Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Capitol Limited is one of two Amtrak trains connecting Washington, D.C., to Chicago, running 764 miles (1,230 km) via Pittsburgh and Cleveland (the other is the Cardinal via Cincinnati and Indianapolis). Service began in 1981 and was named after the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's Capitol Limited which ended in 1971 upon the formation of Amtrak. It carries the Amtrak train numbers 29 and 30, which were previously assigned to the discontinued National Limited.

During fiscal year 2016, the Capitol Limited carried 228,444 passengers, an increase of 1.0% over FY2015. The train had a total revenue of $20,312,544 that fiscal year, a 9.3% increase from FY2015.


A Ride on the eastbound "Capitol Limited" (Amtrak train #30) from Chicago to Washington, DC - For Labor Day weekend, 2017, I wound up going to an event for Reformed Christian singles, being held in Atlanta, GA. In typical fashion for me, but, to the shock ...

On October 1, 1981, Amtrak inaugurated its Capitol Limited upon the discontinuance of the Shenandoah. It ran over the same route as the B&O's train east of Pittsburgh, but west of Pittsburgh it ran combined with the Chicago-New York Broadway Limited over the former Pennsylvania Railroad's Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railway. Its numbers, 440 (eastbound) and 441 (westbound), were derived from the Broadway Limited's 40 and 41 and the new train also used Heritage Fleet equipment. The new train replaced the Broadway Limited's former Washington section which had diverged at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In late 1984, the Capitol Limited re-equipped with new Amfleet II coaches but also lost its full diner east of Pittsburgh. Beginning with the October 26, 1986, timetable, Amtrak split up the Capitol Limited and Broadway Limited. The former received new numbers, 29 and 30 (which formerly belonged to the defunct National Limited), and a later schedule. The Capitol Limited continued to operate over the same route. With the change the Capitol Limited regained a full diner east of Pittsburgh, which it had lost in 1984.

On November 12, 1990, trains were rerouted west of Alliance, Ohio, due to Conrail's desire to abandon part of the former PFW&C in northwestern Indiana; the Capitol Limited now uses the former Pennsylvania Railroad Cleveland and Pittsburgh (C&P) line north from Alliance through Hudson, Ohio, to Cleveland route. The Broadway Limited and its successor, the Three Rivers, were re-routed over the B&O's Chicago-Pittsburgh route. In October 1994, Amtrak, with great fanfare, relaunched the Capitol Limited with a new bilevel Superliner II consist.

On February 16, 1996, an eastbound rush-hour MARC commuter train headed to Washington Union Station collided with the westbound Capitol Limited near Georgetown Junction on a snow-covered stretch of track just west of Silver Spring, Maryland. Eleven people died aboard the MARC train in the accident. Three died of injuries suffered in the impact; the rest were killed by smoke and flames. The MARC engineer and two conductors were among the dead.

In November 2014, Amtrak, in the face of extreme delays, filed a complaint with the Surface Transportation Board, against CSX and Norfolk Southern, due to the frequency of extreme delays caused by freight train interference.

On April 19, 2018, Amtrak announced that it would discontinue full-service dining aboard the train on June 1. Instead of hot meals prepared on the train and served to diners in the dining car, Amtrak now offers its sleeper passengers airplane-style meals loaded aboard before departure. Sleeper passengers now pick up their meal from the counter in the dining car, now dubbed the "sleeper lounge," and can eat it at a table in that car, or in their compartments.

Through cars

Between 1984 and 1986 and again from 1991 to 1993, the Capitol Limited exchanged a Chicago-Miami coach with the New York-Miami Silver Star at Washington, D.C.

During 1997 and part of 1998, Amtrak operated the Capitol Limited in conjunction with the Southwest Chief, a daily Los Angelesâ€"Chicago service. The two trains used the same Superliner equipment sets, and passengers traveling on both trains could remain aboard during the layover in Chicago. Originally announced in 1996, Amtrak planned to call this through service the "National Chief" with its own numbers (15/16), although the name and numbers were never used. Amtrak dropped the practice with the May 1998 timetable.

