Capitol Limited and Washington Union Station

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LookingGlassTie

OBS Chief
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Nov 9, 2016
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Curious question:

When the westbound Capitol Limited (#29) departs WAS, does it go south for a distance and then turn westward? I ask because, as far as I know, the locomotive(s) on the CL are not switched out at WAS.

Likewise, does the #30 turn slightly northward before pulling into WAS?

I'm thinking that that is indeed the case, because when I took my last trip to DC, I was getting ready to board the 95 Northeast Regional to return to Norfolk, and I saw what I believed to be the CL on the opposite track from my train (the Regional was on Track 24 and the CL was on Track 23). Both trains were facing the same direction and they both had the P40 or P42 locos.

Maybe members who are more familiar with track routings can chime in. :D
 

LookingGlassTie

OBS Chief
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Nov 9, 2016
Messages
513
Oh ok.

I might have seen the #30 instead of the #29 then.

Given that the #29 goes north and then west, why doesn't it need an electric locomotive for the short stretch north of WAS?
 

Siegmund

Service Attendant
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Nov 19, 2018
Messages
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Given that the #29 goes north and then west, why doesn't it need an electric locomotive for the short stretch north of WAS?
It is under the wires for about 1 mile after leaving the station - but there is no physical obstacle to running a diesel underneath wires. Amtrak and MARC do so whenever necessary/convenient; out west, the Milwaukee Road did it for hundreds of miles in the 60s and early 70s.

New York City has a law requiring only electrics, basically so that less ventilation of tunnels is required. But no similar law in place in DC (or anywhere else in the US that I am aware of.)
 

Acela150

Conductor
Joined
Jan 11, 2008
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8,733
Curious question:

When the westbound Capitol Limited (#29) departs WAS, does it go south for a distance and then turn westward? I ask because, as far as I know, the locomotive(s) on the CL are not switched out at WAS.

Likewise, does the #30 turn slightly northward before pulling into WAS?

I'm thinking that that is indeed the case, because when I took my last trip to DC, I was getting ready to board the 95 Northeast Regional to return to Norfolk, and I saw what I believed to be the CL on the opposite track from my train (the Regional was on Track 24 and the CL was on Track 23). Both trains were facing the same direction and they both had the P40 or P42 locos.

Maybe members who are more familiar with track routings can chime in. :D
As stated the train runs North for about a mile, and then starts west on CSX.

What you saw was the Eastbound Capitol. The Westbound train leaves from the Upper Level so it doesn't Conflict with the 4pm Acela and 4pm hour Regional. If the Westbound Cap left from the Lower Level it would have to cross over the entire Washington Terminal Area and hold things up until it clears. From the upper level it doesn't have that issue.

As to why doesn't it have an Electric on it, is pretty simple. It's only about a mile under wires.That would require an engine change that would take ballpark 15-20 minutes, and running diesels under wires isn't a big deal.
 

iplaybass

Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 10, 2018
Messages
169
As stated the train runs North for about a mile, and then starts west on CSX.

What you saw was the Eastbound Capitol. The Westbound train leaves from the Upper Level so it doesn't Conflict with the 4pm Acela and 4pm hour Regional. If the Westbound Cap left from the Lower Level it would have to cross over the entire Washington Terminal Area and hold things up until it clears. From the upper level it doesn't have that issue.
When did this shift occur? I distinctly remember having to go down the stairs last July for the WB Capitol. Guess I'll find out in a month.
 

jis

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Usually the Cap departs West from the upper level AFAIR. There are some unusual occasions when it might depart from the lower level, but that involves a huge conflicting move across the throat of Union Station as mentioned by Acela150.
 

John Santos

Train Attendant
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Jun 24, 2018
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All the MBTA commuter trains on the NEC Providence line are diesel powered and run under the Amtrak wires. The CL consists of Superliners and is a tighter fit, but it still works. I rode it east-bound (Chicago to Washington) and I thought it was more than a mile but certainly less than 4 or 5 miles with the scarily close wires over our heads. We came into Union Station from the north.
 

AmtrakBlue

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Usually the Cap departs West from the upper level AFAIR. There are some unusual occasions when it might depart from the lower level, but that involves a huge conflicting move across the throat of Union Station as mentioned by Acela150.
My first Amtrak LD trip was in 2011. The CL was on the lower level for that trip. My next trip west on the CL was last year and it was on the upper level.
Just two data points from me covering 9 years - you can throw those out. [emoji57]
 

railiner

Conductor
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Mar 20, 2009
Messages
7,689
All the MBTA commuter trains on the NEC Providence line are diesel powered and run under the Amtrak wires. The CL consists of Superliners and is a tighter fit, but it still works. I rode it east-bound (Chicago to Washington) and I thought it was more than a mile but certainly less than 4 or 5 miles with the scarily close wires over our heads. We came into Union Station from the north.
Back in the B&O era, their trains with a dome car, blocked off the dome seats between Washington and Silver Spring, “for safety”...
 

Siegmund

Service Attendant
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Nov 19, 2018
Messages
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Back in the B&O era, their trains with a dome car, blocked off the dome seats between Washington and Silver Spring, “for safety”...
I have been told this same story from the 80s and early 90s when Amtrak ran domes on the Capitol - but have no firsthand information whether it really happened or was apocryphal.

The clearance height for an F40, a dome car, and a superliner are within a couple inches of the same.
 

Seaboard92

Conductor
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Dec 31, 2014
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Generally for the most part the westbound leaves from the same track every day on the upper deck. And the eastbound will run into the lower deck because they can sit and wait around down there for a longer time. The lower level isn’t as busy as the upper.
 

jiml

OBS Chief
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
898
I recall when the consist laid over until departure in the terminal. On arrival they'd wye it and back in, and being in the last sleeper one of my kids sometimes got to "blow the whistle" (attached to the air hose) as we approached the station. They were so spoiled back in the day...
 

chakk

Conductor
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May 26, 2011
Messages
2,553
I have been told this same story from the 80s and early 90s when Amtrak ran domes on the Capitol - but have no firsthand information whether it really happened or was apocryphal.

The clearance height for an F40, a dome car, and a superliner are within a couple inches of the same.
Rode B&O trains with domes many times berween DC Union Station and Baltimore Camden Station. Passengers were excluded from the domes between Union Station and the point where the B&O diverged from the electrified Pennsy. It was a safety measure in case any catenary became dislodged and fell onto the train.
 
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