Moment in Time on the Panama Limited

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Amtrak dropped the Panama Limited name from its timetables in early 1981. It was time. Amtrak trains 58 and 59 hardly came close to offering the level of service that the Illinois Central had offered aboard its flagship Chicago-New Orleans passenger train.

Amtrak’s Chicago-New Orleans trains have never come close to offering the elite level of service that the IC offered. Then again, Amtrak didn’t need to offer that type of service, which it is ill suited to provide.

Shown is the northbound Panama Limited arriving in Mattoon, Illinois, in September 1977.

It is a low point in the train’s Amtrak history. Sleeping cars were removed in January 1977 when the train received Amfleet equipment. Also removed was the full-service diner. Passengers on this day had to be content with an Amcafe offering.

But the train had checked baggage service and sleepers would return in a few months.

It was common in the late 1970s for Nos. 58 and 59 to be pulled by a lone P30CH. Class unit No. 700 is doing the honors today as the baggage man watches the platform.

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