Three Rivers (Amtrak)

Three Rivers (Amtrak)

{| Railway line headerThe "Three Rivers" was a daily Amtrak train running between New York, New York 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 canceled, with the last train running on March 7, 2005, due to loss of revenue from the loss of a United States Postal Service contract on the line. [cite news |title=The final Three Rivers service rolls through Ohio, Indiana |year=2005 |publisher=Associated Press |url=| ]

Service east of Pittsburgh continues to be provided by the "Pennsylvanian". The removed portion has no more passenger service, but the "Capitol Limited" provides service between Pittsburgh and Chicago "via" Cleveland, Ohio.

Highlights along the run included the famous Horseshoe Curve near Altoona, Pennsylvania Dutch Country, and the Allegheny Mountains. The entire trip took about 20 hours, with 2 hours between New York and Philadelphia, 2 hours between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 6 hours between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, and 9 hours between Pittsburgh and Chicago.

Services included Reserved Coach, Viewliner Sleeping Cars (morning wake-up with compilmentary meal and coffee, tea or juice), Dinette (serving meals, snacks and beverages), and Amtrak Express Shipping for selected stations. Smoking was prohibited in all cars. Overnight service was provided.


Unlike most Amtrak trains East of Chicago, the "Three Rivers"' consist did not use any single type of coach. The "Three Rivers"' consist was usually made up of any combination of Horizon Fleet and Amfleet coaches and dinettes. In addition to this, there was usually a single Viewliner sleeper towards the back of the train. The train was pulled by AEM-7s, HHP-8s and E60s north of Philadelphia, with P42s or F40s pulling the rest of the way. In addition to this jumble of cars, there were usually a number of freight and express cars and RoadRailers behind the passenger-portion of the train. Because the "Three Rivers" had such a varied consist of passenger and freight rolling stock, trains would look completely different from day to day.

Also unlike most other Amtrak trains with sleeper service, the "Three Rivers" did not have diner service. All other long-distance Amtrak trains - excluding the "Cardinal" - have dining cars, which made the "Three Rivers" unique. The reason for the absence of a diner was somewhat complicated; the most likely reason was that the "Three Rivers" started out as a coach-only train because there was not much long-distance traffic on the route. The traffic never increased very much, eventually warranting only one sleeper. One sleeper and a few coaches would not provide enough passengers for a dining car. As with any long-distance train, the Horizon or Amfleet café would have to stay on the train to provide a lounge and snacks for passengers, meaning that there would be two food service cars for only four passenger cars. The "Three Rivers"' schedule ensured that there would be very few meal times en-route, therefore a diner would not be used very much. Thus, the diner would be unnecessary, almost completely empty and unprofitable; in other words, the diner would be useless. Anther difficulty was that adding a dining car would necessitate the addition of a crew dorm. Once a crew dorm and a diner were added, an additional engine would be necessary to power the longer train. For an average trip of 60 people, there would be a staff of eight or nine people, which would make the route overwhelmingly unprofitable for Amtrak.

When Amtrak extended the Three Rivers from Pittsburgh to Chicago, it was considered renaming it the "Broadway Limited". However, Amtrak was not able to provide the same service that it had on the Broadway Limited due to a shortage of Viewliner sleepers and Heritage Fleet diners. Because Amtrak could not reinstate services which the Broadway had enjoyed, renaming the train did not make sense.

Amtrak had a contract with the US Postal Service on the "Three Rivers", explaining the usually long string of RoadRailers, mail, and express cars on the back of the train. For a fee, Amtrak would carry mail in cars on the back of the train to various destinations along the route. The money that the Post Office gave Amtrak helped to offset the money lost on the unprofitable route, which was the only reason Amtrak didn't discontinue the route. However, Amtrak ended up losing the contract by 2005. Upon losing the contract, Amtrak started losing too much money to maintain the "Three Rivers", and the train was discontinued.

Another fact which made the "Three Rivers" unique was that, while the sleeper was a Viewliner in the later days of operation, the original sleepers were the last standard 10-6 sleepers in Amtrak operation. Whereas most 10-6 sleepers were either retired or converted to crew dorms, four sleepers were painted in the Phase IV paint scheme and refurbished for use on the "Three Rivers". Up to five years after all other sleepers were retired, the "Three Rivers" could be seen with a Heritage Fleet sleeper. Eventually, there were enough Viewliners to replace the 10-6 sleepers. Most likely, the Viewliners were freed up by the discontinuance of the sleeper service on the "Twilight Shoreliner", the discontinuance of the "Silver Palm", and the loss of traffic on the "Lake Shore Limited" which warranted the abandonbent of the Boston through-sleeper.

Even if Viewliners had not been free for the "Three Rivers", Congress ensured that the Heritage sleepers would leave the train. The reason for this was that the 10-6 sleepers were direct-dump, the waste from the toliets was scattered onto the rails below. Waste on the tracks was unappealing and unsanitary, made the rails messy and hard to clean, and lured more animals onto the tracks, which slightly increased the amount of railkill (roadkill). Thus, the mandate from Congress could not allow Amtrak to keep using the Heritage 10-6 sleepers.


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