Amtrak Southwest Chief title pic
Amtrak Southwest Chief title pic

The Amtrak Southwest Chief: Chicago to Los Angeles

The Southwest Chief is a daily long-distance Superliner train that travels between Chicago, IL, and Los Angeles, CA, with 32 intermediate stops. From end to end, it takes around forty-three hours to travel 2,265 miles through Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

This train offers coach and sleeper accommodations, traditional dining, a Sightseer Lounge with a cafe on the car’s lower level, and a great way to see the Southwest and Midwest.

This train does not offer WiFi and smoking and vaping are prohibited.

This article will explain the above and the Southwest Chief’s timetable or schedule.

An Amtrak Southwest Chief overview

Southwest Chief
The eastbound Southwest Chief in Galesburg, IL

A brief look at what you can see while on the Southwest Chief

Map of the Amtrak system
Day and night camera From Trains.com

From start to finish, you can travel on the Southwest Chief for three days and two nights, passing through eight states. Most of this route follows tracks owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe.

The scenery includes fields, ranches, missions, pueblos, mountains, deserts, and the Painted Desert and the Red Cliffs of Sedona. You will journey through winding canyon passages only a few feet wider than the train!

As most of the route remains unchanged, you’ll experience some of the same views that passengers enjoyed during the old Santa Fe Super Chief route.

The map can provide details about the areas you will see during the day and the locations you will pass through at night based on your direction.

The Amtrak Southwest Chief’s on-time performance

No one likes delays, but they happen, and not all are Amtrak’s fault. Amtrak uses tracks owned by freight and passenger railroads, and these railroads cause delays.

  • The Southwest Chief’s on-time average performance per passenger is:
    • For April 2024, 36.3% with an average delay of 105 minutes.
    • The year average from April 2023 to 2024 is 32.9%, with an average delay of 116 minutes.

Here are the top two causes of delays to the Southwest Chief due to host railroads of 15 miles or more

  • BNSF
    • 2206 miles
    • The leading two causes of delays by this railroad are freight train interference and slow order delays.
  • NMDOT
    • 60 miles
    • This railroad’s leading causes of delays include commuter/passenger train interference.

The information in this section comes from the Amtrak Host Railroad Report – April 2024.

Passenger accommodations for the Southwest Chief

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief uses Superliner or two-story equipment and offers a few accommodations for you to reserve.

Coach Class Seating

Amtrak Superliner coach seats
Amtrak Superliner coach seating (Photo courtesy of Amtrak.com)

The Southwest Chief coach seating offers:

  • Comfortable reclining seats
  • Foot and leg rest
  • ample legroom
  • Fold-down tray
  • Individual reading lights
  • 120v ground (USA three-prong) electric outlets on the wall.
  • Showers are not available not available for coach passengers.
  • Those traveling overnight, bring a pillow and blanket.
  • Most coach cars offer upper and lower seating
  • Restrooms are on the lower level.

The Southwest Chief coach car layout

Amtrak Superliner Coach Car Diagram
Superliner coach car diagram: Some cars do not have lower seating but have a space for baggage.

Sleeper Car (Rooms)

NEW 2 people in a Amtrak Superliner roomette
Amtrak Superliner Roomette set up for the day (photo Amtrak.com)

All rooms include:

  • Fresh linens and towels
  • Traditional Dining
  • Lounge access in Chicago and Los Angeles
  • Dedicated car attendant
  • Curtains are on both sides to block out light and provide privacy.
  • There is a table in the room between the chairs
  • There are room lights, plus reading and night lights.

The room types are available on the Southwest Chief.

A layout of a Southwest Chief sleeper car

Superliner Sleeper
The layout of a Superliner Sleeper Car.

Luggage on the Southwest Chief.

Avoid surprises on your day of travel by knowing what you can and cannot take aboard the Southwest Chief.

Carry on

Each passenger may carry on:

  • One personal item, 25 lbs. (12 kg) and 14 x 11 x 7 inches, and 
  • Two carry-on pieces of luggage, 50 lbs. (23 kg) and 28 x 22 x 14 inches each
  • If you transfer to the Pacific Surfliner at some point along your journey, the baggage size for that train is up to 28 x 22 x 11 inches each. 

Charges apply for additional and oversized luggage; check out Amtrak’s carry-on bag policy for more information.

Checked bags

Amtrak allows you to check two bags up to 50 lbs at seventy-five linear inches per person for free. Charges apply for additional and oversized luggage.

Not all stations have the capacity to handle checked baggage. Please click on the station links below to check if they offer checked baggage service. Both your starting and ending stations must be staffed to check bags.

For more information, check out Amtrak’s Checked Baggage Policy page.

Accessibility on the Southwest Chief

You can enjoy this train in a few ways for those with mobility issues. When boarding or exiting the train, there is a Wheelchair Ramp onboard the train that staff can pull out as needed.

Amtrak Car attendant and passenger in a Amtrak accessible room.
Superliner Amtrak Accessible room (Photo courtesy of Amtrak)

Regarding accommodations, there is lower-level seating in coach and an accessible bedroom.

If you have mobility or other issues requiring assistance, please let Amtrak know when booking. There is a box to check on Amtrak.com and the app, or you can call Amtrak.

There are several unstaffed stations along this route with no station staff to help, but these are often small. Some agents can help you to the best of their ability at staffed stations.

