New Product Spotlight – The Sunset Limited

12 08 2013

We move from the hustle of the Northeast to the beauty of the Southwest this week with our look at another of our new streamliner sets, the Southern Pacific’s Sunset Limited. Build this train with our new E9s and our aluminum passenger cars, or mix and match with other power and cars for your own unique consists!

The Sunset Limited

The Sunset Limited traces its name and beginning all the way back to 1894 on the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio, known as the “Sunset Route.” Then named the Sunset Express, it’s continued operation by Amtrak today makes this the oldest named train operating in the United States.
Sunset Ad

Southern Pacific’s 1950 advertising featured the train behind brilliant PA’s amid Spanish Moss and cotton fields.

For most of its life, the Sunset Limited was the pride of the Southern Pacific. Running the length of the railroad from New Orleans to San Francisco, the train was for many years an all-Pullman affair. Beginning in the 1930s, the train saw the addition of coaches and periodic, then permanent (in 1942) service cut backs to Los Angeles.

The Sunset was also one of the last major passenger trains in the country to be streamlined, finally getting new cars and diesels in 1950. The stainless steel train was often led by E7s, E9s and PAs in the SP’s striking Daylight colors. Steam could also occasionally be found on the train through 1953. These locomotives included the GS class Northerns and even AC cab forwards in the mountains.
By then the consist included both coach and sleeping cars as well as dining, mail and baggage cars. A brilliant neon sign brought up the markers on the rear car. The cars were left in gleaming stainless steel with red in the letterboard above the windows and on the numberboards below. In this era, the train was still looked upon as the most comfortable way to travel the long distance across the country.

Even after modernization, steam could still be found on the Sunset.

In 1971, the train became part of Amtrak’s operations. Since then it has had several more noteworthy moments. From 1985 to 1993 the train was extended east to Miami, making it America’s first and only true transcontinental passenger train. The eastward route was cut back to Orlando and eliminated completely after Hurricane Katrina though service may resume again.

The train was also involved in two of Amtrak’s worst derailments. The first came in 1993 in the bayous near Mobile, AL. The train derailed on a bridge which had been knocked out of alignment by a barge lost in the waterways at night. Forty-seven lost their lives. In 1995 the train was derailed in an apparent act of sabotage in Arizona. That mysterious case remains open.

Lionel’s Models

Now you can recreate the glory years of this fine train on the Southern Pacific. The 18″ aluminum passenger cars will look great behind our new E9s, or a variety of other motive power, including our F-units, Alco PA’s,  streamlined GS steam locomotives and even Cab Forwards.

The new E9s include one powered and one non-powered locomotive. Both engines feature:


In the incomparable Daylight colors, these SP E9s will look amazing on this or any train.

  • Fan-driven smoke unit with adjustable output
  • Directional lighting including LED headlights
  • Front ElectroCouplers
  • Working front Marker Lights
  • Illuminated number boards
  • Lighted and detailed cab interior
  • Die-cast metal trucks, fuel tank and pilots
  • High level of separately applied details
  • O-31 minimum curve

Powered locomotives also feature:

  • LEGACY Control – also capable of running on TMCC or Conventional
  • Odyssey II Speed Control
  • LEGACY RailSounds including
    • CrewTalk and TowerCom dialog
    • 6 Railroad speeds
    • 8 Diesel RPM levels
    • LEGACY Quilling horn
    • Single hit or continuous mechanical bell
    • Sequence control provides sounds and dialog for an entire trip around your layout
    • Current speed and fuel dialog and refueling sounds
  • Dual motors with flywheels
  • Refined Transformer Control with lower starting speeds
  • Traction Tires
  • Engineer and Fireman figures

Passenger cars feature:

  • Die-cast sprung metal trucks with operating couplers featuring hidden uncoupling tabs
  • Extruded aluminum bodies with flush-fitting windows

    passenger set

    The Sunset Limited’s cars offer all the features you’ll want for a trip across the country or around your platform.

  • Operating end vestibules with flexible diaphragms
  • Separately applied metal roof vents and grab irons
  • Interior lighting with on/off switch
  • Detailed interiors with passenger and crew figures
  • Operating marker and end lights on observation car
  • Lighted drumhead on observation car
  • Metal frame
  • Metal underframe details
  • O-54 minimum curve

The locomotives retail for $929.99 and the passenger car 4-packs for $639.99. Don’t let the sun set on your opportunity to own this great train – see your dealers to order today!



2 responses

12 08 2013
Jay Shapson

Why does the Sunset Limited run on 0-31 minimum curve and the Passernger cars run on 0-54 minimun curves. I use Fast Track 0-31.

12 08 2013

The locomotives will negotiate a tighter curve than the passenger cars by virtue of their swinging pilot. The cars are limited to an O-54 curve.

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