2009年10月15日 星期四

Santa Fe's Super Chief

The Chief is still the Chief !!!
by Chih-Wen Jason Hung

    From heavy wight era, light weight Pullman, streamline car to Amtrak's superliner, the historical Chief trains between Chicaco and Los Angeles is the most famous passenger trains in America. On Nov 14th, 1926, Santa Fe's Chief began to run between Chicago and L.A. On May 12th 1936, the Super Chief was officially born. It was a weekly, diesel-powered and all Pullman heavy weight trains. It ran from Chicago to LA only need 39 hours and 45 min, faster than the Amtrak's Southwest Chief, now!

    Santa Fe remain the high quality passenger service all the time. They always introduced the best coaches into the service. You always can see the beautiful Warbonnet painted diesel locomotives lead a lot of bright streamline coach with dome car, dining car all the way!

    The photo showed above is the well-known Santa Fe fleet. The right photo is EMD's F-unit, Santa Fe #347C. Dan Kelly took this photo in CA state RR museum. The left photo I took is a priviate owned ex-Santa Fe streamline coach. It is a very common style coach in Santa Fe's Chief trains.Although Amtrak took over almost all of those trains from Santa Fe, and there are not too many left, so you can not easily see them, but I found this coach in Orange county, CA in 1996 by chace. However, last summer, I can not find it again. It seemed be moved to another place.

    1/3 Amtrak's passenger cars were from Santa Fe, when Amtrak was formed in 1971

    When Amtrak was formed in 1971, 1/3 passenger coaches - nearly 450 were from Santa Fe.That included 140 coaches, 90 baggage cars, all Hi-level coaches, and many many trains. After Amtrak bought a lot of Amfleet and Superliner, those heritage cars became harder and harder to see on the route. Now, maybe only baggage cars are easily can be found on Amtrak routes. The above photos are the ex-Santa Fe trains. Left one is baggage car #1226, and the right one is #1222. You might want to ask me how can I know they are ex-Santa Fe's cars. The answer is so simple, because until today, I still can see a little "Santa Fe" letters on their bodies. They are painted in Amtrak color now; however, they are always the Santa Fe's family.


    All of them were running on San Diegans trains. At the early Amtrak era, Santa Fe allowed Amtrak to remain the "Chief" name on those original route. However, Amtrak seemed not remain the good quality as the Santa Fe era. Then, Santa Fe announced " Santa Fe had reserved the right to withdraw the permission to use the Chief name should the quality of service provided by Amtrak on the trains so identified no longer reflect credit on Santa Fe." So, they asked Amtrak to drop the "Chief" name in 1974, and a new name Southwest limit appeared.


    The new Chief: Southwest Chief was born in 1984

    In 1980s, the Amtrak Southwest limited was running with new superliner cars. The service was improved(At least, not too bad), so the Chief name came back on Oct 28th 1984. The Southwest Chief was born!!!




    Today, the Southwest Chief still runs between Chicago and Los Angeles as before, but the route is not "Santa Fe All the Way". From Chicago to Galesburg has switched to ex-BN route. The train number givin by Amtrak is #3 and #4. All of them are daily trains. #3 is from Chicago to Los Angeles, and #4 is the other way.


    When I need to move from mid-west to California in 1997 summer, I planned to take the most popular way people did in Railroad golden age - To ride Chief train to go West!!! My trip was begun on Aug 3rd and finally arrive L.A. Union Station on Aug 5th. The #3 Southwest Chief trains was leaded by 4 diesels. The trains contained:


    [Engine x4] + [Baggae Car ] + [Employee Car] + [Coach x4] + [Sightseer Lounge Car ]+ [Dining Car] + [Sleeping Car x2] + [Box Car x7 ]


    [34] [76] [46] [806] + [1229] + [39031] + [34080] [34012] [34137][31530] + [33408]+ [38044] + [32106] [32088] + [1550] [1504] [1553] [1506] [1507] [1558] [1407]

    The above photos are taken in my Southwest Chief trip. The left one is in Albuquerque, NM. The right one is in Los Angeles Union Station right after I arrived California. I am so tired at that time, and can fully understand why people like Santa Fe's FAST so much. It really not a good experience to stay on the trains for 3 days! I wish the FAST Chief can always run on the land, not slower slower and slower all the time. I won't ask too much. Just want Amtrak remain the old Santa Fe 1930s quality. I don't think people in 1990s can not do better than 1930s!!!

1 意見:

tomohisa 2009年10月19日 下午6:04  

狗頭機關車真的很帥....
玩「Rails across America」時超愛用這款車頭
by yves

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