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Lake Shore Limited

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Lake Shore Limited
Lake Shore Limited entering Croton–Harmon station
Service typeInter-city rail
LocaleMidwest and Northeast United States
PredecessorLake Shore
First serviceOctober 31, 1975
Current operator(s)Amtrak
Ridership351,049 (FY23) Increase 10.0%[a][1]
TerminiChicago, Illinois
New York City
Boston, Massachusetts
Stops20 (Chicago–New York)
22 (Chicago–Boston)
Distance travelled959 miles (1,543 km) (Chicago–New York)
1,017 miles (1,637 km) (Chicago–Boston)
Average journey time
  • 19 hours, 10 minutes (New York–Chicago)
  • 20 hours, 12 minutes (Chicago–New York)
  • 21 hours, 30 minutes (Chicago–Boston)
  • 22 hours, 0 minutes (Boston–Chicago)[2]
Service frequencyDaily
Train number(s)48/448 (eastbound), 49/449 (westbound)
On-board services
Class(es)Coach Class
Sleeper Service
Disabled accessAll train cars, most stations
Sleeping arrangements
  • Roomette (2 beds)
  • Bedroom (2 beds)
  • Bedroom Suite (4 beds)
  • Accessible Bedroom (2 beds)
Catering facilitiesDining car, Café
Baggage facilitiesOverhead racks, checked baggage available at selected stations
Rolling stockAmfleet
GE Genesis
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
ElectrificationThird rail, 750 V DC (New York area)
Operating speed110 mph (180 km/h) (top)
Track owner(s)MNRR, CSX, NS, MBTA, Amtrak
Route map
0 mi
0 km
16 mi
26 km
84 mi
135 km
South Bend
102 mi
164 km
155 mi
249 km
180 mi
290 km
234 mi
377 km
281 mi
452 km
316 mi
509 km
341 mi
549 km
Waterfront Line
435 mi
700 km
483 mi
777 km
528 mi
850 km
589 mi
948 km
668 mi
1075 km
722 mi
1162 km
Adirondack Railroad
800 mi
1287 km
818 mi
1316 km
Train divides
845 mi
1360 km
871 mi
1402 km
886 mi
1426 km
927 mi
1492 km
959 mi
1543 km
New York enlarge…
NJ Transit
867 mi
1395 km
919 mi
1479 km
Springfield enlarge…
Hartford Line
973 mi
1566 km
996 mi
1603 km
1016 mi
1635 km
Boston Back Bay
Orange Line (MBTA)
1017 mi
1637 km
Boston South
Red Line (MBTA) Silver Line (MBTA)

The Lake Shore Limited is an overnight passenger train operated by Amtrak between Chicago and the Northeastern United States, with sections to New York City and Boston. The central segment of the route runs along the southern shore of Lake Erie.

The train is descended from the New York Central Railroad's train of the same name, which operated on nearly the same route from 1897 to 1956. Amtrak briefly revived the train as the Lake Shore from 1971–72 before initiating the modern Lake Shore Limited in 1975.

East from Chicago, the Lake Shore Limited follows the former main line of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway to South Bend, Toledo, Cleveland, and Buffalo. From here the train takes the Empire Corridor through Rochester and Syracuse to Albany–Rensselaer station in Rensselaer, New York. At that station, the train divides, with one section continuing to Springfield and Boston in Massachusetts, with the other continuing along the Empire Corridor to New York City. The roughly 1,000-mile (1,600 km) route takes around 21 hours to complete.

During fiscal year 2023, Lake Shore Limited carried 351,049 passengers, a 10% increase from FY2022.[3]



Prior service


The Lake Shore Limited is named after one of its predecessors that ran on the famed Water Level Route of the New York Central Railroad (NYC). Like the present day Lake Shore Limited, the NYC edition offered service between New York and Boston and Chicago, although the New York Central used LaSalle Street Station. The New York Central annulled the Lake Shore Limited in 1956 as part of a system-wide reorganization. Service over the Water Level Route continued until the formation of Amtrak, with the last route being the New England States and an unnamed Penn Central successor.[4]

Lake Shore


Amtrak assumed operation of most intercity passenger trains in the United States on May 1, 1971, including those of Penn Central. Service west of Buffalo was not included in Amtrak's initial system map. Instead, Chicago–New York traffic was handled by the Broadway Limited using the Pennsylvania Railroad's main line via Pittsburgh, while Albany–Boston did not have any train service.

