Serving Los Angeles, Tucson, San Antonio, New Orleans, Jacksonville, Orlando, and intermediate points
Amtrak train numbers: 1 and 2
Predecessor railroad train numbers:Southern Pacific 1 and 2
The Sunset Limited was the Southern Pacific Railroad's flagship train between Los Angeles and New Orleans, although by the late 1960s, it had dropped the "Limited" from its name and even lost sleeping car and full dining car service for a time (with passengers getting food from onboard vending machines). By 1970, it was cut back to operating three days a week, which actually improved service somewhat.
Amtrak continued the same tri-weekly schedule with its takeover of the train in 1971, but restored the Sunset Limited name; it also became as the only long distance train to keep the same numbers that had been assigned to it by its original railroad, the coveted lowest-in-the-timetable 1 and 2.
In April 1993, the eastern terminus of the Sunset Limited was extended from New Orleans all the way to Miami. Although Amtrak's predecessors had occasionally cooperated with each other and operated through sleeping cars or coaches from coast to coast as part of two or three different trains, this marked the first time passengers had been able to cross the United States on a single train, also bringing Amtrak train service to the Florida panhandle for the first time.
In the early morning of September 22, 1993, the new portion of the Sunset Limited's route became the site of Amtrak's worst wreck when barges hit a railroad bridge near Mobile, knocking it partially out of alignment and causing the eastbound Sunset Limited to derail into the water a few minutes later, killing 42 passengers.
The route was shortened a couple of years later, operating only as far as the Auto-Train terminal in Sanford, Florida, primarily to save money by requiring one fewer complete crew and set of equipment for the operation. Within another couple of years, the route was extended slightly, to Orlando.
Through all of that, the Sunset Limited has been the only Amtrak train to have operated on a 3-day-a-week schedule for its entire history.
Condensed historical timetables:
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(1956) (1979) (1993) (2002) (2002) (1993) (1979) (1956)
7:30P 10:30P 10:50P 10:30P Dp Los Angeles Ar 8:05A 7:00A 7:40A 4:15P
7:40A 10:22A 10:47A 9:10A Tucson 10:29P 7:40P 9:03P 6:05A
2:40P 4:40P 5:25P 3:21P El Paso 4:07P 2:25P 3:05P 11:55P
3:45A 5:33A 6:35A 5:25A San Antonio 3:50A 3:35A 3:10A 12:15P
8:10A 10:40A 11:15A 10:28A Houston 9:30P 10:30P 10:05P 7:40A
4:00P 8:45P 11:00P 7:25P New Orleans 12:15P 2:15P 1:00P 11:30P
----- ----- 2:45P 5:00P Jacksonville 5:00P 10:10P ----- -----
----- ----- 5:50P 8:45P Orlando 1:15P 6:28P ----- -----
----- ----- 11:10P ----- Ar Miami Dp ----- 1:30P ----- -----
The Amtrak Train Names Project