• Auto-Train Corporation (Original; not Amtrak)

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This forum is for discussion of "Fallen Flag" roads not otherwise provided with a specific forum. Fallen Flags are roads that no longer operate, went bankrupt, or were acquired or merged out of existence.

Moderator: Nicolai3985

  by Tom6921
I thought we should have a discussion on the Original Auto-Train that ran from 1971-1980. I know that their original route is run by Amtrak today. However, I know that Auto-Train corp operated a second route to Louisville, KY which was unsuccessful. Does anyone know what became of the Auto-Train terminal in Louisville after the route was shut down?
  by jhdeasy
I rode Amtrak's Floridian from Nashville TN to Chicago IL on Columbus Day weekend in October 1977. When we stopped at Louisville KY, the Conductor said it was the former Auto train terminal. The combined Floridian & Autotrain service between Kentucky and Florida was discontinued in September 1977.

http://www.themetrains.com/auto-train-f ... rminal.htm

Amtrak discontinued the Floridian in 1979. I do not know what became of the former Autotrain facility at Louisville.

When Amtrak's Kentucky Cardinal was serving Louisville, it did not use the former Autotrain facility; it used a track adjacent to Louisville Union Station.
  by Tom6921
I looked on Google Earth and found the area where the Louisville Auto-Train terminal was and it looks like there's an industrial area. I also saw a fairly large freight yard on the east side of the main line.

There didn't seem to be much to indicate that people could once have boarded a train their bound for Florida and have their cars with them.
  by Tom6921
I had two thoughts last night?:

1. Do any of the locomotives Auto-Train bought still exist. If so, perhaps one should go to a museum and repaint it into the Auto-Train livery.

2. If anyone was to have a Heritage locomotive painted for the Auto-Train, who would be most appropriate to do it? I'm guessing Amtrak since they run the Auto Train now.
  by D Alex
About 25 years ago when I was driving a truck for a living, I had to make a pickup of a trailer load of empty cans from that industrial park. All the signs telling motorists where to go were still there. Haven't been there since.
  by Jeff Smith
Interesting article in Passenger Train Journal: https://passengertrainjournal.com/50-ye ... n-service/
50 Years of Auto Train Service
Gene Garfield was an attorney for the federal government and was aware of the rising number of automobiles plying the highways to Florida. He developed a plan to carry people and their automobiles between the Washington, D.C., area and central Florida. The timing was perfect, as surplus passenger cars were available due to the formation of Amtrak, which left an abundance of equipment available from the nation’s railroads. Garfield named his new service Auto-Train Corporation and secured investors to fund the startup company.

Agreement was reached with the Seaboard Coast Line (SCL) and Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac (RF&P) railroads to run the trains. The northern terminal was established at Lorton, Va., just south of Washington, D.C., with easy access to I-95 and the I-495 Capital Beltway for travel to and from populous Northeastern cities. The southern terminal was built at Sanford, Fla., midway between Orlando and Daytona Beach. This location was within four or five hours of most Florida destinations, with I-4 a couple of miles away and the other major north/south Interstates within an hour’s drive.

New General Electric U36B locomotives pulled the trains, with steam-generator cars supplying heat to the passenger cars. Rolling stock primarily came from Santa Fe and Union Pacific, and included an impressive fleet of full-length dome and short-dome coaches and food service cars, and single-level sleeping cars and dining cars. This fleet was augmented by a few cars from Western Pacific, Louisville & Nashville, SCL, and RF&P. The ex-Santa Fe sleepers initially retained their unpainted stainless-steel exteriors, while the former UP sleepers still wore their original Armour Yellow paint. Auto carriers were former Canadian National cars. The entire fleet was soon painted in AT’s distinctive white scheme with red and purple striping.

The first Auto-Train entered service on December 1, 1971. Onboard staff members were mostly young, attractive females outfitted in either purple dresses with red and yellow accent stripes or pantsuits in the same colors. Ground service personnel who assisted arriving and departing passengers again were mostly young females who wore red and yellow outfits resembling overall shorts.
Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auto-Train_Corporation
  by bostontrainguy
There is an ongoing discussion here at the Villages Florida about whether to take the Auto Train or not. From what people have been saying Amtrak has downgraded the product from even a few years ago when I last rode it. As a coach passenger I received a full diner and buffet breakfast. Not anymore. Coach passengers now have to purchase food,

I was lucky enough to ride the original Auto-Train and remember it as an upscale cruise-like experience. I still remember us all eating in the dining car and afterwards I remember the twinkling stars in the ceiling of the "Starlight Lounge" great dome, the full moon outside above us and the guitar player entertaining us very happy travelers. It was very special. Amtrak has sadly made it into a utilitarian ferry boat service.