Amtrak Route Scrapbooks

Sunset Limited

amtk_route_SunsetLimited The Sunset Limited is a three-times-a-week passenger train operated by Amtrak over a route between New Orleans, Louisiana, and Los Angeles, California -- the nation's second transcontinental route and a distance of nearly 2000 miles. Trains #1 and #2 retain both the name and (essentially) the route of the Southern Pacific Railroad's most famous daily train -- the oldest named train in the country, dating back to 1894. The name Sunset Limited traces its origins to the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway, which was known as the Sunset Route as early as 1874. The Sunset Route was the southernmost of the three gateways to the west coast envisioned through the Transcontinental Railroad Act. The other two were Chicago and St. Louis, but the Sunset Route was an all-season route and did not have to face significant mountain ranges on its trek to the Pacific. Southern Pacific ran a diminished Sunset until 1971 and the creation of Amtrak. Starting in 1993, Amtrak extended the Sunset's route eastward from New Orleans all the way ot Jacksonville, making the route Amtrak's only true transcontinental line. However, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 caused significant damage to the Florida trackage owned by CSX Transportation, and the Sunset's terminus was returned to New Orleans.


The Sunset Limited whisks you 1,995 miles from America's Most Interesting City, New Orleans, through the bayous of Louisiana, the huge Heart of Texas, the storied West and beyond -- to the home of the Hollywood Western, Los Angeles. While many transcontinental rail lines were forged from east to west, the Sunset had its beginnings in California. The link you are traveling was the second such route, completed in 1883. Eleven years later, its passengers could disembark in New Orleans and continue east by sea on railroad-owned passenger steamers. So sit back and enjoy sunlit marvels of color and unobstructed splendor, for just as a sunset is so much more than just an astronomical event, so too are the pictures painted in your window. The sun will eventually set on your trip, but the afterglow will last forever.



Sunset route map / web


1959 timetable


Along the Line

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Aug 1987 / RWH

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Aug 1987 / RWH

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Aug 1987 / RWH


El Paso, Tx

Click to see El Paso station area plotted on a Google Maps page

Amtrak #723

  • builder:General Electric
  • model:P30CH "Pooch"
  • type:C-C passenger unit
  • built:Dec 1975, GE #40717
  • series:25 produced 1975-76
  • engine:GE 7FDL16 (16 cyl, 3000 hp)
  • notes:
  • first new units blt for Amtrak
    1 of 25 on Amtrak roster
  • builder

    New Iberia, La

    Click to see the New Iberia depot plotted on a Google Maps page
    See also our Louisiana & Delta shortline collection for more New Iberia photos

    Huey P. Long Bridge - New Orleans, La


    Huey P. Long bridge postcard / collection

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    New Orleans, La / Aug 1987 / RWH

    Gulfport, Ms


    The tracks between New Orleans and Jacksonville remained unused by passenger trains until April 29, 1984, when an Amtrak train called the Gulf Coast Limited, running between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama, began service, seeking to regenerate some form of regional intercity rail traffic between large cities, outside the Northeast. However, this train only lasted until January 6, 1985. Almost five years later, on October 27, 1989, the track segment between Mobile and Flomaton, Alabama, came into passenger train use as part of the route of the Gulf Breeze. This was another attempt to regenerate regional inter-city rail traffic, this time between Birmingham, Alabama, and Mobile. The train was actually a reestablishment of the Mobile section of Amtrak's New York City—New Orleans Crescent. It branched from the Crescent's route at Birmingham, turning south toward Montgomery, Flomaton, and terminating in Mobile. The Gulf Breeze was discontinued in 1995.

    Meanwhile, on April 4, 1993, the entire New Orleans—Jacksonville route reestablished passenger train service with the extension of the Sunset Limited to Miami, using the route of Amtrak's Silver Meteor south of Jacksonville. It was serviced at Amtrak's Hialeah yards for the return trip but schedule unreliability caused the Sunset Limited's eastern endpoint to be shortened to Orlando, with the train deadheaded (operated empty) between Orlando and Sanford for servicing. Sanford was, and still is, the servicing point for Amtrak's Auto Train.





    Links / Sources

    This page was updated on 2016-10-25