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Amtrak paint schemes (officially termed "Phases") are a series of liveries applied to the outside of Amtrak rolling stock in the United States. The livery phases appeared as different designs, with a majority using a red, white, and blue (the colors of the United States Flag) palette, except for promotional trains, experimental trains, state partnership routes, and the Capstone phase.

Amtrak began operations in May 1971 with a mixture of equipment from its predecessor railroads, much of which was painted in a variety of railroad-specific paint schemes. This era was later referred to as the Rainbow Era, due to the mix-matched colorful trains Amtrak used. Amtrak elected not to keep the same rolling stock on the same routes and it was not unexpected to find rolling stock from anywhere in the US on any train. To build the brand of Amtrak as a unified passenger railroad, the equipment was gradually repainted into system-wide Phases starting around 1972 with Phase I.

The phases are referred in numerical sequential order, usually in Roman numerals. Up until the introduction of the Acela in 2000, phases were painted on all equipment, with locomotives and passenger cars often painted in different styles of the same phase. Since 2000, Amtrak has started splitting phases up between equipment, with locomotives in Phase V & passenger cars largely in Phase IVb.

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Rainbow Era

Amtrak's early years are often called the "Rainbow Era", which refers to the ad hoc arrangement of the rolling stock and locomotives from a pool of equipment, acquired by Amtrak at its formation, that consisted of a large mix of paint schemes from their former owners. This rolling stock, which for the most part still bore the pre-Amtrak colors and logos, formed the multi-colored consists of early Amtrak trains. By mid-1971, Amtrak began purchasing some of the equipment it had leased, including 286 second-hand EMD E and F type diesel locomotives, 30 GG1 electric locomotives and 1,290 passenger cars, and continued leasing even more motive power.

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Phase paint schemes

Phase I

Unveiled in 1972 Phase I was the first paint scheme to be implemented system-wide on Amtrak's trains. Previously Amtrak equipment had retained their original paint jobs used by their previous owners, known as the Heritage Era, a few engines had been painted into experimental and promotional paint schemes. Phase I is colloquially known as the "Bloody Nose" scheme due to the red paint on the fronts of engines.

On locomotives, Phase I contained a red nose with the Amtrak Chevron logo (sometimes called the "Pointless Arrow") on the side of the engine, with a black roof. On passenger cars, Phase I had a red & blue stripe down the sides with white pin-striping bordering the stripes; on the ends of the car just inside from the door a white field covered the stripes and held the Chevron Logo. Amtrak would retain the Red, White & Blue stripes as a paint scheme for many more years. The last Phase I equipment was retired out of the scheme in 1981.

Phase II

In 1975 Amtrak unveiled their second paint scheme, Phase II with the arrival of the first GE P30CHs. While extremely similar to Phase I on passenger cars, Phase II was the first paint scheme to have all types of equipment using the stripe style. Phase II stripes were identical to Phase I stripes, however the cars lost the Chevron logo on the ends. Locomotives also received the striping, losing the red nose & the Chevron logo on the sides. The locomotives retained their black roof. The last Phase II equipment was phased out in 1987.

Amtrak's Superliner Is were originally delivered in this paint scheme, since the Superliners are double level, similar to the Hi-Levels, the striping was placed between the two floors, and only swooped up to pass through the windows on the second floor of the Sightseer Lounge Cars. The new Superliners also featured the Superliner Mark located in the striping above the doors, this mark would continue to be seen in Phase III.

Phase III

Phase III is a widely known paint scheme of Amtrak, introduced in 1976 on the Rohr Turboliners and existing to this day on some equipment. The "classic" version of this scheme used the same red and blue colors as previous schemes. Most equipment was stainless steel or painted Platinum Mist (silver), and featured 8" tall stripes of red white and blue. Superliners, Amfleet and some Horizon cars had taller red and blue stripes, but the center white stripe remained at 8" tall. Many variations exist within this scheme, including trainsets painted white with the stripes toward the bottom of the carbody, which was also featured on LRC equipment. Locomotives were painted with a black roof that normally angled down and over the cab windows and across the top of the nose. AEM-7 locomotives in Phase III wore a hybrid that was styled after the trainset variant but used Platinum Mist for the main body color. Dash 8-32BWH locomotives had a unique variant that was unofficially dubbed "Pepsi paint." The roof was painted Charcoal Gray and the stripes were enlarged and stylized with white pinstripes accenting their edges. The red and blue colors were changed to be darker and closer to US Flag colors. Genesis series locomotives were delivered using the same Charcoal Gray for the top, and the same darker red and blue color for their stripes.

