Silver Palm (train)
The Silver Palm is the name of two former passenger trains operated by Amtrak serving the U.S. state of Florida. The original Silver Palm was an intrastate train, operating between Miami and Tampa. Service began in 1982 and ended in 1985. The second was an extension of the existing Palmetto service in the late 1990s.
|Service type||Inter-city rail|
|First service||November 21, 1982|
|Last service||April 30, 1985|
|Distance travelled||255 miles (410 km)|
|Average journey time||5 hours|
|Train number(s)||895, 896|
|Catering facilities||On-board cafe|
|Rolling stock||Amfleet coaches|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|Track owner(s)||Seaboard System|
Amtrak introduced the first Silver Palm as a single round trip service between Miami and Tampa, Florida, on November 21, 1982. The train was subsidized by the Florida Department of Transportation as a 403(b) service. The train operated over the tracks of the Seaboard System Railroad between Miami and Tampa via Auburndale. The northbound train departed Miami in the morning and returned from Tampa in the afternoon. Travel time was approximately five hours in each direction. A bus connection was provided between Winter Haven and Orlando. It followed the traditional SAL mainline through Wildwood and Ocala in north-central Florida.
During its service, train crew were required to manually throw switches for the train to operate between divisions. Amtrak had worked to remove speed restrictions on the line and considered adding more stops in an effort to improve service and increase the train's profitability. The state also tried to help boost ridership following a publicity tour by then Lieutenant Governor Wayne Mixson in August 1984, in part to build a base of riders for proposed high-speed service in the state. After a two-year trial the Florida Department of Transportation recommended ending subsidies for the Silver Palm. State law required that state-sponsored services maintain a farebox ratio of 60% to continue funding.
FDOT announced on October 20, 1984 that the Silver Palm's ratio was 45.3%. The service was scheduled to be discontinued on November 20, 1984. The Florida Coalition of Rail Passengers sued the state, arguing that the Department of Transportation had calculated the operating ratio incorrectly, and won at the district court level. This decision was overturned on appeal by the Florida First District Court of Appeal on March 28, 1985. The Silver Palm was discontinued on April 30, 1985. It was estimated to have lost $4 million over the course of its run.
The second Silver Palm was a long-distance passenger train between New York, New York, and Miami, Florida. This was a revival of the Palmetto, which Amtrak had discontinued on April 1, 1995. Service began on November 10, 1996. For a period in the mid-1990s, as in the 1996-1997 season, it was Amtrak's only train passing through Ocala area north-central Florida section in 1996.Amtrak restored the Palmetto name on May 1, 2002, after the train lost sleeping and dining car service.
- "Profit Loss May Run Silver Palm Off Track". The Palm Beach Post. West Palm Beach, FL. August 11, 1984. p. 174 – via Newspapers.com.
- Moffett, Dan (November 21, 1982). "Train Starts Daily Run Across State". Palm Beach Post. West Palm Beach, FL. p. 2 – via Newspapers.com.
- Klein, Gil (November 16, 1982). "State betting Amtrak's Silver Palm will blossom". Tampa Tribune. Tampa, FL. p. 39 – via Newspapers.com.
- Romano, Michael (August 24, 1984). "Officials ride the rails for Amtrak's Silver Palm". South Florida Sun Sentinel. Fort Lauderdale, FL. p. 14 – via Newspapers.com.
- Brokaw, Rick (June 26, 1983). "Silver Palm makes the trip". Tampa Tribune. Tampa, FL. p. 182 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Pardon me boy - Is that the Silver Palm for Tampa?". Miami News. October 16, 1982. Retrieved July 7, 2012.
- Final Environmental Impact Statement: Florida Power & Light Company Martin Coal Gasification/Combined Cycle Project. Atlanta, GA: United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region IV. May 1991. p. D-25 – via Google Books.
- "Amtrak to Consider Okeechobee Flag Stop". The Palm Beach Post. West Palm Beach, FL. July 15, 1984. p. 42 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Mixson: More passengers needed or wave good-bye to Silver Palm". Tampa Tribune. Tampa, FL. August 24, 1984. p. 32 – via Newspapers.com.
- Klein, Gil (October 20, 1984). "Cutoff of state subsidy means end of Tampa-to-Miami rail service". Tampa Tribune. Tampa, FL. p. 17 – via Newspapers.com.
- Kinneberg, Rob (December 7, 1984). "Hopes Dim for Okeechobee Amtrak Stop". Palm Beach Post. West Palm Beach, FL. p. 167 – via Newspapers.com.
- "State to cut Silver Palm funding". Lakeland Ledger. October 20, 1984. Retrieved July 7, 2012.
- Rojas, Helen (October 20, 1984). "Amtrak Silver Palm connecting Miami and Tampa discontinued". Fort Lauderdale News. Fort Lauderdale, FL. p. 8 – via Newspapers.com.
- Wolff, Christine (November 13, 1984). "Ruling puts Silver Palm on track to keep running". Miami News. Miami, FL. p. 5 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Silver Palm Hits End Of The Line In Courts". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. March 29, 1985. Retrieved July 7, 2012.
- Marmor, Jon (May 1, 1985). "Silver Palm Comes to End Of the Line". Palm Beach Post. West Palm Beach, FL – via Newspapers.com.
- Allen, Kevin (April 30, 1985). "End of the line: Amtrak's 'Silver Palm' makes its final run". Fort Lauderdale News. Fort Lauderdale, FL. p. 1 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Doubts are flying about high-speed rail system". South Florida Sun Sentinel. Fort Lauderdale, FL. September 17, 1989. p. 4 – via Newspapers.com.
- Amtrak Timetable, November, 1996 p. 29 http://www.timetables.org/full.php?group=19961110n&item=0029
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