Havana Special/Gulf Coast Special

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I was looking through some old ACL public timetables and noticed that in 1963 ACL still fielded the "Havana Special". A 1964 timetable shows the name "Havana Special" has been replaced with the "Gulf Coast Special" although the train mubers remained the same. I'm sure the name change was for obvious political reasons during this time but it did bring a few questions to mind. Does anyone here have any memories of this change such as did ACL come under negative scrutiny prior to the name change??? Did ACL publicly acknowledge the change was due to the U.S.'s recent declining relationship with Cuba/Castro???

Any thoughts from those that may have been around then would be interesting.

Bryan Smith

-- Bryan Smith (bsmith3608@aol.com), July 10, 2002


With all due respect to Bro. Goolsby (who probably knows more about ACL passenger service than anyone alive), the FEC announced the change in the name of the "Havana Special" to the "East Coast Special" on October 19, 1962 (according to Trains Magazine for December, 1962)just prior to the Cuban Missle crisis, and the FEC's reasons were political. What motives the ACL had in 1964, I know not.

-- Robert H. Hanson (RHanson669@aol.com), July 12, 2002.

For even more information,pick up a copy of "Lines South" issue 19-2 second Q 2002.

-- Joseph Oates (jlosal@mindspring.com), July 11, 2002.

One other thought-while the public timetables showed no through coach service between NY-Miami, I do recall that the NY-Jacksonville coach did run through to Miami during the summer of 1960-at least when I rode the train. FEC was leasing various cars for its local service then-I remember seeing several Southern heavyweight coaches on a NB Havana Special leaving Miami. There was no through NY-Tampa coach, just a through sleeper. By 1964 this sleeper was reduced to a NY- Jacksonville car.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak@mnr.org), July 10, 2002.

Bryan -

I go into this some in my ACL Passenger Service book (p. 51). I found no documents or other direct evidence of why ACL changed the name, but speculate it might have been as much because of the FEC strike of Jan. 1963 as the political situation. After the strike, ACL continued some of its Miami trains via the new ACL-SAL inland route via Auburndale, but not the Havana Special - so it became only a New York-Tampa run, and the new name made more sense. However, the FEC did promptly change the name of its part of the Havana Special to the "East Coast Special" on Oct. 27, 1962, right on the heels of the Cuban missile crisis - yet ACL kept the Havana Special name for its part of the train's run, even including the post-strike New York- Tampa train, at least through the Dec. 1963 timetable. The April 1964 timetable is the first one where ACL calls the train the Gulf Coast Special. Would love to know more if anyone can help.

-- Larry Goolsby (LGoolsby@aphsa.org), July 10, 2002.

Remember that the FEC went on strike in January 1963, and the ACL trains running to Miami had to be re-routed over the SAL. Since trains 75-76 were not included in the re-route, it became entirely a West coast train. Of course, by the time of the strike, the Miami section was significantly down graded. By 1962, the through NY-Miami coach no longer ran, nor did the NY-Miami sleeper. Relations with Castro were already bad by 1961 and the name change had more to do with Ed Ball than it did with Fidel.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak@mnr.org), July 10, 2002.

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