America’s oldest “named” train, the Sunset Limited, started service in 1893 and was Southern Pacific’s premier train. It still operates today between Los Angeles and New Orleans.
By Amtrak’s own accounting, the Sunset Limited is now their worst performing long distance train, financially speaking. It operates thrice weekly and takes two nights to reach its destination. Incidentally, the second worst performing Amtrak train is the “Cardinal”, which travels between Chicago and Washington, D. C., and on to New York City. This train takes one night to reach its destination and also operates thrice weekly. The rest of Amtrak’s long distance trains operate on a daily basis.
The problem hindering the Sunset Limited’s performance is that 80% of the line it operates on is Union Pacific’s rail. And apparently, the “UP” is blocking the daily operation of this train.
An Amtrak internal study revealed that if the Sunset Limited operated daily, and made some minor schedule changes, the train could become one of Amtrak’s best performing long distance trains. We strongly support making the daily Sunset Limited a priority.
It is important to note that the proposed Coachella Valley train with service from Los Angeles to the Coachella Valley will not become a reality if there is no daily Sunset Limited. But there is a strong indication that Amtrak is interested in establishing a crew base in the Coachella Valley to support and serve both the Sunset Limited and the proposed Coachella train.
The Sunset Limited provides a significant, positive financial impact for the many destinations along its route, and provides an additional mode of transportation to the public in those cities served. The proposed Coachella train would similarly provide a positive financial impact for our valley, and an affordable alternative means of transportation.
We are asking that you please go on record supporting daily service for the Sunset Limited.
Robert Manning, President,
Southwest Rail Passenger Association