Amtrak Capitol Limited Train: The Complete Rider’s Guide

The Capitol Limited is an Amtrak train that runs daily between Washington, D.C., and Chicago, covering 764 miles (1,230 kilometers) via Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Service began in 1981 and was named after the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s Capitol Limited, which stopped operating in 1971 with the advent of Amtrak. It carries Amtrak train numbers 29 and 30, which were originally assigned to the discontinued National Limited.

This is not Amtrak’s official website and is not affiliated with Amtrak; this is just for the reader’s guide.

Before You Ride

Ticketing and Reservations

Booking Your Trip:

  • Amtrak Website: The easiest way to book your Capitol Limited journey is through the Amtrak website, You can search for schedules, compare fares, and book your tickets online.
  • Phone: You can also book your tickets by calling Amtrak at 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).

Choosing Your Accommodation:

The Capitol Limited offers a variety of seating options to suit your needs and budget:

  • Coach Seats: These comfortable reclining seats offer ample legroom and assigned seating for your entire journey.
  • Sleeper Cars: For a more luxurious experience, consider booking a room in a sleeper car. Sleeper cars offer a variety of room options, including roomettes (suitable for 1-2 passengers), bedrooms (suitable for 2 passengers), family bedrooms (suitable for up to 4 passengers), and accessible bedrooms. Sleeper car passengers enjoy additional amenities such as priority boarding, meals included in the ticket price, and the services of a dedicated sleeping car attendant.

Special Considerations:

  • Family Bedroom: The family bedroom is a great option for traveling families or groups. It features two bedrooms with a connecting door, offering both privacy and togetherness.
  • Early Booking Discounts: Amtrak often offers discounts for booking your tickets in advance. Be sure to check the website for current promotions.
  • Amtrak Guest Rewards: If you are an Amtrak Guest Rewards member, you can earn and redeem points on your Capitol Limited trip.

Additional Tips:

  • Consider your travel companions and budget when choosing your seating option.
  • Think about whether you would prefer the privacy and amenities of a sleeper car or the affordability of a coach seat.
  • Book your tickets as early as possible, especially if you are traveling during peak season or are interested in a specific room type on the sleeper car.

Checked Baggage Service

You can check your luggage for free. They provide checked luggage service at several stations, as well as on numerous trains and Thruway Services. This service is only offered to ticketed travelers whose origin and destination stations accept checked luggage. Not all trains or stations are equipped to handle checked baggage. When planning your trip, make sure to check the availability of checked baggage at your station(s). If you do not need to check a bag, find out what carry-on items you can bring onboard and what fees may apply.

2 Bags – 50 lbs. — 75 Linear inches

2 Additional Bags — $20 Each

Oversize Baggage (76 – 100 Linear Inches) — $20 Each

  • Your luggage must be checked before your planned train departure. Check-in times differ by station, please refer to the station detail page for the stations served by your train for particular timings.
  • Make sure each of your luggage has a tag with your name and address on the exterior.
  • If checked baggage is not available on the train/bus in your schedule, it may be accepted on another train/bus headed for the same destination (excluding firearms). Advance check-in is advised.
  • To avoid delays, en-route transfers between stations must include at least two hours of specified stopover time.

Train Boarding

  • Purchase tickets online, over the phone, or at staffed stations.
  • Choose accommodations if needed.
  • Verify ticket information and check for service advisories.
  • Research stations to avoid last-minute panics.
  •  Arrive 30 minutes early if you have not checked your bags.
  • Boarding starts ten to twenty minutes before departure.
  • Check the train’s status before leaving.
  • Amtrak offers a delay alert service.
  • There is no 24-hour requirement for check-in.
  • All bags must have a tag with your name, phone number, email address, or both.
  • Checked bags can be checked on many Amtrak trains.
  • Check for signs with boarding instructions for unstaffed stations.
  • Trains only stop if a ticket is purchased before the train’s arrival.
  • Ensure you are in the right spot before the train arrives.
  • Watch the train for your accommodations as it rolls in.
  • Check for waiting areas for coach class, lounges for sleeper passengers, food service areas, and convenience stores.
  • Some smaller, staffed stations verify that you are at the station at the right time for the train and on the travel date.

Amtrak Capitol Limited Train Onboard Experience

Amtrak Capitol Limited Train Onboard Experience

Seating Options (Coach vs. Sleeper Car)

The Capitol Limited offers two distinct travel experiences: coach class and sleeper car accommodations. Choosing between them depends on your budget, desired level of comfort, and travel style.

