U.S., Amtrak History: Routes That Have Come and Gone, Part Two

By J. Bruce Richardson, Corridor Rail Development Corporation; January 20, 2021

Part Two

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 Northeast–Midwest:

Blue Ridge
Washington, D.C. – Cumberland
May 1973 to October 1976

Washington, D.C. – Martinsburg
October 1976 to 1986

Broadway Limited
New York City – Chicago
May 1971 to September 1995

Capitol Limited
Washington, D.C. – Chicago
October 1981 to Present

Washington, D.C. – Chicago
October 1977 to April 1981

New York City – Chicago
April 1981 to September 1981
January 1982 to Present

Empire State Express
New York City – Detroit
October 1974 to April 1976

George Washington
Washington, D.C./Newport News – Cincinnati
May 1971 to November 1971

Washington, D.C./Newport News – Chicago
November 1971 to May 1974

Washington, D.C. – Catlettsburg
May 1977 to January 1978

Boston – Catlettsburg
January 1978 to October 1979

James Whitcomb Riley
Washington, D.C./Newport News – Chicago
November 1971 to June 1976

Lake Shore
New York City – Chicago
May 1971 to January 1972

Lake Shore Limited
New York City/Boston – Chicago
October 1975 to Present

Norfolk – Chicago
March 1975 to May 1977

National Limited
New York City/Washington, D.C. – Kansas City
November 1971 to October 1979

Niagara Rainbow
New York City – Detroit
April 1976 to January 1979

Pittsburgh – Philadelphia
April 1980 to October 1983

Pittsburgh – New York City
October 1983 to November 1998

Chicago – New York City
November 1998 to January 2003

Pittsburgh – New York City
January 2003 to October 2004
March 2005 to Present

Potomac Special
Washington, D.C. – Parkersburg
May 1972 to May 1973

Potomac Turbo
Washington, D.C. – Parkersburg
February 1972 to May 1972

Washington, D.C. – Cincinnati
October 1976 to September 1981

Skyline Connection
Philadelphia – Chicago
Listed in Spring 2000 Timetable but never launched

Spirit of St. Louis
New York City/Washington, D.C. – Kansas City
May 1971 to November 1971

Three Rivers
New York City – Pittsburgh
September 1995 to November 1996

New York City – Chicago
November 1996 to March 2005

West Virginian
Washington, D.C. – Parkersburg
September 1971 to February 1972

The Hilltopper and National Limited were long distance trains which were both eliminated in the Carter Administration 1979 cuts.

The “common consist” trains using the first Viewliner sleeping car order were the Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Silver Palm, Crescent, and Lake Shore Limited. At Sunnyside Yard in New York City and the Hialeah, Florida (Miami) maintenance bases the consists would be swapped from one train to another to eventually run all of the consists through the Viewliner’s primary maintenance base in Hialeah. Closing the Tampa maintenance base and eliminating one of the two trains serving the growing Tampa market (The Silver Meteor was replaced with a Thruway Bus connection from the Orlando station) were moves designed to cut maintenance expenses. In addition to cutting expenses, a tremendous amount of load factor, ridership and revenue were also sacrificed in the name of saving budget money.

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