News & Reviews News Wire Auto-Train caboose departs California for Georgia

Auto-Train caboose departs California for Georgia

By David Lustig | July 26, 2022

Car set for restoration, display in Florida

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Auto carrier with caboose cupola on siding
Auto carrier with caboose cupola on siding
An auto carrier/caboose built for the original Auto-Train awaits its departure from California for restoration in Georgia. (David Lustig)

SANTA PAULA, Calif. — A 1970s automobile carrier and caboose freight car built for Auto-Train service between Lorton, Va. and Sanford, Fla. is being moved to St. Marys, Ga., for restoration. Purchased by Florida Adventures in Railroading, a non-profit company headquartered in St. Augustine, it had been owned by the defunct Fillmore & Western Railway. Successor operator Sierra Northern, Ventura Division, spotted the car, one of three purpose-built for Auto-Train, at Santa Paula for interchange with the Union Pacific.

After Auto-Train ceased operation in 1981, the car migrated to California and occasionally appeared as a backdrop in Hollywood motion picture productions. Assigned reporting marks RPCX 730027, according to the Florida Adventures in Railroading website, the car is destined for St. Marys for restoration, then to Florida for display.

Auto-Train — carrying passengers and their private vehicles in one train — began operations in 1971. Service was eventually expanded to include Sanford, Fla. and Louisville, Ky. The company terminated operations in 1981. Amtrak revived the concept a few years later.

9 thoughts on “Auto-Train caboose departs California for Georgia

  1. Ya’ll need to check out Doug Riddel’s book on Auto-Train. It has photos of this car and it is a great history of that program. Good to see a unique piece of railroading preserved.

  2. aesthetically and practically, this car has challenges. Its not exactly a caboose, and not exactly an autocarrier. I have trouble understanding its future usefulness.

  3. The car started out as a Canadian National double deck auto carrier way back in 1956!!!!! Sold to Auto Train in 1971 with several being converted to cabooses.

    1. In Model Railroader magazine there was a detailed article about it during the time it was operating. Sorry don’t know the year. Pretty sure they did not mention the cabooses.

    1. Yes, the original Auto-Train ran with either a standard caboose or this option. The original Auto-Train was a product of its times: full crew and crew districts under contract from SCL & RF&P.

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