By Field, David
Insight on the News , Vol. 11, No. 38
Budget cuts have claimed one of the nation's celebrated passenger trains - the Broadway Limited. Passengers still can travel between Chicago and New York, but the curtain has fallen on a piece of history.
The Broadway Limited, a train swift and luxurious enough to outrun and outlast its equally celebrated rival, the Twentieth Century Limited, has fallen to the budget ax. One of the most famous trains to die since Amtrak took over the nation's long-distance passenger rail service in 1971, the Broadway Limited made its final run Sept. 9.
"They're canceling this train?" asked a surprised Bonny Luna as she and her 12-year-old daughter, Laura, ate dinner in the Broadway's dining car on their way home from a vacation. For the Lunas and many other travelers, the Broadway was a link not only between New York and Amtrak's hub in Chicago, but also to history.
"The demise of the Broadway ... is not merely sad," the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa., editorialized earlier in the month. "It is a mistake of no small significance. This service didn't simply die; it was killed by years of neglect, substandard service and equipment, and a schedule that was geared more to getting the mail through than to the convenience of travelers."
Amtrak says eliminating the Broadway will save it about $17.3 million, a good chunk of the $240 million budget shortfall the railroad had anticipated in its 1995 budget.
Travelers along the Broadway's route still will be able to travel between New York and Chicago by train, but they will have to switch in Pittsburgh to the Washington-to-Chicago Capitol Limited, a transfer that will force them to wait nearly two ours late at night.
The Broadway ran the same basic route mapped out by the old Pennsylnia Railroad, which began the service June 15, 1902, as an all-first-class, all-Pullman train. Inaugurated as the Pennsylvania Special, it became the Broadway Limited in 1912, taking its name not from New York's theater district but from the railroad's wide right-of-way of four and even six tracks across the heartland.
"The train was there day in and day out, year in and year out," railroad historian Mike Bezilla told the Associated Press. …