains.”

Goldenvoice, a subsidiary of Los Angeles-based concert promotion company AEG Live, is “paying some costs” for Coachella Express, Tollett confirmed, but the initiative has a lot do with promotional efforts on Amtrak’s end. Its partnership with Goldenvoice is one of many promotional efforts Amtrak will implement this year to raise awareness for train transportation.

The 2008 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival will feature headliners Jack Johnson, Portishead and former Pink Floyd principal Roger Waters. Other acts scheduled to perform include the Verve, Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin, Goldfrapp, Death Cab For Cutie, My Morning Jacket, Spiritualized and the Raconteurs.