Coach Class:

  • Seating: Comfortable reclining seats arranged in a 2+2 configuration on both upper and lower levels of the car.
  • Amenities: Each coach car features spacious overhead bins for luggage, reading lights, and restrooms.
  • Assigned Seating: Unlike some other Amtrak routes, Coach seating on the Capitol Limited is not pre-assigned. Upon boarding, a staff member will assign you a seat based on availability.
  • Advantages: This is the most affordable option, offering a comfortable and social environment for budget-conscious travelers.
  • Disadvantages: Limited privacy, no access to onboard showers, and no meals included in the ticket price.

Sleeper Car:

  • Accommodations: Sleeper cars offer a variety of room options to suit your needs, including:
    • Roomettes: Compact compartments with comfortable seating that converts into a bed, suitable for 1-2 passengers.
    • Bedrooms: Private rooms with a comfortable bed, seating area, and often a sink. Ideal for couples or solo travelers seeking more space.
    • Family Bedrooms: Perfect for families or groups, featuring two connecting bedrooms for added privacy.
    • Accessible Bedrooms: Rooms specifically designed to accommodate passengers with disabilities.
  • Amenities: Sleeper car passengers enjoy a range of premium features, including:
    • Priority boarding.
    • Meals are included in the ticket price (flexible dining service allows you to choose your meal times).
    • In-room service for breakfast.
    • Services of a dedicated sleeping car attendant who will assist with luggage, make up your bed for sleeping, and answer any questions you may have.
    • Access to private restrooms with showers (depending on room type).
  • Advantages: Maximum comfort and privacy, with access to exclusive amenities and personalized service. Ideal for longer journeys or special occasions.
  • Disadvantages: Significantly higher cost compared to coach class.

Choosing the Right Option:

  • For budget-conscious travelers who enjoy a social atmosphere, coach class is a great option.
  • If you prioritize privacy, comfort, and access to premium amenities, a sleeper car will enhance your journey.

Dining Options 

Capital Limited caters to all appetites with a variety of dining options, regardless of whether you are traveling in coach class or sleeper car.

Café Car:

  • Located conveniently onboard the train, the café car offers a selection of grab-and-go options and made-to-order meals throughout the day.
  • You can expect to find:
    • Breakfast sandwiches, pastries, and yogurt parfaits.
    • Salads, sandwiches, and wraps for lunch and dinner.
    • Snacks and beverages (coffee, tea, juices, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages).
  • Passengers in coach class can purchase meals and drinks from the café car using cash or credit card.

Sleeper Car Flexible Dining:

  • An exclusive perk for passengers booked in roomettes, bedrooms, family bedrooms, or accessible bedrooms on the Capitol Limited.
  • Flexible dining offers a more relaxed approach to onboard meals, allowing you to choose your preferred dining times within designated windows:
    • Breakfast: Available from 6:30 AM to 10:00 AM (be on board by 9:30 AM to ensure you don’t miss the service).
    • Lunch: Available from 11:30 AM to 3:00 PM (be on board by 2:30 PM).
    • Dinner: Available from 5:00 PM to 9:30 PM (be on board by 8:30 PM).
  • The menu features hot, ready-to-serve choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, catering to various dietary preferences.
  • Sleeper car passengers enjoy complimentary meals and a wide selection of beverages, including:
    • Unlimited soft drinks throughout the journey.
    • A selection of wine, beer, and spirits (with the first drink on the house during dinner service).
  • Room service is also available for breakfast in sleeper cars. A dedicated sleeping car attendant will take your order and deliver your meal directly to your room.

Amtrak Capitol Limited Train Route

Amtrak Capitol Limited Train Route

Schedule Highlights 

  • Every day, one train travels in each way.
  • Overnight, trains arrived in Ohio.
  • Trains leave Chicago and Washington, D.C. in the early evening.
  • It takes slightly over an hour to go from Washington, D.C. to Harpers Ferry.
  • It takes about eight hours to go from Washington, D.C. to Pittsburgh.
  • The travel time between Chicago and Washington, D.C. is around 17.5 hours.

Visit to view the most recent schedules and timetables.

