Silver Star (Amtrak train)

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Silver Star
Silver Star 2019.png
Southbound Silver Star near Baltimore in 2019
Service typeInter-city rail
LocaleEast Coast of the United States
First service1947
Current operator(s)Amtrak
Former operator(s)Seaboard Air Line (1947–1967)
Seaboard Coast Line Railroad (1967–1971)
Pennsylvania Railroad (1947–1968, haulage agreement)
Penn Central (1968–1971, haulage agreement)
Ridership368,518 (FY18)[1]
StartNew York City
EndMiami, Florida
Distance travelled1,522 miles (2,449 km)
Service frequencyDaily
Train number(s)91–92
On-board services
Class(es)Reserved Coach and First-class Sleeper
Seating arrangementsAirline-style coach seating
Sleeping arrangementsViewliner Roomette (2 beds)
Viewliner Bedroom (2 beds)
Viewliner Bedroom Suite (4 beds)
Viewliner Accessible Bedroom (2 beds)
Catering facilitiesLounge car
Baggage facilitiesChecked baggage available at selected stations
Rolling stock
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
ElectrificationOn the Northeast Corridor
Operating speedNortheast Corridor: 125 mph (201 km/h) Outside NEC: 79 mph (127 km/h)
Track owner(s)Amtrak, CSX, NS, SunRail, Tri-Rail

The Silver Star is a 1,522-mile (2,449 km) passenger train route in the Silver Service brand operated by Amtrak, running from New York City south to Miami, Florida via the Northeast Corridor to Washington, D.C., then via Richmond, Virginia; Raleigh, North Carolina; Columbia, South Carolina; Savannah, Georgia; Jacksonville, Florida; Orlando, Florida; and Tampa, Florida.[2]

The Silver Star shares much of its route with the Silver Meteor, however the two trains diverge between Selma, North Carolina and Savannah, Georgia and between Kissimmee and Winter Haven, Florida.[3][2] Between Selma and Savannah, the Silver Star takes an inland route to serve the Carolinas' state capitals of Raleigh and Columbia, while the Silver Meteor stays closer to the coast and services Florence and Charleston, South Carolina. Between Kissimmee and Winter Haven, the Meteor takes a direct route with no intermediate stops, while the Star takes a detour through Lakeland and Tampa.[3][2]

During fiscal year 2018, the Silver Star carried nearly 368,518 passengers, a decrease of 1.3% from FY2017.[1] In FY16, it earned a total revenue of $29,261,496, an 11.6% decrease from FY2010.[4]


The northbound Silver Star passing through Seabrook, Maryland in 1969

The Star was originally a service of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad, running from New York to Miami and later also St. Petersburg (beyond Tampa). It was inaugurated December 12, 1947, to replace the Advance Silver Meteor. In early years it was winter-only and did not appear in summer timetables.[5] By 1949, however, it was a year-round train.[6] Its main Miami-bound route went through the interior of Florida, via Ocala and Winter Haven. In peak winter service in the mid-1950s it had a section that went to St. Petersburg via Tampa. Another section went to Port Boca Grande via Tampa.[7] The Pennsylvania Railroad carried the train between New York and Washington, D. C. under a haulage agreement, similar to the arrangement with its sister train, the Silver Meteor. The agreement was maintained when the Pennsy was folded into Penn Central in 1968, a year after SAL merged with the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad as the Seaboard Coast Line. Between Washington and Richmond, Virginia, the train operated on RF&P rails. Amtrak took over the train in 1971.

A Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad locomotive pulls the Silver Star at Alexandria, VA on March 23, 1969

With the exception of a brief period from 1994 to 1995 and from 1996 to 2004, when service to Tampa was provided by the Palmetto (known as the Silver Palm from 1996 to 2002), the Silver Star has served both Tampa and Miami during the Amtrak era. Originally, Amtrak operated the Silver Star with Tampa and Miami sections that split in Jacksonville, with the Tampa section continuing on the old Atlantic Coast Line route through Orlando, and the Miami section traveling through Ocala and Wildwood over most of what was the original Seaboard route to Miami. After November 1, 2004, the Silver Star resumed service to Tampa, and now travels intact all of the way, backing out of Tampa and retracing its route 40 miles (64 km) east to Auburndale, where it heads south to Miami or north to New York.[8][9] The detour occurs at Lakeland; the train stops there to discharge passengers before going to Tampa and to receive passengers after it returns from Tampa.

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 (the Sunset Limited, Texas Eagle, California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, and Cardinal) were examined in FY 2010.[10] With the discontinuation of the Silver Meteor's former Tampa section (a descendant of the Champion, a longtime rival of the Silver Star and Silver Meteor) in 1988, the Silver Star is now the only passenger train serving Tampa.

