Facebook Page
Sandusky, OH To Chicago, IL On Amtrak's Capitol Limited
Amtrak's Capitol Limited during its station stop at Cleveland Train Station
at 3:20am on August 7th, 2005. (File Photo)
Monday, September 28th, 2009:
  I checked out of the hotel around 2:30am and waited for my taxi to arrive to bring me over to the Amtrak station in Sandusky. Upon arriving at the station, the door was locked. The cab driver called the Sandusky Police Department who came by within a few minutes and unlocked the station. This is the standard procedure there as the station is locked up overnight. There was myself and one other passenger waiting to get into the building. I'm glad there is a waiting room here as it had now started raining pretty good! Two Passengers arrived who had just finished working at Cedar Point and they were now gonna take a tour of America before heading home to Taiwan! Another passenger headed for New York who also worked at CP had come by and we all waited in the station for our trains to arrive. I kept everyone posted on train times since I have my BlackBerry and was able to access with it. There is a digital readerboard inside the station but the train information it displays is highly inaccurate as it appears it hasn't been updated in years! The printed schedules on the wall inside the station weren't even current if I read them correctly, so I'm glad I was able to get on the internet while there to get the most up-to-date info! Shortly before my train would arrive, Train #48 - the New York/Boston-bound Lake Shore Limited would arrive and pick up a couple passengers. The Assistant Conductor on #48 was the same as I rode with last Friday morning and we recognized each other right away! Train #48 left and at 3:59am and right after that, Train #29 - The Capitol Limited, bound for Chicago arrived in Sandusky. The train did a double spot to let off additional passengers and we were out of Sandusky at 4:04am only 7 minutes late. The consist for today’s train is shown below:
Amtrak's Capitol Limited- Monday, September 28th, 2009 - 52 Axles
Car/Engine Type:
Heritage Baggage
Baggage Car
Superliner I Diner-Lounge
Diner-Lounge Car (Deadhead Move)
Superliner II Sleeping Car
2910 - Sleeping Car
Superliner I Coach
Superliner I Coach
Coach (My Car)
Superliner I Sightseer Lounge
Cafe/Lounge Car
Superliner I Diner-Lounge
Dining Car
Superliner I Sleeping Car
Carlsbad Caverns*  
2900 - Sleeping Car
Superliner I Sleeping Car
2901 - Sleeping Car
Superliner II Transition Sleeper
2909 - Crew Sleeper
Track Geometry Car
Corridor Clipper
Track Geometry Car
Special Note: Superliner I Sleeping Cars never had their names applied and Superliner II Sleeping Cars were delivered with names but as they've been shopped, the names have been removed.
  I was seated in Superliner I Coach #34002 at seat #53. I ultimately stored my luggage in the downstairs section of the train. This train was assigning seats (same way #49 was) though it was not a full car today, nor a full train as this isn't the peak season for this train. As you can see from the consist above, we had a dining car that was a deadhead move and it was tucked behind the baggage car but in front of the first sleeper. Also, this train appears to have been "backwards" as most sleepers are up front. However on this train, they were situated as 1 was up front and 2 in back. Also, the Track Geometry Car “Corridor Clipper” was along for the ride on the rear end of today's train. I took a walk through the train to get car numbers and chat with the crew who would be getting off the train in Toledo. They were in the dining car and I asked permission to photograph the car interior since this train has one of those "Diner-Lounge" concepts that has proven to not be the best design choice for this type of car. The reason Amtrak began converting Superliner Dining Cars into this configuration was due to a mandate by the Bush Administration to reduce food service costs. The idea was to combine the Sightseer Lounge with the Dining Car and create a "Diner/Lounge" in one car. The car would serve food under the "Diner-Lite" concept and all food would be heated in convection ovens and steam tables. This concept has only fully been implemented on one train, the "City Of New Orleans". This car is running as a regular dining car under the "Simplified Dining Service" that was implemented a few years ago and the train still sports a staffed Sightseer Lounge car as a cafe/lounge car. This train is due to get a regular Superliner dining car back once more are fixed at Beech Grove with economic stimulus money.
  I had a nice conversation with the crew and found out the Conductor on today's train was retiring in 2 weeks after 40 years on the railroad, I thus congratulated him! We passed 1 freight near Toledo and at 4:50am, running 13 minutes EARLY, we arrived in Toledo. At this point, passengers could get off and smoke. Since I don't smoke and there was enough time to do so, I wanted to get an exterior photo of our dining car. I tried once with the flash on the camera and it didn't provide enough light, so I checked my watch and with permission of the train crew, ran back to my coach and got out the tripod! I set up the camera and did a "Night Photo" of the car which is a time exposure, thus the need for a tripod so as to not shake the camera! After putting away the camera and having a Diet Pepsi, we departed Toledo, on time at 5:17am with a new crew. I chatted briefly with our new Conductor as we left the station. I decided to try to get some "zz's" but would end up sitting at my coach seat trading text messages with a buddy in New Jersey for a half hour and then try to get a few winks thereafter! We stopped in Waterloo, IN while I was trying to "rest". I decided that around 7am, I would "wake up" and go have breakfast in this experimental diner! I was seated with 2 women, one was headed to Chicago and one to Michigan. I had the Railroad French Toast with Sausage Patties and Orange Juice along with a Diet Pepsi to "wake up"! Breakfast cost $8.50 and was decent. I could clearly see how this dining car concept just isn’t working as the table I sat at only had 3 of us at it, and there were others like it in the car. We would make our stop in Elkhart, IN while I ate breakfast, as well as our next stop in South Bend, IN. We left South Bend at 7:49am only 3 minutes late. A "last call" was made for breakfast as we were expected to be arriving in Chicago on time!
  I headed back to my coach seat and decided to move across the aisle to the "engineer's side" of the train so as to get in some pictures before arriving in Chicago. We got stopped about 12 miles from Chicago so as to let an Amtrak Wolverine Service Train #350 pass us. An additional announcement was made when we were stopped at milepost 518 (518 miles from Buffalo!) waiting for traffic to clear ahead of us. The crew kept us posted which was great! I noticed that Norfolk Southern was hard at work replacing lots of older signal lights along the line and on sidings. Once past CP-506, the mainline is ex-Pennsylvania trackage all the way into Union Station in Chicago. It is ex-New York Central prior to CP-506. Upon crossing the Chicago River and entering Amtrak’s coach yard, the train stopped and did a backup move all the way past the drawbridge we just went over and turned west onto BNSF trackage. The train then eventually backed onto the same mainline we came to town on and backed into Union Station. At 8:45am, only 5 minutes late, we arrived in Chicago, not bad if you ask me! I picked up my luggage and camera bag and walked down the platform into the station. I picked up a quick photo of the "Corridor Clipper" car before walking inside. I would store my luggage at one of the overpriced lockers at Union Station near baggage claim with the plan for today being to go visit the Museum Of Science & Industry! Before we head over there, here's some photos taken on the Capitol Limited, check out the links below!!!