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Published on : Thursday, October 31, 2013
Powered by a specially-painted locomotive celebrating veterans and showcasing the past, present and future of America’s Railroad®, the Amtrak Exhibit Train will be open for free tours during the Railfest in Meridian, Miss., this Saturday, Nov. 2. The train will be stationed at the Meridian Multi-Modal Transportation Center at 1901 Front St., and open for tours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Visitors can view attractions such as trackside signals, prototype and virtual sleeping compartments, a locomotive control stand and train horns. On display will be photos, uniforms, vintage advertising and memorabilia from the beginning of Amtrak in 1971 to today’s modern sleeping cars and high-speed rail service. The train consists of two locomotives, three renovated baggage cars and one bistro car, all with historic paint schemes.
Exclusive Amtrak collectibles will be available for purchase including Amtrak: An American Story, an illustrated company history written by employees with chapter introductions composed by past and present Amtrak leaders. In addition, a documentary DVD explores the history of Amtrak and its importance to the nation’s transportation network.
The locomotive with the Exhibit Train honors those who have served in America’s Armed Forces. Amtrak painted the locomotive red, white and blue with a specially designed “America’s Railroad Salutes Our Veterans” logo and 50 stars. It is a symbol of an Amtrak commitment of 25 percent of new hires to be veterans by 2015.
Meridian is served by the Amtrak Crescent (Trains 19 & 20) and is an important stop, with 11,500 passengers in the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2013 (Amtrak Fiscal Year 2013). More than 306,700 rode the New Orleans-New York route in the same period.
Also known locally as Union Station and officially dedicated on December 11, 1997, this Amtrak station is a central transfer point among several modes of passenger transportation including Amtrak, intercity buses and other providers of transit services. It has been cited as a national model of train station development because it has leveraged more than $8 million worth of private investment in Meridian’s “Depot District,” including office space, retail shops, and a data processing/computer training center, apartments, restaurants, and vital records storage buildings.
Also at Railfest will be a Norfolk Southern freight locomotive that has been painted to recognize veterans. The festival features steam engines, street organs, model railroad exhibits and various vendors.