A Palmetto pulls into Wilson, North Carolina.
|Service type||Inter-city rail|
|Locale||Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic (United States) and Southeastern United States|
|Predecessor||Palmetto (Atlantic Coast Line Railroad)|
|First service||June 15, 1976|
November 10, 1996
|Last service||February 1, 1995|
|Ridership||380,815 total (FY16)|
|Start||New York City|
|Stops||21 southbound, 20 northbound|
|Distance travelled||829 miles (1,334 km)|
|Seating arrangements||Airline-style coach seating|
|Catering facilities||Lounge car|
|Baggage facilities||Checked baggage available at select stations|
|Rolling stock||Amfleet coaches|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Track owner(s)||Amtrak, CSX|
The Palmetto is a passenger train operated by Amtrak on a 829-mile (1,334 km) route between New York City and Savannah, Georgia, via the Northeast Corridor, Washington, D.C., 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.
The "Palmetto" name was first used by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad in 1909 for the Palmetto Limited, which ran from New York City to Augusta and Savannah, Georgia, with a connection to Atlanta via the Georgia Railroad. The ACL train was discontinued in 1968.
Amtrak introduced the new Palmetto on June 15, 1976. The train drew its name from the Sabal palmetto, the state tree of South Carolina. 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. However, citing better-than-expected ridership, Amtrak extended the Palmetto to a year-round service indefinitely. In October 1976 the Florida Department of Transportation urged Amtrak to extend the Palmetto south to Miami.
Between October 1984 and September 1985, Amtrak operated the Carolinian, a North Carolina-focused regional train, as a section of the Palmetto. The two trains ran combined 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 refused to increase its support for the train.
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 combined with a revived Carolinian, although this time the split occurred in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. The two trains began running independently to New York in April 1991. In October 1994 the Palmetto became a full overnight 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 added a third train from New York to Miami on November 10, 1996, known as the Silver Palm in line with the Silver Service brand for Amtrak's Florida trains. However, 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. In October 2015, in an effort to reduce redundant trains, Amtrak temporarily cancelled one daily Northeast Regional round trip and allowed the Palmetto to take local passengers north of Washington. Stops at New Carrollton, BWI Airport, Princeton Junction, New Brunswick and Metropark were added to the Palmetto.
The Palmetto generally operates with a General Electric GE Genesis P42DC diesel locomotive, a Viewliner baggage car, 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. a Siemens ACS-64 handles the train. Unlike most Amtrak long-distance trains, the Palmetto does not have sleeping cars.
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. In October 2015, it added New Carrollton, BWI Airport, Princeton Junction, New Brunswick and Metropark.
Unlike other long-distance trains that operate on the Northeast Corridor, the Palmetto makes local stops as well as major city stops. It stops in Metropark and BWI Airport in both directions, and serves New Brunswick and Princeton Junction southbound and New Carrollton northbound.
Before 2019, the southbound Palmetto followed the practice of most medium- and long-distance trains running in the Northeast, and did not allow passengers to travel only between stations in the Northeast Corridor. It only stopped to receive passengers between Newark and Washington. This policy was intended to keep seats available for passengers making longer trips. Starting in 2019, the southbound Palmetto began allowing local travel along the Northeast Corridor. The northbound Palmetto has allowed such local travel since 2015.
The Palmetto operates over Amtrak and CSX Transportation trackage:
- Amtrak Northeast Corridor, New York to Washington, D.C..
- 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 in eastern North Carolina that connect to the northbound and southbound Palmetto at Wilson, North Carolina. One route serves Greenville, New Bern, Havelock, and Morehead City; the other route serves Goldsboro, Kinston, Jacksonville, and Wilmington.
- "Amtrak FY16 Ridership and Revenue Fact Sheet" (PDF). Amtrak. April 17, 2017. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
- "PALMETTO". TrainWeb. Retrieved July 6, 2010.
- "Southern Amtrak passenger train scheduled". News-Tribune. April 11, 1976. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
- "Amtrak Keeping 2 Trains". Waycross Journal-Herald. August 26, 1976. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
- Edger, Betsy (October 1, 1976). "Amtrak Won't Budge On Schedule Changes". Star-Banner. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
- Foreman, Jr., Tom (October 27, 1984). "'Carolinian' makes trial run". Times-News. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
- Waggoner, Martha (September 3, 1985). "The 'Carolinian' Makes Its Last Run". The Dispatch. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
- Flesher, John (August 13, 1985). "Amtrak talks about scraping Charlotte-to-Raleigh service". Times-News. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
- "Travel Advisory". New York Times. December 18, 1988. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
- "Charlotte-Rocky Mount train back on track". Morning Star. May 12, 1990. Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
- "Change to cut Carolinian's run by 40 minutes". The Charlotte Observer. March 15, 1991. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
- "National Timetable". Amtrak. October 30, 1994. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
- Weaver, Jay (January 7, 1995). "Amtrak won't cut trips through Ocala". Star-Banner. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
- 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.
- "Palmetto Trains 89 and 90 Add New Stops and Temporarily Replace Northeast Regional Trains 121, 131, 181 and 198" (Press release). Amtrak. October 12, 2015. Archived from the original on October 21, 2015.
- Norton, Debbie (November 11, 1982). "Businessbeat". Star-News. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
- Fitzgerald, Eddie (October 2, 2012). "Amtrak shuttle service debuts in the East". New Bern Sun Journal. Retrieved November 27, 2012.
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