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Serving New York, Washington, D.C., Raleigh or Fayetteville, Columbia or Charleston, Tampa, Miami, and intermediate points

Silver Meteor

Amtrak train numbers: 97 and 98 (former Tampa section was 87 and 88)

Predecessor railroad train numbers: Seaboard Air Line 57-157 and 58-158

Silver Star

Amtrak train numbers: 91 and 92 (former Tampa section was 81 and 82)

Predecessor railroad train numbers: Seaboard Air Line 21 and 22

Silver Palm

Amtrak train numbers: 89 and 90

Predecessor railroad train numbers: None

For many years, the amount of railroad business between the Northeast and Florida was enough to support two separate railroads: the Atlantic Coast Line, with a main line running through Raleigh, North Carolina, and Columbia, South Carolina, and the Seaboard Air Line, with a main line running closer to the Atlantic Ocean, through Fayetteville and Charleston.

Both railroads only ran as far north as Richmond, Virginia. Passenger trains ran north from that point via the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad to Washington, and then via the Pennsylvania Railroad north to New York.

Similarly, both railroads went through Jacksonville, and both served Tampa and St. Petersburg over separate routes. However, only the Seaboard served Miami directly, on a line that ran on a diagonal from Wildwood to West Palm Beach; ACL passenger trains went south from Jacksonville over the Florida East Coast, which, as its name implied, ran straight down the East Coast.

The ACL and the SAL both competed furiously for passenger traffic, with both railroads almost continually upgrading their equipment and services. When the diesel streamliner era arrived, the Seaboard was first, debuting the Silver Meteor on February 2, 1939, which eventually replaced the Orange Blossom Special as their flagship passenger train. The Atlantic Coast Line upgraded their flagship train, the Champion, soon afterwards.

Meanwhile, the Seaboard expanded the "Silver Astronomical Object" naming scheme to two other trains, one a New York-Birmingham train called the Silver Comet, and the other another New York-Florida train called the Silver Star.

In 1963, the employees of the Florida East Coast Railroad went on strike, causing the ACL to reroute their Jacksonville-Miami service over the Seaboard's tracks (permanently, as it turned out, due to the length and bitterness of the strike).

Then, on July 1, 1967, SAL and ACL merged to form the Seaboard Coast Line. By this time, although most railroads were losing money on their passenger service and discontinuing trains left and right, the SCL was still making money with their several trains a day over two separate routes. In fact, SCL almost decided not to join Amtrak, but ended up as part of the system.

Amtrak decided not to rock the boat, and so from 1971 to 1979, the East Coast route was well served by three trains: the Champion, running to St. Petersburg over the former ACL line; the Silver Meteor, running to Miami over the former ACL line; and the Silver Star, running over the former SAL line and splitting in Orlando to run to both Miami and St. Petersburg. In the winter of 1971-72, Amtrak even revived an old ACL seasonal service, the Florida Special, running to Miami nonstop between Richmond and Winter Haven.

With the Amtrak 1979 budget cuts, the Champion disappeared from the timetable, but the Silver Meteor began to split in Jacksonville to run to both St. Petersburg and Miami.

In 1984, St. Petersburg service was dropped, with both trains ending their runs in Tampa to avoid the long trip around Tampa Bay.

In the early 1990s, the Palmetto, which had been another train running from New York to Savannah, was extended to Jacksonville, and then to Tampa in 1994 (where it replaced the Tampa section of the Silver Meteor).

However, budget cuts soon intervened, and Amtrak restructured their Florida train service in order to close their Tampa maintenance facility. The Palmetto's route was extended so that it now ran from New York to Miami via Tampa. It was renamed the Silver Palm, reusing a name that had been assigned to a Tampa-Miami train that had briefly run in the mid-1980s. Meanwhile, the Silver Star's Tampa section was discontinued.

In 2001, Amtrak announced plans to reroute one of the trains over the Florida East Coast between Jacksonville and West Palm Beach at some point in the future.

