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Sandusky, OH To Washington, DC On Amtrak's Capitol Limited
  After dropping off the rental car, and eventually getting a taxi to the Amtrak Station, I would arrive at the station around 12:30am, a good hour before the train did! Due to severe freight delays from host railroad Norfolk Southern, the Capitol Limited was known for getting to its endpoints severely late. In an attempt to be ready for this, Amtrak truncated the train to just five cars, powered by one engine. This allowed them to free up enough equipment for a backup 4th train set in case one of the trains arrives 12 hours late, there would be a train set available in Chicago if the late one can't be turned in time. Unfortunately, this meant that the train now has no Transition Sleeper which means valuable rooms in one of the two remaining Sleeping Cars are being used by the crew. Also, the Dining Car and Sightseer Lounge are being substituted with a Superliner Diner/Lounge Car with one side serving as the Diner and the other as the Lounge. If you ask me, this train really needs the Sightseer Lounge as it's a very scenic route overall! Today's shortened consist would feature 1 engine, 2 Sleeping Cars, a Diner/Lounge and 2 Coaches, one of which was a Coach/Baggage that was being used for checked baggage service since there also was no Baggage Car. No, I wasn't happy about having no lounge car on the train but I'm glad to see Amtrak was trying to do whatever they could to keep the train running at all, both because it serves two huge markets and I would need to ride it a total of two times on this trip! The consist for today's train is shown below...
 Yes, you read the consist right, "engine engine number 9 going down Chicago line" LITERALLY!!! P42DC #9 was our lead unit and I would eventually hear someone on the radio rattle off that line! We departed Sandusky at 1:44am, running 1 hour and 4 minutes late. My attendant introduced himself and let me know when the Dining Car would open and my bed was already set up for sleeping as soon as I boarded. One thing I noticed right away on this sleeping car was the luggage rack on the lower level looked different. I found out it was because I was in a Superliner II Sleeper which had a different rack installed than the Superliner I sleepers I've rode in on past trips. The interior of this car looked to be original, having a decor of mostly earth tones including carpeted walls rising up to the ceiling in the hallway. The original name of the car which had since been removed from the exterior, was still on the end doors, so I would be sleeping in the "New Hampshire" car as these cars were originally named after states. I hope someday Amtrak will put the names back on the cars like the new Viewliner II sleepers which are currently under construction, and are having names applied.
  I decided to stay up until we reach Cleveland. I headed into the Diner/Lounge and had a nice chat with the crew, including the conductor who was one I've rode with several times over the years! We chatted for a bit and made our next station stop at Elyria, OH at 2:16am, and quickly departed at 2:17am, now running 1 hour and 2 minutes late. As we got closer to Cleveland, we would end up stopping because the drawbridge we needed to cross was in the up position and Norfolk Southern Train 20K was ahead of us, so at CP-186, we stopped and waited. Eventually, the bridge was lowered and we were on our way making the next station stop at Cleveland, OH at 3:07am. A brief smoking break was permitted as there was a fair amount of station work to be done anyway. We departed Cleveland at 3:17am, running 1 hour and 23 minutes late. And with that, I would go to sleep in my "hotel on rails", calling it a day.
  I woke up somewhere near Connellsville, PA which is the next stop after Pittsburgh. I immediately went to the Diner/Lounge for breakfast! I would have the Railroad French Toast with pork sausage patties, orange juice, and a Diet Pepsi. Breakfast was delicious and I sat with a passenger from Michigan who was taking the train because she was now a retiree and had more time to experience this form of travel. After breakfast, I headed over to the lounge-side of the car and chatted with a couple passengers from Harpers Ferry, WV and Bakersfield, CA, discussing a variety of topics. Our next stop would be coming up at Cumberland, MD. We arrived at Cumberland at 10:37am. This would be a 2-spot stop, the first was for a job briefing as the Capitol Limited gets a new engineer here. The second stop would be the regular passenger stop. A very brief smoking break was permitted here and I got a few pix in before the "all aboard" signal was called and we were on our way, having departed Cumberland at 10:47am, running 1 hour and 16 minutes late.
  Eventually, I headed back to the Diner/Lounge for lunch which was unannounced and would be a limited seating as the car would be closing at the Martinsburg, WV stop which was next. I would have the Angus Burger with bacon and kettle chips with a Diet Pepsi, another good meal in the Diner. Dessert was not offered with lunch on this train which is something I have noticed on other routes in the past, though this may have just been because the car was closing so soon and it was a limited seating for lunch. I would have lunch with a couple from Virginia who were getting off the train in Harpers Ferry, and all conversation was great.
  We made our next stop at Harpers Ferry, WV at 12:42pm and departed at 12:44pm, now 1 hour and 19 minutes late. We would pass through a rather impressive CSX yard in Brunswick, MD and would make our next-to-last stop at Rockville, MD at 1:27pm with a very quick departure at 1:28pm, running 1 hour and 18 minutes late. Both my sleeping car attendant and a couple other members of the crew thanked us for riding the Capitol Limited and apologized for the late arrival citing the freight delays on NS the night before. We would eventually be on electrified rails as we were at the end of the Northeast Corridor as we pulled into Washington Union Station at 1:50pm. Thanks to schedule padding, we were only 40 minutes late. This was NO BIG DEAL if you ask me! I got off the train immediately and started doing roster photos of anything I could see from the platform including 1 AEM-7, 2 ACS-64's and lots of Amfleet cars as well as roster photos of my train.
  I then headed inside Union Station and made my way to the Washington DC Metro Rail Station, bought a ticket and would ride the Metro Red Line to Metro Center Station, then pick up the Orange Line to the West Falls Church Station. The plan was to connect with the Washington Flyer bus that would take me to Dulles Airport in Virginia so as to then get my shuttle to the hotel I would be staying at in Chantilly, VA. I would come to find out that once I arrived at the West Falls Church Station, the bus I needed no longer departs from that station and I would have to get over from the Orange Line where I was, to the Silver Line and ride that to the end. Now before you laugh at me, know that when I researched all of this, I had no idea that the buses would be moved further up the line once the Silver Line was opened (I didn't even know about the Silver Line!). Once I got back on the train, I ended up having a nice conversation with another passenger who was originally from Orchard Park, just south of Buffalo! I ended up finally getting to the right station, known as the Wiehle-Reston East Station and picked up the Washington Flyer bus from there to Dulles Airport, then caught my hotel's shuttle and would finally get to my hotel, the Courtyard By Marriott Dulles Airport Chantilly Hotel located in Chantilly, VA!
  I will say, from catching the first Metro Rail train at Union Station, to arriving at the hotel, this involved about 90 minutes of commuting. You might be wondering why I had to jump through so many hoops if you will, to do this. The explanation is actually quite simple: It all came down to two things, cost and convenience factor. Hotels in the area near Washington can be very expensive, and with this trip already being the most expensive one I've ever done, I needed to try to keep costs in check as much as possible. As far as convenience factor goes, this hotel was a very short drive from the Smithsonian's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center where Space Shuttle Discovery is located (and would be the 2nd shuttle I would eventually visit), and it's a Marriott property which is my favorite hotel chain! Looking back, I'm not sure I would have handled this any differently. After checking in, I walked to a nearby KFC for dinner, then did some laundry, and backed up photos as well as continued writing this travelogue. And with about a 17 hour day ahead of me tomorrow, I would call it a day today. Check out the link below for photos taken on the Capitol Limited. Tomorrow, I'll be riding Amtrak again, this time to New York City to see the first of four space shuttles!!!