Sunset Limited

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The Sunset Limited is a passenger train line operated by Amtrak that formerly connected Pensacola and other Gulf Coast communities on track owned by CSX Transportation to destinations as far west as Los Angeles and as far east as Jacksonville and Orlando. Service to Pensacola has been suspended since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Big Bayou Canot train disaster[edit]

On September 22, 1993, at 2:54 a.m., the Sunset Limited derailed over the Big Bayou Canot near Mobile, after a barge struck one of the railroad bridge's pilings. Three engines and four railroad cars blunged into the bayou, killing five crew members and forty-two passengers, including Betty and Oscar Skelton of Pace. It remains the the worst train disaster in Amtrak's history.

Among the survivors were six Northwest Florida residents: Daisy Netters of Pensacola, Carole and George Simpson of Midway, Mary and Rubin O'Donovan of Brownsville, and David Jordan of Molino.[1]

Suspension after hurricanes[edit]

The Sunset Limited was temporarily suspended after damage from Hurricane Ivan, mostly between Pensacola and Chattahoochee, washed out six miles of tracks and damaged eight bridges.[2]

It was shut down again after Hurricane Katrina damaged track and several Mississippi bridges in 2005. Even after repairs were made and CSX freight service resumed, Amtrak remained "reluctant to resume service" east of New Orleans, citing "concern about limited ridership and increased losses."[3]

As of 2008, the Pensacola Amtrak station at Heinberg Street remains closed.


  1. "Deadly Amtrak crash haunts survivors - 10 years later." Pensacola News Journal, September 21, 2003.
  2. "Ivan floods and winds devastate train lines." Pensacola News Journal, September 24, 2004.
  3. "Bay area Amtrak service in limbo." Pensacola News Journal, December 28, 2007.