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In connection with the start of Amtrak service in May 1971, the company handpicked approximately 1,200 cars from a total pool of 3,000 held by the two dozen predecessor railroads that had handed over their passenger service obligations to Amtrak.

Many of these inherited cars wore various paint schemes, which is why these early years are sometimes referred to as Amtrak's "Rainbow Era." A lot of effort was put into modernizing the cars, as seen in this 1973 image of a refurbished dome-pub car, which had originally been built in 1947 by the Budd Company as an observation lounge for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad’s Twin Cities Zephyr (Chicago-Minneapolis).

See the slideshow above for a trip down memory lane plus renderings of the next generation of passenger rail cars. This image shows the Silver Star passing through Norlina, N. In 1986 the route of the Silver Star (New York-Tampa-Miami) shifted eastward through Rocky Mount when the rail line through Norlina was abandoned.

The depot in the photograph was subsequently torn down. 631, wearing the Amtrak Phase I paint scheme introduced in 1972. In 1976-77, RTL Turboliners were delivered to Amtrak for use on routes serving New York State, including the Empire Service(New York-Albany-Buffalo) and Adirondack(New York-Montreal).

A lot of effort was put into modernizing the cars, as seen in this 1973 image of a refurbished dome-pub car, which had originally been built in 1947 by the Budd Company as an observation lounge for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad’s Twin Cities Zephyr (Chicago-Minneapolis).

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The other food service cars had coach seating at one end and either tables (Amdinette) or additional coach seating (Amcafe) at the other end.

The first of the new single-level Amfleet cars went into revenue service on Aug. Four days earlier, Amtrak invited employees and their families on a test run between Washington and Philadelphia to gauge reactions to the car interiors and the ride quality.

This ticket not only guaranteed a spot on the train, but could also be kept as a memento of this special trip.

The Metroliners were used as a prototype due to their popularity among travelers on the high-speed Metroliner service between Washington, D. Starting in late 1973, Amtrak ordered the first of what was ultimately 492 Amfleet cars, touting their “Floor tracks permitting variable seat spacing and other configuration changes [that] will allow us to maximize revenue as well as to provide varying interior arrangements.” The Amfleet featured five-car configurations, two of which were coaches: an 84-seat version for use on short-distance corridor services and a 60-seat version used on long-distance routes.

Shown here is a view into an Amclub, which had two-by-two coach seating on one end, a standard food service unit in the center and two-by-one club car seating on the other end.

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