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1980s--Building a Dream

Realizing the benefits

In its second decade, Amtrak and its passengers fully realized the benefits of the improvements and initiatives that Amtrak began during the 1970s. The high speed Washington-New York Metroliner Service was improved with new equipment and faster schedules.

Most western long distance routes gained new bi-level Superliner cars, featuring upper level dining rooms, Sightseer lounge cars with movies and wrap-around windows for viewing, and sleeping car rooms with showers.

Steam-heated passenger service ended in 1983 when the Silver Star between New York and Florida was converted to Head End Power equipment. That same year, Amtrak took over the operation of the popular Auto Train, a unique service carrying passengers and their motor vehicles between Lorton, Va., and Sanford, Fl.

Another 1983 milestone was restoration of Chicago-to-Oakland service to the legendary California Zephyr route through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.

In 1988, Amtrak achieved a milestone when it first carried more passengers between Washington, D.C., and New York than all of the airlines combined, and Washington Union Station reopened after an extensive and celebrated rehabilitation. Following that restoration, Amtrak’s corporate headquarters were relocated to Washington Union Station, where they remained until 2017.

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