AMTRAK TRAIN HISTORIES

LONG DISTANCE/WEST

Changes, additions and discontinuances of Amtrak trains since it's creation.

Amtrak began operations on May 1, 1971, inheriting various trains from the private railroads. Initially, the railroads' train numbers were retained. On July 12, 1971, some schedule adjustments were made. And on November 14, 1971, Amtrak adopted its own train numbers.

Trains are listed in numerical order of train numbers. Except certain trains with three digit numbers which connect with the main trains with two digit numbers, are listed following the main trains.

Not all details are included for routes with multiple trains, primarily in local corridors.

Links are to zoomable Google Maps, which clarify some of the more interesting routings adopted by Amtrak, mostly in smaller cities.

Passenger Train Routes In Major Cities
In many of the largest cities, Amtrak continues to use routings within the cities which had been used by the private predecessor railroads.


1/2 - Sunset Limited
5/1/71 - inherited from Southern Pacific between New Orleans and Los Angeles.
5/2/93 - extended east from New Orleans to Jacksonville and additional points in Florida, via former Louisville & Nashville and Seaboard.
6/2/96 - service discontinued through Phoenix and diverted to more direct route in Arizona, enabling downgrading of trackage through Phoenix.
8/28/2005 - suspended indefinitely east of New Orleans due to effects of Hurricane Katrina.
11/2/2005 - eastbound trains begin using former Missouri Pacific route between Houston and Beaumont.

3/4 - Southwest Chief
5/1/71 - inherited from Santa Fe between Chicago and Los Angeles, diverted in Chicago from Dearborn Station to Union Station via former Gulf Mobile & Ohio trackage. At the time, train was named the Super Chief.
5/19/74 - renamed Southwest Limited at request of Santa Fe, which had owned the "Chief" names and viewed the quality of the Amtrak service as below the quality previously offered by Santa Fe.
10/1/79 - rerouted via Topeka between Kansas City and Emporia, instead of using direct route between Kansas City and Emporia. This after discontinuance of Texas Chief/Lone Star, which had served Topeka.
10/28/84 - renamed Southwest Chief, as permitted by Santa Fe.
1/14/94 - rerouted via Fullerton between San Bernardino and Los Angeles, instead of via Pasadena.
8/1/96 - after Burlington Northern Santa Fe merger, rerouted via Burlington Northern line between Chicago and Galesburg.

5/6 - California Zephyr
5/1/71 - inherited from Burlington Northern between Chicago and Denver, from Union Pacific between Denver and Ogden, and from Southern Pacific between Ogden and Oakland/San Francisco. Originally intended to operate via Rio Grande route between Denver and Salt Lake City, and via Union Pacific between Salt Lake City and Ogden, but Rio Grande opted not to join Amtrak. Originally under Amtrak, train was named the San Francisco Zephyr.
10/28/79 - direct service to Cheyenne discontinued, replaced by new station at Borie. Prior to then, train had operated backwards between Denver and Cheyenne.
4/24/83 - Rio Grande joins Amtrak. On that date, Amtrak train was scheduled to begin operating via Rio Grande route between Denver and Salt Lake City, and via Union Pacific between Salt Lake City and Ogden. Trains would use Union Pacific station in Salt Lake City, requiring a backup move. The train would also be renamed the California Zephyr. But mudslides and floods near Thistle UT would delay the switchover.
7/16/83 - train begins operating via Rio Grande route between Denver and Salt Lake City.
10/30/83 - rerouted via Western Pacific between Salt Lake City and Elko, bypassing Ogden. West of Elko, trains would continue to use the Southern Pacific/Western Pacific paired track.
10/26/86 - diverted in Salt Lake City from Union Pacific station to Rio Grande station.
7/99 - diverted in Salt Lake City from Rio Grande station to new Amtrak station, as city prepared for 2002 Winter Olympics.

