B&O No. 1450, an EMD E8A, with train No. 11, the westbound Metropolitan, at Grafton, West Virginia on July 25, 1970.

(Roger Puta, courtesy Marty Bernard, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


B&O herald.


The Metropolitan Special was the workhorse passenger train of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) during the 1920s–1960s between St. Louis, Missouri, and New York's Rockfeller Center station.

In earlier years only the east-bound No. 12 carried the name, while the Diplomat (as No. 11) carried the west-bound direction of the route. The train's eastern terminus was Washington, D.C. Sleeping car passengers were able to ride trains continuously from St. Louis to Jersey City, New Jersey, where at Communipaw Terminal passengers transferred to buses and ferries to Manhattan in New York City. By 1940, the eastern terminus became Baltimore, and the west-bound trip joined in carrying the Metropolitan Special name.

Major intermediate station stops included Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati, Ohio. The Metropolitan Special carried vast amounts of mail and express packages in many (often 10+) baggage cars and express cars Added revenue for the train came from Railway Post Office cars, which sorted and canceled mail en route, between terminals. Even with declining passenger revenue through the 1950s and 1960s, the B&O passenger department relied heavily on trains such as the Metropolitan Special because of the revenue generated by moving mail and express packages.

In 1964 it was listed as primarily a mail train, and the train served various smaller towns and villages that were bypassed by the more prestigious trains along the route, the National Limited and the Diplomat. Special was dropped from its name. The next year the B&O dropped the sleeping car from the train. However, by the end of 1967, the United States Postal Service dealt a heavy blow to the B&O, canceling most of its lucrative post office contracts. With such a drop in revenue, the fate of the Metropolitan Special was sealed. By 1969, its route was shortened to Washington to Cincinnati. The train was gone before the first day of Amtrak, May 1, 1971.


Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) system map in 1960, with the route of the Metropolitan Special highlighted in orange.

The dotted line segment between Baltimore and New York City operated only until 26 April, 1958.

(From collection of User:JGHowes, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)



Station State
New York (Rockefeller Center) (bus) New York
New York (42nd Street Station) (bus) New York
Brooklyn (bus) New York
New York (Columbus Circle Station) (bus) New York
Jersey City (Communipaw Terminal) (train) New Jersey
Elizabeth (CNJ's Elizabeth Station) New Jersey
Wayne Junction station Pennsylvania
Philadelphia (Chestnut Street Station) Pennsylvania
Wilmington Delaware
Baltimore (Mt. Royal Station) Maryland
Baltimore (Camden Station) Maryland
Washington (Union Station) District of Columbia
Cincinnati (Union Terminal) Ohio
Louisville (Central Station) Kentucky
St. Louis (Union Station) Missouri

Metropolitan Special Overview

Service type: Inter-city rail
Status: Discontinued
Locale: Mid-Atlantic United States; Midwestern United States
First service: 1919
Last service: 1971
Former operator: Baltimore & Ohio Railroad
Route Termini: Jersey City, New Jersey / St. Louis, Missouri
Service frequency: Daily
Train numbers: 11 (westbound), 12 (eastbound)
On-board services
Seating arrangements: Reclining seat coaches (1958)
Sleeping arrangements: Roomettes and double bedrooms
Catering facilities: Parlor-Dining car (Washington - Cincinnati), lunch counter and lounge rooms (Cincinnati - St. Louis)
Track gauge 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)