Posts Tagged ‘Capitol Limited’

Amtrak ‘Day One’ Charger Passes Through

July 21, 2021

Amtrak’s “Day One” Siemens ACLC42 Charger locomotive headed east on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning in the motive power consist of the Capitol Limited.

Amtrak’s possession of the second of 75 ACL42 units that the passenger carrier has ordered won’t be official until No. 301 reaches Wilmington, Delaware.

No. 301 trailed behind P42 No. 142 on Train 30, which had a Superliner consist of a dormitory car, a sleeper, a Cross-Country Café and two coaches, one of them a baggage-coach.

Nos. 29 and 30 are not operating currently with Viewliner baggage cars or Sightseer Lounges.

The journey of No. 301 to Chicago was hindered by mechanical problems with the motive power on the eastbound California Zephyr

No. 6 suffered a locomotive breakdown in Nebraska and had to be assigned a BNSF locomotive to continue to Chicago, where it arrived at 3:28 a.m. Tuesday, more than 12.5 hours late.

Accelerating in Waterloo

June 27, 2021

Amtrak’s westbound Capitol Limited is picking up speed as it accelerates away from its station stop in Waterloo, Indiana, one hour and 15 minutes late.

It is the first image I’ve made of the Capitol in well over a year and getting this photograph took good timing and fast acting.

Before leaving home I had checked the status of Amtrak trains through Waterloo. There wasn’t enough time to get there before the Lake Shore Limited arrived and chances were good I would miss No. 29 by 15 minutes or so.

It had been reported out of Cleveland an hour and 20 minutes but Amtrak’s website projected No. 29 would make up a good chunk of that and arrive in Waterloo 59 minutes late.

If that held, I had no chance. But I also knew Amtrak can get delayed between Waterloo and Toledo.

As I neared Waterloo I checked the Amtrak website again. No. 29 was now projected to arrive in Waterloo at 7:46 a.m. I figured to miss by that about five minutes.

The exit ramp for Waterloo onto U.S. Route 6 from Interstate 69 is just beyond the bridge over the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

As I passed the exit signs for Route 6 it was 7:47 a.m. on my car’s clock. I slowed for the bridge and exit ramp and looked toward the east. No headlight was in sight.

That was a good sign This just might work after all.

Nearly a month earlier as I had driven over that same bridge I had seen the headlight of a fast approaching Amtrak 49. I was going to fast to get to the side of the road in time to try to get a grab shot and a pickup truck also getting off at the exit was right on my tail.

So close and yet so far away.

This time I drove to a road that crosses the Chicago Line at grade shortly after I got onto Route 6. The gates were up. Another good sign.

I checked the Amtrak website and saw No. 29 was now projected to arrive in Waterloo at 7:53 a.m., three minutes from now. Did I have time to get to the station?

I began driving down a road that runs parallel to the tracks. Then there it was up ahead. I immediately pulled to the side of Lincoln Street, grabbed my camera and dashed into the weeds to make this image.

There was no time so think about what I wanted to do. I barely was able to get all of the train in the frame.

Photographing the Capitol Limited is a challenge because much of its journey occurs at night. On the western end of the route the train is always operating in the wrong light. Only on the eastern end can you get 29 or 30 in good light.

In Northeast Ohio, No. 30 is scheduled into Cleveland at 1:45 a.m. and No. 29 at 2:53 a.m.

Still, you can get an interesting image on the western end of the route if you work it right.

The glint off P42DC No. 190 was happenstance but I also knew that this time of year the early morning light would favor the north side of the train.

I’m hoping it won’t be another year before I can photograph the Capitol Limited again.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Amtrak Now Operating Daily in NEO

June 1, 2021

Amtrak is now operating daily through Northeast Ohio. For the first time since last October the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited ran in both directions early this morning as Amtrak implemented the second phase of its resumption of daily service of long distance trains.

Last week the Texas Eagle, California Zephyr, Empire Builder and Coast Starlight resumed daily operation on May 24.

On May 31, the Capitol and Lake Shore along with the Southwest Chief and City of New Orleans resumed daily operation.

The next round of trains to go back to daily service will be the Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Crescent and Palmetto on June 7.

The Cardinal and Sunset Limited will continue to operate tri-weekly as they have for many years.

In a related development, the Rail Passengers Associated reported it has learned traditional dining car service will return to Amtrak’s western long distance trains on June 23.

On its own website, Amtrak reports only that traditional dining has been suspended through June 30.

More details on the revamping of Amtrak’s dining service are expected to be released this week.

Lounges to Remain Absent from Amtrak’s Capitol Limited

May 24, 2021

Sightseer Lounge cars won’t be returning to the Capitol Limited next week when the train returns to daily operation.

The Rail Passengers Association reported on its website that it has been told by Amtrak that the absence of the popular cars from the Capitol Limited and Texas Eagle is temporary.

