U.S., Amtrak History: Routes That Have Come and Gone, Part One, Plus the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters

By J. Bruce Richardson, Corridor Rail Development Corporation; January 18, 2021

Part One

Amtrak is 50 years old this May. That’s a half century of train operations. Many of us are not aware of the number of Amtrak trains that have come and gone in those decades. Some contributors of Wikipedia have done yeoman’s work compiling lists of past and present Amtrak trains with a plethora of information about each route. Below is an abbreviated part of that work, focusing on Amtrak trains serving the South:

Auto Train
Lorton – Sanford
October 1983 to Present

Carolina Special
New York City – Savannah
June 1972 to September 1972

New York City – Jacksonville
June 1973 to September 1973

New York City – Charlotte
October 1984 to September 1985
May 1990 to Present

New York City – St. Petersburg
May 1971 to October 1979

New York City – New Orleans
February 1979 to Present

Florida Special
New York City – Miami
December 1971 to April 1972

Chicago – Miami/St. Petersburg
November 1971 to October 1979

Gulf Breeze
New York City – Mobile
October 1989 to April 1995

Gulf Coast Limited
New Orleans – Mobile
April 1984 to January 1985
June 1996 to March 1997

New York City – Miami
December 1974 to January 1975

New York City – Savannah
June 1976 to December 1988

New York City – Jacksonville
December 1988 to October 1994

New York City – Tampa
October 1994 to February 1995

New York City – Miami
May 2002 – November 2004

New York City – Savannah
November 2004 – Present

Raleigh – Charlotte
May 1995 to Present

Silver Meteor
New York City – Miami
May 1971 to June 1972

Boston – Miami/St. Petersburg
June 1972 to September 1972

New York City — Miami
September 1972 to Present

Silver Palm
Miami – Tampa
November 1982 to April 1985

New York City – Miami
November 1996 to May 2002

Silver Star
New York City – Miami
May 1971 – Present

South Wind
Chicago – Miami-St. Petersburg
May 1971 to November 1971

New York City – Miami
December 1972 to April 1974

The Champion and Floridian were part of the major long distance system cuts performed during the Carter Administration.

The Palmetto/Silver Palm changes came about with the introduction of new Viewliner sleeping cars and the introduction of the “common consists” which also simultaneously closed the Tampa crew and maintenance bases and reduced train capacity in Tampa by half. The common consists severely reduced sleeping car capacity in and out of Florida because of the low number of Viewliner I sleepers ordered. The changes also eliminated Slumbercoaches on trains.

As today, January 18, 2021, is celebrated as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, it is important to note that a much earlier struggle and victory for equality played out in the 1920s. From Wikipedia:

“Founded in 1925, The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP) was the first labor organization led by African Americans to receive a charter in the American Federation of Labor (AFL). The BSCP gathered a membership of 18,000 passenger railway workers across Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Beginning after the American Civil War, the job of Pullman porter had become an important means of work in the black community in the United States. As a result of a decline in railway transportation in the 1960s, BSCP membership declined. It merged in 1978 with the Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks (BRAC), now known as the Transportation Communications International Union.

The leaders of the BSCP—including A. Philip Randolph, its founder and first president, Milton Webster, vice president and lead negotiator, and C. L. Dellums, vice president and second president—became leaders in the Civil Rights Movement, especially concerning fair employment and continued to play a significant role in the movement after it focused on the eradication of segregation in the Southern United States. BSCP members such as E. D. Nixon were among the leadership of local desegregation movements by virtue of their organizing experience, constant movement between communities, and freedom from economic dependence on local authorities.”

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