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Segment 2: Sandusky, OH To Washington, D.C. On Amtrak's Capitol Limited

Sandusky, OH To Washington, D.C.
On Amtrak's Capitol Limited
Monday, September 22nd, 2003

   I checked out of my hotel around 11:00pm Sunday night and waited for my taxi over to the Amtrak Station where I would catch Amtrak Train #30 – The Capitol Limited. After arriving at the station, a quick call to Julie said the train was out of Toledo at 12:09am making it arrive in Sandusky about an hour or so late. At 1:04am, Train #30 arrived into Sandusky with P42’s #141 and 70 for power. The train made a double spot as one Sleeping Car passenger was to get off in Sandusky before 3 of us coach passengers would board and 1 other coach passenger would get off. I was seated in Superliner I Coach #34026, a car that looks to be unrefurbished as it had a red and brown interior and blue seats. If there was one thing I could say was wrong with this car was the lack of AC outlets at each seat. The only outlets in such coaches are every so many feet and are really only there for the crew to vacuum the car when it’s being serviced, though they are regular 120v outlets that can handle anything. I needed to find a place to plug in my laptop and recharge my cell phone en route if at all possible. The consist for tonight's train is listed at the bottom of this page.
   We left Sandusky at 1:08am, 1 hour and 18 minutes late. Shortly after we left, the conductor took my ticket and I ran back to get the car numbers I didn’t get when the train arrived, I then began searching for an AC outlet. I ended up finding the one outlet on my end of the coach at my seat but it would prove to be useless because my surge protector wouldn’t fit between the outlet and the seat in front of it, I ended up using an outlet in the Sightseer Lounge car to charge my cell phone. We left Elyria at 1:43am and picked up no passengers. I started to talk to a passenger who had taken a cross-country trip on the Capitol Limited and Southwest Chief to Needles, CA where he caught a bus up to Las Vegas. He told me about the trials and tribulations he went through with the contracted bus company that Amtrak uses to get people to Vegas. I sure hope someday that the LA to Vegas train service is started, it has been in the works for a few years but nothing has come of it since then. I was rather surprised to see how empty this train was, my guess was that it had mostly to do with the fallout from Hurricane Isabel and the cancellations many people had to make when Amtrak had to cancel several trains. I began exploring the train and found that we had a Superliner II Sightseer Lounge, which is far nicer than a Superliner I, as well as a nicely furnished Superliner II Dining Car. I walked back to my seat since the lounge was closed and decided that after Cleveland I was going to go to sleep. I plugged my earpiece into my scanner and had all the necessary channels for this route programmed in so I could listen and not have to switch when we changed territories. It was dark out so I really couldn’t see much of anything outside. We arrived at Cleveland at 2:10am and left at 2:17am after making a double spot there as well. Our train switched onto the NS Cleveland Line to Alliance, Ohio where our next stop would be. We picked up a handful of people there and left at 3:17am. NS was now calling our train by the symbol it issued for it, "NS 02T - Amtrak #141" instead of simply "Amtrak #30" which was what CSX would eventually call it once we entered their territory. I somehow was able to sleep yet still know where we were, and I’ve never rode this route before, though it helped having my scanner on the whole time. I fell asleep again and woke up briefly when we arrived in Pittsburgh at 4:46am. Our train was serviced (water was topped off in all cars) and a new Engineer got on. I could see the Eastbound Amtrak Train #42 – The Pennsylvanian sitting on an adjacent track to us. We left Pittsburgh at 5:01am and I fell back asleep again. I must say, sleeping wasn’t too difficult since I had two seats to myself the whole time.