Just nine days later, on May 10, 1971, Amtrak debuted the Chicago–New York Lake Shore on the former route of the New York Central's Lake Shore Limited. The 960-mile (1,540 km) daily service was scheduled for 17 hours 30 minutes and carried train numbers 60 and 61.[5] The Lake Shore was the only train to serve Cleveland, Ohio, which had been the largest city left out of the initial system. Amtrak introduced the route on the understanding that Ohio and New York would assume two-thirds of the cost of the train. The plan included a Michigan-funded connection between Toledo and Detroit, but this was cancelled due to poor track conditions.[6][7]

The Lake Shore was the last long-haul train to use Cleveland's Union Terminal, with the last departure occurring on December 31, 1971. For the last week of the Lake Shore's runs Amtrak used a temporary platform near the Detroit–Superior Bridge, west of the terminal, to avoid incurring a year's fees ($250,000) for a week's use.[8] Amtrak discontinued the train on January 6, 1972, after New York failed to meet its funding obligations.[9]

Lake Shore Limited

The Lake Shore Limited at South Bend in 1976
The Lake Shore Limited at Poughkeepsie in 1978

The present-day Lake Shore Limited began running October 31, 1975, with both New York and Boston sections.[10] The initial timetable served Cleveland during daytime hours, westbound travelers arrived at 7:30 AM and departed for New York City at 11:20 pm.[11] Amtrak's October 1981 timetable pushed the westbound Cleveland departure to 12:35 AM.[12]

On October 15, 1979, the Lake Shore Limited became the first Amtrak service to use rebuilt Heritage Fleet equipment with head end power.[10] The Lake Shore Limited was the last train to use the decaying Buffalo Central Terminal, departing on October 28, 1979. Since then it has used Buffalo–Depew.[13] Its New York terminus changed from Grand Central Terminal to Pennsylvania Station in 1991 following the opening of the Empire Connection.[14]

On the night of August 3, 1994, around 3:45 am, the westbound Lake Shore Limited, with two locomotives and fifteen cars, and carrying roughly 320 passengers, and nineteen crew members, derailed on Conrail-owned tracks (now owned by CSX) near Batavia, New York.[15] The initial derailment of the wheels of the third car on the train, occurred at milepost 403.7, and the train traveled for another three miles, until the general derailment of the train, at milepost 406.7. In all, fourteen cars derailed, with some sliding down an embankment, and 118 passengers and crew members were injured. However, there were no fatalities. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause were the wheels coming off a section of flattened rail.[16]

Low demand and cost-cutting led Amtrak to drop through service to Boston between 2003 and 2008; passengers made a cross-platform transfer to a shuttle train.[citation needed] Service to Poughkeepsie began on November 8, 2010.[17] In 2010–11, Amtrak studied restoring the Hammond–Whiting station stop just east of the Illinois-Indiana border (which had been dropped in 2003), but ultimately did not restore it due to the difficulty of routing trains to the station's single platform.[18]

Due to planned repair work on the Freedom Tunnel, Spuyten Duyvil Bridge, and Track 19 in New York's Penn Station, the New York section was discontinued from May 26 to September 3, 2018. Passengers traveling to New York City could transfer at Albany–Rensselaer to Empire Service trains, which operated into Grand Central Terminal during the outage.[19]

In January 2019, Amtrak removed the baggage car from the Boston section of the train, thereby eliminating all checked baggage and bike service between Boston and Albany. The New York section retained its baggage car.[20] From October 1, 2020, to May 31, 2021, daily service was reduced to three trains per week due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[21][22]

