Three Rivers (train)

Last updated
Three Rivers
20020428 05 Amtrak Lewistown, PA.jpg
The Three Rivers at Lewistown in 2002.
Service type Inter-city rail
Locale Northeastern United States
Midwestern United States
Predecessor Broadway Limited
First serviceSeptember 10, 1995
Last serviceMarch 7, 2005
Successor Pennsylvanian
Former operator(s) Amtrak
Start New York City
End Chicago, Illinois
Distance travelled908 miles (1,461 km)
Average journey time19 hours 30 minutes
Service frequencyDaily
Train number(s)40, 41
Rolling stock
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Track owner(s) Amtrak
Conrail (Until 1999)
Norfolk Southern

The Three Rivers was a daily Amtrak train running between New York City and Chicago, Illinois. It operated via Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Akron, Ohio. The Three Rivers replaced the Broadway Limited in 1995. The route was cancelled, with the last train running on March 7, 2005, due to Amtrak's unilateral cancellation of a United States Postal Service contract on the line. [1]

Amtrak Intercity rail operator in the United States

The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, doing business as Amtrak, is a passenger railroad service that provides medium- and long-distance intercity service in the contiguous United States and to nine Canadian cities.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Akron, Ohio City in Ohio, United States

Akron is the fifth-largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Summit County. It is located on the western edge of the Glaciated Allegheny Plateau, about 30 miles (48 km) south of Cleveland. As of the 2017 Census estimate, the city proper had a total population of 197,846, making it the 119th-largest city in the United States. The Greater Akron area, covering Summit and Portage counties, had an estimated population of 703,505.


Service east of Pittsburgh continues to be provided by the Pennsylvanian . Stations previously served between Pittsburgh and Hammond–Whiting are bereft of passenger trains, though the Capitol Limited provides service between Pittsburgh and Chicago via Cleveland, Ohio.

<i>Pennsylvanian</i> (train) Amtrak train service between Pittsburgh and New York

The Pennsylvanian is a 444-mile (715 km) daily daytime Amtrak train running between New York and Pittsburgh via Philadelphia. The trains travel across the Appalachian Mountains, through Pennsylvania's capital Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania Dutch Country, suburban and central Philadelphia, and New Jersey en route to New York. The entire train ride takes about 9 hours total, with 1.5 hours between New York and Philadelphia, 2 hours between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, and 5.5 hours between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.


Amtrak began the Three Rivers on September 10, 1995, as a replacement for the discontinued Broadway Limited. Originally the train ran between New York and Pittsburgh, extending a New York Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Keystone Service . It carried the numbers 46/47. In Pittsburgh, the train exchanged mail cars with the Chicago Washington, D.C. Capitol Limited . Passengers continuing to Chicago changed trains. Through service began on February 1, 1996: two Three Rivers Amfleet coaches were coupled to the Superliner consist of the Capitol Limited. Through passengers reached the Capitol Limited portion of the train via the transition dorm. [2] :27

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Capital of Pennsylvania

Harrisburg is the capital city of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the United States, and the county seat of Dauphin County. With a population of 49,192, it is the 15th largest city in the Commonwealth. It lies on the east bank of the Susquehanna River, 107 miles (172 km) west of Philadelphia. Harrisburg is the anchor of the Susquehanna Valley metropolitan area, which had a 2018 estimated population of 574,659, making it the fourth most populous in Pennsylvania and 96th most populous in the United States.

<i>Keystone Service</i> rail transport

Amtrak's 195-mile (314 km) Keystone Service provides frequent regional passenger train service between the Harrisburg Transportation Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, running along the Philadelphia to Harrisburg Main Line. Most trains continue along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) to Pennsylvania Station in New York.

Washington, D.C. Capital of the United States

Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, the first President of the United States and a Founding Father. As the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, Washington is an important world political capital. The city is also one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million tourists annually.

Amtrak ended the switching operation on November 10, 1996 in favor of extending the Three Rivers to Chicago as an independent train. Amtrak restored the Broadway Limited's numbers (40/41), but because of equipment shortages could not restore sleeper service nor a full dining car. Operating at the height of Amtrak's experiment with mail and express business, a typical late 1990s Three Rivers carried 4-6 passenger cars and upwards of 25 mail cars. [2] :31

Station stops

At the outset, the 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. Service to the intermediate Ohio stations began after those cities funded station improvements: Youngstown (May 16, 1997), Fostoria (December 15, 1997) and Akron (August 10, 1998). Amtrak added Latrobe as a flag stop on May 17, 1998. [2] :35


Highlights along the run included Horseshoe Curve near Altoona, Pennsylvania Dutch Country, and the Allegheny Mountains. The entire trip took about 20 hours.

Horseshoe Curve (Pennsylvania) triple-tracked railroad curve on the Norfolk Southern Railways Pittsburgh Line.

Horseshoe Curve is a three-track railroad curve on Norfolk Southern Railway's Pittsburgh Line in Blair County, Pennsylvania. The curve itself is about 2,375 feet (700 m) long and 1,300 feet (400 m) in diameter; it was completed in 1854 by the Pennsylvania Railroad as a way to lessen the grade to the summit of the Allegheny Mountains. It eventually replaced the time-consuming Allegheny Portage Railroad, the only other route across the mountains for large vehicles.

Altoona, Pennsylvania City in Pennsylvania, United States

Altoona is a city in Blair County, Pennsylvania, United States. It is the principal city of the Altoona Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The population was 46,320 at the time of the 2010 Census, making it the eleventh most populous city in Pennsylvania. The Altoona MSA includes all of Blair County and was recorded as having a population of 127,089 at the 2010 Census, around 100,000 of whom live within a 5-mile (8.0 km) radius of the Altoona city center according to U.S. Census ZIP Code population data. This includes the adjacent boroughs of Hollidaysburg and Duncansville, adjacent townships of Logan, Allegheny, Blair, Frankstown, Antis, and Tyrone, as well as nearby boroughs of Bellwood and Newry.

Pennsylvania Dutch Country refers to an area of Southeastern and South Central Pennsylvania that by the American Revolution had a high percentage of Pennsylvania Dutch inhabitants. Religiously, there was a large portion of Lutherans. There were also German Reformed, Moravian, Amish, Mennonite, Schwarzenau Brethren and other German Christian sects. The term was used in the middle of the 20th century as a description of a region with a distinctive Pennsylvania Dutch culture, but in recent decades the composition of the population is changing and the phrase is used more now in a tourism context than any other.


The Three Rivers used Amfleet coaches and either Amfleet or Horizon dinettes. Amtrak never assigned a full dining car owing to equipment shortages and an unfavorable schedule. Starting on April 1, 1999 Amtrak began assigning a Heritage Fleet sleeper to the Three Rivers. No Viewliners were available; Amtrak refurbished four stored Heritage sleepers for $250,000. These were the last standard 10-6 sleepers in Amtrak operation and required a Federal Railroad Administration waiver to operate because of their direct-dump toilets. When this waiver expired in October 2001 Amtrak retired the Heritage sleepers and replaced them with Viewliners, which were now available. [2] :35

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  1. "The final Three Rivers service rolls through Ohio, Indiana". Associated Press. 2005.[ permanent dead link ]
  2. 1 2 3 4 Sanders, Craig (2006). Amtrak in the Heartland. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. ISBN   978-0-253-34705-3.