Texas Eagle
The westbound Texas Eagle at Marshall station in 2005
Overview
Service typeInter-city rail
LocaleMidwest and Southwestern United States (daily)
Western United States (tri-weekly)
PredecessorInter-American
First serviceOctober 2, 1981 (Eagle)
November 15, 1988 (Texas Eagle)
Current operator(s)Amtrak
Ridership346,000 (FY17)[1]
Route
StartChicago
End
Distance travelled
  • 1,306 mi (2,102 km) (Chicago–San Antonio)
  • 2,728 mi (4,390 km) (Chicago–Los Angeles)
Average journey time
  • 32 hours 10 minutes (Chicago–San Antonio)
  • 68 hours 45 minutes (Chicago–Los Angeles)
Service frequencyDaily (Tri-Weekly to Los Angeles)
Train number(s)
  • 21/22 (Chicago–San Antonio)
  • 321/322 (Chicago–St. Louis)
  • 421/422 (Chicago–Los Angeles)
On-board services
Class(es)Coach class and First-Class Sleeping Accommodations
Seating arrangements2 by 2 Airline Style Coach Seating
Sleeping arrangementsSuperliner Roomettes (2 Beds), Superliner Bedrooms (2 Beds), Superliner Bedroom Suite (4 Beds), Family Bedroom (4 Beds), and Accessible Roomette (2 Beds)
Catering facilitiesFlexible Dining Service (Temporarily Due to COVID-19)
Observation facilitiesSuperliner Observation Lounge Car
Baggage facilitiesViewliner Baggage Car
Technical
Rolling stockSuperliners
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Operating speed79mph; 90mph between Joliet, IL and Alton, IL
Track owner(s)UP, BNSF, and CN

The Texas Eagle is a 1,306-mile (2,102 km) passenger train route operated by Amtrak in the central and western United States. Trains run daily between Chicago, Illinois, and San Antonio, Texas. Historically, it operated as a section of the Sunset Limited on the three days that train operates, and ran independently for the remainder of the week. However, it was reduced to tri-weekly service from 2020 to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When operating as a section of the Sunset Limited, the westbound Texas Eagle joins with the westbound Sunset Limited in San Antonio and continues to Los Angeles, California; the eastbound Texas Eagle splits in San Antonio for the journey to Chicago. When combined with the Sunset Limited, the Texas Eagle runs for a total of 2,728 miles (4,390 km), the longest route in the Amtrak system. Prior to 1988, the train was known as the Eagle.

During fiscal year 2019, the Texas Eagle carried 321,694 passengers, a 4.2% decrease over FY2018.[2] In FY2016, the train had a total revenue of $22,323,171, an 8.5% decrease from FY2015.[3]

History

See also: Texas Eagle (MP train)

Amtrak's Texas Eagle is the direct successor of the Missouri Pacific Railroad and Texas and Pacific Railway train of the same name, which was inaugurated in 1948 and ultimately discontinued in 1971. The route of Amtrak's Texas Eagle is longer (Chicago to San Antonio versus St. Louis to San Antonio), but much of today's route is historically a part of the original Texas Eagle route. St. Louis to Texarkana and Taylor, Texas, to San Antonio travels over former Missouri Pacific Railroad trackage, while the Texarkana to Fort Worth segment traverses the former Texas and Pacific Railway. The T&P merged with MoPac in 1982; in turn MoPac was acquired by Union Pacific in 1986.

The Eagle began on October 2, 1981, as a restructuring of the Inter-American, which had operated a daily schedule from Chicago to Laredo, Texas, via San Antonio since 1973. From 1979 onward, it operated a section to Houston, Texas, which diverged at Temple, Texas. The new Eagle dropped the Houston section, while its southern terminus was cut back from Laredo to San Antonio. The new train carried Superliner equipment, replacing the Amfleet coaches on the Inter-American. In addition, the new train ran on a thrice-weekly schedule with a through car on the Sunset Limited to Los Angeles, although the latter was not announced until the April 1982 timetable.[4][5][6][7]

On November 15, 1988, Amtrak revived a Houston section, this time diverging at Dallas and running over the tracks of the Southern Pacific. It was the first time passenger traffic had served that route since 1958. Amtrak had intended to operate the Lone Star over this route back in the 1970s, but dropped the plan in the face of obstruction from the Southern Pacific.[8][9] With the change, Amtrak revived the name Texas Eagle for the thrice-weekly Chicago-San Antonio/Houston train, while the off-day Chicago–St. Louis train remained the Eagle. This section would be discontinued on September 10, 1995.[10] On April 4, 2013 Amtrak opened a new station in Hope, Arkansas, the hometown of former U.S. president Bill Clinton.[11] Arcadia Valley was added on November 17, 2016, serving Iron County, Missouri.[12]

As part of Amtrak's response to the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in greatly depressed ridership, service was reduced to tri-weekly throughout the corridor October 11, 2020.[13] In March 2021, Amtrak announced plans to return the Texas Eagle to its pre-pandemic schedule on May 24, 2021. It runs as a section of the Sunset Limited on the three days that train operates, splitting in San Antonio. For the rest of the week, it runs independently from Chicago to San Antonio.[14]

