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 seeing many stunning views.
Amtrak’s Capitol Limited has 16 stops, including Chicago, IL; 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
Why take Amtrak’s Capitol Limited?
Taking Amtrak to your next destination is a convenient and relaxing way to travel, with many scenic views.
Unlike airports, most Amtrak train stops are in downtown areas. 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.
- The Capitol Limited runs daily as train number 30 going East and 29 going West.
- This train does not have WiFi, with cellphone dead spots along the route.
- 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.
- Food on Amtrak’s Capitol Limited
- All food service on this train is currently served in a “cross-country cafe.
- The cafe sells grab-and-go food and drinks for both sleeping and coach passengers.
- Sleeping passengers can enjoy Flex dining, more on food later.
- The Limited uses Amtrak’s Superliner equipment.
- Accommodation includes:
- 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.
Boarding Amtrak’s Capitol Limited
When it is time to board the train, prepare your tickets for conductors or attendants to look at and scan. Listen carefully to the instructions given by the station or onboard staff to avoid confusion.
The best tip for you is to listen to station staff (when available) and onboard staff.
Where you board and where you are going can determine your seating.
Coach seats are assigned on your day of travel as you board the train.
Amtrak typically does seat and car assignments as you walk to the train.
If the train is not that full or towards the end of the route, you might be able to pick your seat.
Amtrak tries to group 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.
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.
Amtrak also tries to put groups and families together; this can be more difficult if everyone keeps spreading out.
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.
What paperwork do you need to ride Amtrak?
You need two things to ride an Amtrak train: tickets and a government-issued ID.
You can use paper or electronic tickets to board the train, including emailed ones.
Amtrak ticket readers will randomly ask the conductors to check ID, this hasn’t happened to me yet, but it has happened to travel my companions. So, it is best to have things ready.
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.
Overview Look at the 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 pm|
|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 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|
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.
Who owns the tracks that Amtrak’s Capitol Limited uses?
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 Washington Union Station
- CSX Washington to Pittsburgh
- Norfolk Southern Cleveland to Chicago
- Amtrak Chicago Union Station
There may be some small interchanges owned by other railroads, but on the whole, those railroads the train uses.
Checking the train status
You can use the Amtrak app, website, or third-party site to see if the train is running on time, late, or early. If the train is running early, it will wait at that stop until its departure time unless it is a drop-off-only stop.
Additionally, you can sign up for text or emails when booking to stay alert. If you forget, you can sign up later, or the people picking you up can get them.
Baggage on Amtrak
We all have baggage, so let’s find out how to deal with that on Amtrak’s Capitol Limited.
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.
Below you can click the link for the station you are going to or leaving to check if checked baggage is available. Also, the website and app often let you know if the checked service is available during booking.
If any stations you use on your trip are unstaffed, you cannot check pieces of baggage. But if an intermediate station and destination allow for check bags, you can check them en route. See the red box below for details.
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.
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.
Food and alcohol on Amtrak’s Capitol Limited
You can bring food aboard Amtrak’s Capitol Limited
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 that 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.
Amtrak café car (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 between the coach cars and the dining car.
Sleeper Lounge (Dining Car (sleeping passengers only))
Capitol Limited serves Amtrak’s flex dining.
Sleeper car passengers can use the sleeper lounge to grab complimentary meals and beverages and purchase additional adult beverages.
You can eat meals in this 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:
- staffed stations,
- unstaffed stations,
- flag stops
- platform stations or stops.
You can click on the stations to see the current amenities.
Capitol Limited Stops
*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 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.
|Westbound Car Numbers||Equipment Type||Eastbound Car Numbers|
Connecting with other trains or transportation
This train does have connections with other transportation. You can also connect with other Amtrak trains in Chicago and east coast stations.
Sleeper and 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 and fun info about Amtrak’s Capitol Limited
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 are free to walk around the platform but do now 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 and marijuana on the train
You cannot smoke or vape any subsistences on Amtrak’s trains.
Those 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.
Bathrooms and showers
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.
Sleeping car passengers starting or passing through Chicago and DC can use the Metropolitan Lounge. 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.
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