Southern Pacific Railroad Daylight Train 1937
Between Los Angeles and San Francisco,California
The Coast Daylight was a passenger train originally run by the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) between the
cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California, via SP's Coast Line. In the eyes of many the "most
beautiful passenger train in the world," it featured a stunning red, orange, and black color scheme.
The Daylight Limited began in 1922 and became daily in 1923; by 1924 its schedule was 12 hours each way
between San Francisco and Los Angeles Central Station. For the first few years it claimed to make no
passenger stops en route, and it was the fastest SF-LA train— unusual for a train with no sleepers or parlor
cars. One-way fare in the 1920s was $13.
The streamlined Daylight began on March 21, 1937, pulled by GS-2 steam locomotives built by Lima (Baldwin
Locomotive works) on a 9-3/4 hour schedule. It was the first of the Daylight series that later included the
San Joaquin Daylight, Shasta Daylight, Sacramento Daylight, and Sunbeam.
By 30 June 1939 the streamlined Daylights had carried 268.6 million passenger-miles on 781,141 train-miles
for an average occupancy of 344 passengers.
The Coast Daylight ran behind steam until January 7, 1955, long after most streamliners had been powered by
diesel. On May 1, 1971 Amtrak took over and rerouted their Coast Daylight to Oakland so it could continue
north to Portland.
A second train, the Noon Daylight, ran the same route 1940-42 and 1946-49 with a suspension during World War
II. The original Coast Daylight was known as the Morning Daylight during this time.
In 1949 the Noon Daylight was replaced by the overnight Starlight using the same equipment. In 1956 coaches
from the Starlight were added to the all Pullman Lark and the Starlight was discontinued in 1957. Amtrak
later revived the name for its Los Angeles to Seattle service known as the Coast Starlight.
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