Serving New York and Philadelphia or Washington, D.C., Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Ohio, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Kansas City and intermediate points
Amtrak train numbers: 30 and 31
Predecessor railroad train numbers:Baltimore and Ohio 1 and 2
Inaugurated in 1925, the National Limited was the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's flagship train between New York (actually Jersey City), Washington, and St. Louis, passing through Cincinnati on the way. It began as an all-sleeping car service, but eventually coaches were added to the consist.
Its major competitor, the Pennsylvania Railroad's Spirit of St. Louis train, served more major cities on its route to St. Louis, including Pittsburgh and Indianapolis. Thus, when Amtrak took over most passenger train service in the United States in 1971, it chose the Spirit of St. Louis to provide New York/Washington-St. Louis service.
However, Amtrak also extended the Spirit of St. Louis to Kansas City. Since the name didn't really apply anymore, as of their first new timetable on November 14, 1971, the train was renamed National Limited, although it was running over a route completely different than that of the B&O's former National Limited.
Due to the track maintenance practices of the Pennsylvania Railroad's corporate successor, Penn Central, the National Limited had so much trouble keeping to its schedule, Amtrak eventually added notes to the train's timetable warning potential passengers ("Due to operating conditions, No. 30 subject to delay between St. Louis and New York").
Within a couple of years, the Washington-Harrisburg through cars were cut back to three days a week, and then the National Limited was one of Amtrak's long distance trains that were discontinued as a result of budget cuts effective October 1, 1979.
Condensed historical timetables:
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(1956) (1972) (1975) (1975) (1972) (1956)
----- 4:55P 1:45P Dp New York Ar 4:35P 9:50A -----
1:55P ----- ----- Jersey City ----- ----- 11:10A
3:37P 6:23P 3:13P Philadelphia 2:57P 8:21A 9:27A
6:05P 4:40P 1:25P Washington 4:55P 9:59A 7:00A
----- 8:55P 5:13P Harrisburg 1:00P 5:55A -----
----- 2:00A 10:34P Pittsburgh 7:23A 12:35A -----
----- 6:10A 2:44A Columbus 3:15A 8:30P -----
7:30A ----- ----- Cincinnati ----- ----- 5:55P
----- 10:15A 6:04A Indianapolis 9:45P 4:55P -----
1:00P 1:50P 11:20A St. Louis 5:05P 11:35A 9:45A
----- 7:55P 5:05P Ar Kansas City Dp 11:00A 5:40A -----
The Amtrak Train Names Project