AMERICA'S STREAMLINERS

(AND OTHER DIESEL PASSENGER TRAINS)

Included is information on most of the named passenger trains operating in the United States from the 1940's up to the 1971 formation of Amtrak. Most notably the schedules and consists of the many streamlined passenger trains operating throughout the United States, introduced beginning the 1930's. In 1972, one year after Amtrak's creation, two different books were released, chronicling the evolution of America's streamlined passenger trains. With many of these streamlined cars making up Amtrak's initial car roster, there was a renewed interest in the history of streamlined cars, and the trains for which they were originally built. "Car Names Numbers And Consists" was edited by Robert J. Wayner, and "From Zephyr To Amtrak" was compiled by David Randall.

The development of streamliners also occurred during the same period, when steam locomotives were replaced with diesel locomotives.

The history of streamliners can generally be divided into three eras.

Pre War - The first streamliners were introduced between the mid 1930's and early 1940's. This modernization of America's passenger trains would have continued, but World War II intervened. And all manufacturing capabilities were directed towards the war effort. And any passenger train modernization programs would have to wait.

Post War - With World War II over, the manufacture of new passenger cars could resume. And many new streamlined trains trains entered service in the late 1940's and early 1950's.

Dome Era - The Burlington Route developed the dome car in the late 1940's. And by the mid 1950's, several other railroads had enhanced their streamliners with new dome cars of their own.

Schedule and consist information for the pre war streamliners is from "The Official Guide of the Railways" dated June 1942, during the war and a time when deliveries of new cars had halted. And whatever modernization efforts had already been achieved by the railroads, would remain at that level for a few years longer.

Schedule and consist information for the post war streamliners is generally from the individual railroad timetables, usually shortly after receiving significant orders of new cars. These timetables basically reflect completion of the post war modernization programs.

Schedule and consist information for the dome era trains is from "The Official Guide of the Railways" dated May 1956. 1956 was probably the peak year for the streamlined passenger train in America. This was the last year of significant acquisitions of new passenger equipment by the private railroads. After then, it was all downhill for the American passenger train, as trains were subsequently discontinued, shortened, and consolidated. The trend would not reverse until after 1971, with the creation of Amtrak.

For many railroads, pages covering certain eras of streamliners may be omitted. Some railroads did not modernize at all before the war. And for some railroads, the "dome era" better reflects the completion of modernization programs for those railroads. And while most railroads never did acquire any dome cars, most of those railroads did nevertheless acquire a few additional cars during the mid 1950's or later, either new or second hand. But the intercity passenger train was soon on its way to great declines.

Many railroads assigned specific cars to specific streamliners, especially before World War II. While many railroads had a general fleet of cars which were assigned to all streamliners, especially after World War II. The two books of reference sometimes suggest that specific cars were assigned to specific consists of the trains, and these web pages also suggest that. But it is not certain that these consists were actually kept together, especially longer distance trains requiring several sets of equipment.

Many passenger trains never were fully equipped as streamliners with new equipment. But with the decline of passenger trains, many of these trains might have received surplus streamlined cars later during their histories.

Also included is information on the diesel passenger locomotives introduced, at the same time as streamliners were introduced. Also mentioned are steam locomotives furnished with shrouding, to give them a streamlined look. In the early days of diesel locomotives, some railroads were less confident that diesel locomotives could successfully replace steam locomotives.

Streamlined Passenger Trains - A Brief History
Milestones in the modernization of the intercity passenger train in America.

Streamlined Passenger Cars (Further Explained)
Comprehending the variety of passenger cars in use prior to Amtrak.

Diesel Passenger Locomotives - A Brief History
Evolution of the E-units and other passenger locomotives prior to Amtrak.

Diesel Passenger Locomotives - Popular Models
Comprehending the different models of E-units and other passenger locomotives.


ATLANTA & WEST POINT/WESTERN OF ALABAMA/GEORGIA

ATLANTIC COAST LINE/FLORIDA EAST COAST

SANTA FE

BALTIMORE & OHIO

BANGOR AND AROOSTOOK

BOSTON & MAINE/MAINE CENTRAL

CENTRAL OF GEORGIA

CHESAPEAKE & OHIO

BURLINGTON ROUTE

CHICAGO GREAT WESTERN

MONON

MILWAUKEE ROAD

CHICAGO & NORTH WESTERN

ROCK ISLAND

DELAWARE & HUDSON

RIO GRANDE

ERIE RAILROAD

GRAND TRUNK WESTERN

GREAT NORTHERN

GULF MOBILE & OHIO

ILLINOIS CENTRAL

KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN

LEHIGH VALLEY

LOUISVILLE & NASHVILLE/CHICAGO & EASTERN ILLINOIS

MISSOURI PACIFIC/TEXAS & PACIFIC

NEW HAVEN

NEW YORK CENTRAL

NICKEL PLATE ROAD/LACKAWANNA RAILROAD

NORFOLK & WESTERN

NORTHERN PACIFIC

PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD

READING/CENTRAL RAILROAD OF NEW JERSEY

RICHMOND FREDERICKSBURG & POTOMAC

ST. LOUIS SAN FRANCISCO/MISSOURI KANSAS TEXAS

ST. LOUIS SOUTHWESTERN

SEABOARD AIR LINE

SOO LINE

SOUTHERN PACIFIC

SOUTHERN RAILWAY

SPOKANE PORTLAND & SEATTLE

UNION PACIFIC

WABASH RAILROAD

WESTERN PACIFIC


The Decline Of The Streamliner

Chronology of the decline of the intercity passenger train, and the discontinuing of various streamliners. This decline lasted mainly from 1956, until the creation of Amtrak in 1971.


Information is from various issues of "The Official Guide of the Railways", and from various actual railroad timetables. Additional information on streamlined passenger trains is from "Car Names Numbers And Consists", edited by Robert J. Wayner, and "From Zephyr To Amtrak", compiled by David Randall.