On February 4, 2018, Silver Star train number 91 collided with a CSX Freight Train in Cayce, South Carolina, killing both the engineer and a conductor and injuring 116 more.[11][12]

Rolling stock[edit]

Southbound Silver Star  passing Martin State Airport station at 100 mph, June 15, 2019

Like Amtrak's other long-distance routes that operate to and from New York City, the Silver Star is restricted to its single-level Amfleet and Viewliner cars due to low tunnel clearances in Baltimore and New York. Between New York Penn Station and Washington Union Station, the Silver Star is pulled by one Siemens ACS-64 electric locomotive. South of Washington, one or two GE P42 diesel locomotives pulls the train. Since July 2015, the Silver Star has operated without a dining car.[13] Passengers must buy their meals from the lounge car, which serves hot and cold food, albeit from a more limited menu.[2]

A typical Silver Star consist is:

  • 1 ACS-64 engine (New York–Washington)
  • 1-2 P42 engines (Washington–Miami)
  • 3-4 Amfleet II coaches
  • Amfleet II lounge
  • 2 Viewliner sleepers
  • Viewliner Baggage car

During the winter months, the Silver Star sometimes adds additional cars to accommodate increased demand. These longer trains forced delays in Amtrak's long-planned move to a larger station in Miami.[14]

Route details[edit]

Amtrak Silver Service (interactive map)

The Silver Star operates over a combination of Amtrak, CSX Transportation, and Norfolk Southern Railway trackage:[citation needed]

Prior to October 1986, the train ran between Petersburg, Virginia, and Raleigh via the CSX (Seaboard Coast Line) Norlina Subdivision, stopping only in Henderson. CSX abandoned the Norlina Sub between Norlina and Collier Yard in Petersburg in 1986, and the Silver Star was shifted to the "A Line" between Petersburg and Selma, then to NS's "H Line" between Selma and Raleigh.

Like other long-distance trains, passengers are not allowed to travel only between stations on the Northeast Corridor on the Silver Star. Northbound trains only stop to discharge passengers from Alexandria northward, and southbound trains only stop to receive passengers from Newark to Washington.[2] This policy is in place to keep seats available for passengers making longer trips. Passengers wanting to travel locally must use the more frequent Northeast Regional or Acela trains.

Additionally, the Silver Star, like the Silver Meteor, does not allow local travel between West Palm Beach and Miami. Southbound trains only stop to discharge passengers, while northbound trains only stop to receive passengers bound for points beyond West Palm Beach. This is due to the availability of Tri-Rail, South Florida's commuter rail system.

Since Amtrak ended rail passenger service over the CSX Clearwater Subdivision between Tampa and St. Petersburg in 1984,[15] it has provided dedicated Amtrak Thruway bus service at Tampa Union Station for trainside transfer of passengers and their baggage to/from Clearwater and St. Petersburg. Other points on Florida's west coast, such as Bradenton, Sarasota, Port Charlotte and Fort Myers, are also served by Amtrak Thruway service connecting with the Star at Tampa.[16]

In popular culture[edit]

  • In the movie Carlito's Way (1993), Al Pacino's character is killed just before boarding the Silver Star.[17]
  • In Tim Dorsey’s novel The Stingray Shuffle, the climactic scenes take place aboard a fictional version of the Silver Star called “The Silver Stingray”, running from New York City to Miami.


  1. ^ a b "Amtrak Sets Revenue and Earnings Records Delivers Best Operating Performance in Company History" (PDF). Amtrak. November 16, 2018. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Atlantic Coast Timetable" (PDF). Amtrak. March 4, 2019. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Silver Service / Palmetto Train". Amtrak. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  4. ^ "Amtrak FY16 Ridership & Revenue Fact Sheet" (PDF). Amtrak. April 17, 2017. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  5. ^ Seaboard Aire Line Railroad Timetables, June 15, 1948
  6. ^ 'Official Guide of the Railways, August 1949, Seaboard Air Line Railroad section, Tables 1, 3, 6
  7. ^ 'Official Guide of the Railways, December 1954, Seaboard Air Line Railroad section, Condensed Table and Tables 1, 3, 6, 7
  8. ^ "April 6, 2004 (System Timetable) Page 71". The Museum of Railway Timetables.
  9. ^ "Atlantic Coast Service Timetable - Effective November 8, 2010" (PDF). Amtrak.
  10. ^ "Amtrak's Improvement Wish List". Trains. January 2011. pp. 20–21.
  11. ^ Fedschun, Travis (February 4, 2018). "Amtrak, CSX train collision in South Carolina leaves 2 dead, over 100 injured, officials say". Fox News. Retrieved February 4, 2018.
  12. ^ Joseph, Yonette; Bolon, Anne-Sophie (January 31, 2018). "Amtrak Train Collision Kills at Least 2 and Injures Nearly 70 Others". The New York Times. Retrieved February 4, 2018.
  13. ^ Kennedy, Thomas L. (September 8, 2017). "Tampa's Silver Star not a fallen star but needs work". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
  14. ^ Chardy, Alfonso; Viglucci, Andres (October 31, 2013). "Long trains, short platforms at new Miami airport train station won't force permanent street closure". Miami Herald. Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  15. ^ Luisi, Vincent (2010). Railroading in Pinellas County. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-8550-5.
  16. ^ Amtrak Website
  17. ^ "All reserved on the 11:30 Amtrak Silver Star bound for Tampa and Miami - Carlito's Way". Subzin.

External links[edit]