Passenger Train Experts...Paint Schemes

Hi Guys,


I was thinking the other day while reading a Southern Pacific book; which railroad had the most different paint schemes on their passenger car fleets?  The Southern Pacific had many.  So did the New Haven Railroad.  Al Staufer, author of "Thoroughbreds", the story of the NYC Hudsons, says that the NYC had the most varied paint schemes on their passenger cars of any railroad. Those are my 3 picks for the most varied paint schemes on their passenger car fleets.  I'm using the time frame from, say, the 1930's through 1960.  And I'm not referring to special paint schemes on one or 2 cars; I'm talking whole train sets.


So please chime in if you are knowledgeable in this area.  And if possible, list the various schemes and the time frames when they were in use.



Original Post

Hi, Steve.


I realize you specified the time frame through the 60s but I thought I'd chime in anyway. Burlington Northern ran some very colorful passenger consists following its creation in 1970. Taking it one step further, the New Jersey Department of Transportation purchased a group of former Great Northern cars from BN as part of its program to upgrade commuter services around the state. The BN cars wore several different BN/GN schemes at the time and, combined with existing CNJ equipment and second hand equipment purchased from other roads, the result was passenger trains which seemed to have every color of the spectrum. Here's a shot I took in 1979. The train pictured consists of former BN/GN cars wearing Sky Blue, Empire Builder, Cascade Green and NJDOT blue and silver.




Of course, once Amtrak was created and the company began to reassign equipment, you never knew what you'd see from train to the next. It was all quite colorful to say the least.




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Thanks guys for this additional info.


Dominic..aren't all of those listed schemes just one or 2 cars painted instead of a whole train sets of cars?


Ted...not sure what you mean by your statement.


Starting with the SP:


Dark green  (I believe Pullman green and a lighter Olive green)


Daylight...not sure if there were several versions of the Daylight scheme


2 tone gray


sliver with red band


I believe there were many of their cars painted UP Armor yellow


Now the New Haven had numerous train sets of various paint schemes; too much for me to itemize.



This is from the espee rail fan web site.


The Southern Pacific had several paint schemes for passenger cars.

  1. Prior to 1937 all SP passenger cars were heavyweight cars and almost all were painted dark olive green (similar to Pullman Green). Some cars retained this color into the early 1960s.


  2. In 1937 the lightweight, streamlined Daylight went into service between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The cars were red and orange with a black roof. This became known as the Daylight color scheme and lasted officially until 1958 but in fact until about 1965-66. In the same time frame the joint SP-UP-C&NW streamliner City of San Francisco began running on the SP Overland Route painted in the UP yellow and leaf brown. A few Daylight-style chair cars painted dark green also went into service on the Overland and Golden State Routes.


  3. In 1941 the lightweight, streamlined Lark went into service between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The cars were two-tone gray with a black roof. In the late 1940s to mid-1950s many heavyweight cars were repainted in these colors. This color scheme lasted until about 1970. The last cars in two-tone gray were probably official cars.


  4. In 1947 the City of San Francisco went to daily service and additional cars were needed. SP provided a number of cars painted in UP yellow and gray with red striping (the gray had replaced the leaf brown in 1941). More cars came in this color scheme in 1949-50. It lasted until May 1971 when Amtrak took over operation of all passenger trains in the US.


  5. In 1947 the SP and Rock Island streamlined the joint Golden State Limited. The paint scheme was Daylight red for the upper sides and roof and silver or stainless steel for the lower sides. This was known as the Golden State scheme and lasted until about 1953.


  6. In 1950 the streamlined Sunset Limited went into service between Los Angeles and New Orleans. The cars were stainless steel with a red letterboard. This was known as the Sunset color scheme. It lasted until 1958. When the Golden State cars lost their Golden State color scheme beginning around 1953 they were gradually repainted in the Sunset scheme.


  7. In 1958 the SP adopted a simplified Sunset color scheme as their standard for all passenger cars with the following exceptions:
    1. cars for the City of San Francisco remained yellow and gray, and
    2. all lightweight and heavyweight headend cars (baggage, mail, etc. except the Sunset Limited mail-baggage cars) and commute coaches were painted solid Lark dark gray (like the locomotives).
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