The Texas Eagle is a 1,306-mile (2,102 km) daily passenger train route operated by Amtrak between Chicago and San Antonio in the central and western United States. Prior to 1988, the train was known as the Eagle.
|Service type||Inter-city rail|
|Locale||Midwest and Southwestern United States (daily)|
|First service||October 2, 1981|
|Annual ridership||151,393 (FY21) −52.9%[a]|
San Antonio, Texas or
Los Angeles, California
|Average journey time|
|Service frequency||Daily, tri-weekly to Los Angeles|
|Train number(s)||21, 22 (to San Antonio)|
321, 322 (to St. Louis)
421, 422 (to Los Angeles)
|Disabled access||Train lower level, all stations|
|Catering facilities||Dining car, Café|
|Observation facilities||Sightseer lounge car|
|Baggage facilities||Overhead racks, checked baggage available at selected stations|
|Rolling stock||GE Genesis|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Operating speed||55 mph (89 km/h) (avg.)|
79 mph (127 km/h) (top)
90 mph (140 km/h) (top, Joliet–Alton)
|Track owner(s)||UP, BNSF, CN|
Trains #21 and 22 also convey a sleeping car and a coach (designated internally as Trains #421 and 422) to/from the Sunset Limited between San Antonio and Los Angeles on the days that tri-weekly train operates. However, the Texas Eagle itself was reduced to tri-weekly service from October 2020 to March 2021 and again from January 2022 until March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When operating in conjunction with the Sunset Limited, the westbound continuing cars join with the Sunset Limited in San Antonio; the eastbound continuing cars split off in San Antonio for the journey to Chicago. These cars traverse a total of 2,728 miles (4,390 km), the longest route in the Amtrak system.
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.
On November 15, 1988, Amtrak revived a Houston section, this time diverging at Dallas and running over the route of the Southern Pacific's Sunbeam. 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. 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. On April 4, 2013 Amtrak opened a new station in Hope, Arkansas, the hometown of former U.S. president Bill Clinton. Arcadia Valley was added on November 17, 2016, serving Iron County, Missouri.
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. In March 2021, Amtrak announced plans to return the Texas Eagle to its pre-pandemic schedule on May 24, 2021. However, the train began operating on a five days per week schedule in January 2022 due to a resurgence of the virus caused by the Omicron variant and will remain so until March 2022. 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 between Chicago and San Antonio.
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. While the route of the Sunset Limited would not be entirely replaced, the performance improvements listed explain what will happen:
- Conversion to daily Chicago–Los Angeles train
- Shortening of the schedule by 9 hours
- San Antonio–New Orleans stub service on a daily basis to connect with this train
- Use of the Diner-Lounge on the stub service
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.
As of November 2013, 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 (bus connection with Houston), 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.
The normally assigned consist on the Texas Eagle includes:
- GE Genesis locomotive
- Superliner Transition sleeper
- Superliner Sleeper
- Superliner Diner-Lounge (Cross Country Café)
- Superliner Coach
- Superliner Coach
Three times a week, one coach and one sleeping car from the Texas Eagle are connected to the Sunset Limited and travel between San Antonio and Los Angeles as Train #421/422.
Additionally, to provide extra capacity, an additional Superliner coach operates between Chicago and St. Louis as Train #321/322.
- "Amtrak Fiscal Year 2021 Ridership" (PDF). Amtrak. September 30, 2021. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
- "Amtrak Timetable Results". www.amtrak.com. Retrieved December 20, 2021.
- "Amtrak to decrease service on most routes Jan. 24 to March 27". Trains. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
- https://media.amtrak.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/FY19-Year-End-Ridership.pdf[bare URL PDF]
- http://media.amtrak.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Amtrak-FY16-Ridership-and-Revenue-Fact-Sheet-4_17_17-mm-edits.pdf[bare URL PDF]
- "Amtrak To Eliminate Unprofitable Routes". The Blade. Toledo, Ohio. Associated Press. August 26, 1981. p. 1. Retrieved August 6, 2010.
- "National Train Timetables". Amtrak. October 25, 1981. Retrieved August 8, 2010.
- Versaggi, Joe M. (January 17, 1982). "No headline". The New York Times. Retrieved August 8, 2010.
- "National Train Timetables". Amtrak. April 25, 1982. Retrieved August 8, 2010.
- Smith, Griffin (August 1974). "Waiting For The Train". Texas Monthly. 2 (8): 79–83, 89–99.
- Reifenberg, Anne (September 29, 1988). "Amtrak Will Link Dallas, Houston". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved August 8, 2010.
- Johnston, Bob (June 6, 2017). "Getting the most from the 'Texas Eagle' detour". Trains Magazine. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
- "Amtrak Texas Eagle Adds Stop in Hope, Ark" (PDF). Amtrak. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
- Jenkins, Kevin R. (November 19, 2016). "Arcadia Valley welcomes Amtrak". Daily Journal. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
- Davis, Vincent (October 11, 2020). "Amtrak is cutting the schedule to three days a week". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
- "With Increased Demand and Congressional Funding, Amtrak Restores 12 Long Distance Routes to Daily Service". March 10, 2021. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
- Johnson, Bob (August 2009). "Amtrak's Southwest Expansion". Trains. p. 20.
- "Sunset Limited Marketing Meeting". RailPAC. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
- "Texas Eagle and Heartland Flyer effective November 3rd, 2013" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 6, 2013. Retrieved November 18, 2013.
- Amtrak National Consist Book, May 1, 2008
- Goen, Steve Allen (1997). Texas and Pacific Color Pictorial. La Mirada, California: Four Ways West Publications. ISBN 1-885614-17-9.
- Runte, Alfred (2006). Allies of the Earth, Railroads and the Soul of Preservation. Kirksville, Missouri: Truman State University Press. ISBN 1-931112-52-5.
- Stout, Greg (1995). Route of the Eagles: Missouri Pacific in the Streamlined Era. Bucklin, Missouri: White River Productions. ISBN 0-9659040-3-2.
- Amtrak's Fiscal Year (FY) runs from October 1st of the prior year to September 30th of the named year.
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