Amtrak’s Capitol Limited is a relaxing way to travel between Chicago and the US Capitol, Washington DC. This train lets you sit back and relax while rolling down the tracks.
Amtrak’s Capitol Limited has 14 intermediate stops between Chicago, IL, and DC, including Toledo, OH; Cleveland, OH; Pittsburgh, PA; Washington, DC; and all intermediate stops.
This article covers the basics for your next trip aboard Amtrak’s Capitol Limited. I invite you to get a tasty beverage or snack and learn about this beautiful train route.
The information in this article is meant as a guide and may not reflect your experience. Amtrak can change services and offerings at any time.
Travels with Kev’s podcast on Amtrak’s Capitol Limited
The Capitol Limited podcast is coming on August 2, 2023, and is available now for Patreon members! To be alerted of this or any other Travels with Kev Podcast, search and subscribe to this show in your favorite podcast player!
Advantages Of Taking Amtrak’s Capitol Limited
Taking Amtrak to your next destination is a convenient and relaxing way to travel, with many scenic views between the two major cities.
Unlike airports, most of these Amtrak train stops are in the heart of the communities. Plus, the train serves many small communities without access to airports or other transportation, so Amtrak’s Capitol Limited and its connecting services are essential to the USA transportation system.
Amtrak’s Capitol Limited Quick FAQs
Here are some FAQs about Amtrak’s Capitol Limited, also called the Limited.
How Long Is The Trip?
From end to end, the route takes about 17 hours and 40 minutes.
The Capitol Limited runs daily as train number 30 going East and 29 going West.
Wi-FI On The Capitol Limited
This train does not have WiFi, and cell phone dead spots are along the route.
Getting Tickets For The Capitol Limited
You can buy tickets or make reservations online, through the app, via phone (1-800-USA-Rail), or at staffed stations. Travel agencies are also an option. When boarding, you can use paper or tickets on your electronic device. Do not plan on buying your tickets on the train.
Amtrak does not have a check-in process like the airlines or TSA screening like an airport. All you need to do on your day of travel is show up on time.
Equipment & Accommodations On Amtrak’s Capitol Limited
The Limited uses Amtrak’s Superliner equipment and offers the following accommodations.
Food On Amtrak’s Capitol Limited
Amtrak’s Capitol Limited Schedule
Amtrak’s Capitol Limited takes 17.45 hours to travel 780 miles from end to end. Below is a brief look at scheduled departure times for a few stops.
Major Cities schedule
|Westbound Train 29|
(Read from top-down)
|Stops||Eastbound Train 30|
(Read from bottom-up)
|4:05 pm||Washington DC||1:05 pm|
|11:59 pm||Pittsburgh, PA||5:20 am|
|2:59 am (Day 2)||Cleveland, OH||1:54 am (Day 2)|
|5:22 am||Toledo, OH||11:49 pm|
|8:45 am||Chicago, IL||6:40 pm|
The Capitol Limited Route Broken Down by Day
|DIRECTION||CITY SECTIONS||DAY OF TRAVEL|
|#29 Westbound||Washington, DC – Pittsburgh, PA||1st day|
|Alliance, OH – Chicago, IL||2nd day|
|#30 Eastbound||Chicago, IL – Toledo, OH||1st day|
|Sandusky, OH – Washington DC||2nd day|
Boarding Amtrak’s Capitol Limited
When it is time to board the train, have your tickets ready to show staff, your baggage is ready to go, and take your headphones off/out or turn down what you are listening to.
Paying attention to and understanding the instructions will help boarding go smoother and faster.
Avoid asking non-boarding questions as you get on the train. Once the train departs, there is plenty of time to ask those questions. During boarding, the staff is focused on getting you going. Besides, the welcoming announcements could answer all of your questions.
Please don’t put your ticket away until a conductor scans it.
Here is an excellent article for more information about boarding Amtrak trains.
You will be assigned your seat on the day of travel; sometimes, toward the end of the route, you can sit wherever.
Amtrak often groups passengers going to similar locations in the same car; this makes it easier for conductors and staff to help get passengers off the train. In theory, this also means fewer disruptions for those traveling further.
Amtrak also tries to put groups and families together; this can be more difficult if everyone keeps spreading out.
After finding your seat and often after the train departs the station, the conductors will walk down the aisle to scan your ticket and place a card over your head. This card saves your seat and indicates your destination.
Amtrak asks you not to change cars for a “better seat” without first talking to conductors.
