The Roundhouse Podcast

Ridin’ on Amtrak’s Capitol Limited


Last week, you read about my visit to the National Museum of American History in Washington D.C.  After said visit, I decided to take the Capitol Limited back home to Pittsburgh.

The trip started out less than optimally.  Because of the cost of maintaining Washington Union Station, most of the building is now a shopping mall.  What remains of the actual station is substantially smaller than it used to be.  This is okay for the commuter trains, but for a Long Distance Train (LDT) like the Cap, it means that the giant line of people became disorganized.  When boarding began, only Chicago passengers were called which resulted in the line becoming crowded by the platform door.  I don’t want to drag out this point too much, because as a railfan it is the kind of thing I can live with.  I just worry that for less forgiving travelers it starts their experience as being somewhat stressful.

Before boarding the train, I photographed these private railcars on the platform.  It’s pretty neat seeing a 20th Century Limited observation car in a major North American train station.

The ride itself was absolutely gorgeous.  Traveling through the rolling hills and mountains was great, and the fact that the train uses Superliner equipment means that you can enjoy the trip from the Sightseer Lounge (which is as close as Amtrak gets to a dome car).  I spent quite a few hours listening to music as we passed railyards, other trains, and even a roundhouse in Martinsburg WV.  My favorite moments included “racing” a CSX coal train and crossing the bridge in to Harpers Ferry WV.

For dinner I had a six-cheese lasagna with green beans and plenty of bread rolls.  The lasagna was fine, albeit overpriced.  The paper menus we ordered off of were somewhat torn and battered.  Amtrak offers a good travel experience, but they need to work on their presentation skills.

Ultimately we arrived in Pittsburgh right on time.  I had a good trip and look forward to my next.

2 thoughts on “Ridin’ on Amtrak’s Capitol Limited

  1. Gary

    Hi Nick • Well done with the Railroad News & the interview with Ross. A lot of great stories and railroad history. The Route 66 story was very interesting and the round house stories.
    Steam engine, locomotive engineer, on the main line. Like Wow.
    Very cool.

  2. Eric Riback

    Congress keeps insisting Amtrak not lose money on food service. Congress as usual doesn’t understand business. Hotels lose money on room service (despite the high prices). They offer it because enough guests demand it. At least in a hotel you can leave to find food elsewhere. Riding overnight on Amtrak you have no such option. They need to offer food service if they want overnight riders. And offering bad or overpriced service will just turn riders away. Nice pictures by the way!

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