Serving New York or Boston, Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland, Toledo, Chicago and intermediate points

Amtrak train numbers: 48 and 49; Boston section 448 and 449

Predecessor railroad train numbers: New York Central 19 and 22

When Amtrak took over most passenger trains in the United States on May 1, 1971, they provided service between New York and Chicago only over the former Pennsylvania Railroad route through Pittsburgh using the Broadway Limited name. However, 10 days later, Amtrak began its first experimental state-supported train operation, running between New York and Chicago on the former New York Central route through Buffalo and Cleveland.

With Amtrak's first timetable change on November 14, 1971, that train was given the name Lake Shore. However, the experiment ended on January 4, 1972, and the Lake Shore was discontinued.

On October 31, 1975, a train returned to the route, now renamed the Lake Shore Limited, this time fully paid for by Amtrak, and with both a New York and a Boston section, split and combined in Albany. Although Amtrak chooses to trace the train's heritage back to the New York Central's flagship 20th Century Limited, its service is actually closer to that provided by its namesake, which had been a secondary train along the route, with both a Boston and New York section, with sleeping cars and coaches, and making more stops than the Century.

The Lake Shore Limited tends to be subject to delays caused by freight trains on its route more often than any of Amtrak's other Eastern trains; as such, it has earned the sobriquet "Late Shore Limited."

Condensed historical timetables:

        READ DOWN                                          READ UP
(1956)  (1975)  (1987)  (2002)                 (2002)  (1987)  (1975)  (1956)
 3:25P   2:40P   5:20P   1:45P Dp Boston    Ar  6:35P   3:40P   4:20P   3:30P
 5:45P   6:15P   7:35P   4:35P    New York      3:00P   1:40P  12:15P  12:40P
 9:22P   9:25P  10:58P   7:50P    Albany       12:15P  10:40A   9:35A  10:10A
 2:57A   2:55A   3:54A   1:19A    Buffalo       6:21A   5:15A   3:45A   4:09A
 6:28A   7:30A   7:10A   5:05A    Cleveland     3:18A   2:04A  11:20P   -----
 8:42A  10:00A   9:33A   7:19A    Toledo       12:50A  11:31P   8:50P  11:05P
12:40P   2:40P   1:10P  11:10A Ar Chicago   Dp  7:10P   6:25P   2:15P   6:00P

The Amtrak Train Names Project

The Lake Shore Limited fills an in-between role as far as Amtrak service goes. Amtrak has a few regions where it runs as a commuter rail line between heavily-populated cities. The Chicago region, with frequent service between Chicago and Milwaukee, St. Louis and Detroit is one, and of course the Boston-New York-Washington, D.C. corridor is another. Amtrak also operates several long distance lines, such as The Empire Builder and California Zephyr that connect Chicago to the west coast.

The Lake Shore Limited is a long distance train, by Amtrak's definition. It takes about 24 hours, according to the schedule, between the time it leaves Chicago, and the time it reaches either New York or Boston. It is an overnight train, with a sleeper car and a dining car. And yet, unlike the routes from Chicago to the West Coast, the train doesn't pass through any prime tourist destinations. The train ride itself is not an experience. Instead, it serves to link together two regions where train travel is a practical matter. But there are more efficient ways to get from Chicago to New York than riding a train, and the scenery on the train doesn't really justify doing it for its own sake.

The Lake Shore Limited is a good example of the quandary that Amtrak often finds itself in: routes that are not scenic enough to encourage people to travel on the train for the sake of a train trip, but not quick or short enough to be efficient commuter routes. It also leads to the situation where the only Amtrak service to Cleveland occurs around 3 AM.

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