And then, effective with the timetable change on April 29, 2002, the Silver Palm lost its sleeping car in favor of a business class coach, something new for a long-distance Amtrak train. The schedule remained essentially the same, allowing a new daytime business class option between New York and Charleston, as well as between Tampa and Miami; however, passengers traveling to the west coast of Florida who want sleeping car service now have to use the Silver Meteor or the Silver Star and transfer to a connecting bus in Orlando.

To distinguish the train without sleeping cars from the other two, the Silver Palm was renamed the Palmetto.

Silver Meteor condensed historical timetables:

           READ DOWN                                            READ UP
(1956)  (1972)  (1990)  (2002)                      (2002)  (1990)  (1972)  (1956)
 2:50P   2:55P   4:35P   7:05P Dp New York       Ar  9:40A  11:33A  10:06A   9:15A
 7:05P   7:20P   9:25P  10:59P    Washington         5:45A   6:48A   6:00A   6:30A
12:20A   -----   -----   -----    Raleigh            -----   -----   -----  12:45A
 -----  Note 1   2:56A   4:35A    Fayetteville      11:28P  12:52A  Note 1   -----
 4:05A   -----   -----   -----    Columbia           -----   -----   -----   8:45P
 -----   4:20A   6:04A   8:06A    Charleston         8:08P   9:38P   8:00P   -----
 9:20A   8:55A  10:33A  12:45P    Jacksonville       4:00P   5:38P   4:15P   4:00P
 1:30P   -----   3:57P   -----    Tampa              -----  12:00N   -----  11:30A
 3:20P   -----   -----   -----    St. Petersburg     -----   -----   -----   9:45A
 4:25P   4:30P   7:08P   9:46P Ar Miami          Dp  7:00A   8:52A   9:00A   9:00A
Note 1: Passed through without stopping (station served by Champion)

Silver Star condensed historical timetables:

           READ DOWN                                            READ UP
(1956)  (1972)  (1990)  (2002)                      (2002)  (1990)  (1972)  (1956)
 9:30A   8:00A   8:40A  11:35A Dp New York       Ar  3:48P   7:57P  10:59P   2:10P
 1:50P  12:25P   1:10P   4:35P    Washington        11:09A   3:06P   7:00P  10:00A
 6:58P   5:50P   6:52P  10:26P    Raleigh            5:25A   9:21A  12:55P   3:50A
 -----   -----   -----   -----    Fayetteville       -----   -----   -----   -----
10:45P   9:40P  10:43P   2:53A    Columbia          12:42A   5:31A   8:50A  12:01A
 -----   -----   -----   -----    Charleston         -----   -----   -----   -----
 3:45A   3:00A   3:48A   8:25A    Jacksonville       7:43P  12:41A   4:05A   7:20P
 -----   8:35A   8:57A   -----    Tampa              -----   7:24P  10:00P   -----
 -----  10:15A   -----   -----    St. Petersburg     -----   -----   8:30P   -----
10:45A  11:55A  11:08A   5:25P Ar Miami          Dp 10:35A   5:05P   7:10P  12:05P

Silver Palm condensed historical timetables:

   READ DOWN                            READ UP
(1997)  (2002)                      (2002)  (1997)
 7:45A   7:45A Dp New York       Ar  9:08P   9:10P
12:25P  12:40P    Washington         4:30P   4:25P
 -----   -----    Raleigh            -----   -----
 6:00P   6:21P    Fayetteville      10:27A  10:33A
 -----   -----    Columbia           -----   -----
 9:22P   9:38P    Charleston         7:11A   7:13A
 1:44A   1:58A    Jacksonville       3:08A   3:05A
 6:35A   6:43A    Tampa             10:23P  10:27P
 -----   -----    St. Petersburg     -----   -----
11:50A  12:10P Ar Miami          Dp  5:00P  5:07P

The Amtrak Train Names Project

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