Dining changes

A Viewliner II diner on the train in 2019

During the 2000s and 2010s the Lake Shore Limited carried either a Horizon Fleet or Amfleet lounge car.[23] Between November 2007 and December 2009, maintenance problems led Amtrak to withdraw the Heritage diners and substitute Amfleet Cafe-based diner-lites, a move that became a source of passenger displeasure and a liability for the route, as the Heritage cars could prepare fresh food on board.[24][25] In July 2016, Amtrak once again replaced the Lake Shore's full-service dining car with an Amfleet II diner-lite. This was due to Heritage shortages, as well as a multi-year delay in delivery of the new CAF Viewliner II cars, including 25 diners.[26]

In June 2018, Amtrak replaced the Amfleet II diner-lites with Viewliner II diners and adjusted the on board service by serving a selection of primarily-cold, exclusively pre-packaged boxed meals. The dining car is also now available as lounge space for sleeping car passengers even outside of meal times, but is closed to coach passengers.[27][28] In January 2019, Amtrak significantly updated the boxed meal service to offer a full continental buffet at breakfast, and multiple hot entrées for lunch and dinner.[29]

In October 2019, Amtrak again modified the on board dining service for sleeping car passengers by serving the pre-prepared meals on new reusable trays instead of in single use boxes to improve the meal presentation along with a refresh of the entree choices.[30]

Possible future


Amtrak published its Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) for the Lake Shore Limited in September 2011. One idea was to change the train's eastbound departure time from Chicago to be earlier. It currently departs at 9:30 pm, to facilitate connections from often-late West Coast trains. The improved departure time would add $2 million in yearly revenue. Amtrak considered more radical changes to the operations of the Lake Shore Limited, including a re-route over the Chicago–Detroit Line to Dearborn, but rejected them.[18] This would be the first full New York City to Chicago train via Michigan since the New York Central's Wolverine.

In the late 1990s, Amtrak considered adding an infill station at Dunkirk, New York, between Buffalo and Erie. Dunkirk was listed as a stop with service "to commence on a date to be announced" on several timetables, but the stop was never added.[31] In 2021, Amtrak again proposed adding a station between Buffalo and Erie in Chautauqua County, New York, in either Dunkirk or Westfield. Plans moved forward in 2022 to study the exact placement of the stop.[32]




A Lake Shore Limited train backs into Union Station in Chicago, with the Willis Tower visible in the background.

The Lake Shore Limited consists of a New York section (train number 48 eastbound, 49 westbound) and a Boston section (448 eastbound, 449 westbound), which run combined between Chicago and Albany. The distance between Chicago and New York is 959 miles (1,543 km), while the distance between Chicago and Boston is 1,017 miles (1,637 km).

The train operates over the trackage of five railroad companies. From Chicago to Cleveland, the train rides the Chicago Line, which belongs to Norfolk Southern Railway, and is also used by Amtrak's Chicago-Washington, DC, train, the Capitol Limited. From Cleveland to Hoffmans, the Lake Shore Limited rides on trackage belonging to the following CSX Transportation subdivisions: Cleveland Terminal, Erie West, Buffalo Terminal, Rochester, Syracuse Terminal, Mohawk, Selkirk, and Hudson.

The New York section operates on Metro-North Railroad's Hudson Line from Poughkeepsie to Spuyten Duyvil in the Bronx. Amtrak tracks are used twice: between Hoffmans and Poughkeepsie; and from the Bronx to Penn Station. The New York section only stops to discharge passengers southbound. Northbound trains only stop at Croton-Harmon and Poughkeepsie to receive passengers.

The Boston section runs on the trackage of several companies as well. The train travels on Amtrak's Post Road Branch from Rensselaer to nearby Schodack, from Schodack to Worcester on CSX's Berkshire and Boston subdivisions, and from Worcester to South Station on the Framingham/Worcester Line track owned and operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). This section only stops eastbound to discharge passengers from Worcester eastward, while westbound trains only stop to receive passengers at Back Bay and Framingham.

