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Lone Star (Amtrak train)

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Lone Star (Amtrak train)

Texas Chief
Lone Star
A southbound Lone Star between Guthrie and Norman, Oklahoma, in 1974.
Service type Inter-city rail
First service May 1, 1971
Last service October 8, 1979
Former operator(s) Amtrak
Start Chicago, Illinois
End Houston, Texas
Dallas, Texas
Distance travelled 1,368 mi (2,201.58 km)
Service frequency Daily
Train number(s) 15,16
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Track owner(s) ATSF
Chef and cooks in the galley of the Lone Star, 1974. Photo by Charles O'Rear.

The Lone Star was an Amtrak passenger train serving Chicago, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Fort Worth, Houston and intermediate points. From Amtrak's inception in 1971 until May 19, 1974 the train was known as the Texas Chief, as it had been under the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. The name change was prompted by the AT&SF's determination that Amtrak's trains no longer met its service standards and so required Amtrak to stop using the Chief name.[1]:109 The Lone Star name was first used by the St. Louis Southwestern Railway for a passenger train operating between St. Louis, Memphis and Dallas. The original Lone Star was discontinued in 1952.


The original Texas Chief's route ran from Chicago, Illinois, to Galveston, Texas via Kansas City, Wichita, Oklahoma City, Fort Worth, and Houston until early 1967, when the train's run was truncated in Houston. From 1955 until 1968 a section would cut off at Gainesville, Texas to serve Denton, Texas and Dallas. Initially Amtrak ran the Texas Chief as a Chicago-Kansas City-Fort Worth-Houston service; Amtrak considered a Dallas routing but rejected it because of concerns over the Dallas station. While a Dallas routing remained a priority, Amtrak was unable to add that service until July 1, 1975, after the train had become the Lone Star. Between October 1976 and February 15, 1977, the Lone Star was combined with the Southwest Limited (Chicago-Los Angeles) between Chicago and Kansas City, temporarily eliminating the Dallas through cars.[2]:60–61


The original Texas Chief was inaugurated as a coach and Pullman train on April 3, 1948.[3]

At Amtrak's inception, the Texas Chief operated Chicago-Houston. It inherited the Hi-Level (bilevel) chair cars from the former San Francisco Chief, which had been discontinued at that same time.[4] The train operated separately from the Super Chief (renamed the Southwest Limited in 1974 and now known as the Southwest Chief) along their shared route from Chicago to Newton, Kansas.

A number of colleges and universities along the route—including the University of Kansas, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Wichita State University, University of Oklahoma—provided students looking for economical transportation.

Due to cuts by Congress, the Reorganization Act of 1979, pressed by the US Department of Transportation under the Carter administration, Amtrak's Lone Star was discontinued on October 8, 1979.[5] At the time of its discontinuance, the train was ranked as Amtrak's 7th most popular long-distance train.[6]

Chicago-Houston service continued in the form of a section of the Chicago-Laredo Inter-American that split from the train in Temple, Texas. This left Oklahoma without passenger rail service until 1999. Oklahoma continues to lack rail service north into Kansas.

Current status of route

  • Amtrak's Southwest Chief serves the portion of the original route from Chicago to Newton, Kansas.
  • Since 1999, Amtrak's Oklahoma City to Fort Worth Heartland Flyer serves that part of the route.
  • Amtrak's Texas Eagle currently connects Chicago with Dallas, but using a different route.

Of the original Texas Chief/Lone Star route, only sections from Newton, Kansas, to Oklahoma City, and Temple, Texas to Houston and Galveston remain without passenger train service as of 2012.


  1. ^ Sanders, Craig (2006). Amtrak in the Heartland. Bloomington, IN:  
  2. ^ Goldberg, Bruce (1981). Amtrak: The First Decade. Silver Spring, MD: Alan Books. 
  3. ^ Bryant, Jr., Keith L. (1974). History of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway. University of Nebraska Press (Reprint). p. 350.  
  4. ^ "Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Timetables". The Official Guide of the Railways (New York, N.Y.: National Railway Publication Company) 104 (1): 428–440. June 1971. 
  5. ^ Lakeland Ledger, October 6, 1979 "Last Minute Court Decision Rules to Keep Amtrak Trains Running",1563605
  6. ^ Passenger Train Journal (Nov. 1979).

External links

  • 1979 timetable
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