The Shenandoah at Gaithersburg in March 1978.

(Hikki Nagasaki, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)



The Shenandoah was a daily passenger train operated by Amtrak between Washington and Cincinnati from 1976 until 1981.


The former platform of the Parkersburg station once served by the Shenandoah.

(Adam Moss, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)



The Shenandoah began operating on October 31, 1976. The name came from the Shenandoah, a Washington-to-Akron train operated by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad until Amtrak took over the nation's passenger trains in 1971.

Connecting service at Cincinnati to Chicago was provided by the Mountaineer/James Whitcomb Riley until 1977, after which it was provided by the Cardinal.

Amtrak discontinued the Shenandoah on September 30, 1981, citing low ridership. Amtrak considered the Shenandoah one of its "weakest lines"; the Department of Transportation had recommended its discontinuance in 1979. Service on the Washington–Cumberland segment of the Shenandoah was replaced by the new Washington–Pittsburgh–Chicago Capitol Limited.โ€Š The Cincinnati–Cumberland portion remains without rail service, and CSX subsequently abandoned much of the line.



The Shenandoah originally operated with Amfleet coaches and a café car; one or two coaches were used west of Martinsburg, with two additional coaches on the more-heavily-used segment between Martinsburg and Washington, D.C. The original GE P30CH locomotives were replaced by new EMD F40PH locomotives in 1977.โ€Š Consists varied based on demand; many trains were just two to three cars long.

The 1978 switch to overnight service required the train to have sleeping facilities per Interstate Commerce Commission rules. Amtrak added two sleeping compartments each to a pair of Amfleet coaches (dubbed "Ampad"), which began service on May 3, 1978. A Congressional mandate resulted in a conventional 10-6 sleeper (10 roomettes and six double bedrooms) being added on October 28, 1979.โ€Š The sleeper was removed on April 26, 1981.



Service type: Inter-city rail
Status: Discontinued
Locale: West Virginia
First service: October 31, 1976
Last service: September 30, 1981
Successor: Capitol Limited
Former operator: Amtrak
Route Termini: Washington / Cincinnati
Stops: 18
Distance traveled: 546 mi (878.70 km)
Average journey time: 14 hours 28 minutes
Service frequency: Daily
Train numbers: 32, 33
On-board services
Classes: Unreserved coach
Catering facilities: On-board café
Rolling stock: Amfleet
Track gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)
Track owner: Baltimore & Ohio Railroad