Lone Star (Amtrak train)

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Lone Star
A southbound Lone Star between Guthrie and Norman, Oklahoma, in 1974.
Service typeInter-city rail
PredecessorTexas Chief
First serviceMay 19, 1974
Last serviceOctober 8, 1979
Former operator(s)Amtrak
TerminiChicago, Illinois
Houston, Texas
Dallas, Texas
Distance travelled1,368 mi (2,201.58 km)
Service frequencyDaily
Train number(s)15,16
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in)
Track owner(s)ATSF Railway

The Lone Star was an Amtrak passenger train that ran between Chicago and Houston, or Dallas via Kansas City, Wichita, Oklahoma City, and Fort Worth. The train was renamed from the Texas Chief, which the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway had introduced in 1948. Amtrak discontinued the Lone Star in 1979.


The Dallas section in July 1977

The Santa Fe introduced the Texas Chief on April 3, 1948, between Chicago and Galveston, Texas via Kansas City, Wichita, Oklahoma City, Fort Worth, and Houston.[1] It was truncated to Houston in early 1967.

From 1955 until 1968, a section would cut off at Gainesville, Texas to serve Denton, Texas and Dallas.

Santa Fe conveyed the Texas Chief to Amtrak at the latter's inception in 1971. Amtrak changed the train's name from Texas Chief to Lone Star on May 19, 1974, after the Santa Fe determined that Amtrak's trains no longer met its service standards and demanded that Amtrak stop using the "Chief" name.[2]

The train was popular with students of the many colleges and universities along its route, such as the University of Kansas, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Wichita State University and the University of Oklahoma. It provided economical transportation to and from school. In the fiscal year 1976, the train carried 274,448 passengers.[3]

Amtrak considered, but rejected, a Dallas through routing because of concerns over the Dallas station, choosing to instead add a Fort Worth–Dallas section on July 1, 1975. The Dallas through cars were temporarily discontinued between October 1976 and February 15, 1977, during which time the Lone Star was combined with the Chicago–Los Angeles Southwest Limited (itself the successor of another Santa Fe mainstay, the Super Chief) between Chicago and Kansas City.[4]

Due to cuts by Congress as part of the Amtrak Reorganization Act of 1979 – pressed by the US Department of Transportation under the Carter administration – the Lone Star was discontinued on October 8, 1979,[5] leaving Oklahoma without passenger train service until 1999. Chicago–Houston service was retained by adding a Houston section to the Chicago–Laredo Inter-American, which split at Temple. At the time of its discontinuance, the Lone Star was Amtrak's seventh most popular long-distance train.[6][page needed] The Houston section remained until 1981, when the Inter-American itself was cut back to San Antonio and renamed the Eagle.

Current service along former route[edit]

Guthrie station in February 2017

Of the original Texas Chief/Lone Star route, only the Newton, Kansas–Wichita-Oklahoma City and Temple–Houston-Galveston segments remain without passenger train service. Chicago–Newton is served by Amtrak's Southwest Chief (itself the successor of another Santa Fe mainstay, the Super Chief), while Oklahoma City–Fort Worth is served by Amtrak's Heartland Flyer. While the Newton–Wichita–Oklahoma City portion does not have passenger train service, it has been served by Amtrak Thruway since April 2016 and a revival of Amtrak service is proposed.[7][8] In June 2021, Amtrak released a plan that would add two more round trips between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth while extending the original round trip to Newton. A timeline for the service has not been determined.[9]

Chicago–Dallas service is provided by Amtrak's Texas Eagle via a different route than the Lone Star.


During 1976–1977 when the Lone Star combined with the Southwest Chief between Chicago and Kansas City, the Lone Star consisted of two baggage cars, two Hi-Level coaches, a dormitory bar-lounge, an ex-Santa Fe dining car, two 10-roomette/6-bedroom Pine-series sleeping cars, and a 48-seat single-level coach. One baggage car, one sleeping car, and the single-level coach operated through to Dallas.[10]


  1. ^ Bryant 1974, p. 350
  2. ^ Sanders 2006, p. 109
  3. ^ Sanders, Craig (11 May 2006). Amtrak in the Heartland. ISBN 9780253027931.
  4. ^ Goldberg 1981, pp. 60–61
  5. ^ "Last Minute Court Decision Rules to Keep Amtrak Trains Running". Lakeland Ledger. Associated Press. October 6, 1979 – via Google News.
  6. ^ Passenger Train Journal. November 1979. {{cite magazine}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ Lefler, Dion (April 18, 2016). "Amtrak restores service to Wichita with shuttle to Newton and OKC stations". The Wichita Eagle.
  8. ^ "Wichita Returns to the Amtrak Map". Amtrak. 18 April 2016.
  9. ^ "Heartland Flyer Extension". storymaps.arcgis.com. Amtrak Connect Us. September 17, 2021. Retrieved 25 September 2021.
  10. ^ Wayner 1977, p. 2

External links[edit]