Silver Star (Amtrak train)
|Service type||Inter-city rail|
|Locale||East Coast of the United States|
|Current operator(s)||Amtrak (1971 - present)|
|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)
|Annual ridership||187,152 (FY21) −52.0%[a]|
|Termini||New York City|
|Distance travelled||1,522 miles (2,449 km)|
|Average journey time||31h 33m|
|Train number(s)||91, 92|
|Disabled access||All train cars, all stations|
|Catering facilities||Dining car, Café|
|Baggage facilities||Overhead racks, checked baggage available at selected stations|
|Rolling stock||Amfleet, Viewliner|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Operating speed||125 mph (201 km/h) (top, NEC) 79 mph (127 km/h) (top)|
|Track owner(s)||Amtrak, CSXT, NS, CFRC, SFRTA|
The Silver Star is a passenger train operated by Amtrak on a 1,522-mile (2,449 km) route between New York City and Miami via Washington, D.C., Richmond, Raleigh, Columbia, Savannah, Jacksonville, and Tampa. The Silver Star and its partner in the Silver Service brand, the Silver Meteor, are the descendants of numerous long-distance trains that operated between Florida and New York for most of the 20th century.
The Silver 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 previously known as the Advance Silver Meteor, and was renamed on December 12, 1947, after the name was chosen by Seaboard in a contest. From 1947 to 1948, it was winter-only and did not appear in summer timetables. By 1949, however, it was a year-round train. 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. 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.
Except for 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. 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. 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; the engineer and a conductor of the Silver Star were killed, and 116 passengers were injured.
On July 6, 2020, Amtrak reduced the frequency of this train to three times per week as opposed to daily. Southbound Silver Star trains departed New York Friday through Sunday, while Silver Meteor trains departed Monday through Thursday. Similarly, northbound Silver Star trains departed Miami on Thursday through Saturday, while Silver Meteor trains departed Sunday through Wednesday. Both trains resumed daily services on June 7, 2021, after additional Amtrak funding was included in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
In 2021, Amtrak reached out to FDOT to begin negotiations again for utilization of the Miami Intermodal Center. This comes after years of disagreement over the platform length at the MIC, as Amtrak normally adds cars to the Silver Meteor and Silver Star during the winter season to accommodate increased demand. In February 2022, negotiations restarted between FDOT and Amtrak. Later in March 2022, a test train operated into and out of the station and proved that the platforms are sufficient in length to hold a standard 10 car train. However, the platforms are not long enough to accomodate an 11 to 12 car train, which could be possible in the winter months. In September 2022, Amtrak management announced that it had restarted lease negotiations with FDOT regarding use and maintenance of the terminal. One issue however, is the deadheading move that will need to take place between the MIC and Hialeah. Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner has stated that "the company is evaluating technical and operational aspects of the move."
Between January 24 and October 6, 2022, the Silver Star temporarily added a station stop in [Jesup, Georgia due to the suspension of its sister train, the Silver Meteor, which is normally the only train that stops at that station. This was due to a resurgence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. During this period the Silver Star provided a single once daily service between New York and Miami.
Like Amtrak's other long-distance routes that operate to and from New York City, the Silver Star is restricted to 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 pull the train. From July 2015 into 2020, the Silver Star operated without a dining car. During that time, passengers were able to purchase meals from a limited menu in the lounge car. In May 2020, Amtrak restored complimentary meals for sleeping car passengers only.
A typical Silver Star consist as of June 2021 includes:
- 1 Siemens ACS-64 engine (New York–Washington)
- 2 GE P42DC engines (Washington–Miami)
- 2-4 Amfleet II Coaches
- 1 Amfleet II Cafe/Lounge
- 1 Viewliner II Diner
- 2-3 Viewliner I/II Sleepers
- 1 Viewliner II Baggage Car
During the 2022 suspension of the Silver Meteor, some coach and sleeping cars usually on the Silver Meteor were combined into the Silver Star, creating a train with up to six coaches and five sleepers, in addition to the café-lounge, diner, and baggage car.
- New York – Washington D.C. (Amtrak)
- Washington D.C. – Selma, NC (CSXT)
- Selma – Raleigh, NC (NS)
- Goldsboro to Greensboro District
- Raleigh – DeLand, FL (CSXT)
- DeLand - Poinciana, FL (SunRail)
- Poinciana - Tampa, FL - Mangonia Park, FL (CSXT)
- Mangonia Park - Miami, FL (Tri-Rail)
The Silver Star uses the same route as the Silver Meteor – the other train in the Silver Service brand – excluding two segments, Selma, NC – Savannah, GA and Kissimmee, FL – Winter Haven, FL. Between Selma and Savannah, the Silver Star takes an inland route over the CSX S-Line to serve the Carolinas' state capitals of Raleigh and Columbia, while the Silver Meteor stays closer to the coast on the CSX A-Line and serves Fayetteville, NC and Charleston, SC. At Auburndale, FL, the Silver Meteor turns south to go directly Miami, while the Silver Star continues west to Lakeland, FL and Tampa, before coming back to Auburndale and turning south to Miami. In addition to these diversions, between Sebring, FL and West Palm Beach, FL, the Silver Meteor makes no intermediate stops, while the Silver Star makes an additional stop at Okeechobee, FL. Inversely, between Savannah, GA and Jacksonville, FL, the Silver Meteor makes an additional stop at Jesup, GA, while the Silver Star makes no intermediate stops. However, during the 2022 suspension of the Silver Meteor, the Silver Star temporarily served Jesup.
Prior to October 1986, the Silver Star ran between Petersburg, VA, and Raleigh via the CSX Norlina Subdivision, stopping only in Henderson, NC. CSX abandoned the Norlina Subdivision between Norlina, NC and Collier Yard (just south of Petersburg) in 1986, and the Silver Star was rerouted over the CSX A-Line between Petersburg and Selma, then to the North Carolina Railroad between Selma and Raleigh. The Silver Star is expected to be rerouted via its former route when tracks between Petersburg and Norlina are rebuilt as part of the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor project, and reinstate its stop at Henderson, as well as adding a stop in La Crosse, VA.
Like other long-distance trains operating on the Northeast Corridor, local travel between NEC stations is not allowed on the Silver Star. Northbound trains only stop to discharge passengers from Alexandria, VA northward, and southbound trains only stop to receive passengers from Newark, NJ to Washington. 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, FL in 1984, it has provided dedicated Amtrak Thruway bus service at Tampa Union Station for trainside transfer of passengers and their baggage to and from Clearwater, FL and St. Petersburg. Other points on Florida's west coast, such as Bradenton, FL, Sarasota, FL, Port Charlotte, FL and Fort Myers, FL, are also served by Amtrak Thruway service connecting with the Silver Star at Tampa.
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- Amtrak Website
- Amtrak's Fiscal Year (FY) runs from October 1st of the prior year to September 30th of the named year.