Lionel Spotlights the Capitol Limited

Aug. 26th 2013

If you're a fan of Lionel and the diverse history their products represent, you'll love the latest product spotlight from the storied manufacturer. 

Anyone who runs Baltimore and Ohio will surely know the story of the Capitol Limited and its winding route across the east half of the country. Many have probably even ridden it in person and want to run its sleek passenger cars in their layout too! You can read all about the latest Lionel passenger cars and Capitol Limited sets straight from Lionel below.  

The Capitol Limited

The Capitol Limited would be the B&O’s finest long-distance passenger train. Connecting New York and Chicago by way of Washington D.C., the Capitol was certainly not the fastest way between its two end points but it was among the most scenic and renowned for its services.

From its beginning in 1923 until 1926, the Capitol departed the Big Apple from Pennsylvania Station. When the Pennsylvania closed the doors to the Manhattan terminal, the B&O’s passengers transferred from train to bus in Jersey City. The buses were ferried to Manhattan and then made stops at numerous hotels.

From Jersey City to Philadelphia, the B&O relied on friendly connections with the Central of New Jersey and Reading. Once south of Philly, the train stayed on the B&O all the way to Union Station in Chicago.

Although it started as and remained a New York – Chicago train for most of its life, most of the Capitol’s business boarded at Washington. From here, the train offered an overnight trip, leaving just after the close of the business day and delivering refreshed travelers from their births at 8 the next morning.

The train was one of the first in the nation to receive air conditioned cars in 1931. The Capitol was then the first passenger train in the eastern United States to be streamlined and dieselized in 1938. The cash-strapped B&O rebuilt existing equipment.

By the 1950s, the train was receiving a new consist which included dome cars. Common out west, domes were rare east of Chicago due to tighter clearances. Despite the fact that the train passed through some of the most beautiful mountain scenery at night, the domes were quite popular. The B&O even added spotlights to the roof of the cars to help illuminate the rocks of the famous Cumberland Narrows as the train headed west at dusk.

At the west end of the line, connections were offered with other railroads, including through sleeper service with the Santa Fe all the way to Los Angeles.

By the end of the decade and through the 1960s, the train was losing patronage to air and automobile. The withdrawal of mail contracts in 1967 pretty much ended the glory years of the train. Amtrak at first dropped the route in 1971.

In 1981 Amtrak reopened the Capitol Limited, using the original B&O route from Washington to Pittsburgh, then over Conrail (now Norfolk Southern) to Chicago. (After 1958, the train never again reached New York but there were more than ample connections available via the Pennsy’s route.) The train included a dome car again in early years until it was modernized with Superliner cars (one of the few trains east of the Mississippi to use the high-level train.)

Lionel’s Models

Now you can recreate the B&O’s best. The 18″ aluminum passenger cars will look great behind our new E9s, or a variety of other motive power.

The new E8s include one powered and one non-powered locomotive. Both engines feature:

  • Fan-driven smoke unit with adjustable output
  • Directional lighting including LED headlights
  • Front ElectroCouplers
  • Working front Marker Lights
  • Illuminated number boards
  • Lighted and detailed cab interior

Powered locomotives also feature:

  • LEGACY Control – also capable of running on TMCC or Conventional
  • Odyssey II Speed Control
  • LEGACY RailSounds including
  • CrewTalk and TowerCom dialog
  • 6 Railroad speeds
  • 8 Diesel RPM levels
  • LEGACY Quilling horn
  • Single hit or continuous mechanical bell
  • Sequence control provides sounds and dialog for an entire trip around your layout
  • Current speed and fuel dialog and refueling sounds
  • Dual motors with flywheels
  • Refined Transformer Control with lower starting speeds
  • Traction Tires
  • Engineer and Fireman figures

Passenger cars feature:

  • Die-cast sprung metal trucks with operating couplers featuring hidden uncoupling tabs
  • Extruded aluminum bodies with flush-fitting windows
  • Operating end vestibules with flexible diaphragms
  • The Capitol’s blue and grey will look great on any layout.
  • Separately applied metal roof vents and grab irons
  • Interior lighting with on/off switch
  • Detailed interiors with passenger and crew figures
  • Operating marker and end lights on observation car
  • Lighted drumhead on observation car
  • Metal frame
  • Metal underframe details
  • O-54 minimum curve

The locomotives retail for $929.99 and the passenger car 4-packs for $639.99. See your dealers today; missing this train could have you feeling (royal) blue!

I'm a huge fan of the blue and gray color scheme of this train, as it provides a clean and professional look that will spruce up any layout or display case. The dome car is a lot of fun and adds some nice visual diversity to the line as well. Both these sets also feature all the expected bells and whistles, and a few extra touches you might not have been expecting. 

If you're on the hunt for a beautiful set of fully-loaded passenger cars, these might be perfect for you. Keep an eye out on the DASH Marketplace for set or hit your local train shop to track them down. 

New Comment

Login to post comments.

If you don't already have an account, register for free to get started.