When the Pennsylvanian Was New to Cleveland

Pennsylvanian at Berea

If you live long enough, everything that you’ve witnessed in your life will become history, even ancient history.

It was 16 years last Friday that Amtrak extended the Pennsylvanian to Chicago and thus created a scheduled daylight train in Northeast Ohio.

The Pennsylvanian began operating between Chicago and Philadelphia on Nov. 7, 1998. Prior to then, it had been a New York-Pittsburgh train.

The impetus for extending the Pennsylvanian to Chicago was to take some of the pressure off the Chicago-New York Three Rivers, which was about to reach its 30-car maximum. Most of the cars on the Three Rivers carried mail and express shipments on its route over CSX via Akron and Youngstown.

The Pennsylvanian would also be heavily oriented toward head-end traffic as well.

At the time, Amtrak was seeking to grow its way to profitability by aggressively going after head-end traffic.

Of course, Ohio rail passenger advocates have been trying for years to get the Pennsylvanian extended to Cleveland and Toledo.

Amtrak eventually exited the mail and express business and the Pennsylvanian in early 2003 fell back to being a New York-Pittsburgh train, which it remains today.

But on Nov. 22, 1998, when this image of Amtrak No. 44 was made at Berea, there was optimism that better days were ahead for Amtrak in Ohio.

Aside from the Pennsylvanian no longer operating west of Pittsburgh, much else has changed about this scene. Amtrak still uses P42 locomotives, but in this scene they are two liveries removed from the present day look.

Also, note the yellow Conrail service truck. In November 1998, Conrail was in its last year of independent operation.

Finally, the signal bridge at the west end of CP 194 has been replaced by modern signals.

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One Response to “When the Pennsylvanian Was New to Cleveland”

  1. Philly Amtrak Fan Says:

    While the train had good departure/arrival times in Cleveland and Toledo, the train arrived in Chicago close to midnight and left at 6am in the morning. The times in Philadelphia were very inconvenient as well. Plus, the train terminated in Philly and not New York. Good concept but poorly planned.


    The proposed Skyline Connection (http://www.timetables.org/full.php?group=20000521n&item=0030) had a better schedule and would have been easier to extend to New York. From Philly, I probably wouldn’t have taken the westbound to Chicago (left at 1:05am) but the eastbound arrived in Philly early in the morning which I would’ve liked better than the Three Rivers. My ideal schedule would run overnight between Philly and Pittsburgh.

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