There is an important conceptual distinction between a TRAIN (identified by train number in the timetable) and the CONSIST (the cars run as a particular train). Philosophers arguing about the concept of identity have often pointed to this as an ambiguity in the ordinary-language expression "train": I've long thought that it is relevant to the philosophical point that the people to whom the distinction is most important -- railwaymen -- don't make do with an ambiguous word, but have two distinct words (viz, "train" and "consist") for the two concepts!
Some trains have names (like "Twentieth Century Limited" and "Empire State Express"). Then again, sometimes a particular consist of cars (with maybe special features or a special paint scheme) is bought for dedicated use on a particular train. In such cases I have seen the train name used (perhaps with the date as a distinguishing adjective) metonymously for the consist: certainly I have seen this in the case of the "Century". If Roger Hensley had been writing a bit more pedantically, he would have said (and this would be in accordance with a standard usage) "The New York Central debuted the 1941 Empire State Express..."
Which said, thanks for reminding us of the history, NYCRRson. And, with respect to the 7th of December, I second Roger Hensley's plea: "Let us remember both events,  years ago."