|Service type||Inter-city rail|
|Former operator(s)||Texas and New Orleans Railroad |
|Distance travelled||264 miles (425 km)|
|Train number(s)||Southbound: 13|
|Sleeping arrangements||Chair cars|
|Catering facilities||Diner-lounge-observation car (1952)|
|Observation facilities||Lounge car (1952)|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
The Sunbeam was a named passenger train between Houston and Dallas on the Texas and New Orleans Railroad (T&NO), a subsidiary of the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP). The train carried number 13 northbound and number 14 southbound.
The Sunbeam began in 1925 as a heavyweight train. In June 1926 it took 6 1⁄2 hours each way, leaving Houston at noon and Dallas at 1:25 p.m.; in August 1937 it scheduled fifteen regular and flag stops in the 6 1⁄2-hour run. The Sunbeam was re-equipped on September 19, 1937, as a streamlined train in the Daylight paint scheme. The T&NO streamlined three P-14 class 4-6-2 Pacific locomotives and painted them with their Vanderbilt tenders in Daylight colors.
The initial streamliner schedule over the 264 miles was 4 hours 45 minutes. Beginning June 1, 1938, the train made no passenger stops between the two largest cities in Texas, and the schedule was trimmed by twenty minutes to 4 hours 25 minutes (265 minutes) each way. The schedule was intended to match the competition, the Burlington-Rock Island's Texas Rocket and Sam Houston Zephyr, which ran 249.6 miles between Houston and Dallas in 250 minutes.
The Sunbeam (trains 13 and 14) operated in tandem with its slower sibling, the Hustler (trains 15 and 16) using primarily the same equipment. In August 1938 the streamlined Hustlers left Houston and Dallas at 8 a.m. and arrived at their destinations at 2 p.m., having made most local stops along the way. Each consist was then turned and returned as the Sunbeam, leaving Houston at 4:45 and Dallas at 5:00. By 1941 flag stops at Ennis and College Station had been added to the Sunbeam's schedule, but the 265-minute schedule continued into the 1950s. Both the Sunbeam and the Hustler would meet their respective counterparts at Kosse, near the mid-point of the run.
With the advent of T&NO/SP's Diesel locomotive fleet after World War II, ALCO PAs were often assigned to the Sunbeam. The Hustler was discontinued on August 11, 1954, and the Sunbeam received a new schedule that allowed it to depart Houston's Grand Central Station in the morning and return from Dallas in the afternoon, now using just one set of equipment instead of two. The new schedule lasted only thirteen months, and the Sunbeam made its final round trip on September 11, 1955.
- Photograph of the Sunbeam with streamlined Pacific locomotive and Vanderbilt tender, circa 1940, from The Portal to Texas History, University of North Texas Libraries.
- Photograph of the Sunbeam at Dallas in 1950, from The Portal to Texas History, University of North Texas Libraries.
- Photograph of the Sunbeam, led by Alco PA units, en route to Houston in 1952, from The Portal to Texas History, University of North Texas Libraries.
- Photograph of the Sunbeam leaving Dallas on Oct. 5, 1952, from The Portal to Texas History, University of North Texas Libraries.
- Photograph of the Sunbeam leaving Houston on Aug. 9, 1953, from The Portal to Texas History, University of North Texas Libraries.