“While temporary, we do not yet have a defined timeline for increasing Sightseer Lounge availability, and have placed the other five Western [long distance] routes at a higher priority for deploying these popular cars,” said Larry Chestler, Amtrak’s vice president of the Long-Distance business unit. “We also are maintaining the Sightseer Lounge on the City of New Orleans due to our long-standing axle count requirements in Illinois.”

That means the Capitol Limited and Texas Eagle will will continue to operate with a single food-service car.

Chestler said Amtrak has a shortage of the lounge cars due to coronavirus contingencies. He said the cars will be restored once it’s possible to do so.

The Capitol Limited is scheduled to return to daily operation on May 31 while the Texas Eagle will resume daily operation today (May 24).

In a related development, Amtrak expects to resume full-service dining aboard Western long distance trains as early as June. Last May it switched to the contemporary dining model as a response to COVID-19 pandemic.

The passenger carrier is recalling furloughed workers and getting them qualified.

RPA said it was told that once traditional dining returns to the Western trains, Amtrak will begin work on “improvements to dining services on other [long-distance] routes, including the Eagle.”

CSX Track Work May Disrupt Capitol Limited

June 19, 2020

CSX track work may affect Amtrak’s Capitol Limited through July 2.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said that work is taking place between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. between Pittsburgh and Connellsville, Pennsylvania.

If the eastbound Capitol would be more than 30 minutes late leaving Pittsburgh, it will terminate in Pittsburgh and passengers will be put aboard a bus that will make all intermediate stops en route to Washington.

In the event that No. 30 terminates in Pittsburgh, westbound No. 29 will originate in Pittsburgh the same day.

Passengers who would have boarded between Washington and Pittsburgh will instead ride a bus.

On days when bus service is substituted for train service the bus will only discharge passengers at intermediate points. It will not provide originating local traffic between those points.

Amtrak said trains traveling through the work zone may be delayed up to 30 minutes.

Amtrak Long-Distance Train Consists Reduced

April 6, 2020

Although Amtrak continues to operate the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited through Northeast Ohio as scheduled, it has reduced the size of the consists of those trains.

Online reports have indicated that the Capitol Limited is operating with one P42DC locomotive and four Superliner cars.

The consist includes one sleeper, a food service car and two coaches, one of which has a baggage compartment.

Nos. 29 and 30 do not have a Viewliner baggage car as had been the case previously.

The Lake Shore Limited is being pulled by two P42DC locomotives and has two Viewliner sleepers, a dinnete, two Amfleet II coaches, a Viewliner dining car for sleeping car passengers and a Viewliner baggage car.

The Boston section of the Lake Shore is being replaced by bus service on weekends through May 17 due to track work being performed on its route east of the Albany-Rensselaer, New York, station.

The consists of other long-distance trains have also been reduced with some trains having just one sleeping car and two coaches.

One exception is the Silver Meteor between New York and Miami, which is reported to be carrying two sleepers along with two coaches, a dinette, dining car for sleeping car passengers, a baggage car and a baggage-dorm.

The Auto Train is reported to have its normal consist for now.

Flooding Disrupts Capitol Limited

June 5, 2018

Flooding over the weekend caused Amtrak to operate the Capitol Limited only between Chicago and Pittsburgh with passengers sent by bus between Pittsburgh and Washington.

The flooding occurred on CSX tracks between Cumberland, Maryland, and Martinsburg, West Virginia, with the most severe flooding occurring near Great Cacapon, West Virginia.

Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport in Martinsburg reported that about 2 inches of rain fell between Saturday and Monday.

Heavy rain occurring over the previous two weeks had already left the ground saturated and streams nearly overflowing.

The eastbound Capitol Limited that left Chicago on Saturday evening was the first train to be effected, terminating in Cumberland on Sunday morning.

Amtrak deadheaded its consist to Pittsburgh where it left later that night for Chicago.

No. 30 which left Chicago Sunday night terminated in Pittsburgh.

Another B&O Dining Car Menu

December 8, 2017

It is funny that the December Akron Railroad Club eBulletin covers the final decade of the Baltimore & Ohio’s passenger service. I see that the article featured a menu from my collection. Well, here is another menu from my collection. This is from the final day of the B&O Capitol Limited. I do enjoy the Amtrak version very much, but I know it is just not the same.

I have many B&O menus, china, timetables, etc. I have ridden the Amtrak version of the Capitol Limited many times. When I rode it the first couple times it had dome cars. The Superliners had not come on line yet. I loved the old dome cars with the forward facing view.

I miss that view with the Superliner lounges. By the way, as you can see by the photo I even have a B&O tea bag. Probably 50 years old or more. I have no intentions of using it, but it demonstrates the fact that people will save anything, and then collectors like me are ecstatic to find it.

Article and photographs by Jack Norris

2 Hours of Nothing, Then 3 Trains Showed Up

August 5, 2017

I got lucky that the CSX train showed up in Harpers Ferry as Amtrak was leaving, not as it was arriving.

As any railfan knows, traffic lulls are a part of the hobby. You set up someplace to wait for a train and minutes and even hours go by with nothing moving.

