Amtrak's Three Rivers at Lewistown, Pennsylvania, in 2002. From left to right: an Amfleet coach, a Horizon Fleet dinette, a Viewliner

sleeping car, a Heritage Fleet baggage car, and multiple material handling cars from Amtrak's short-lived freight service.

(David Wilson, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Amtrak blue wing logo.


Not to be confused with Three Rivers Rambler.

The Three Rivers was an Amtrak passenger train that ran daily between New York City and Chicago via Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Akron. It started in 1995, replacing the Broadway Limited, and ran until March 7, 2005, when Amtrak cancelled a contract with the United States Postal Service that was specific to the train.



Amtrak began the Three Rivers on September 10, 1995, as a replacement for the discontinued Broadway Limited. The train originally ran between New York and Pittsburgh, extending a New York–Harrisburg Keystone Service train. Using train numbers 46/47, it exchanged mail cars with the Chicago–Washington, D.C. Capitol Limited in Pittsburgh, while through passengers disembarked and changed trains.

Through service began on February 1, 1996, by coupling two Three Rivers Amfleet coaches to the Superliner consist of the Capitol Limited. Passage between the single-level and double-level cars was facilitated by a transition dorm car.

Amtrak ended the switching operation on November 10, 1996, in favor of extending the Three Rivers to Chicago as an independent train. In doing so, they restored the Broadway Limited's numbers (40/41), albeit neither its full dining service nor its sleeping cars due to equipment shortages and an unfavorable schedule.

On April 1, 1999, Amtrak added a sleeping car to the Three Rivers, using four previously stored Heritage Fleet sleepers that they had restored for $250,000 since no Viewliners were available. The last standard 10-6 sleepers operated by Amtrak, they required a Federal Railroad Administration waiver to operate because of their direct-dump toilets. When the waiver expired in October 2001, Amtrak retired the Heritage sleepers and replaced them with Viewliners, which had since become available.


Route of the Three Rivers.

(Wikipedia,  Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 4.0., via Wikimedia Commons)



The Pittsburgh–New York Three Rivers stopped at Pittsburgh, Greensburg, Johnstown, Altoona, Huntingdon, Lewistown, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Paoli, Philadelphia, Trenton, Newark and New York. With the extension to Chicago in 1996, service began to Hammond–Whiting and Nappanee. Other stops in Ohio were added as station improvements were funded: Youngstown (May 16, 1997), Fostoria (December 15, 1997) and Akron (August 10, 1998). Latrobe was added as a flag stop on May 17, 1998.

Highlights along the route included Horseshoe Curve near Altoona, Pennsylvania Dutch Country, and the Allegheny Mountains. The New York–Chicago trip took about 20 hours.

Service over the former route of the Three Rivers east of Pittsburgh is now provided by the Pennsylvanian. While its route west of Pittsburgh to Hammond–Whiting is no longer served by passenger trains, the Capitol Limited still connects Pittsburgh and Chicago, albeit on a different route via Cleveland.



The Three Rivers used Amfleet coaches and either Amfleet or Horizon dinettes in addition to the later Heritage sleeper. At the height of Amtrak's experiment with mail and express business, a typical late 1990s Three Rivers had 4–6 passenger cars and upwards of 25 mail cars.



Service type: Inter-city rail
Status: Discontinued
Locale: Northeastern United States, Midwestern United States
Predecessor: Broadway Limited
First service: September 10, 1995
Last service: March 7, 2005
Successor: Pennsylvanian
Former operator: Amtrak
Route Termini: New York City / Chicago, Illinois
Stops: 19
Distance traveled: 908 miles (1,461 km)
Average journey time: 19 hours 30 minutes
Service frequency: Daily
Train number: 40, 41
Rolling stock: Amfleet coaches, Horizon or Amfleet dinettes, Viewliner or Heritage Fleet sleepers
Track gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)
Track owners: Amtrak, Conrail (until 1999), Norfolk Southern, CSXT