   Our next stop was Connellsville, PA which consists of only a bus shelter similar to Waterloo, Indiana on the Lake Shore Limited. When we stopped in Connellsville, the Head End Power went out in the whole train and all I could hear is that “that happens sometimes”, it would end up happening again but as before, nobody really knew why. I decided to get up around 7:00am, when the sun was coming up. I headed to the Dining Car to have breakfast and there were a handful of people there. I was seated with a couple from Richmond, Virginia who were heading home from a trip out West somewhere. I had the Pancakes with Sausage Patties and Home Fries with an Orange Juice to drink. Breakfast cost $8.75 and was absolutely delicious. The pancakes were thick, fluffy and very filling, just the way pancakes should be! After breakfast, I headed to the lounge car to get some caffeine into my system (Diet Pepsi!) and had a quick chat with the bartender about the future of Amtrak. She also told me where to find the few AC outlets in the lounge car.
   As our train headed over Sand Patch, I took notice of the beautiful mountains and streams through the area but unfortunately it was very foggy and I wasn’t able to take any slides due to the fog and the low light thanks to the tinted windows in the train. By the time we arrived into Cumberland, Maryland, we had to make a double spot and a new engineer had to pick up the train there. I took a few slides of Downtown Cumberland as I wanted to see how close the real town is compared to what is depicted in Maple Leaf Track’s “Sandpatch” Route for Microsoft Train Simulator (I own this route and it is very nicely detailed and very close to the real thing).
   We left Cumberland at 9:24am after a 15 minute stop there. I had a chat with the wife of Carl Jensen who was Norfolk Southern’s Steam Excursion Director when NS ran such excursions. We had a nice chat about that great program where I took 3 trips back in the early 1990’s before the program was discontinued. I headed back to my coach to get my computer and my cell phone charger and walked back to the Lounge Car to plug in my cell phone so it could charge since I was getting next to no service up in these mountains and my battery was dying. I also continued to write this travelogue some more. We had to stop somewhere East of Cumberland so that a switch could be hand-thrown for us to continue. This took about 5-10 minutes.

   Later on, we were issued a slow order that made us go some 10mph for a good 15 miles, this caused us to lose a sick amount of time. It was more than likely that the slow order was issued due to track work being done in the areas hit hard by Hurricane Isabel. After the slow order finally passed and we were able to go back up to normal speeds, we headed for our next stop in Martinsburg, West Virginia. The station there is a very historic B&O Station that I believe is the oldest station Amtrak serves in the country. We left Martinsburg at 12:02pm running 1 hour and 52 minutes late. The lateness didn’t really bother me too much, nor did it really bother most passengers. One passenger I talked to told me that they had to hold his connecting train for him if this one was late which was definitely good for him. We stopped in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia next and left there at 12:35pm, now 2 hours late. The fun would just begin as somewhere near Rockville, Maryland, our next stop. The second unit in our train decided to just die therefore causing the train to lose Head End Power since that unit was providing the HEP. The crew tried to reset that locomotive and reboot it’s computers but would fail to get the HEP turned back on. We sat in Rockville for almost an hour before the crew decided to ride out the rest of the trip with no electric power, not a big deal since there was theoretically 25 minutes left in the trip. The conductor made a few apologetic announcements over the PA System which was nice of the train crew since most everyone wasn't sure exactly what was happening.
   Finally at 2:43pm, now 2 hours and 23 minutes late, we arrived into Washington, DC Union Station. I photographed a few cars in our train as I walked past them towards the station. I also photographed a few Acela Express Trains sitting on the platforms as well as Amfleet I Business Car “Beech Grove” which was also parked at the station. After taking a bunch of slides, I headed inside to get my luggage stored (cost me $10) and get a Washington Metro Rail Train over to the White House, yes, I was about to see the White House in person. To See my experiences in our Nation's Capitol, click in the table at the bottom of this page...

Downtown Cumberland, Maryland. Our train made its regular station stop here but ended up sitting there for awhile after everyone boarded.

Looking out my coach window in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, there appears to be some kind of shop built into an old wooden Baggage Car in the center of this photo. Harpers Ferry is one of 2 stops in West Virginia on this route.

A Virginia Railway Express Commuter Train somewhere in Maryland. I saw a few of these in the yard as our train passed by.

More Virginia Railway Express Trains somewhere in Maryland not far from Washington. Some Express-Trak Reefers can also be seen in this photo.

Amtrak Superliner I Coach #34026, my car for the trip here. Very comfortable, only problem, no AC outlets!

On the platforms at Washington Union Station is 2 Acela Express trains parked here as they would likely be heading out later that day.

Amtrak's Business Car #10001 - Beech Grove, a modified Amfleet Coach used by Amtrak Management on special trips around the Amtrak System.

Washington's Union Station, an architectural masterpiece! This station also has a nice Mall and a few restaurants inside along with full Amtrak and MARC Services (MARC Is Maryland's commuter railroad).

Amtrak's Capitol Limited - Monday, September 22nd, 2003 - 60 Axles
Car/Engine Type:
Heritage Baggage
Baggage Car
Superliner II Transition Sleeper
Crew Dorm/Sleeper
Superliner II Sleeping Car
Sleeping Car
Superliner II Sleeping Car
Sleeping Car
Superliner II Dining Car
Dining Car
Superliner II Sightseer Lounge Car
Lounge/Snack Car
Superliner I Smoker Coach
Coach/Smoker Coach - Former Coach/Baggage #31031
Superliner I Coach
Coach (My Car)
Superliner I Coach
Mail & Express Cars (4)