Silver Comet (train)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Silver Comet
RF&P E8A 1010 with Train33, The Silver Comet, Arriving at Alexandria VA. Union Station on April 12, 1969 02 (25536215113).jpg
The Silver Comet arriving at Alexandria VA., 1969
Service type Inter-city rail
Status Defunct
Locale Eastern United States
First service May 18, 1947
Last service October 14, 1969
Former operator(s) SAL (1947–1967)
SCL (1967–1969)
Start New York City, New York
End Birmingham, Alabama
Distance travelled 1,106.3 miles (1,780.4 km)
Train number(s) Southbound, 197-33 (PRR-SAL); Northbound, 34-196 (SAL-PRR)
On-board services
Seating arrangements Coach
Sleeping arrangements Pullman
Catering facilities Dining car
Observation facilities Observation coach
Baggage facilities Baggage car
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Track owner(s) PRR (New York–Washington)
RFP (Washington–Richmond)
SAL (Richmond–Birmingham)
Silver Comet route 1947-1969[1]
Distance Station
0 New York
New YorkNew Jersey border
10.0 mi (16.1 km) Newark
58.1 mi (93.5 km) Trenton
New JerseyPennsylvania border
85.9 mi (138.2 km) North Philadelphia
91 mi (146 km) Philadelphia
PennsylvaniaDelaware border
118.1 mi (190.1 km) Wilmington
DelawareMaryland border
185 mi (298 km) Baltimore
MarylandDistrict of Columbia border
225 mi (362 km) Washington, DC
District of ColumbiaVirginia border
280.7 mi (451.7 km) Fredericksburg
343.1 mi (552.2 km) Richmond
365.8 mi (588.7 km) Petersburg
(to Portsmouth)
VirginiaNorth Carolina border)
456.5 mi (734.7 km) Henderson
500.3 mi (805.2 km) Raleigh
596.9 mi (960.6 km) Hamlet
649.5 mi (1,045.3 km) Monroe
North CarolinaSouth Carolina border
694.5 mi (1,117.7 km) Chester
740.2 mi (1,191.2 km) Clinton
768.0 mi (1,236.0 km) Greenwood
783.1 mi (1,260.3 km) Abbeville
South CarolinaGeorgia border
814.4 mi (1,310.6 km) Elberton
848.8 mi (1,366.0 km) Athens
911.4 mi (1,466.8 km) Emory
921.7 mi (1,483.3 km) Atlanta
GeorgiaAlabama border
1,005.7 mi (1,618.5 km) Piedmont
1,024.3 mi (1,648.5 km) Wellington
1,031.1 mi (1,659.4 km) Ohatchee
1,041.0 mi (1,675.3 km) Ragland
1,050.1 mi (1,690.0 km) Wattsville (northbound only)
1,106.3 mi (1,780.4 km) Birmingham
Routes of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad in 1955 including the Silver Comet from New York to Birmingham

The Silver Comet was a streamlined passenger train inaugurated on May 18, 1947, by the Seaboard Air Line Railroad (Seaboard Coast Line after merger with the Atlantic Coast Line on July 1, 1967). Before its inaugural run, the new train was christened by actress Jean Parker at Pennsylvania Station in New York City.[2]

Daily service extended from New York via Washington, D.C., Richmond, Virginia, Raleigh, North Carolina, and Atlanta, Georgia to Birmingham, Alabama. From New York to Washington, the train was handled by the Pennsylvania Railroad; from Washington to Richmond, by the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad; and by Seaboard from Richmond to points south. Under its original schedule, the trip took 23 hours at an average speed of 48 miles per hour.[3]

The consist of the Silver Comet included baggage cars, coaches, Pullman sleepers, and a dining car between New York and Birmingham, along with through coaches and Pullmans to or from Portsmouth, Virginia, connecting at Hamlet, North Carolina. A 48-seat observation car brought up the rear of the train.

Owing to declining passenger and mail revenues, the Silver Comet was discontinued in stages in 1969: the last trip between Atlanta and Birmingham was made on January 18; between Washington and Richmond, May 7; and between Richmond and Atlanta, October 14. The last through sleeper had run on December 31, 1968.[4]

Following abandonment of the Atlanta to Birmingham segment of the Silver Comet right-of-way by SAL-SCL successor CSX in 1989, portions were converted to the Silver Comet Trail in Georgia and the Chief Ladiga Trail in Alabama.

See also[edit]

  • Crescent - now operated by Amtrak, which runs from New York to New Orleans via Washington, Atlanta, and Birmingham (a route partly parallel to that of the Silver Comet, but over ex-Southern rails)
  • Silver Star - now operated by Amtrak, which runs from New York to Miami via Washington, Raleigh, Hamlet and Columbia (a route partly parallel to that of the Silver Comet, but over ex-Seaboard Coast Line rails)


  1. ^ Bowen, Eric H. (May 18, 1947). "The Silver Comet - June, 1947 - Streamliner Schedules". Retrieved 2010-12-29.
  2. ^ Campbell, Malcolm (June 13, 2006). "SRM Features: Magic Carpets". Southeastern Railway Museum. Retrieved 2010-12-29.
  3. ^ Silver Comet timetable and consist as of May 1947 at, accessed 25 October 2012.
  4. ^ Baer, Christopher T. "Named Trains of the PRR Including Through Services," Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society, 8 September 2009, accessed 25 October 2012.

External links[edit]