7/8 - Empire Builder
5/1/71 - inherited from Milwaukee Road between Chicago and St. Paul, from Burlington Northern (former Great Northern) between St. Paul and Sandpoint, and from Burlington Northern (former Northern Pacific) between Sandpoint and Seattle via Spokane and Pasco. Between Chicago and St. Paul previously operated via Burlington Northern (former Burlington), which included a Burlington/Milwaukee Road paired track east of St. Paul. Station discontinued in St. Paul, with trains only stopping at Great Northern station in downtown Minneapolis. Between Sandpoint ID and Seattle previously operated via Burlington Northern (former Great Northern).
1972 - Burlington Northern adopts "directional operation" between Spokane and Pasco, whereby eastbound trains would operate via former Spokane Portland & Seattle instead, with westbound trains continuing to operate via former Northern Pacific.
3/1/78 - Midway Station in St. Paul replaces Great Northern station in Minneapolis. Station is along Minnesota Commercial Railway, which connects with the Milwaukee Road to the south and with the Burlington Northern to the north.
10/1/79 - rerouted via former Northern Pacific between St. Paul and Fargo via Staples, replacing discontinued North Coast Hiawatha. Service discontinued over former Great Northern route via Wilmar.
1981 - station in Grand Forks replaced with new station west of town, eliminating a backup move.
10/25/81 - rerouted via former Great Northern between Spokane and Seattle. Portions of former Northern Pacific route via Pasco would be served by new connecting train 27 and 28 between Spokane and Portland.
5/7/2014 - restored St. Paul Union Depot replaces Midway Station, with no change in route.

9/10 - North Coast Hiawatha
6/5/71 - shortly after creation of Amtrak, introduced between Minneapolis and Spokane via Burlington Northern (former Northern Pacific), connecting with Empire Builder at both ends of route.
11/14/71 - becomes separate train between Chicago and Minneapolis, also using Milwaukee Road route.
6/13/73 - becomes separate train between Spokane and Seattle, using former Great Northern route via Wenatchee.
10/30/77 - combined with Empire Builder between Chicago and Minneapolis and renumbered 17 and 18. Two daily trains remain between Chicago and Minneapolis, with numbers 9 and 10 assigned to Twin Cities Hiawatha, running strictly between Chicago and Minneapolis.
3/1/78 - Midway Station in St. Paul replaces Great Northern station in downtown Minneapolis. Station is along Minnesota Commercial Railway, which connects with the Milwaukee Road to the south and with the Burlington Northern to the north.
4/30/78 - Twin Cities Hiawatha and Arrowhead, operating between Minneapolis/St. Paul and Duluth, combined forming the North Star, operating between Chicago and Duluth.
10/6/79 - North Coast Hiawatha discontinued.
10/25/81 - North Star discontinued between Chicago and Minneapolis/St. Paul.

11/14 - Coast Starlight
5/1/71 - inherited from Southern Pacific between Los Angeles and Portland, and combined with former Burlington Northern train between Portland and Seattle. Southern Pacific had operated the Coast Daylight between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the Cascade between Oakland and Portland. Former Coast Daylight revised to operate north of San Jose to Oakland, enabling formation of one through train. Commuter trains continued to operate between San Francisco and San Jose. Initially under Amtrak, train had no name.
11/14/71 - Coast Daylight adopted as name for daily train between Los Angeles and Oakland, and Coast Starlight adopted as name for tri weekly train between Oakland and Portland. When entire route became daily, Coast Daylight name was dropped.
4/25/82 - rerouted north of Davis via Sacramento.

12/13 - Coast Daylight
Operating numbers of train between Oakland and Los Angeles, to conform with Southern Pacific practice of assigning odd numbers to trains traveling towards Oakland/San Francisco, and even numbers to trains traveling from Oakland/San Francisco.

15/16 - Texas Chief
5/1/71 - inherited from Santa Fe between Chicago and Houston, diverted in Chicago from Dearborn Station to Union Station via former Gulf Mobile & Ohio trackage.
5/19/74 - renamed Lone Star at request of Santa Fe, which had owned the "Chief" names and viewed the quality of the Amtrak service as below the quality previously offered by Santa Fe.
8/1/74 - diverted in Houston from Union Station to Southern Pacific station, enabling consolidation of stations in Houston. Train basically already operated via Southern Pacific between Rosenberg and Houston.
10/1/79 - discontinued.

