Southwest Chief

Amtrak passenger rail service in the United States of America

The Southwest Chief (formerly the Southwest Limited and Super Chief) is a passenger train operated by Amtrak. It is on a 2,265-mile (3,645 km) route that goes through the Midwestern and Southwestern United States. It goes between Chicago, Illinois and Los Angeles, California, going through Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

Southwest Chief
Amtrak's Southwest Chief at Devil's Throne in New Mexico
Service typeLong-distance higher speed rail
LocaleMidwestern and Southwestern United States
PredecessorSuper Chief, El Capitan
First service1974
Current operator(s)Amtrak
Ridership1,006 daily
367,267 total (FY15)[1]
StartChicago, Illinois
EndLos Angeles, California
Distance travelled2,265 mi (3,645 km)
Average journey time43 hours, 15 minutes
Service frequencyDaily each way
Train number(s)3 (Chicago to Los Angeles) Westbound
4 (Los Angeles to Chicago) Eastbound
On-board services
Seating arrangementsAirline-style coach seating
Sleeping arrangementsSuperliner Roomette (2 beds)
Family Bedroom (4 beds)
Superliner Bedroom (2 beds)
Superliner Bedroom Suite (4 beds)
Superliner Accessible Bedroom (2 beds)
Catering facilitiesDining car
On-board café
Observation facilitiesSightseer Lounge Car
Baggage facilitiesChecked baggage (select stations)
Rolling stockP42 locomotives
Superliner cars
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Operating speed90 mph (145 km/h) maximum
55 mph (89 km/h) average (including stops)
Track owner(s)BNSF Railway

During fiscal year 2018, the Southwest Chief carried 331,239 passengers. This was 8.8 percent less than it was from FY 2017.[2] The route grossed $43,184,176 in revenue during FY 2018. This was 3.8 percent less than it was from FY 2017.[3] Amtrak had plans for replacing the route between Albuquerque, New Mexico and Dodge City, Kansas with bus service. As of October 2018, these plans were canceled.



Accidents and incidents

  • On October 2, 1979, the Southwest Limited derailed (went off the rails) at Lawrence, Kansas. Of the 30 crew and 147 passengers on board, two people were killed and 69 were injured. The cause was too much speed on a curve. Other causes included an engineer that was not familiar with the route, and that a sign that said to slow down had been removed during track repairs.[4]


  1. "Amtrak FY15 Ridership & Revenue" (PDF). Amtrak. November 5, 2015. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 1, 2016. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  4. "Derailment of Amtrak train No. 4 The Southwest Limited on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company Lawrence, Kansas October 2, 1979" (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board. April 29, 1980. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 17, 2017. Retrieved March 15, 2016.