History of the Original
1970s Auto-Train

Copyright © 2002-2017 by Bill's Railroad Empire

This page will tell about the original red, white, and purple Auto-Train that ran from Lorton, Virginia (near Washington, D.C.) to Sanford, Florida in the 1970s. There was also a short-lived Auto-Train that ran from Louisville, Kentucky to Sanford, Florida.

Unfortunately for Mr. Garfield the Auto-Train Corporation experienced several train wrecks that destroyed some of the locomotives and other financial woes put the company into bankruptcy in the early 1980s.

Amtrak revived the Auto-Train and it now has new equipment.

Magazine Ad (1972)

Hopefully, I'll find some more photos of the real Auto-Train soon. The photos below are my N scale models of the Auto-Train that were manufactured by Bachmann.

The Auto-Train in N Scale

My N scale Auto-Train has two U36B locomotives and one GP40 that I painted (the Auto-Train used only U36Bs), five auto carriers, nine full-done cars, a heater car and a caboose that I painted and decorated.

Bachmann Auto-Train GE U36B Diesel

The Auto-Train was equipped with General Electric U36B Diesel locomotives, 76' double-deck auto carriers, a number of passenger cars including the 85' full-domes shown in the photo. Normally two or three locomotives pulled about 30 cars to and from the Florida destination. The train departed Lorton in the afternoon and arrived at Sanford the following morning.

Bachmann introduced the Auto-Train in HO scale in 1974. The N scale models followed in 1975.

Auto-Train U36B #4008 being refueled on Bill's N Scale Railroad

Auto-Train Photos at Abandoned Rails

The Story of the 1971-1981 Auto-Train

A Wealth of Information and Photos

The January 2013 Issue of Trains magazine has an article about the Auto-Train

Auto-Train History and Photos at Wikipedia

Memories of the Original Auto-Train by David B. Balton

Includes Historical Information and Photographs

Auto-Train Corporation Photos and Information from Fallen Flags

Includes 1971 Brochure and Maps from the Bob Rathke Collection

See Auto-Train Photos at North East Rails

Click Here to View U36B Locomotives

Auto-Train Full Dome Passenger Car

Auto-Train Auto Carriers

See Photos of Amtrak's Auto-Train at

N Scale Atlas Baldwin VO-1000 Auto-Train Switcher and Micro-Trains BLW Exclusive Auto-Train Auto Rack Cars

Model Railroad News Article, "Gene Garfield: A World Class Railfan"

YouTube Video... Original Auto-Train at Lorton, VA, 1977

References: Original Auto-Train--Model Railroader (12/74 and 1/75), Trains (1/73 and 12/74), Passenger Train Journal (6/82 and 5/95), Vintage Rails (3-4/99). Amtrak Auto-Train--Trains (12/92), Rail News (7/97), Model Railroader (5/00).


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Updated 1/11/2017


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