For Sleeping Car Passengers
You receive your sleeper car room assignments after you book your accommodation. If you bought your ticket electronically or over the phone, you see your room reservation in the email and app. If you purchased your ticket at a station, it is on a paper ticket.
All the Limited’s sleepers are together. Depending on the season, these can be at either end of the train.
Car attendants or conductors should be outside the car to check you in and help direct you to your room.
Do not switch to another room without talking to someone first because someone later down the line may have a reservation for it.
Usually, the car attendant will visit after the train takes off to show you around your room. They should also let you know the details of meals and other amenities.
If the train is busy or during meal time and the attendant has meals to grab, it could take them a while to get to you.
The Paperwork You Need For The Capitol Limited
When you travel, there are a few things that you should always have on you, and one of those is a government-issued ID. Often, hotels and other places require an ID for service.
Valid Photo ID Required
Amtrak customers 18 years of age and older must produce valid photo identification when:
Valid Photo ID Required
Amtrak customers 18 years of age and older must produce valid photo identification when:
- Exchanging, refunding, or reprinting Amtrak travel documents
- Purchasing documents with a stored eVoucher or Transportation Credit
- Traveling as a Pass Rider (active or retired)
- Storing baggage at stations
- Checking luggage (including firearms)
- Sending Amtrak Express shipments
- Asked onboard trains by train crew members, other Amtrak or operating railroad employees
- Asked any time by Amtrak police or any law enforcement officer
- Traveling into Canada
- Guardian purchasing unaccompanied minor travel documents or signing the release form.
What is a Valid ID?
To be valid, your identification must be current and in force. The following forms of identification are acceptable for persons 18 and older:
- One piece of photo identification issued by a government authority or
- Two pieces of identification, at least one of which is administered by a government authority
Examples of acceptable forms of ID include:
- State or provincial driver’s license
- Official government-issued identification (federal, state, city or county government or foreign government)
- Canadian provincial health card ID card with photo
- Military photo ID
- Student identification (university, college, or high school photo ID)
- Job Corps photo ID
Amtrak ticket readers will randomly ask the conductors to check IDs. This hasn’t happened to me yet, but it has happened to one of my companions. So, it is best to have things ready.
You can use paper or electronic tickets to board the train, including emailed ones. If you are unsure if you should print your ticket or want to know how to do it, check the article on printing Amtrak tickets.
Amtrak’s Capitol Limited And Delays
Delays happen with most transportation forms, but Amtrak faces different challenges than other transportation. If another train is in its way, it can always “go around” or take a different route.
Most delays were freight interference, “acts of God,” and poor weather conditions. But at times, it is Amtrak’s fault, such as mechanical issues.
To learn more about the delays, watch the video or click here.
Delayed trains can make up some of the lost time, and do not let this deter you from booking a trip. When planning your adventure, add extra travel time to your itinerary.
Owners Of The Tracks Used By Amtrak’s Capitol Limited
Amtrak does not own most of the tracks they run on but uses rails owned by others. The Capitol Limited operates over rails owned by:
- Amtrak Around Chicago & Washington Union Stations
- CSX Washington to Pittsburgh
- Norfolk Southern Cleveland to Chicago
There may be some small interchanges owned by other railroads, but on the whole, those railroads the train uses.
How To Checking The Status Of The Capitol Limited
If the train is running early, it will wait at that stop until its departure time; the exception is a drop-off-only stop and flag stops.
Additionally, you can sign up for text or email alerts anytime or when making reservations.
Baggage on Amtrak
We all have baggage, so let’s find out how to deal with that on Amtrak’s Capitol Limited. If it helps, print out this handy Amtrak baggage allowance quick reference sheet.
For more details or the official policy, visit Amtrak’s baggage page.
Amtrak’s generous carry-on policy allows for two twenty-eight-inch suitcases and two personal items; all bags must weigh fifty pounds or less—links below for more info.
- Coach passengers can use the storage shelf above their seat or the luggage rack on the lower level of the car.
- Sleeper cars have some space in the rooms but not very much. Bedrooms do offer more space than roomettes. There is a shelf for luggage on the lower level of the car for you to put your excess baggage. FYI, rooms only lock when you are inside them.
Checked bag service
Check bag service is not available for all stops.
Checking the availability of checked baggage ahead of time prevents a day of travel surprise and allows you to pack accordingly.
Further down in this article, you can click the link for the stations you will use to see if checked baggage is available. Also, the Amtrak website and app often let you know if the checked service is available during booking.
