Posts Tagged ‘boxcars’

Amtrak Relics

July 20, 2020

Some Amtrak trains in the late 1990s to early 2000s resembled freight trains with their long strings of box cars carrying express shipments.

But what you see above is actually a CSX train in Berea on April 4, 2013.

The two silver-colored boxcars are former Amtrak express cars that are now owned by another company but continuing to do what they were designed to do, which is carrying freight.

The new owner did not see a need to have the cars repainted other than to remove the Amtrak markings.

As these cars traveled the country they were a reminder of an era in Amtrak history that was once billed as promising to enable the passenger carrier to fly a glide path to profitability.

That journey was never completed as designed.

Reminder of a Past Discarded Business Plan

May 9, 2018

I’m not sure why Amtrak hung onto these two express cars. I spotted them at New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal in March 2012.

Amtrak got out of the mail and express business in the early 2000s and sold or otherwise disposed of many of the cars devoted to that service.

Perhaps these cars have not yet been sold and were awaiting a decision on what to do with them.

I recall a time when cars such as these were common sights on many long-distance trains.

Making History in Pittsburgh

November 14, 2016


The date is Feb. 8, 2003. The place is the former Pennsylvania Railroad station in Pittsburgh, now used by Amtrak.

The platform is mostly empty as the eastbound Pennsylvanian waits for time to depart for Philadelphia. It is the penultimate run of this train as it is constituted on this day.

Later tonight the Pennsylvanian will originate in Chicago for the final time. Once it completes its last Chicago to Philadelphia trip, it will revert to Pittsburgh-New York operation and its role of carrying mail and express business will end.

That ExpressTrak boxcar on the rear of the train is a reminder of the reason why the train was extended to Chicago in the first place.

The Pennsylvanian had begun life on April 27, 1980, as a state-funded Pittsburgh-Philadelphia train that sought to take up the slack left by the discontinuance of the New York-Kansas City National Limited in 1979.

It was extended to New York in 1983 and to Chicago in November 1998 at which time the eastern terminus shifted back to Philadelphia.

Today, the Pennsylvanian has returned to its roots as a state-funded Pittsburgh-New York train. The mail and express business is now just another chapter in the train’s history that has passed.