Such was the case for me during a recent visit to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

I arrived at the former Baltimore & Ohio passenger station, which is now owned by the National Park Service, just before 4 p.m.

I sat down on a bench, got my scanner out and waited. And waited and waited.

Amtrak’s westbound Capitol Limited is scheduled into Harpers Ferry at 5:16 p.m. A MARC commuter train from Washington to Martinsburg, West Virginia, is scheduled to arrive just after 6 p.m.

Presumably, CSX, which owns the tracks here, would put something through before or immediately after those trains. Instead, I heard nothing more than radio silence.

A call to Amtrak Julie confirmed that No. 29 had departed Washington at 4:48 p.m., which was 43 minutes late. Yet she insisted that the Capitol would arrive on time, but depart two minutes late.

Yeah, right. No way that was going to happen. Later, Julie amended her estimate to arriving at 6:01 p.m. which would put No. 29 just ahead of the MARC train.

A sign at the station said the MARC train was on time. Amtrak No. 29 would have to pass the MARC train somewhere or else it would be lagging behind it.

Around 5:30 p.m., the signal for eastbound track No. 2 turned from stop to clear. CSX had an eastbound coming.

The question was whether it would arrive at the wrong time. I wanted to use my telephoto lens to get Amtrak and MARC coming out of the iconic tunnel on the Maryland side of the Potomac River and then crossing the river on a bridge.

That shot would work best when made from the eastbound platform. There is a tunnel beneath the tracks so I could get to the westbound platform if need be.

Just before 6, a headlight appeared in the tunnel. A scratchy radio transmission indicated that the CSX train was in the vicinity.

The MARC train was running a bit early, which is allowed by the timetable. Amtrak was a few minutes behind it.

As it turned out, the CSX eastbound manifest freight didn’t arrive until Amtrak was leaving.

I had waited two hours and then gotten three trains in a 15-minute span. Or, you could say, it was just another day by the tracks.

After two hours of waiting, here comes the MARC train.

Approaching the platform and not getting blocked by a CSX eastbound freight.

The commuters have been dropped off and the MARC train leaves for Martinsburg.

A few minutes behind MARC here comes Amtrak’s Capitol Limited minus a baggage car today.

Approaching the platform.

AAO Still Trying to Move the Passenger Needle

February 22, 2017

A message showed up in my email inbox the other day from All Aboard Ohio, a passenger advocacy group, that has released a report titled, “Ohio Passenger Rail Assessment of Needs.”

The report was timed to coincide with the Ohio legislature getting to work in hammering out the state’s budget for the next two years.

ohioAAO is trying to push legislators to “begin planning, constructing or completing $23.6 million worth of passenger rail improvements” over the next two years.

Much of that work involves upgrading stations served by the state’s three Amtrak trains, the Capitol Limited, Lake Shore Limited and Cardinal.

Some of the funding would also be used to plan potential future intercity rail routes, including a proposed Chicago-Fort Wayne-Columbus route that has never seen Amtrak service.

As AAO sees it, more than $80 million in state funding could be available under state law to be used for passenger rail development without paying for the operating costs of any actual trains.

An AAO news release about the report was written in the typical optimistic tone of rail passenger advocates and sought to put the best possible face on intercity rail.

It focused on such facts as how Amtrak covers 94 percent of its costs through revenues and set a ridership record in fiscal year 2016.

It also reiterated a tactic that AAO has used in the past of trying to shame Ohio policy makers into taking action by noting how neighboring states and the Canadian province of Ontario are investing millions in the development of intercity routes and services while Ohio spends zilch.

The state capital of Columbus is the largest metropolitan area in the western hemisphere without passenger rail service.

Some folks in Phoenix might quibble with that although the Valley of the Sun does have a light rail system that is seeking to expand.

Rail passenger advocates tend to be an optimistic lot. They have to be. If they acknowledged the long and difficult road ahead they might throw up their hands in frustration. AAO is no exception.

“We look forward to continuing our dialogue with Ohio’s policymakers in achieving realistic, near-term improvements to our state’s transportation system,” said AAO Executive Director Ken Prendergast. “We urge Ohioans to contact their state lawmakers in Columbus today and inform them with a short, polite message that they want better passenger rail service in Ohio.”

AAO has around 500 members and even if all of them contacted their legislators it is doubtful that it would have much effect on what the legislature is likely to do in terms of supporting intercity passenger rail.

Ohio has never spent a dime on funding intercity rail service, unlike neighboring Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

It received a federal grant to help develop the Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati corridor, but Gov. John Kasich killed the project shortly after winning election in 2010 and the federal government took back the grant and reallocated it elsewhere.

Ohio’s apathy, indifference or hostility – choose which word you think fits best – toward intercity rail development is not likely to change this year.

Kasich is still governor and is unlikely to change his views toward intercity rail service. Nor is the current legislature likely to be any more open to rail than is the governor. They are not going to be shamed or moved to action.

There may be some small victories, such as state funding of existing station improvements, but little to nothing else.

So AAO works to develop support for a rail a little at a time. Like I said, it’s going to be a long struggle.