A demonstration run of the Chesapeake makes a station stop at Perryville on April 30, 1978, the day before it began regular service. This run used Arrow II railcars being ferried to Washington for Washington-Baltimore commuter service; both Arrow II and Arrow III cars were used for regular service.Date30 April 1978 Click to enlarge. (Martin Kuhn, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


Amtrak classic logo.


The Chesapeake was a daily passenger train operated by Amtrak along the Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from 1978 to 1983. It was one of the few commuter trains operated by Amtrak.



Service began on May 1, 1978, with funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of Maryland; a demonstration trip ran from Philadelphia to Bowie on April 30. BWI Rail Station was added to the service when it opened in October 1980. From February 4, 1980 to October 25, 1981, the Chesapeake was extended from 30th Street to Suburban Station.

The train primarily served higher-ranking business executives and government officials on the southbound trip in the morning, as it arrived too late for most civil servants. The northbound trip primarily served the latter group, as it departed too early to serve the morning riders for their return trip.

On January 1, 1983, Conrail was relieved of its obligation to run commuter service. Commuter service in Pennsylvania was merged into SEPTA Regional Rail, and MDOT contracted with Amtrak to run other Washington–Baltimore commuter trips. The Chesapeake was discontinued on October 30, 1983 and replaced by an unnamed Washington–Baltimore train. Commuter rail service is now provided over the former route of the Chesapeake – excepting the segment between Perryville and Newark – by the SEPTA Wilmington/Newark Line and MARC Penn Line.


Elkton station is the only former Chesapeake station not currently served by Amtrak, MARC, or SEPTA. Click to enlarge.

(Pi.1415926535, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)



The Chesapeake operated with leased Arrow electric multiple units.

Station stops

The following station stops were made by Chesapeake trains during the October 1980 to October 1981 period:

State - City - Station - Notes


Philadelphia - Suburban Station - Now a Wilmington/Newark Line stop
Philadelphia - 30th Street Station - Now an Amtrak and Wilmington/Newark Line stop
Chester - Chester Transportation Center - Now a Wilmington/Newark Line stop


Wilmington - French Street Station Now an Amtrak and Wilmington/Newark Line stop
Newark Newark Rail Station Now an Amtrak and Wilmington/Newark Line stop


Elkton - Elkton Station
Perryville - Perryville Station - Now a Penn Line stop
Aberdeen - Aberdeen Station - Now a Penn Line and Amtrak stop
Edgewood - Edgewood Station - Now a Penn Line stop
Baltimore - Pennsylvania Station - Now a Penn Line and Amtrak stop
Edmondson - Its replacement, West Baltimore station, is now a Penn Line stop
Linthicum - Baltimore Airport - Now a Penn Line and Amtrak stop
Odenton - Odenton Station - Now a Penn Line stop
Bowie - Bowie Station - Its 1989 replacement, Bowie State station, is now a Penn Line stop
Lanham - Capital Beltway Station - Its 1983 replacement, New Carrollton station, is now an Amtrak and Penn Line stop
Washington, D.C. - Union Station - Now Penn Line and Amtrak stop


Chesapeake Route Map. Click to enlarge.

(Wikipedia Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 3.0)



Service type: Commuter rail
Status: Discontinued
Locale: Mid-Atlantic states
First service: May 1, 1978
Last service: October 29, 1983
Successors: SEPTA, MARC Train
Former operator: Amtrak
Route Termini: Washington, DC / Philadelphia
Distance traveled: 134 miles (216 km)
Average journey time: 2 hour 18 minutes
Service frequency: Monday through Friday
Train numbers: 420, 421
On-board services
Classes: Unreserved coach
Rolling stock: Arrow II, Arrow III
Track gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)
Electrification: 11.5 kV 25 Hz AC Overhead catenary
Track owner: Amtrak