This route was mentioned amongst five others in the July 2010 issue of Trains magazine as slated for performance improvement, and as part of its federally mandated analysis of the worst-performing long-distance routes, Amtrak determined that reinstating a through-car connection with the Pennsylvanian would result in the highest gain in monetary and customer service measurements of possible options. To implement this, Amtrak plans to operate a Viewliner sleeper car, an Amfleet cafe car and two Amfleet coaches between Chicago and New York via the Capitol Limited and Pennsylvanian beginning sometime in 2011. Trains magazine picked up on this in their January 2011 issue, citing that a switch would be re-installed to give the thru-cars access to parallel track. Also cited was the consist switch that would take place (shuffling sleeper and coach positions so that the transition sleeper was in the rear), an eight-hour layover on Sundays due to the Pennsylvanian's 1:20p departure (since eliminated), and the lack of Viewliner sleepers to accommodate the service (also cited are that the new ones would not roll out until 2012 at the very earliest).

Former stops

2010. 10 year old girl sleeps on the Amtrak sleeper car for the ...
2010. 10 year old girl sleeps on the Amtrak sleeper car for the .... Source : www.alamy.com

The Capitol Limited's original routing west of Pittsburgh included stops in Canton, Ohio, Crestline, Ohio, Lima, Ohio, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Valparaiso, Indiana, and Gary, Indiana. Amtrak dropped Gary as a station stop on April 28, 1985. On April 27, 1986, Amtrak added Warsaw, Indiana, located between Valparaiso and Fort Wayne. All these cities lost service when Amtrak re-routed the Capitol Limited north through Toledo on November 11, 1990. For a year, a dedicated bus connection was offered between Fort Wayne and Waterloo, Indiana.

Between March 2, 1982, and April 7, 1991, the Capitol Limited stopped in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, located in the Monongahela Valley southeast of Pittsburgh. At the time the Port Authority of Allegheny County operated the "PATrain" commuter rail between McKeesport and downtown Pittsburgh. The Port Authority ended the service in 1989, citing low ridership. Amtrak followed suit a year later, noting that on average one passenger boarded at McKeesport per trip during the train's final months of service at that station. Station platform track was subsequently removed with the facility becoming an all-bus terminal.

Route details

Capitol Limited Train Maps, Guide And Railway Information ...
Capitol Limited Train Maps, Guide And Railway Information .... Source : www.atdlines.com

Between Washington and Pittsburgh, it mostly follows the historic B&O route along narrow river valleys hemmed in by steep slopes, including the upper Potomac, Youghiogheny, and Monongahela Rivers. Rail trails parallel much of this route, often on the opposite banks. The route straightens and levels out from Ohio onward.

The Capitol Limited operates over the following Amtrak, CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway trackage:

  • Amtrak Washington Union Station, part of the Northeast Corridor
  • CSX Metropolitan Subdivision, Cumberland Subdivision, Cumberland Terminal Subdivision, Keystone Subdivision, Pittsburgh Subdivision, and P&W Subdivision, Washington to Pittsburgh
  • NS Pittsburgh Line and Fort Wayne Line, Pittsburgh to Alliance
  • NS Cleveland Line, Alliance to Cleveland
  • NS Chicago Line, Cleveland to Chicago
  • Amtrak Chicago Union Station


Sleeper Car Stock Photos & Sleeper Car Stock Images - Alamy
Sleeper Car Stock Photos & Sleeper Car Stock Images - Alamy. Source : www.alamy.com

The Capitol Limited uses Superliner equipment. As of July 2018, a typical train consists of:

  • 2 GE P42DC locomotives
  • 1 Viewliner II baggage car
  • 1 Superliner Transition Sleeper
  • 2 or 3 Superliner sleepers
  • 1 Superliner dining car or diner-lounge
  • 1 Superliner Sightseer Lounge
  • 1 Superliner coach-baggage car
  • 2 Superliner coaches

In late 2014, with delays due to freight train interference resulting in equipment shortages, Amtrak modified the consist, in order to create a fourth train set, which included two sleeping cars, two coaches, and a combined diner-lounge, and the removal of the baggage car, sightseer lounge car, a sleeping car, and a transition dormitory. Complaints, however, resulted in Amtrak reverting to their standard consist.


Further reading

  • Welsh, Joe (2007). Baltimore & Ohio's Capitol Limited and National Limited. Saint Paul, Minnesota: Voyageur Press. ISBN 978-0-7603-2533-9. 

External links

  • Amtrak - Capitol Limited

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