Capitol Limited (Amtrak train)

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Capitol Limited
Amtrak 30 on the Magnolia Cutoff.jpg
The Capitol Limited emerges from the Graham Tunnel
and crosses the Potomac River in Magnolia, West Virginia.
Service type Inter-city rail
Status Operating
Locale Eastern United States
First service October 1, 1981
Current operator(s) Amtrak
Ridership 621 daily
226,597 total (FY11)[1]
Start Washington, D.C.
Stops 14
End Chicago, Illinois
Distance travelled 780 mi (1,260 km)
Average journey time 18 hours
Service frequency Daily
Train number(s) 29 (Washington, D.C.–Chicago),
30 (Chicago–Washington, D.C.)
On-board services
Class(es) Coach and First
Seating arrangements Airline-style coach seating
Sleeping arrangements Superliner Roomette (2 beds)
Family Bedroom (4 beds)
Superliner Bedroom (2 beds)
Superliner Bedroom Suite (4 beds)
Superliner Accessible Bedroom (2 beds)
Catering facilities Dining car with full china service[2]
Observation facilities Sightseer Lounge Car
Baggage facilities Checked baggage available
at selected stations
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Track owner(s) CSX and NS

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 2011, the Capitol Limited carried over 225,000 passengers, a 3.5% increase over FY2010. The train had a total revenue of $20,312,544 in FY2011, a 9.3% increase from FY2010.[1]


On October 1, 1981, Amtrak inaugurated its Capitol Limited. 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.[3] The new train replaced the Broadway Limited's former Washington section which had diverged at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[4]

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.[5]:146

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.[5]:146–147 In October 1994, Amtrak, with great fanfare, relaunched the Capitol Limited with a new bilevel Superliner II consist.[6][7]

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.[8]

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.[9]

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 Angeles–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.[10][11][12]

This route was mentioned amongst five others in the July 2010 issue of Trains magazine as slated for performance improvement,[13] 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.[14] 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.[14] 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).[15]

Former stops

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.[16] 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.[17][18] Station platform track was subsequently removed with the facility becoming an all-bus terminal.

Route details

Route of the Capitol Limited (interactive map)

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.[19]

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


Sample consist
June 28, 2009
Location Toledo, Ohio
Train Eastbound #30
  • GE P42DC #172
  • GE P42DC #124
  • Baggage car #1132
  • Superliner II transition-dorm #39039
  • Superliner I sleeping car #32027
  • Superliner II sleeping car #32104
  • Superliner I dining car #38030
  • Superliner II Sightseer Lounge #33029
  • Superliner I coach #34098
  • Superliner I baggage-coach #31035
  • Superliner I coach #34077

In a March 2010 document Amtrak defined a standard consist for the Capitol Limited as a baggage car, transition dormitory, two sleeping cars, a dining car, a Sightseer Lounge, a baggage-coach, and two coaches.[21]

In the fall of 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.[22] Complaints, however, resulted in Amtrak reverting to their standard consist.[23] In early 2015, Amtrak temporarily reverted to their five-car consist, due to the dining car and sightseer lounge going in for maintenance.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Amtrak Ridership Rolls Up Best-Ever Records" (PDF). Amtrak. 13 October 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Amtrak (November 7, 2011). "Amtrak System Timetable". Retrieved 2011-12-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Amtrak (October 25, 1981). "National Train Timetables". Retrieved 2010-05-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Sanders, Craig (2009). Canton Area Railroads. Arcadia.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; 109.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Welsh, Joe (2006). Pennsylvania Railroad's Broadway Limited. Saint Paul, MN: Voyageur Press. ISBN 9780760323021. OCLC 65425926.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Amtrak (October 30, 1994). "National Timetable". Retrieved 2010-05-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Patch, David (October 26, 1994). "Superliner introduces travel to Chicago-Toledo-Washington". Toledo Blade. Retrieved 2010-05-23. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Collision in Silver Spring MARC-Amtrak tragedy". The Baltimore Sun. February 20, 1996. Retrieved April 24, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Vantuono, William (November 17, 2014). "Amtrak files complaint with STB over Capitol Limited performance". Retrieved March 4, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Amtrak National Timetable". November 10, 1996. Retrieved 2010-03-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Amtrak National Timetable". May 11, 1997. Retrieved 2010-03-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Amtrak National Timetable". May 17, 1998. Retrieved 2010-03-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Amtrak Trains Under the Microscope in 2010", Trains, July 2010, 20.
  14. 14.0 14.1 "PRIIA Section 210 FY10 Performance Improvement Plan Capitol Limited". Trains Magazine. Amtrak. Retrieved 13 November 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Amtrak's Improvement Wish List", Trains, January 2011, 20-21.
  16. Harvey, Hank (November 11, 1990). "'Train Town USA' loses rail service after 146 years". Toledo Blade. Retrieved 2010-05-23. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Bowman, Lee (March 1, 1982). "Amtrak D.C. Train Stops In McKeesport". Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved 2010-05-23. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Butler, Ann (February 20, 1991). "Amtrak to end McKeesport stop on Capitol Limited". Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved 2010-05-23. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Amtrak. "Capitol Limited Route Guide" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-11-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Amtrak - Capitol Limited". Retrieved November 24, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. <Amtrak (March 4, 2010). "Request for Qualifications forNational Onboard Wi-Fi Installation Project". Retrieved May 26, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "Capitol Limited Down to 5 Cars, 1 Locomotive". Akron Railroad Club. Retrieved March 4, 2014. Check date values in: |date= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "Capitol Limited Gains Another Sleeper". Akron Railroad Club. November 5, 2014. Retrieved March 4, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Route map: Bing / Google