Proposed changes

In the August 2009 issue of Trains, Brian Rosenwald, Amtrak's chief of product management, noted that the Sunset Limited might be replaced by an extension of the Texas Eagle to Los Angeles: "We projected the revenue and looked at the logistics, and with a little bit of rescheduling came to the conclusion that we can make this happen with the equipment we have, and the additional revenue the train earns will more than cover the increased operating costs". The move would restore a connection to the Coast Starlight in both directions, and move boarding in Maricopa and Tucson, Arizona, to civilized times. "We are putting a stake in the ground: Triweekly needs to disappear," Rosenwald said.[15] While the route of the Sunset Limited would not be entirely replaced, the performance improvements listed explain what will happen:

These changes would, in turn, create a through-car change similar to that of the Empire Builder. Such service would originate from Los Angeles and split at San Antonio, and vice versa from New Orleans.[16]

Route description

As of November 2013,[17] train 21 departs Chicago 1:45 pm, running between Chicago and its first station stop in Joliet, parallel to the Illinois and Michigan Canal, along first the Canadian National's Freeport Subdivision and then Joliet Subdivision, which is also used by Metra's Heritage Corridor and Amtrak's Lincoln Service. From Joliet, the train travels along Union Pacific rails, often parallel to Interstate 55, making station stops in Pontiac, Bloomington–Normal, Lincoln, Springfield, Carlinville (a flag stop), and Alton before crossing the Mississippi River to make its stop at St. Louis' Gateway Multimodal Transportation Center, scheduled for 7:21 pm. After St. Louis, the train skirts the Ozark Mountains, stopping in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, before crossing the state line into Arkansas. In Arkansas, the train stops in Walnut Ridge, the state capital of Little Rock, and the stations at Malvern, Arkadelphia, Hope, and Texarkana, on the Arkansas–Texas border. Continuing into Texas, the train makes station stops in Marshall, Longview, Mineola, Dallas and Fort Worth, which has connections to Oklahoma City via Amtrak's Heartland Flyer, and from there the train travels on BNSF trackage. The train continues on, making stops in Cleburne, McGregor, Temple (where the train resumes traveling on the Union Pacific), Taylor, the state capital of Austin, and San Marcos, with a scheduled arrival into San Antonio at 9:55 pm (the next day) and a connection to the Sunset Limited on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, to Los Angeles at 2:45 am. The northbound Texas Eagle leaves San Antonio at 7 am (splitting from the eastbound Sunset Limited on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays) and arrives at Chicago at 1:45 pm the next day.

Amtrak Texas Eagle (interactive map)

Consist

The normally assigned consist on the Texas Eagle includes:

On a thrice-weekly basis, a coach and sleeping car operate from Chicago through San Antonio to Los Angeles (as Train #421/422), in conjunction with the Sunset Limited.[18] As of July 2021, the train no longer includes a sightseer lounge car north of San Antonio, making it the only long distance train in the west without one.

Notes

  1. ^ "Amtrak FY17 Ridership" (PDF). Amtrak. 2017. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  2. ^ https://media.amtrak.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/FY19-Year-End-Ridership.pdf
  3. ^ http://media.amtrak.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Amtrak-FY16-Ridership-and-Revenue-Fact-Sheet-4_17_17-mm-edits.pdf
  4. ^ "Amtrak To Eliminate Unprofitable Routes". The Blade. Toledo, Ohio. Associated Press. August 26, 1981. p. 1. Retrieved August 6, 2010.
  5. ^ "National Train Timetables". Amtrak. October 25, 1981. Retrieved August 8, 2010.
  6. ^ Versaggi, Joe M. (January 17, 1982). "No headline". The New York Times. Retrieved August 8, 2010.
  7. ^ "National Train Timetables". Amtrak. April 25, 1982. Retrieved August 8, 2010.
  8. ^ Smith, Griffin (August 1974). "Waiting For The Train". Texas Monthly. 2 (8): 79–83, 89–99.
  9. ^ Reifenberg, Anne (September 29, 1988). "Amtrak Will Link Dallas, Houston". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved August 8, 2010.
  10. ^ Johnston, Bob (June 6, 2017). "Getting the most from the 'Texas Eagle' detour". Trains Magazine. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  11. ^ "Amtrak Texas Eagle Adds Stop in Hope, Ark" (PDF). Amtrak. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  12. ^ Jenkins, Kevin R. (November 19, 2016). "Arcadia Valley welcomes Amtrak". Daily Journal. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
  13. ^ Davis, Vincent (October 11, 2020). "Amtrak is cutting the schedule to three days a week". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  14. ^ "With Increased Demand and Congressional Funding, Amtrak Restores 12 Long Distance Routes to Daily Service". March 10, 2021. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  15. ^ Johnson, Bob (August 2009). "Amtrak's Southwest Expansion". Trains. p. 20.
  16. ^ "Sunset Limited Marketing Meeting". RailPAC. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  17. ^ "Texas Eagle and Heartland Flyer effective November 3rd, 2013" (PDF). Retrieved November 18, 2013.[dead link]
  18. ^ Amtrak National Consist Book, May 1, 2008

References