Seaboard Coast Line Railroad

The Seaboard Coast Line Railroad (reporting mark SCL) is a former Class I railroad company operating in the Southeastern United States beginning in 1967. Its passenger operations were taken over by Amtrak in 1971. Eventually, the railroad was merged with its affiliate lines to create the Seaboard System in 1983.

Seaboard Coast Line Railroad
Reporting markSCL
LocaleSoutheastern United States
Dates of operation19671983
PredecessorAtlantic Coast Line Railroad
Seaboard Air Line Railroad
SuccessorSeaboard System
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length9,809 miles (15,786 km) (July 1967)
HeadquartersJacksonville, FL and Richmond, VA

At the end of 1970, SCL operated 9,230 miles of railroad, not including A&WP-Clinchfield-CN&L-GM-Georgia-L&N-Carrollton; that year it reported 31,293 million ton-miles of revenue freight and 512 million passenger-miles.


The Seaboard Coast Line emerged on July 1, 1967, following the merger of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad with the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. The combined system totaled 9,809 miles (15,786 km), the eighth largest in the United States at the time.[1] The railroad had $1.2 billion in assets and revenue with a 54% market share of rail service in the Southeast, facing competition primarily from the Southern.[2] The seemingly redundant name resulted from the longstanding short-form names of these two major Southeastern railroads. For years, SAL had been popularly known as "Seaboard," while ACL was known as "the Coast Line."

Prior to the creation of Amtrak on May 1, 1971, the Seaboard Coast Line provided passenger service over much of its system, including local passenger trains on some lines.[3] Local trains ended when the Amtrak era began.[2][4] Although several named passenger trains survived through the Amtrak era, many were renamed or combined with other services.

The first expansion for the Seaboard Coast Line came in 1969 with the acquisition of the Piedmont and Northern Railway, which operated about 128 miles (206 km) in North and South Carolina.[5] SCL would buy out the remaining shares and gain control of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad in 1971, and the Durham and Southern Railway.

On November 1, 1980, CSX Corporation was created as a holding company for the Family Lines and Chessie System Railroad. In 1983 CSX combined the Family Lines System units as the Seaboard System Railroad and later became CSX Transportation when the former Chessie units merged with the Seaboard in December 1986.[6]

Effective January 1, 1983, the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad became Seaboard System Railroad after a merger with the Louisville and Nashville Railroad and Clinchfield Railroad. For some years prior to this, the SCL and L&N had been under the common ownership of a holding company, Seaboard Coast Line Industries (SCLI), the company's railroad subsidiaries being collectively known as the Family Lines System which consisted of the L&N, SCL, Clinchfield and West Point Routes. During this time, the railroads adopted the same paint schemes but continued to operate as separate railroads.

Notable SCL services

Juice Train

Juice Train is the popular name for famous unit trains of Tropicana fresh orange juice operated by railroads in the United States. On June 7, 1970, beginning on Seaboard Coast Line railroad, a mile-long Tropicana Juice Train began carrying one million gallons of juice with one weekly round-trip from Bradenton, Florida to Kearny, New Jersey, in the New York City area. The trip spanned 1,250 miles (2,010 km) one way, and the 60 car train was the equivalent of 250 trucks.[7]

Today operated by SCL successor CSX Transportation, CSX Juice Trains have been the focus of efficiency studies and awards as examples of how modern rail transportation can compete successfully against trucking and other modes to carry perishable products.

Motive power

Immediately following the 1967 merger, the newly created SCL network had 1,232 locomotives. The vast majority of the ACL roster contained EMD locomotives, while the SAL rostered Baldwin and ALCO diesels in addition to EMD models.[8] Both railroads had purchased new freight locomotives in the 5 years leading up to the merger. Among the first new locomotives purchased by the Seaboard Coast Line were 28 GE U33B locomotives, acquired in 1967 and 1968. These were followed by 108 GE U36B locomotives between 1970 and 1972.[2] From EMD, SCL purchased SD45 locomotives in 1968, with more to follow in 1971. SD45-2 locomotives were added in 1974. GP40 and GP40-2 locomotives were added to the fleet between 1968 and 1972 for use on through freights and other high priority freight trains. All former SAL locomotives ran for many years in the "Split-image" scheme, still in full SAL paint, but relettered and renumbered SCL. Two GP-7's 915 & 981 went from pure SAL to SCL Black without being in split-image and GP-7 944 and RS-3 1156 were never painted black, and retained their SAL paint until retired in 1976. The last operating SCL locomotive in SAL paint was GP-40 1559, former SAL 644, and was repainted at Hamlet, NC in March 1976 according to records. There were former P&N locomotives that retained their P&N scheme from 1969 until 1977, only RS-3's 1250 & 1256 and S-4 230 ever were repainted SCL black.

Gainesville Midland SD-40, retained its SAL paint until 1986 when it was repainted Seaboard System 8300, it had been SBD 0010 and 8300 in SAL style "split-image" for several years prior to that.

SCL supplemented its local freight units with orders of GE U18B and EMD GP38-2 locomotives. Some U18B models contained a shorter, and therefore lighter, fuel tank which proved ideal for light density lines. Most units of this type were assigned to the Carolinas.[2] However, in 1978 the SCL decided not to purchase any more locomotives for local service on secondary mainlines and branchlines, instead aging GP7, GP9, and GP18 locomotives would be rebuilt into GP16 models at the Uceta shops.

In the years leading up to the creation of the Seaboard System in 1983, SCL began acquiring the next generation of locomotives from EMD and GE. These orders included GE B23-7 locomotives in 1978 and 1980, including the GE BQ23-7 variant, of which only 10 were built and all belonged to SCL.[2][8] EMD GP38-2 units were added in 1979 and 1980, and 5 EMD GP40-2 locomotives also delivered in 1980. Six axle GE C30-7 and EMD SD40-2 units were added to the roster between 1979 and 1980.


  • Jacksonville
  • Tampa
  • Waycross
  • Florence
  • Rocky Mount
  • Savannah
  • Raleigh
  • CN&L
  • GM Railroad
  • Atlanta

See also


  1. Transport Statistics shows 9306 route-miles operated by SCL itself at the end of 1967, not including numerous subsidiaries.
  2. Griffin, William (2004). Seaboard Coast Line & Family Lines. TLC Publishing. pp. 4–16. ISBN 0-9766201-0-3.
  3. Seaboard Coast Line Railroad Passenger Schedules, July 1, 1967.
  4. Harwell, Jeffrey (2008). "Operations In and Around Dothan". Lines South. White River Productions. 25 (1): 4–19.
  5. Hilton, George W. (2000). The Electric Interurban Railways in America. Sanford University Press. pp. 331–333. ISBN 0-8047-4014-3.
  6. Solomon, Brian (2005). CSX. MBI Publishing Company. pp. 63–67. ISBN 0-7603-1796-8.
  7. "The Great White Train". The Family Lines Rail System Magazine. Family Lines Railroad. 8 (1): 16–17. 1981.
  8. Nuckles, Douglas B. (1995). Seaboard Coast Line Railroad. TLC Publishing. ISBN 1-883089-13-1.
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