Gulf Coast Limited – Wikipedia

The Gulf Coast Limited was a passenger train operated by Amtrak in the southern United States. It ran daily from Mobile, Alabama, to New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The Gulf Coast Limited operated over a 145-mile (233 km) route from New Orleans to Mobile, hugging the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. The majority of this route is now owned by CSX Transportation (NO&M Subdivision), save a few miles around the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal and East City Junction, which are owned by Amtrak and the Norfolk Southern Railway, respectively.[1]: ES.2 


Up to the latter 1960s, the New Orleans to Mobile route was served by several passenger trains a day. The Louisville & Nashville operated the daily trains, Gulf Wind (New Orleans – Jacksonville), Pan-American (New Orleans – Cincinnati) and Humming Bird (New Orleans – Cincinnati), as well as an additional unnamed day train (New Orleans – Jacksonville).[2] Additionally, the Southern Railway operated the Crescent (New Orleans – New York) on the route.[3]

The Gulf Coast Limited was also the name of a train operated by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad between New York and the west coast of Florida.[4]: 127 

First iteration[edit]

The Gulf Coast Limited grew out of a feasibility study conducted by the Louisiana-Mississippi-Alabama Rapid Rail Transit Commission in the early 1980s. The study sought a commuter rail service centered on New Orleans linking Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Slidell, Louisiana, or Mobile, Alabama. In the end the Commission opted for a New Orleans—Mobile service, prompted in part by the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition. The three states entered into a 403(b) arrangement with Amtrak; under this provision Amtrak undertakes to operate a service but the contracting states subsidize most of the cost. The first train ran on April 29, 1984.[5][6]

In the fall Amtrak explored extending the Gulf Coast Limited from Mobile to Birmingham, Alabama (a route later served by the Gulf Breeze), but did not alter the train’s route.[7] The train was popular, but service ended on January 6, 1985, after Mississippi declined to continue its support.[8]

Second iteration[edit]

Amtrak revived the Gulf Coast Limited on June 27, 1996, following the cancellation of the Gulf Breeze. The states of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi each contributed $185,000 for a 90-day trial run. Amtrak estimated that yearly operation would cost $3.1 million. The train used the same route as its 1984 precursor but did not stop in East New Orleans. Initial ridership was higher than expected: a standard consist could seat 134, but weekend trains regularly carried 300, against 50-60 on weekdays.[9] A federal appropriation allowed Amtrak to extend the Gulf Coast Limited six months beyond the trial period, but additional state money was not forthcoming. Service ended March 31, 1997.[10][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ BURK-KLEINPETER, INC. (May 2006). “Gulf Coast High-Speed Rail Corridor: New Orleans to Mobile Corridor Development Plan” (PDF). The Southern Rapid Rail Transit Commission. Retrieved December 26, 2011.
  2. ^ Louisville and Nashville timetable, December 18, 1965, Tables A, C, D, F
  3. ^ Southern Railway timetable, July 30, 1952, Table A
  4. ^ Turner, Gregg (2006). Florida Railroads in the 1920s. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-4232-6.
  5. ^ Stennis, Todd. “History”. Southern High-Speed Rail Commission. Archived from the original on March 16, 2012. Retrieved December 26, 2011.
  6. ^ ‘Gulf Coast Limited’ operation extended”. Hattiesburg American. September 16, 1984. p. 22 – via open access
  7. ^ “Birmingham-Mobile route to be tested by Amtrak”. Gadsden Times. September 25, 1984. Retrieved December 26, 2011.
  8. ^ Herbert, H. Josef (February 18, 1985). “Amtrak tries to improve service while cutting costs”. Santa Cruz Sentinel. p. 36. Retrieved October 5, 2014 – via open access
  9. ^ Russell, Kelly (October 7, 1996). “Amtrak’s Gulf Coast Limited riding on borrowed time”. Mississippi Business Journal  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Archived from the original on January 25, 2013. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
  10. ^ “Train of thought: Save the Gulf Coast Limited”. New Orleans Magazine  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). November 1, 1996. Archived from the original on March 15, 2016. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
  11. ^ “AMTRAK TO CUT SEATTLE-CHICAGO PIONEER RAIL SERVICE”. Seattle Post-Intelligencer  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). March 21, 1997. Archived from the original on January 25, 2013. Retrieved October 28, 2012.

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