Silver Comet (train)

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Silver Comet
The Silver Comet reversing into Atlanta Terminal Station in Atlanta in November 1967
Service typeInter-city rail
LocaleEastern United States
First serviceMay 18, 1947
Last serviceOctober 14, 1969
Former operator(s)SAL (1947–1967)
SCL (1967–1969)
TerminiNew York City, U.S.
Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
Distance travelled1,106.3 miles (1,780.4 km)
Service frequencyDaily
Train number(s)Southbound, 197-33 (PRR-SAL); Northbound, 34-196 (SAL-PRR)
On-board services
Seating arrangementsCoaches
Sleeping arrangementsPullman sections, compartments, double bedrooms and drawing rooms
Catering facilitiesDining car
Observation facilitiesObservation coach
Baggage facilitiesBaggage car
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in)
Track owner(s)PRR (New York–Washington)
RFP (Washington–Richmond)
SAL (Richmond–Birmingham)
The 1955 routes of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad, including the Silver Comet from New York City to Birmingham, Alabama

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] The train succeeded the SAL's Cotton States Special, which took the same route and which like the Silver Comet left the northeast at midday and arrived at Birmingham in the late morning.[3][4]

Daily service extended from New York City via Washington, D.C., Richmond, Virginia, Raleigh, North Carolina, and Atlanta to Birmingham, Alabama. From New York to Washington, the train was handled by the Pennsylvania Railroad; from Washington, D.C. to Richmond, by the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad; and by Seaboard from Richmond to points south. Under its original schedule, the New York City to Birmingham trip took 23 hours at an average speed of 48 miles per hour.[5]

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 Raleigh, North Carolina. A 48-seat observation car brought up the rear of the train.[6]

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. It lost its section that ran from Portsmouth's Seaboard Terminal in early 1968.[7][8] The last through sleeper had run on December 31, 1968.[9]

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]


  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. ^ "Seaboard Air Line Railroad, Condensed timetable and Table 27". Official Guide of the Railways. National Railway Publication Company. 74 (1). June 1941.
  4. ^ "Seaboard Air Line Railroad, Tables 1, 27". Official Guide of the Railways. National Railway Publication Company. 82 (8). January 1950.
  5. ^ Silver Comet timetable and consist as of May 1947 at, accessed 25 October 2012.
  6. ^ Silver Comet timetable and consist as of May 1947 at, accessed 25 October 2012.
  7. ^ Seaboard Air Line timetable, December 15, 1967, Table 21 -in service
  8. ^ "Seaboard Air Line Railroad [dropped from schedule]". Official Guide of the Railways. National Railway Publication Company. 101 (1). June 1968.
  9. ^ Baer, Christopher T. "Named Trains of the PRR Including Through Services," Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society, 8 September 2009, accessed 25 October 2012.

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