A Palmetto pulls into Wilson, North Carolina.
|Service type||Inter-city rail|
|Locale||Southern United States|
|First service||June 15, 1976
November 10, 1996
|Last service||February 1, 1995
196,743 total (FY11)
|Distance travelled||829 miles (1,334 km)|
|Catering facilities||Lounge car|
|Baggage facilities||Baggage car|
|Rolling stock||Amfleet coaches|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|Track owner(s)||Amtrak, CSX|
The Palmetto is a passenger train service operated by Amtrak over the 829 miles (1,334 km) from New York City south to Savannah, Georgia, via the Northeast Corridor to Washington, D.C., then via Richmond, Virginia, Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Charleston, South Carolina. The Palmetto is a shorter version of the Silver Meteor, which continues south to Miami, Florida. Between 1996 and 2002 this service was called the Silver Palm. Although currently a day train, in the past the Palmetto provided overnight sleeper service to Florida.
Amtrak introduced the Palmetto on June 15, 1976. The train drew its name from the Sabal palmetto, the state tree of South Carolina. The name Palmetto Limited had also been used by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad for a New York—St. Petersburg train which first ran in December 1909. The Palmetto was the first train in the Southern United States to receive the then-new Amfleet equipment, and the 828-mile (1,333 km) run was the longest at the time for the new coaches. At the time of introduction Amtrak planned to run the Palmetto daily for the summer only, with service ending September 8. In August Amtrak extended the Palmetto indefinitely, citing better-than-expected ridership. In October 1976 the Florida Department of Transportation urged Amtrak to extend the Palmetto south to Miami.
Between October 1984 and September 1985 the Palmetto ran combined with the Carolinian between New York and Richmond, Virginia. At Richmond the Carolinian continued separately to Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina. The Carolinian was discontinued after the state of North Carolina withdrew its support for the train. The Carolinian has since been restored and runs from Charlotte to New York Penn Station.
In December 1988 Amtrak extended the Palmetto south to Jacksonville, Florida. The train continued to be coach-only, without full dining service. Beginning on May 12, 1990, the Palmetto again combined with a revived Carolinian, although this time the split occurred in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. The two trains began running independently in April 1991. In October 1994 the Palmetto became a full overnight train with sleeper and dining car service, running through to Tampa, Florida. This replaced the Silver Meteor's Tampa section. This extension was short-lived: budget cuts under the Clinton administration led to the Palmetto's discontinuance on February 1, 1995.
Amtrak revived a third train from New York to Miami on November 10, 1996. Although named the Silver Palm (in line with the Silver Service brand), it used the same route as the former Palmetto and carried the same numbers (89 southbound and 90 northbound). While the Silver Star and Silver Meteor ran straight from Jacksonville to Miami, at Jacksonville the Silver Palm turned west and continued over the old Seaboard Air Line Railroad main line via Waldo, Ocala, Wildwood and Dade City to Tampa. At Tampa, it reversed and ran south to Miami. Amtrak restored the Palmetto name on May 1, 2002, after it removed the sleepers and dining car from the train, although it continued serving Florida.
On November 1, 2004, Amtrak truncated the Palmetto to Savannah, Georgia, operating a daytime schedule to and from New York (as it had prior to 1994). With the truncation to Savannah, the Silver Star was rerouted to serve Tampa; the old Jacksonville-Lakeland route is now served by a Thruway Motorcoach bus transfer from the Silver Star, which serves all the former stations as well as Gainesville.
In the January 2011 issue of Trains magazine, this route was listed as one of five routes to be looked at by Amtrak in FY 2011 as the previous five routes (Sunset, Eagle, Zephyr, Capitol, and Cardinal) were examined in FY 2010.
The Palmetto's route has not changed significantly since it first ran in 1976. It parallels the Florida-bound Silver Meteor, making additional station stops. When introduced in 1976 it included two new stations: Dillon and Kingstree, South Carolina. As of 2011[update] Kingstree sees the Silver Meteor as well. The Palmetto added Selma, North Carolina (Smithfield) in October 1982.
The Palmetto operates over Amtrak and CSX Transportation trackage:
- Amtrak Northeast Corridor, New York to Washington.
- CSX RF&P Subdivision, Richmond Terminal Subdivision, North End Subdivision, South End Subdivision, Charleston Subdivision, and Savannah Subdivision, Washington to Savannah.
In October 2012, Amtrak began operating Thruway bus routes that connect to the northbound and southbound Palmetto at Wilson, North Carolina. One route serves the North Carolina cities of Greenville, New Bern, Havelock, and Morehead City; the other route serves the North Carolina cities of Goldsboro, Kinston, Jacksonville, and Wilmington.
The Palmetto generally operates with a General Electric Genesis P42DC diesel locomotive, a baggage car from Amtrak's Heritage Fleet, an Amfleet I business class car, an Amfleet I cafe car, an Amfleet I coach, and three Amfleet II long-distance coach cars. North of Washington, D.C. an EMD AEM-7 or ACS-64 handles the train.
- "Amtrak Ridership Rolls Up Best-Ever Records" (PDF). Amtrak. 13 October 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
- "PALMETTO". TrainWeb. Retrieved 6 July 2010.
- "Southern Amtrak passenger train scheduled". News-Tribune. April 11, 1976. Retrieved 2011-07-04.
- "Amtrak Keeping 2 Trains". Journal-Herald. August 26, 1976. Retrieved 2011-07-04.
- Edger, Betsy (October 1, 1976). "Amtrak Won't Budge On Schedule Changes". Star-Banner. Retrieved 2011-07-04.
- Foreman, Jr., Tom (October 27, 1984). "'Carolinian' makes trial run". Times-News. Retrieved 2011-07-04.
- Waggoner, Martha (September 3, 1985). "The 'Carolinian' Makes Its Last Run". The Dispatch. Retrieved 2010-04-04.
- "Travel Advisory". New York Times. December 18, 1988. Retrieved 2011-07-04.
- "Charlotte-Rocky Mount train back on track". Morning Star. May 12, 1990. Retrieved 2010-04-04.[dead link]
- "Change to cut Carolinian's run by 40 minutes". The Charlotte Observer. March 15, 1991. Retrieved 2010-04-04.
- "National Timetable". Amtrak. October 30, 1994. Retrieved 2011-07-04.
- Weaver, Jay (January 7, 1995). "Amtrak won't cut trips through Ocala". Star-Banner. Retrieved 2011-07-04.
- Stinson, Lashonda (October 14, 2004). "Amtrak to Cut Service to Several Small Fla. Towns". Lakeland Ledger.
- "Amtrak's Improvement Wish List", Trains, January 2011, 20-21.
- Norton, Debbie (November 11, 1982). "Businessbeat". Star-News. Retrieved 2011-07-04.
- Fitzgerald, Eddie (October 2, 2012). "Amtrak shuttle service debuts in the East". New Bern Sun Journal. Retrieved 2012-11-27.
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