The Santa Fe “El Capitan” offered coach travel between Chicago and Los Angeles using hi-level coaches along with a diner and lounge, its double decker hi-level cars providing a greater passenger capacity than traditional single-level trains. The El Capitan was revolutionary in that it offered excellent service and a train schedule that matched the speed of first class sleeper trains such as the "Super Chief" while remaining affordable to the every-day passenger. In fact, in January 1958 the "El Capitan" and "Super Chief" trains were consolidated to run together, though in peak traffic times such as Chrismas or the summer months the two would still keep separate train schedules to accomodate the increased ridership. Based off of the C&NW Bi-Level commuter cars, the El Capitan Hi-Level cars were the first of their kind to be used in long distance service, pioneering the concept of affordable, reliable service and providing the basis for today's modern Amtrak fleets (the Amtrak Superliners were, in fact, built off the design of the original Santa Fe Hi-Level coaches and many Santa Fe cars ran alongside Superliners in the early days of Amtrak).
Passenger Car Features -
- All new tooling for cars, including the Baggage-Dormitory visual transition car and the step-down coach car
- Tail-end coach has illuminated marker lights and light-up "El Capitan" conquistador Drumhead
- Each car is equipped with low flange wheels, KATO magnetic knuckle couplers and shock absorber construction for smooth and reliable operation
- Colored interior piece to more closely match the prototypes
- Can be paired up with the Santa Fe Super Chief to replicate post-1958 combination trains
- Interior of cars can be lighted with optional installation of #11-209/210 Interior Light Kit with White LED (Light Kit with White LED is DCC friendly)
Step Down Coach -
Storage Mail -
In 1971 Amtrak, “America’s Railroad”, was born, and with it was born the responsibility of maintaining America’s passenger services. Taking over (among others) the Santa Fe’s luxury “Super Chief” and coach class “El Capitan” trains, Amtrak quickly set about attempting to create its own image for these classic stainless trains, adorning them with bold red, white and blue stripes and the Chevron logo (known today as Phase I colors) which would be synonymous with Amtrak service for nearly three decades.
Amtrak continued to operate the “El Capitan” and “Super Chief” trains in combined consists for a number of years before retiring the historic “El Capitan” name, but the legacy of the train’s double decker cars would live on, both in the form of first-class “Pacific Parlour” lounge cars and in the design of the Superliners which would take form and inspiration from the Hi-level car’s revolutionary design.
Kato's 10-car Amtrak El Capitan set consists of models from their Super Chief set done up in Amtrak livery (Baggage-Dorm #9991, Step Down Coaches #9909 and #9907, Coaches #9928, #9931, #9940 and #9964, Diner #9985, Lounge #9972 and Baggage #1027).