Serving Chicago, Indianapolis, Louisville, Nashville, Birmingham, Jacksonville, Miami or St. Petersburg, and intermediate points
Amtrak train numbers: 52 and 53 (Miami section 93 and 94)
Predecessor railroad train numbers: None
During its days in the timetable, the Floridian was Amtrak's "hard luck" train. It began November 14, 1971, when the South Wind was rerouted between Chicago and Indianapolis due to the poor condition of the Penn Central Railroad's track; it was officially discontinued as of October 1, 1979, due to budget cuts (although it continued for a very short time afterward thanks to a court injunction).
Between those dates, it was almost a constant battle to get it over the rails between Chicago and Florida, thanks primarily to other places where the track was barely suitable for passenger trains, not to mention a spate of derailments that the freight railroads blamed on Amtrak's SDP-40 locomotives and Amtrak blamed on bad track. The schedule was almost completely overhauled, and usually also lengthened, every time Amtrak issued a new timetable in an attempt to keep the train running on time. At times, it left Chicago in the evening. At other times, it left Chicago in the morning. In some years, it was combined with the Silver Star south of Jacksonville; in other years, it wasn't.
In what seemed like a positive development at the time, in 1976, the separately owned Auto-Train Company contracted with Amtrak to combine the Midwest version of the Auto-Train, previously operating as a separate train, with the Floridian.
However, Auto-Train was in decline anyway mainly because the Midwest train was under-patronized, adding the Auto-Train's auto rack cars in Louisville and subtracting them in Sanford, Florida added even more time to the Floridian's schedule, and when the Floridian began serving Louisville from the Auto-Train terminal on the outskirts of town instead of from Union Station, it reduced patronage in Louisville. The arrangement ended in 1977.
In the late 1970s, plans were in place to reroute the Floridian to operate via Atlanta instead of Birmingham, but then budget cuts forced Amtrak to drop several long-distance routes. Cutting the Floridian was an easy choice.
The Floridian's train numbers, 52 and 53, ended up on the Lorton-Sanford Auto-Train when the service was revived by Amtrak in the early 1980s. Louisville and Nashville were the two biggest cities that lost Amtrak train service when the Floridian was discontinued; Amtrak returned not only to Louisville but to Union Station when the Kentucky Cardinal was extended into its namesake state in late 2001.
Condensed historical timetables:
READ DOWN READ UP
(1972) (1975) (1975) (1972)
11:30P 8:30P Dp Chicago Ar 7:00A 7:00A
4:40A 2:10A Indianapolis 12:45A 3:10A
7:50A 6:45A Louisville 10:40P 12:10A
10:45A 9:40A Nashville 5:50P 6:50P
3:15P 2:10P Birmingham 1:05P 2:20P
2:35A 2:50A Jacksonville 1:30A 4:30A
10:15A 10:30A Ar St. Petersburg Dp 5:45P 8:30P
11:55A 10:55A Ar Miami Dp 5:15P 7:10P
The Amtrak Train Names Project