If either station you use on your trip is unstaffed, you cannot check your luggage. But if a transfer station and your destination allow for check bags, you can check them en route. According to Amtrak rules, you must check your bags at least forty-five minutes before the departure of the train. Some stations may bend these rules, but it is better to plan that they won’t.
When you connect with another train, your checked bags will transfer with you; check for bus transfers. When in doubt, ask the onboard or station staff.
If you check your bags, you will not have access to them, so don’t pack anything you need during the trip, such as medication or medical devices.
Food & Alcohol On Amtrak’s Capitol Limited
You can bring food aboard Amtrak’s Capitol Limited, but there are a few points you should be aware of.
Avoid packing food with pungent odors to be a good travel companion.
Not everyone enjoys the smell of egg salad sandwiches or other food with pungent odors.
Also, avoid overly crunchy food for late-night snacks.
Due to FDA regulations, you cannot bring food or drinks into Amtrak food service cars you didn’t purchase onboard. Food for babies and toddlers is the exception. Also, Amtrak cannot store or heat the food you brought aboard. If you need to keep medications cool, bring a cooler to store them in; if required, Amtrak may get you ice.
Bringing alcohol on board Amtrak’s Capitol Limited
You may transport adult beverages in coach class but cannot partake from your stash as you travel.
If you break this rule, you may get kicked off the train and fined. Adult beverages are available in the cafe or dining car for passengers with accommodations.
Sleeping car passengers can bring adult beverages aboard and consume them only in their room or travel buddy’s rooms.
You can get kicked off the train if you get out of hand from drinking too much.
Here is more information about personal food, beverages, and medication on Amtrak trains.
Amtrak café car (open for all passengers)
The cafe car is open for all passengers and offers meals, snacks, and beverages, including adult ones.
The cafe’s hours can vary, so listen to the onboard announcements, but typically, it is open during the day except for the attendant’s break times.
There is seating on the lower level to consume your food. You can take the food you bought to your accommodations or the Sightseer Lounge.
The cafe car is in the middle of the train.
Sleeper Passengers Meals
As of the time of this article coming out, Amtrak is using Flex Dining on Capitol Limited. That article does include menus.
Sleeper car passengers can use the sleeper lounge or cafe car to grab their complimentary meals and beverages and purchase additional adult beverages.
You can eat meals in the food car or return them to your room.
Sometimes, getting out of your accommodations is nice to break up your trip.
If you cannot walk to the car, your attendant can grab and bring your meals to the room.
Amtrak offers one complimentary adult beverage per eligible sleeper car passenger and unlimited soft drinks.
Ask the dining car attendant about the selections of spirits, beers, wines, and other beverages.
|Day||Eastbound 29||Westbound 30|
The times you get on and off the train determine what meals you receive, so ask your onboard staff about service hours.
On this train, they often have reservations to help the cafe car attendant from getting overwhelmed.
For those sleeper car passengers traveling from end to end, you can expect the following:
The 16 stops of Amtrak’s Capitol Limited
The Limited serves various stops, including:
Capitol Limited Stops
You can click on the stations to see the current amenities and the type of stations.
*Stations with connecting bus services.
Amtrak’s Capitol Limited line-up
When walking up to the train, look for a four-digit number found by the door.
Occasionally, these numbers are not updated, meaning it may say 2930 instead of 3030.
Still, the second part of the number should match your ticket. The attendants or conductors are looking for you, and all the sleepers on this train are together.
Once again, your ticket contains this information for sleeping passengers, and coach passengers get assigned cars and seats while on the platform.
The order of cars for Amtrak’s Capitol Limited
The following approximate the rail cars’ line-up and can change seasonally or based on equipment availability. All of the passenger cars are Superliner Equipment.
The train can run sleepers first or last. Amtrak sometimes uses coach baggage cars instead of running a baggage car. If there is a baggage car, the transdorm car usually follows.
This information may not reflect the current that consists of this train.
|Westbound Car Numbers||Equipment Type||Eastbound Car Numbers|
Connecting With Other Amtrak Trains & Transportation
This train does have connections with other transportation. You can also connect with other Amtrak trains in Chicago and East Coast stations. This train also allows you to transfer with the Pennsylvanian out of Pittsburgh, PA.
Sleeper & Coach Car Layout
Below are layouts of passenger cars on Capitol Limited, including coach and sleeper.