If you need a service or comfort animal, read Amtrak’s service animal policy before booking to ensure your animal qualifies and see if additional reservations are required.

Southwest Chief Add-ons

You can add a few paid services to your trip aboard this train; make sure

Bring your bike with you!

Space is available for standard, full-size bicycles (up to 50 lbs, 70 inches x 41 inches x 8.5 inches). Amtrak stores bikes in designated bike racks/areas inside the baggage car (based on availability).

For more information, check out Amtrak’s bike policy page.

Bring your furry friend!

Amtrak allows dogs and cats up to 20 pounds, including carriers, for trips under seven hours. Paperwork is needed, and you can find it and regulations on Amtrak’s pet policy page.

If you have a service or comfort animal, read Amtrak’s service animal policy for booking instructions and qualifications.

Wi-Fi on the Southwest Chief

This train does not have Wi-Fi, and you find cell service dead spots along the route.

Food offerings on the Southwest Chief

The cafe is on the lower level of the Sightseer Lounge, featuring various meals, snacks, and beverages for sale, and it is available for all customers from early morning until late at night. This car is found between the coach and the dining cars.

Amtrak Signature Steak dinner served on the Silver Meteor. This is how it will look on other trains as well.
Amtrak Signature Steak dinner served

Traditional dining is chef-prepared meals with table service, selections for kids, and a wide array of wine, beer, and spirits. Sleeping passengers can ask the sleeper car attendant to bring their meals to their rooms or get reservations to eat in the dining car.

The meals are complimentary for customers with sleeping accommodations or at set prices for coach passengers. Amtrak can limit seating for coach passengers based on availability.

Scheduled dining car meals served on the Southwest Chief.

For both legs of your journey, dinner will be your first meal aboard this train. Please refer to the table below for the dinner options in the Southwest Chief dining car.

DIRECTIONCITY SECTIONSDAY OF TRAVELMEALS OFFERED
#3 WestboundChicago, IL – Lawrence, KS1Dinner
Topeka, KS – Kingman, AZ2Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
Needles, CA – Los Angeles, CA3Breakfast & Lunch
#4 EastboundLos Angeles, CA – Barstow, CA1Dinner
Needles, CA – Garden City, KS2Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
Dodge City, KS – Chicago, IL3Breakfast

Amtrak Southwest Chief Schedule

Train 3
Westbound
Communities ServedTrain 4
Eastbound
Read DownDaily TrainMilesLast Stop
2:50pChicago, IL
Union Station (CHI)
02:50p
3:23pR Naperville, IL (NPV) D282:00p
4:12pMendota, IL (MDT)8312:59p
4:34pPrinceton, IL (PCT)10412:38p
5:26pGalesburg, IL (GBB) B16211:48a
6:30pFort Madison, IA (FMD)22010:49a
7:39pLa Plata, MO (LAP)2989:33a
10:00p | 10:42pKansas City, MO
Union Station (KCY)
4376:53a | 7:28a
11:49pLawrence, KS (LRC)4775:09a
12:29aTopeka, KS (TOP)5034:40a
2:45aNewton, KS (NEW) B6382:19a
3:20aHutchinson, KS (HUT)6711:39a
5:13a | 5:19aDodge City, KS (DDG)79111:41p | 11:47p
6:10aGarden City, KS (GCK)84110:50p
6:38aLamar, CO (LMR)9418:23p
7:49a | 8:04aLa Junta, CO (LAJ)9937:19p | 7:29p
9:24aTrinidad, CO (TRI)10745:41p
10:30aRaton, NM (RAT) B10984:38p | 4:42p
12:12pLas Vegas, NM (LSV)12092:51p
1:58pLamy, NM (LMY) B12741:02p
3:19p | 4:10pAlbuquerque, NM (ABQ) B134111:13a | 11:41a
6:46pGallup, NM (GLP)15148:00a | 8:06a
7:28pWinslow, AZ (WLO)16415:20a
8:32p | 8:38pFlagstaff, AZ
Amtrak Station (FLG) B
16994:14a | 4:20a
11:21p | 11:28pKingman, AZ (KNG) B18731:15a | 1:25a
12:31aNeedles, CA (NDL)194012:13a
3:40a | 3:45aBarstow, CA
Harvey House Railroad Depot (BAR)
21099:46p
4:24aVictorville, CA
Amtrak Station (VRV)
21468:50p
5:37a | 5:42aSan Bernardino, CA (SNB)21937:33p | 7:39p
6:05aRiverside, CA (RIV)22037:13p
6:54aFullerton, CA (FUL)22396:25p | 6:30p
8:00aLos Angeles, CA
Union Station (LAX)
22655:55p
Last StopStatoinsMilesRead Up
‘This chart is a guide; always check with the electric version of your tick for the most up-to-date times or consult the Amtrak website.

Abbreviations

R = Receive passengers only; this means you can board the train, but you cannot buy a ticket on this train to this station.

D = Depart only; you can buy a ticket to this station but not from this station.

B = Stations with Amtrak Connecting Services.

Printable Amtrak Southwest Chief Schedule

If interested, you can print route and custom schedules from Amtrak.com. Check out this post on printing Amtrak schedules.

Kevin Monteith

Kev Monteith has been traveling on Amtrak since 2012. With over a decade of experience, he has been on over 800 trains, covering over 200k miles of rail. Kev enjoys helping others achieve their travel dreams by providing support and information. Outside of travel, Kev enjoys making music as an organist and outings with family.

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