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Niagara Rainbow

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Title: Niagara Rainbow  
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Subject: Empire State Express, Willamette Valley (train), Vacationer (train), Michigan Executive, Campus (train)
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Niagara Rainbow

Niagara Rainbow
Service type Inter-city rail
Status Discontinued
Locale Michigan, New York, Ontario
First service October 31, 1974
Last service January 31, 1979
Former operator(s) Amtrak
Start New York
Stops 16
End Detroit
Distance travelled 676 miles (1,088 km)
Average journey time 14 hours 50 minutes
Service frequency Daily
Train number(s) 63, 64
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)

The Niagara Rainbow, known as the Empire State Express before 1976, was a daily passenger train operated by Amtrak between New York and Detroit via Buffalo and the Canadian province of Ontario. Prior to the formation of Amtrak in 1971 the Penn Central's Wolverine and Motor City Special had served the route, but Amtrak had truncated the Wolverine to Detroit and discontinued the Motor City Special.

The Empire State Express, as it was then known, made its first run to Detroit on October 31, 1974. Before that it was one of the trains on the Empire Corridor, making a daily run between New York's Grand Central Terminal and Buffalo. The states of New York and Michigan provided the funds to extend the train through to Detroit.[1] A day train, the Empire State Express carried no sleeping accommodations but did run with a baggage car and diner. At Buffalo, passengers could connect with a Penn Central/Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway/Canadian Pacific Railway service to Toronto.[2]

Amtrak changed the name of the train to Niagara Rainbow on April 25, 1976, although Niagara Falls itself continued to be served by a bus connection. In 1978 several state governments proposed replacing the Niagara Rainbow and its Chicago—Cleveland—New York counterpart Lake Shore Limited with a single train with separate sections via Detroit and Cleveland west of Buffalo and separate Boston and New York sections east of Albany.[3] In the end the two trains remained separate. In October 1978 the Niagara Rainbow finally began stopping in Niagara Falls.[4]

Amtrak truncated the Niagara Rainbow to Niagara Falls on January 31, 1979, after Michigan and New York withdrew their support. The United States Secretary of Transportation, Brock Adams, proposed re-routing the Lake Shore Limited, which ran through Cleveland on the opposite side of Lake Erie, over the Ontario route but this plan was not adopted by Congress.[5][6]

Amtrak also ran an overnight service between New York and Toronto by the name of Niagara Rainbow in the 1990s.[7]


  1. ^ "States Seeking Rail Service".  
  2. ^  
  3. ^ Wald, Martin (February 8, 1978). "New East-West Rail Plan Would Have Buffalo Hub".  
  4. ^  
  5. ^ "Paring Down Amtrak".  
  6. ^ "Trains Will Return".  
  7. ^ "Maple Leaf / Niagara Rainbow / Adirondack timetables". The Museum of Railway Timetables. 
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