Major Stops 

Chicago (Union Station)

Chicago Union Station is a major intercity and commuter rail terminal in the Near West Side of Chicago, serving as Amtrak’s flagship station in the Midwest. It serves long-distance passenger trains and serves as the downtown terminus for six Metra commuter lines. The station covers about nine and a half city blocks and is the fourth-busiest rail station in the United States, handling about 140,000 passengers on an average weekday. Its modern design features Bedford limestone Beaux-Arts facades and an interior with Corinthian columns, marble floors, and a Great Hall. The station connects to multiple transit authorities, including the Chicago Transit Authority bus and Chicago L lines, Metra, Pace, and Greyhound, either within the station or within walking distance.

South Bend, Indiana (connection to Notre Dame)

South Bend is a railroad station in South Bend, Indiana. It is served by Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited between Chicago, Boston, and New York City, as well as the Capitol Limited between Chicago and Washington, DC. The Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad established the station in 1970, and South Shore Line trains continued to utilize it until 1992.

Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland Lakefront Station is an Amtrak rail station located on North Coast Harbor in Cleveland, Ohio. The present station was erected in 1977 to serve the Lake Shore Limited route (New York/Boston-Chicago), which was revived by Amtrak via Cleveland and Toledo in 1975. It replaced the service to Cleveland Union Terminal. Lakefront Station is situated in downtown Cleveland on the Lake Erie shoreline, next to the Cleveland Memorial Shoreway, and close to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Great Lakes Science Center, the Steamship William G. Mather Museum, and Cleveland Browns Stadium. Since its inauguration, the station has seen little to no remodeling.

The station is a service stop for Amtrak’s daily Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited trains, both of which travel through in the middle of the night. The station is also serviced by the RTA Waterfront Line. The Pennsylvanian serviced Cleveland from 1998 until 2003 when it returned to its regular Pittsburgh-New York itinerary. As of 2021, there are ideas for the Pennsylvanian and other lines to return to Cleveland.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Union Station, also known as Pennsylvania Station or Penn Station, is a historic train station in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was one of three passenger train stations that serviced Pittsburgh in the twentieth century, alongside the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Station, the Baltimore and Ohio Station, and the Wabash Pittsburgh Terminal, and it is the only one still in use.

Chicago architect Daniel Burnham designed the historic station, which was erected from 1898 to 1904. The station’s rotunda was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, followed by the full facility in 1976. In the 1980s, the Burnham station building was converted into apartments, and Amtrak relocated to an annex on the east side.

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Harpers Ferry Station is a historic train station in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. It is currently served by Amtrak’s Capitol Limited and MARC commuter trains. The station, built by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, is now part of the Harpers Ferry Historic District.

It is a wooden-framed Victorian-style structure that dates back to 1889. It rests on the buried foundations of the ancient Harpers Ferry armory buildings.

Washington D.C. (Union Station)

Washington Union Station, a major train station and transportation hub in Washington, D.C., is Amtrak’s headquarters and the second-busiest station in North America. It serves as the southern terminus of the Northeast Corridor, the busiest passenger rail line in the nation. In 2015, it served just under five million passengers. Union Station also serves commuter rail services, the Washington Metro, the DC Streetcar, intercity bus lines, and local Metrobus buses. It carries the IATA airport code of ZWU. During World War II, Union Station saw 200,000 passengers passing through in a single day. In 1988, a headhouse wing was added, and the original station was renovated for shopping. As of 2014, Union Station was one of the busiest rail facilities and shopping destinations in the United States, visited by over 40 million people a year.

Contact Information

Amtrak Helpline:

  • Phone: 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245)
  • This number connects you with Amtrak customer service representatives who can answer your questions about reservations, ticketing, schedules, and general inquiries.

Amtrak Website:

  • The Amtrak website offers a wealth of information, including:
    • Online booking for tickets and reservations.
    • Real-time train schedules and status updates.
    • Information on specific routes and amenities (including the Capitol Limited).
    • FAQs and customer service resources.

Station Phone Numbers:

  • While not essential for your trip, having the phone numbers for stations along your route can be helpful in case of unexpected delays or changes. You can find phone numbers for specific Amtrak stations by searching online using “[Station Name] Amtrak + phone number”. Here are some examples:
    • Chicago Union Station: +1 312-553-6555
    • Pittsburgh Amtrak Station (Union Station): +1 412-261-9000
    • Washington Union Station: +1 202-387-7000

Additional Resources:

Amtrak Guest Rewards: If you’re an Amtrak Guest Rewards member, you can find information about your account, points balance, and redemption options on the Amtrak website or by calling the Amtrak Guest Rewards helpline at 1-800-307-5000.

Note: It’s recommended to save these contact details in your phone or travel documents for easy access during your trip.

Leave a Comment