General Electric produced 44 (#800-#843) of the sleek 4,000-HP 103-MPH P-40 diesel locomotives, beginning in 1993. A further order for 98 (#1-#98) 4250-HP P-42's in 1996, allowed the retirement of Amtrak's 20-year old fleet of F40's.
The P-40's were top priority for two Florida services, which were previously handled by older P30 diesels. First, the popular Lorton, VA to Sanford, FL Auto-Train received not only new locomotives, but a completely new consist of Superliner II passenger cars.
Next was the tri-weekly Sunset Limited, which became America's first transcontinental passenger train on April 4, 1993, when the Los Angeles-New Orleans route was extended to Miami. For operational and cost-cutting reasons, the route was later terminated at Orlando. Then, following Hurricane Katrina in August, 2005, the route was cut back to New Orleans again. Through sleeping car lines from the Northeast to the Pacific Coast existed in the 1940s and 50s, but this was the only truly transcontinental passenger train in American rail history.
The P-42's were assigned to pull the Silver Meteor and Silver Star, the two daily New York-Miami "Silver Service" trains. These Seaboard names have survived since the 1930's and 40's, with daily streamliners serving the same end points, though the routes have varied slightly from time to time.
Original line drawing art by Stan Lytle,enhanced with road colors and other details by Jack Bleiberg. Silver Star GIF image by Media by McCann.
About color schemes: The image of Amtrak #815 and the colors on this page show Amtrak's red, white, blue and silver.