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|
|Ridership||196,743 total (FY16)|
|Start||New York City|
|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.
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. 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 refueed 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 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. 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'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.
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.
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.
- "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.
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- 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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