|Service type||Inter-city rail|
|Locale||Michigan, New York, Ontario|
|First service||October 31, 1974|
|Last service||January 31, 1979|
|Distance travelled||676 miles (1,088 km)|
|Average journey time||14 hours 50 minutes|
|Train number(s)||63, 64|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
The Niagara Rainbow, known as the Empire State Express before 1976, was a daily passenger train operated by Amtrak between New York and Detroit via Buffalo and the Canadian province of Ontario. Prior to the formation of Amtrak in 1971 the Penn Central's Wolverine and Motor City Special had served the route, but Amtrak had truncated the Wolverine to Detroit and discontinued the Motor City Special.
The Empire State Express, as it was then known, made its first run to Detroit on October 31, 1974. Before that it was one of the trains on the Empire Corridor, making a daily run between New York's Grand Central Terminal and Buffalo. The states of New York and Michigan provided the funds to extend the train through to Detroit. A day train, the Empire State Express carried no sleeping accommodations but did run with a baggage car and diner. At Buffalo, passengers could connect with a Penn Central/Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway/Canadian Pacific Railway service to Toronto.
Amtrak changed the name of the train to Niagara Rainbow on April 25, 1976, although Niagara Falls itself continued to be served by a bus connection. In 1978 several state governments proposed replacing the Niagara Rainbow and its Chicago—Cleveland—New York counterpart Lake Shore Limited with a single train with separate sections via Detroit and Cleveland west of Buffalo and separate Boston and New York sections east of Albany. In the end the two trains remained separate. In October 1978 the Niagara Rainbow finally began stopping in Niagara Falls.
Amtrak truncated the Niagara Rainbow to Niagara Falls on January 31, 1979, after Michigan and New York withdrew their support. The United States Secretary of Transportation, Brock Adams, proposed re-routing the Lake Shore Limited, which ran through Cleveland on the opposite side of Lake Erie, over the Ontario route but this plan was not adopted by Congress.
Amtrak also ran an overnight service between New York and Toronto by the name of Niagara Rainbow in the 1990s.
- "States Seeking Rail Service". Beaver County Times. July 17, 1974. Retrieved September 11, 2010.
- Amtrak (May 15, 1975). "Eastern Amtrak Schedules : New York - Croton / Harmon - Rhinecliff - Hudson - Albany". The Museum of Railway Timetables. Retrieved September 11, 2010.
- Wald, Martin (February 8, 1978). "New East-West Rail Plan Would Have Buffalo Hub". Schenectady Gazette. Retrieved September 11, 2010.
- Amtrak (October 29, 1978). "New York - Albany - Syracuse - Rochester - Buffalo - Niagara Falls - Detroit". The Museum of Railway Timetables. Retrieved September 11, 2010.
- "Paring Down Amtrak". Toledo Blade. August 8, 1979. Retrieved September 11, 2010.
- "Trains Will Return". Ludington Daily News. February 1, 1979. Retrieved September 11, 2010.
- "Maple Leaf / Niagara Rainbow / Adirondack timetables". The Museum of Railway Timetables.