In February 2015, the first Viewliner II cars entered revenue service wearing an updated version of Phase III (often erroneously referred to as Phase IIIb). The classic 8" tall red, white and blue stripes using the original colors adorn the cars, with the addition of the "Amtrak America" version of the Travelmark logo. The underbody is Anthracite Gray (the same as on Phase V) and they feature a red sill stripe.

The "Pepsi Can" paint scheme was used on Amtrak Dash 8-32BWH diesel locomotives. The Pepsi Can paint scheme is a spin-off from the standard Phase III. On the front of the engine, the red, white and blue stripes run across the side of the locomotive much like Phase III, except they are wider and spread much more apart. Close to the rear of the engine, the red and blue stripes make a "turn" and go up the side of the engine after crossing over each other. Because of the Dash 8-32BWH's shape and the paint scheme, the nickname "Pepsi-Can" was given to the engines. Even though the engines have been converted over to Phase IV and V paint, the nickname is still used by many in different variations, such as 'Diet Pepsi' for Phase IV and 'Crystal Pepsi' for Phase V.

Phase IV

Beginning in 1993 Phase IV was introduced as a striking departure from the traditional red, white, and blue style seen previously. Phase IV was brought into service with the delivery of the newer Superliner II cars. It consisted of two thin red stripes over a white background, over a thick dark-blue stripe. In 1997 Amtrak extended the scheme to locomotives, initially GE P42DC diesel locomotives on Northeast Corridor service.

Phase IV introduced a collection of subtle variations for different services. Northeast Corridor Amfleet trains received a special "Northeast Direct Service" logo located near the doors on coaches and in the windowless section of Cafe cars. The P42DC units assigned to those trains received the most changes, including a grey roof line, as well as the words "Northeast Direct" in small print under the cab. Along with the Amfleets & P40s a collection of Viewliner Sleepers obtained special window stickers containing a star field for the car's use on the Twilight Shoreliner.

Superliner cars got the Phase IV striping located in the same location as previously minus the swoop up on the Sightseer Lounge cars. These cars lost their Phase II-style wording above the doors and instead got the word "Superliner" in blue placed above the red & white stripes, slightly overlapping the stripes. The 'Superliner' text spanned most of the length of the car. The Viewliner cars received a similar treatment but bearing the word "Viewliner". In June 2016, the last Amtrak Locomotive (P32-8BHW 515) was repainted in Phase V colors.

Phase V

Phase V was introduced with the arrival of the Acela Express high speed train set. It is currently the most common paint scheme on Amtrak's locomotives. The new paint scheme was originally used on the "Genesis" locomotives, starting with units 123-207, and eventually spread to all units in the class. Phase V consists of a red stripe that runs along the bottom of the locomotive and a blue nose which runs up the side of the locomotive in a "wave" form . The underbody is painted Anthracite Gray. This is the first paint scheme to use the current Phase V paint on Genesis units sporting the most recent Amtrak Travelmark logo, which is portrayed on the side of most Phase V engines. Originally on Genesis units, Phase V would have a wider red stripe and a blue stripe just below it, with a small Amtrak logo near the front. Phase V has sometimes been referred to the "Shamu" design after the SeaWorld killer whale.

The Phase V scheme is used on Amtrak Genesis locomotives, Acela Express power cars, HHP-8, AEM-7, and ACS-64 electrics, some Material Handling Cars (now out of service; known as 'MHCs'), and all Autoracks on the Auto Train. More recently, the scheme has started to appear on Amtrak's GE Dash 8 locomotives, new switcher locomotives, as well as EMD F40PH NPCU "Cabbage' cars. Phase V has not appeared on any passenger cars. The Auto Train's Autoracks, the MHCs, and the NPCUs do not feature the blue waves. Amtrak has decided to keep the Phase IV stripes with the introduction of the Phase IVb paint scheme.

Phase V for passenger cars was modeled after the Acela Express variation of this livery, featuring mobile shapes (or blobs) that led to the nickname "lava lamp scheme."

