Amtrak Superliner Cars

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This page was last updated on June 5, 2020.

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Superliner I

Superliner cars were delivered in October 1978 through June 1981; a total fleet of 284 cars; ordered on April 2, 1975.

(Read the Wikipedia article about Superliner I)

(View photos of Superliner I and II cars at

Car Numbers

247 cars in service as of February 2011

AMTK Number Qty Car Type Builder and Date
31000-31047 48 Coach Baggage Pullman-Standard, 1980
32000-32069 70 Sleeper Pullman-Standard, 1979-1980
33000-33024 25 Lounge Pullman-Standard, 1980-1981
34000-34101 102 Coach Pullman-Standard, 1978-1981
38000-38038 39 Diner Pullman-Standard, 1979-1981

Five 38000-series Diners rebuilt to Lounge cars for Auto Train service, numbered as AMTK 33100-33104.

Superliner I Timeline

The following comes from Trains magazine, April 1979, page 12:

Amtrak acquired all of the former Santa Fe hi-level cars when it began life on May 1, 1971. Amtrak obviously endorsed their principle, for on April 4. 1975, the carrier ordered 235 hi-levels (since raised to a total of 284 cars) in coach, diner, lounge, and sleeper configurations from Pullman Standard, with a delivery date of January 1977 on the first ones. The Superliners, as Amtrak subsequently named the equipment, were not to be twins of their 21-year-old Santa Fe predecessors. They were to be a bit taller (7-1/2 inches), yet lighter (145,000 pounds vs. 163,600 for a coach) because of locomotive-supplied all electric power for lighting, heating, and cooling.

As of January 1979, nearly 4 years after the Superliner order and 2 years after the initial delivery promise, Amtrak had accepted but a single car, coach 34013, added to the roster on October 27, 1978. The biggest casualty, beyond the credibility of both carrier and carbuilder, is that obsolete, steam-heated cars of the Empire Builder and North Coast Hiawatha were obliged to roll through one more winter, and an uncommonly harsh winter at that. For a public operator, Amtrak has been private about reasons for the delay. We do know that a six-month strike at Pullman Standard's Hammond (Ind.) plant set the Superliner program back. We do know that Amtrak made specification changes after the order had been placed, that the cars incorporate social equipment (e.g., accommodations for the handicapped) which Santa Fe's hi-levels did not; and that problems were encountered in tests at DOT's Pueblo (Colo.) test center.

October 27, 1978
Amtrak accepted the first Superliner, coach 34013, on October 27, 1978. (Trains magazine, February 1979, page 18)

February 26, 1979
The first Superliner car was delivered in October 1978. Delivery problems delayed additional cars until late January 1979. By mid February only three coaches had been delivered, and those first coaches made their first test run on Februay 21st. the first revenue run came on February 26, 1979, running from Chicago to Milwaukee. (Trains magazine, May 1979, page 14)

October 11, 1979
Following the delivery of the first Superliner sleeping car, a public unveiling of Amtrak Superliner cars took place at Union Station in Chicago on October 11, 1979. The special train was made up of three coaches (34030, 34033, 34001), a diner (38003), and the first sleeping car (32002), operating on the BN between Chicago and Lisle, Ilinois. (Trains magazine, January 1980, page 17)

October 28, 1979
The Empire Builder, with its route between Chicago and Seattle was the first long distance train to receive new HEP equipped Superliner equipment. The route was across the plains of Montana and North Dakota, and the train frequently operated during harsh winters featuring both blizzards and cold temperatures. Traditional steam-heated equipment often broke down, causing Amtrak to cancel service. The Superliners, with their electrical head-end power, were better suited for the harsh conditions.

At the same time, in late October 1979, Superliners entered service on the short-haul Pacific International and Mount Rainier in the Pacific Northwest.

June 30, 1980
The second permanent Superliner train was the Desert Wind, operating between Los Angeles and Ogden, Utah, which was equipped with Superliner coaches on June 30, 1980.

July 7, 1980
The San Francisco Zephyr, a long-distance train operating between Chicago and San Francisco, was equipped with Superliner cars. The San Francisco Zephyr received the first of the Superliner Sightseer lounges on January 6, 1981.

The last conventional (steam-heated) San Francisco Zephyr departed eastbound from Oakland on September 23, 1980. (Trains magazine, December 1980, page 17)

October 1980
Amtrak assigned Superliners to the Southwest Limited, operating between Los Angeles and Chicago, in October 1980.

January 17, 1981
The Coast Starlight, operating between Los Angeles and Seattle, was equipped with a mix of conventional equipment and Superliner cars, beginning on January 17, 1981. (Trains magazine, April 1981, page 14)

February 1, 1981
The Coast Starlight was converted to all-Superliner cars. It was the last train on Amtrak that offered dome cars. (Trains magazine, March 1981, page 13)

February 27, 1981
The Sunset Limited, operating between Los Angeles and New Orleans, was equipped with Superliner cars, beginning on February 27, 1981. (Trains magazine, April 1981, page 14)

April 26, 1981
The Pioneer, operating between Salt Lake City and Seattle, was equipped with Superliner coaches on April 26, 1981.

May 22, 1981
The last Superliner car to be delivered, a sleeper named George M. Pullman, was completed on May 22, 1981, with an accompanying ceremony, and was delivered delivered to Amtrak in July 1981. (Trains magazine, August 1981, page 2)

October 1981
The Eagle, an overnight train between San Antonio and Chicago, began carrying Superliners in October 1981.