15/18 - Spirit of California
10/25/81 - introduced as overnight train between Los Angeles and Sacramento via Southern Pacific coast line.
9/30/83 - discontinued.

16/17 - Spirit of California
Operating numbers of train between Oakland and Los Angeles, to conform with Southern Pacific practice of assigning odd numbers to trains traveling towards Oakland/San Francisco, and even numbers to trains traveling from Oakland/San Francisco.

19/20 - Chief
6/11/72 - introduced as second daily train between Chicago and Los Angeles, via Santa Fe.
9/10/72 - discontinued.

21/22 - Texas Eagle
1/27/73 - introduced between Fort Worth and Laredo via Santa Fe between Fort Worth and Milano, and via Missouri Pacific between Milano and Laredo. At the time, train was named the Inter American.
3/13/74 - extended east and north of Fort Worth to St. Louis via Missouri Pacific.
10/26/75 - rerouted via Missouri-Kansas-Texas between Temple and Taylor TX.
10/31/76 - combined with a train between St. Louis and Chicago, enabling through service to and from Chicago.
10/1/81 - discontinued between San Antonio and Laredo and renamed the Eagle. In San Antonio, trains would begin using Southern Pacific station, enabling consolidation there. Prior to then, train stopped at location of Missouri Pacific station, although the station building was no longer suitable as a station. A bus connection existed to and from the Southern Pacific station.
11/15/88 - renamed Texas Eagle.

23/24 - Inter American
10/1/79 - introduced between Temple and Houston via Santa Fe and Southern Pacific, connecting with trains 21 and 22 and replacing Lone Star (formerly Texas Chief).
10/1/81 - discontinued.

521/522 - Texas Eagle
11/15/88 - introduced between Dallas and Houston via Southern Pacific, connecting with trains 21 and 22.
9/11/95 - discontinued.

821/822 - Heartland Flyer
6/15/99 - introduced between Fort Worth and Oklahoma City via Santa Fe, connecting with Texas Eagle.

23/24 - Gulf Coast Limited
4/29/84 - introduced between New Orleans and Mobile via Louisville & Nashville.
1/6/85 - discontinued.

25/26 - Pioneer
6/7/77 - introduced between Salt Lake City and Seattle via Union Pacific, connecting with the San Francisco Zephyr, later California Zephyr at Ogden.
4/26/81 - through cars introduced to and from Chicago, being switched to and from California Zephyr at Ogden.
10/30/83 - connection with California Zephyr made at Salt Lake City, upon rerouting of California Zephyr via Western Pacific between Salt Lake City and Elko.
6/17/91 - rerouted between Denver and Ogden via Union Pacific through Wyoming, connecting with California Zephyr at Denver.
5/10/97 - discontinued.

27/28 - Empire Builder
10/25/81 - introduced between Spokane and Portland mostly via former Spokane Portland & Seattle, connecting with trains 7 and 8. With "directional operation" in use by Burlington Northern, westbound train would use former Northern Pacific from Spokane to Pasco.
1983 - directional operation reversed between Spokane and Pasco, with westbound train using former Spokane Portland & Seattle, and eastbound train using former Northern Pacific.
1984 - directional operation discontinued between Spokane and Pasco, with all trains using former Northern Pacific.

35/36 - Desert Wind
10/28/79 - introduced between Ogden and Los Angeles via Union Pacific, connecting with the San Francisco Zephyr, later California Zephyr at Ogden.
10/26/80 - through cars introduced to and from Chicago, being switched to and from California Zephyr at Ogden.
7/16/83 - connection with California Zephyr made at Salt Lake City, upon rerouting of California Zephyr via Rio Grande route between Denver and Salt Lake City.
5/10/97 - discontinued.