This short lived paint scheme was introduced in 2000 for Northeast Regional services on Amfleet cars during the Capstone rebuild project, in an effort to create a new image for the trains. This variation of the paint scheme featured many different splotch patterns officially called "mobiles." Different color combinations represented different classes of service. On the coach cars, dark turquoise fins were covered on a light turquoise background. On business class cars, light turquoise fins were covered on a navy blue background. Cafe cars were painted the same as business coaches, with the exception of a large green fin placed in the center of the car, where there aren't windows. The bottom of the cars feature the same red sill stripe found on locomotives, however the underbody was painted black instead of Anthracite Gray.

The only non-Amfleet car to receive Phase V was a Heritage Baggage car assigned to the Vermonter, featuring a large mural of the Vermonter logo in the center of the car between the baggage doors.

Phase VI (also referred to as Phase IVb)

Phase VI is the official name given to the revised Phase IV scheme applied on passenger cars to match the "Acela inspired" Phase V locomotives, at the time that the Phase V scheme was retired by CEO David Gunn. This is now the most common paint scheme seen on Superliner equipment.

The design is easily confused with Phase IV designs, although there are several differences between Phase IV and Phase VI. The Phase VI stripes are the same size and arrangement as Phase IV, however the blue is lighter, not a purple-like color, and is the same blue used for Phase V. The current Amtrak Travelmark logo is displayed in white or blue depending on where it is located on the car. The car number and car type lettering are much smaller than on previous paint schemes with Frutiger replacing the previous Helvetica typeface. On the skirt of the car, there is usually a red reflective stripe, the same as on Phase V. Although not used on any locomotives, Phase VI has been applied to just about every type of Amtrak passenger car used today, including Superliner, Amfleet, Horizon, and the remaining Heritage equipment (though a small number of cars remain in older paint schemes in rail yards and at railroad museums). Phase VI has not been applied on any of Amtrak's locomotives as it was designed to correspond with Phase V locomotives.

On Superliner equipment, directly above the red stripes, the lettering of "Superliner" has been moved to the car ends and placed within the blue stripe. Some Viewliner equipment used to be seen in a hybrid of Phase IV and VI. Those cars would have the text "Viewliner Sleeper" by the door, and the large "Viewliner" spread down the sides within the red & white stripes. This mixed paint job carries the new Travelmark logo as well as the older black & white striping on the skirting. By March 2013 however, all of the cars had been repainted into full Phase VI with a thinner blue stripe and a red stripe along the bottom of the car, without the "Viewliner" lettering within the red and white stripes.

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Route-specific paint schemes


Designed by OH&CO; the Acela Express trainsets use a custom variation of the Phase V paint scheme. The power cars receive the standard blue wave across the front and along the top of the side. The windscreen receives a dark purple 'bubble' surrounding it. Running along the bottom of the entire consist is a dark grey area just beneath the standard red reflective stripe. Each power car has a large Acela Sea Turtle Fin logo near the rear, and a smaller one near the cab. The cars do not have the blue roof line, however each car has a series of Sea Turtle Fins, or Splotches, which vary in shape, color, and positioning depending on the class of car it is (Business Class, Cafe Bistro, and First Class).

Amtrak California Services

California Cars

Amtrak California's color scheme and logo differ from standard Amtrak colors. All state-owned locomotives and California Cars, with the exception of equipment used on the Pacific Surfliner, use the "California Colors": blue and yellow (gold). This scheme is also used on many connecting buses. All state-owned equipment is named for geographical features in California.

The Capitol Corridor and the San Joaquin are most identified with the Amtrak California image since they use "California Colored" equipment most of the time. The other state-supported rail route, Pacific Surfliner, uses a unique blue and silver paint scheme that differs from other Amtrak California-branded trains.

Pacific Surfliner

The Pacific Surfliner paint scheme was created specially for Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner trains in California and was also used on the short lived Las Vegas Talgo. The paint scheme consists of a blue-and-white stripe, running along the skirt of the locomotive and cars, and a very large blue streak, which "swooshes" up the sides of the locomotive, then running horizontally across the cars. On the locomotives, white Amtrak lettering is found within the large blue streaks on the sides, as well as blue Amtrak lettering on the locomotives' nose. There is also a black mask, outlined with white stripes, running across the cab windows on the front & sides of the engine. On the Pacific Surfliner cars, large "Surfliner" letters, the same style letters as on Phase IV Superliners, go across the lower part of the large blue stripe, below the upper-level windows, along with the car type and number on each end of the car in white lettering.

