The Washington–Chicago Express, an American named passenger train of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O), was one of four daily B&O trains operating between Washington, D.C., and Chicago, Illinois, via Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania during the 1920s–1960s. Other B&O trains of that period on the route were the Capitol Limited, Columbian, and the Shenandoah.
Operating westbound as Train # 9, the Chicago Express, and eastbound as Train # 10, the Washington Express, it was an "accommodation" train, meaning that it made stops at most stations along the route bypassed by B&O's other trains, resulting in a slower timecard than the more prestigious Capitol Limited. The Washington–Chicago Express required a leisurely 18½ hours for its 767-mile (1,234 km) journey, compared to the faster Capitol Limited's 16-hour pace. The Washington–Chicago Express was also B&O's primary train for mail and Railway Express Agency shipments, having heavy head end equipment consisting of several Railway Post Office (RPO) cars, baggage cars, and bulk mail boxcars.
The Washington–Chicago Express continued to offer Pullman sleeping car and dining car service into the mid-1960s, but the ending of B&O's mail contract in the late-1960s by the U.S. Postal Service spelled the doom of the train, resulting in its discontinuation before the advent of Amtrak in 1971.
Schedule and equipment
In addition to a Washington–Chicago through sleeping car and dining car providing full meal service en route, the B&O's Washington–Chicago Express also offered a "set-out" sleeper in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1961, for example, the set-out sleeper for Washington was parked on a siding at Pittsburgh's P&LE Station (used by B&O's long-distance trains) and available for occupancy by passengers at 9:00 p.m., prior to the arrival of the eastbound Washington Express at 10:30 p.m. The sleeper was then coupled to the rear of the train during the 25-minute layover there.
In 1961, the westbound Chicago Express Train # 9 operated on the following schedule (departure times at principal stops shown in blue, connecting Budd Rail Diesel Car from Baltimore, Maryland, in yellow):
|Baltimore, Md. (Camden Station)||1:00 p.m.|
|Washington, D.C. (Union Station)||2:15 p.m.|
|Martinsburg, W. Va.||3:56 p.m.|
|Cumberland, Md.||5:45 p.m.|
|Connellsville, Pa.||8:20 p.m.|
|McKeesport, Pa.||9:16 p.m.|
|Pittsburgh, Pa.||10:10 p.m.|
|Youngstown, Ohio||11:41 p.m.|
|Akron, Ohio||12:56 a.m.|
|Gary, Ind. (CT) (Union Station)||6:36 a.m.|
|Chicago (Grand Central Station)||7:40 a.m.|
|source: B&O timetable, October 29, 1961|
- Herbert H. Harwood, Jr., Royal Blue Line. Sykesville, Maryland: Greenberg Publishing, 1990 (ISBN 0-89778-155-4).
- Stephen J. Salamon, David P. Oroszi, and David P. Ori, Baltimore and Ohio — Reflections of the Capitol Dome. Silver Spring, Maryland: Old Line Graphics, 1993 (ISBN 1-879314-08-8).
- Baltimore & Ohio — Passenger Train Schedules, October 29, 1961.