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The Pelican was a named train of the Southern Railway which ran from New York City to New Orleans and back until 1970.

Pelican ad.jpeg
Southern's advertisement touting the Pelican service
Service typeInter-city rail
LocaleNortheastern United States/Southeastern United States
Last service1970
Former operator(s)Southern Railway
StartNew York, New York
EndNew Orleans, Louisiana
Distance travelled1,114 mi (1,793 km)
Average journey timeSouthbound: 36 hrs 40 min; northbound: 38 hrs 50 min
Train number(s)Southbound: 41; northbound: 42
On-board services
Seating arrangementsReclining seat coaches
Sleeping arrangementsOpen sections, roomettes, double bedrooms
Catering facilitiesDiner car, cafe-lounge


The Pelican (Train #41/42) departed New York's Pennsylvania Station going south via the Pennsylvania Railroad to Washington, DC, then on Southern's line to Lynchburg, Virginia, then to Bristol, Virginia via the Norfolk and Western Railroad with a major stop in Roanoke, Virginia and several stops toward Bristol.[1] From Bristol to New Orleans, the Pelican ran on Southern's line with major station stops in Knoxville, Tennessee, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Birmingham, Alabama and Meridian, Mississippi. South of Birmingham it made more local stops than other Southern Railway trains on the Birmingham-New Orleans route, such as the Southerner.[2]

Train Number 42, the northbound The Pelican reversed the route.

In 1957, The Pelican carried:[3]

Into the 1950s, the train carried through sleeping cars which would split from the main route at Meridian and continue on the Illinois Central Railroad's Southwestern Limited into central Mississippi and central Louisiana to Shreveport, Louisiana. Timetables referred to section, compartment and drawing room accommodations carrying from New York to Shreveport[4][5]


With passenger traffic declining, the Pelican was combined with the Birmingham Special in 1970.[6]


  1. ^ Norfolk & Western timetable April 1964
  2. ^ Southern timetable July 1952
  3. ^ Norfolk and Western Railway, October 27, 1957 timetable p. 5
  4. ^ January 1950 Illinois Central timetable, Tables D and F
  5. ^ July 1952 Southern Railway timetable, Table H
  6. ^ Harris, C. Nelson (2009). Norfolk and Western Railway Stations and Depots. Arcadia.,