San Joaquin Single-Level Equipment

In 2013 Amtrak California started receiving refurbished single-level cars to supplement their current fleet on the San Joaquins route to help with over-crowding issues. The 14 single-level Comet IB rail cars, purchased from NJ Transit, are painted in a heritage paint scheme. As well as a complete refurbishment of the interiors, the cars received a dark blue band over the windows with three colored "disco stripes" (in a nod to the car's history in New Jersey) by the doors. The stripes are in Amtrak California's colors of orange, blue and green. Caltrans also leased three Non-Powered Control Units (former F40PH locomotives turned into cab control and baggage cars) from Amtrak. These control cars are painted in a livery that matches the original color scheme of Caltrain's F40PH locomotives. The Non-Powered Control Units are painted silver with a blue and green stripe running from the nose and down the side. About two-thirds of the way back, the stripes turn up and swoop over the roof. The nose has red and white warning stripes.

Amtrak Cascades

The Cascades paint scheme was created specifically for Amtrak's Cascades trains, operated in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. On the locomotives, the Cascades scheme is very similar to the Pacific Surfliner paint scheme, though the colors themselves are different on the Cascades. Instead of the large blue streaks on the side of the engine, it is colored green. The black mask across the cab windows is colored brown. On the Cascades Talgo equipment, the green streak slides down the baggage car & power car, and then runs down the bottom of the rest of the cars. This inverts the colors from the order on the locomotive making the middle part of the cars brown.

Oregon DOT recently bought two Series 8 train-sets from Talgo for use on the Cascades service. These are painted similarly to the existing Cascades design; however the newer train-sets lack the transition fins on the end cars that the old ones have. Lacking the transition fins the Cab end's stripes come to a point rather than swooping up to meet the engine's swoops.

Las Vegas Talgo

The Las Vegas paint scheme is a derivative of the Cascades design originally applied to single set of Series VI Talgo units for use on a route between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The train was designed to be able to use Pacific Surfliner engines and so has Pacific Surfliner colors in the Cascades design; The green became blue, the brown became dark grey, and the white top became light grey. The Cascades logo and car names do not appear on this set. After the closure of the Desert Wind route this set was moved into regular Cascades service; and has been repainted into standard Cascades paint.

Hiawatha Talgo

Wisconsin's new Series 8 Talgo trains were completed but never delivered due to the state's decision to cancel the order. The trains were painted in Talgo's corporate paint scheme of a white car with a red stripe in line with the windows and a dark grey stripe along the bottom. They do not have the transition fins that the older Series VI Talgo trains in Washington have. The current plan is for these cars to be used on Michigan's Wolverine service.

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Special paint schemes

Promotional A-day livery

EMD E8 No. 4316 and coach 1589 were painted for display in New York when Amtrak began service in May 1971; they saw later use on the Broadway Limited. The locomotive was painted black; the Chevron "pointless arrow" logo on each side wrapped around the front with blue and white stripes.

Operation Lifesaver livery

In late 2008, Amtrak wrapped F59PHI #455 in an Operation Lifesaver paint scheme to promote a Caltrans safety campaign. The wrap featured a surfer with a surfboard standing in the middle of railroad tracks during a sunset. The words "Stay off, stay away, stay alive" were printed on both sides. The locomotive was restored to its original livery in June 2010. Other locomotives painted for Operation Lifesaver included F59PHI #2007 in a yellow paint scheme with several printed slogans and #457 in a blue scheme with a large hand print.

Pacific Surfliner 10th anniversary

Amtrak wrapped F59PHI #457 in a special scheme to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Pacific Surfliner and the train's ridership surpassing 25 million. The locomotive's new scheme was released on May 8, 2010 for National Train Day.

40th anniversary livery

For Amtrak's 40th anniversary in 2011, four P42DC locomotives received a special version of Phase I through Phase IV paint schemes. From January through April 2011, Amtrak's Beech Grove Shops outside Indianapolis repainted the units and sent them north on the Hoosier State to Chicago, where they were cycled into regular service on other routes. The Anniversary locomotives were selected from units scheduled for repainting or recent wreck rebuilds. The first repainted locomotives was #145 in Phase III paint, which led the Capitol Limited on January 30, 2011. Three other locomotives followed: #156 in Phase I, #66 in Phase II, and #184 in Phase IV.

The 40th Anniversary Exhibit Train consisted of P40DC locomotive #822, NPCU #406, modified heritage sleeper Pacific Bend, three heritage baggage cars used as exhibit cars, and reconfigured Amfleet cafe car #85999. The whole train was painted in Phase III.

