Washington–Chicago Express

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The Washington–Chicago Express at La Paz, Indiana in 1963.

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.[1]

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.[2]

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.[1]

Schedule and equipment[edit]

Route of the Washington–Chicago Express (in orange)

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.[3]

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):

City Departure time
     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[3]


  1. ^ a b Herbert H. Harwood, Jr., Royal Blue Line. Sykesville, Maryland: Greenberg Publishing, 1990 (ISBN 0-89778-155-4).
  2. ^ 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).
  3. ^ a b Baltimore & Ohio — Passenger Train Schedules, October 29, 1961.