There are only five Pacific Parlour Cars in the Amtrak fleet and they’re only found on the Coast Starlight, the overnight train that runs daily in both directions between Seattle and Los Angeles.
It’s a wonderful scenic trip, but it’s the Parlor Car—an elegant lounge car built by the Santa Fe in the early 1950’s and now reserved for sleeping car passengers only—that has made that ride a magical one for me.
I don’t know how often I’ve taken the Coast Starlight, but I’ll bet it’s 20 or 25 times. Once, probably 20 years ago, I flew to Los Angeles, rode up to Seattle, spent the night in a hotel, and took the 36-hour return trip back to L.A. the next day. For me, such was the magical lure of the Parlour Car. And I’m not alone.
But now Amtrak is going to retire the Parlour Cars. There has been no official announcement, but unless there is intervention from the highest level, as of the first week of February, the Pacific Parlour Cars will be no more. Cost of maintenance and repair will surely be given as the reason. And that’s absurd because the Pacific Parlour Cars offered us a glimpse back into the Golden Age of Train Travel. And that was priceless.