Sleeping car numbers
Each coach car has bathrooms on the lower levels, overhead baggage storage, a luggage rack on the lower level, a seat tray, foot and leg rest, a seatback pocket, a water spout, and two grounded (three-prong) outlets at each seat.
Amtrak Café/ Cross-country Cafe
Currently, I do not have access to a layout for this car.
Notable Views & Fun Amtrak’s Capitol Limited Info
The Capitol Limited follows the historic B&O line from DC to Chicago.
As you travel along this route, you’ll pass through the Potomac Valley, past historic Harpers Ferry, and the Allegheny Mountains.
The views can vary from scenic country and mountains to cityscapes.
Here is a Capitol Limited route guide you can save or print out for more information.
Fresh Air (Smoking) Stops.
Fresh air breaks allow you to get off the train, stretch your legs, and, as the name implies, get some fresh air (or smoke).
Getting off the train can add to your travel experience, and your body may welcome the ability to stretch out and walk on stable ground. These breaks happen during crew changes, fuel stops, stops with baggage service, or if the train arrives early.
You can walk around the platform but do not wander too far from the train. When it is time to go, conductors will load the train leave, with or without you. So, listen for the “all aboard” or a few toots from the locomotive.
Walking Around The Train
First-time train riders should know a few tidbits about walking around a train. It is not hard, but often not what people are used to when traveling.
Trains are linear, meaning one car is in front of another. You may need to walk through a few cars to get to the one you desire.
A walk can be a great way to stretch your legs if sitting for a while.
Remember, trains are moving, so they sway as they go down the track.
Use seatbacks or luggage racks for support. Avoid stepping where the plates come together when passing between cars, and use candy cane-striped handles for support.
The isles of trains are narrow and do not allow two people to walk in opposite directions to pass simultaneously.
If you have two seats to yourself, people may step into “your space” for a second to let another pass; therefore, be courteous of others as you walk through the train.
Smoking & Marijuana On Amtrak Trains
You cannot smoke or vape any subsistences on Amtrak’s trains.
Passengers caught smoking on board the train can be removed by the conductor’s train and issued a fine.
While marijuana is legal in many states, it is still illegal to transport or consume it on Amtrak because it is considered federal property.
If you have questions or are looking for more info, here is more information on marijuana, vaping, and smoking on Amtrak.
Bathrooms & Showers On The Capitol Limited
Coach passengers can find a few lavatories on the lower level of each coach car. There are no shower facilities for coach passengers.
Sleeping car passengers have one lavatory on the car’s upper level in the middle, by the stairs and coffee station. Additional ones are on the lower level. All sleeping car passengers can use the shower on the lower level of the car.
Each bedroom accommodation (rooms “numbered” A-E) has a bathroom that houses the shower.
Amtrak’s Capitol Limited Wrap-Up.
The Limited is a safe, relaxing, and fun way to travel to your next adventure.
You can bring your food aboard or use the food services offered by Amtrak (or do both).
Amtrak cannot store, chill, or heat the food brought aboard the train; as of now, coach passengers do not have access to the dining car.
If you need to keep medication chilled and bring a cooler with ice, Amtrak may provide additional ice, depending on the current supply.
Lounges & Red Caps
Chicago and Washington Union Stations offer Amtrak red cap service for those who need it.
Sleeping car passengers starting or passing through Chicago and DC can use the station Lounges. The lounge offers priority boarding, complimentary beverages, and possibly more.
WIFI and streaming
This train does not have WiFi. If you need WiFi, consider getting a hotspot or see if your phone offers this service.
Traveling with electronics
Bring an extension cord, charger, cables, or battery pack to keep everything running. There are outlets for each accommodation and in the Sightseer Lounge car.
Use headphones for any noise-making device (phone, games, etc.), and turn down or silence your phone, especially at night.
Thoughts on bringing entertainment on Amtrak’s Capitol Limited
Amtrak provides scenery rolling past your windows, but anything beyond that is up to you.
The right entertainment can help pass the time, including book(s), videos, games, a good playlist, or more entertainment ideas.
Something simple like a deck of cards or a puzzle book can go far.
If you plan to use an electronic gadget, have a few apps that do not need WiFi.
Try downloading ebooks and podcasts to give you a variety of entertainment. I love learning from a podcast or an audiobook while looking out the window. There is always the Travels with Kev Podcast you can binge.
Most of all, bring your patience.
I hope this helps you plan and enjoy your next trip aboard Amtrak’s Capitol Limited. Remember, if I can travel, you can too; experience comes from doing, not waiting.