ACS-64 promotional livery

The first three ACS-64 units released from Siemens in 2013 received a special variation to the regular Phase V paint scheme. Locomotives #600 and #601 received a large American flag on the sides as well as smaller logos for Siemens & Amtrak. Locomotive #602 had a special "Reliability - Efficiency - Mobility" infographic on the sides. All three were later repainted with a conventional Phase V scheme.

Veterans units

In June 2013, P42DC #42 was painted in a red, white, black, and dark blue scheme with a large logo on the side saying "America's Railroad Salutes our Veterans". A blue band near the wheelbase contains 50 white stars. ACS-64 #642 and NPCUs #90208 and #90221 received similar paint schemes in 2015.

Non-passenger equipment

Amtrak maintenance of way equipment primarily receives the same scheme of an orange base and black lettering. Newer Amtrak maintenance of way receives a new scheme consisting of a yellow base with the current blue logo; older equipment is gradually being repainted in this scheme.

In 1997, Amtrak bought 50 rebuilt 50-foot boxcars to supplement its newly-built 60-foot Express Box Car fleet. The rebuilt cars arrived in their original Southern Pacific dark green paint scheme, rather than the Phase V scheme of the newer cars. Some of the rebuilt cars were repainted into Phase V before express service was discontinued.

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Since the late 1990s, Amtrak has occasionally rented advertising space on the exterior of its passenger equipment. The ads sometimes take the form of wraps rather than true paint schemes. Customers have included fast food restaurants, auto manufacturers, television networks, and politicians. In some cases, the advertisements were on equipment rented for private use, rather than on equipment in normal revenue service. Notable temporary advertisements have included:

  • In 1999 and 2000, a four-car train including a P42DC locomotive #100, a baggage car, a 1926 railway post office car, a business car, and an exhibit car was used for the United States Postal Service's "Celebrate the Century Express Educational Train Tour". The scheme consisted of a very elaborate collection of enlarged stamps and postmarks from 1900 to the 1990s.
  • In October 2003, P42DC #203 and five Amfleet cars were wrapped in a scheme featuring Monopoly game pieces and money. The train was used as the "Reading Railroad", a special train from Chicago to Atlantic City, New Jersey upon which the first rounds of the 2003 U.S. National Championship were held.
  • In August 2004, presidential candidate John Kerry traveled on the "Kerry-Edwards Special", which used P42DC #138 wrapped with a "BELIEVE IN AMERICA TOUR" as the lead unit.
  • In November and December 2007, a full Acela Express trainset was wrapped to promote The History Channel's show "1968 With Tom Brokaw". The wrap was criticized by passengers for impeding the view from inside the train. A similar wrap was used in 2010 to promote the TLC show Cake Boss.

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Test train schemes

Amtrak has tested a number of types of off-the-shelf equipment on the Northeast Corridor and short corridors. Some of these have been painted fully in Amtrak livery:

  • The Rohr Turboliners and LRC cars received a variation of the phase III scheme; where the striping runs along the bottom of the train with the blue strip striping wrapping around the bottom. The Turboliners have recently been painted into a variation of the Acela scheme. A similar paint scheme was worn by the AEM-7s which omitted the white paint above the stripes, instead the locomotives sides were left in an unpainted stainless steel. The roof and cabs of these AEM-7s were painted black.

Other equipment largely retained their paint schemes from usage elsewhere:

  • A Siemens ICE 1 trainset and a Kalmar Verkstad X2000 trainset were tested on the Northeast Corridor and several other routes in 1992 and 1993. The X2000 retained its Statens Järnvägar livery of silver with blue stripes, although it did receive Amtrak lettering; it was pulled by Amtrak diesels on non-electrified routes. The ICE 1 retained its Deutsche Bahn livery of white with a two-tone red stripe, again with Amtrak lettering. On non-electrified routes, it was pulled by two Siemens F69PHAC diesel locomotives and a baggage car, all painted in the same red-on-white scheme.
  • After non-revenue testing on the Northeast Corridor in 1988, a Talgo 200 trainset was tested in revenue service between Portland and Seattle in 1994 as the Northwest Talgo. The AVE paint scheme of white with a thick blue window stripe was modified with a thin Phase II red, white, and blue stripe below the windows.
  • In 1996, two Adtranz IC3 "Flexliner" trainsets were tested on several Amtrak routes in California, as well as the Metrolink Antelope Valley Line. They retained their Israel Railways livery of white with red, black, and blue sections, with some Amtrak lettering added.

Source of the article : Wikipedia