Metropolitan Special

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Metropolitan Special
Service typeInter-city rail
LocaleMid-Atlantic United States; Midwestern United States
First service1919
Last service1971
Former operator(s)Baltimore & Ohio Railroad
TerminiJersey City, New Jersey
St. Louis, Missouri
Service frequencyDaily
Train number(s)11 (westbound)
12 (eastbound)
On-board services
Seating arrangementsReclining seat coaches [1958]
Sleeping arrangementsRoomettes and double bedrooms
Catering facilitiesParlor-Dining car (Washington - Cincinnati), lunch counter and lounge rooms (Cincinnati - St. Louis)
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm)
Route of the Metropolitan Special (in orange)

The Metropolitan Special was the workhorse passenger train of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) during the 1920s–1960s between St. Louis, Missouri, and New York's Rockfeller Center station.

In earlier years only the east-bound #12 carried the name, while the Diplomat (as #11) carried the west-bound direction of the route. The train's eastern terminus was Washington, D.C.[1] Sleeping car passengers were able to ride trains continuously from St. Louis to Jersey City, New Jersey, where at Communipaw Terminal passengers transferred to buses and ferries to Manhattan in New York City. By 1940, the eastern terminus became Baltimore, and the west-bound trip joined in carrying the Metropolitan Special name.[2]

Major intermediate station stops included Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati, Ohio. The Metropolitan Special carried vast amounts of mail and express packages in many (often 10+) baggage cars and express cars Added revenue for the train came from Railway Post Office cars, which sorted and canceled mail en route, between terminals. Even with declining passenger revenue through the 1950s and 1960s, the B&O passenger department relied heavily on trains such as the Metropolitan Special because of the revenue generated by moving mail and express packages.

In 1964 it was listed as primarily a mail train, and the train served various smaller towns and villages that were bypassed by the more prestigious trains along the route, the National Limited and the Diplomat.[3] Special was dropped from its name.[4] The next year the B&O dropped the sleeping car from the train.[5] However, by the end of 1967, the United States Postal Service dealt a heavy blow to the B&O, canceling most of its lucrative post office contracts. With such a drop in revenue, the fate of the Metropolitan Special was sealed. By 1969, its route was shortened to Washington to Cincinnati.[6] The train was discontinued on the first day of Amtrak service, May 1, 1971.[7]


Station State
New York (Rockefeller Center) (bus) New York
New York (42nd Street Station) (bus)
Brooklyn (bus)
New York (Columbus Circle Station) (bus)
Jersey City (Communipaw Terminal) (train) New Jersey
Elizabeth (CNJ's Elizabeth Station)
Wayne Junction station Pennsylvania
Philadelphia (Chestnut Street Station)
Wilmington Delaware
Baltimore (Mt. Royal Station) Maryland
Baltimore (Camden Station)
Washington (Union Station) District of Columbia
Cincinnati (Union Terminal) Ohio
Louisville (Central Station) Kentucky
St. Louis (Union Station) Missouri


  1. ^ Official Guide of the Railways, August 1938, Baltimore and Ohio section, 'Through Car Service'
  2. ^ Official Guide of the Railways, March 1940, Baltimore and Ohio section, 'Through Car Service'
  3. ^ C&O/B&O timetable. Table 2. April 26, 1964.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link) CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  4. ^ Official Guide of the Railways, December 1964, Baltimore and Ohio section, 'Passenger Train Equipment'
  5. ^ Official Guide of the Railways, July 1965, Baltimore and Ohio section, 'Passenger Train Equipment'
  6. ^ Official Guide of the Railways, August 1969, Baltimore and Ohio section, 'Passenger Train Equipment'
  7. ^ Edmonson, Harold A. (1972). Journey to Amtrak. Kalmbach Publishing. pp. 102–104. ISBN 978-0890240236. as mentioned in "Passenger trains operating on the eve of Amtrak" (PDF). Trains. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2021-02-24.
  • Renolds, Kirk & Oroszi, Dave (2000). Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Osceola, Wi: MBI Publishing. ISBN 0-7603-0746-6.