There is a short distance of trackage between Hudson and Schenectady that allows for 110-mile-per-hour (177 km/h) operations.[citation needed] The Boston section is frequently delayed to the high amount of freight traffic on the single-track railroad between Albany and Worcester.[33][34]

Lake Shore Limited route map


Amtrak Lake Shore Limited stations
State/Province City Station
Illinois Chicago Chicago Union
Indiana South Bend South Bend
Elkhart Elkhart
Waterloo Waterloo
Ohio Bryan Bryan
Toledo Toledo
Sandusky Sandusky
Elyria Elyria
Cleveland Cleveland
Pennsylvania Erie Erie
New York Depew Buffalo–Depew
Rochester Rochester
Syracuse Syracuse
Utica Utica
Schenectady Schenectady
Rensselaer Albany–Rensselaer
Rhinecliff Rhinecliff–Kingston
Poughkeepsie Poughkeepsie
Croton-on-Hudson Croton–Harmon
New York New York Penn
Massachusetts Pittsfield Pittsfield
Springfield Springfield
Worcester Worcester
Framingham Framingham
Boston Boston Back Bay
Boston Boston South


Train #49 is separated from the P32AC-DM at Albany–Rensselaer to prepare for coupling with Train #449 from Boston before heading to Chicago.

As of February 2019, the Lake Shore Limited typically has two P42DC locomotives (or one P32AC-DM locomotive between New York and Albany), one Viewliner baggage car, three Amfleet II coaches, one Amfleet I split Business/Cafe car, one Viewliner II diner (exclusively accessible to sleeper passengers), and three Viewliner Sleepers.[citation needed] As of August 2021, Viewliner II sleepers were expected to be added to the Lake Shore Limited that September.[35]

In normal service, at Albany, the train splits into its Boston and New York sections. The New York section uses a single dual-mode P32AC-DM for third-rail power in Pennsylvania Station. West of Albany, power is provided by two or three GE Genesis P42DC or P40DC diesel locomotives, which continue on to Boston.



During fiscal year 2019, the Lake Shore Limited carried 357,682 passengers, an increase of 5.9% from FY2018.[36] In FY2016, the train had a total revenue of $28,563,624, an increase of 0.2% over FY2015.

In FY 2010, only fifteen percent of passengers traveled between endpoints (Chicago and Boston or New York), although those travelers contributed 27 percent of ticket revenue. The remainder traveled to and from intermediate stations. According to Amtrak, passengers making connections in Chicago accounted for "a significant portion" of the Lake Shore Limited's ridership and revenues.[18]


  1. ^ "Amtrak Fiscal Year 2023 Ridership" (PDF). Amtrak. November 27, 2023. Retrieved November 30, 2023.
  2. ^ "Amtrak Timetable Results". Washington: Amtrak. Retrieved December 20, 2021.
  3. ^ "Amtrak FY23 Ridership" (PDF).
  4. ^ Sanders, Craig (2003). Limiteds, Locals, and Expresses in Indiana, 1838–1971. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. p. 79. ISBN 0-253-34216-3.
  5. ^ "November 14, 1971 Amtrak Timetable". timetables.org. National Railroad Passenger Corporation. November 14, 1971. p. 60. Retrieved September 21, 2023.
  6. ^ "Detroit-Toledo Train Cancelled". Argus-Press. May 26, 1971. Retrieved July 19, 2010.
  7. ^ "Cleveland and Toledo get Amtrak". Bryan Times. May 6, 1971. Retrieved July 19, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ Toman, Jim; Blaine S. Hayes (1996). Horse trails to regional rails: the story of public transit in greater Cleveland. Kent State University Press. p. 280. ISBN 978-0873385473.
  9. ^ "Lake Shore Service Cut". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. January 5, 1972. Retrieved July 19, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ a b Sanders, Craig (2006). Amtrak in the Heartland. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. pp. 19–21, 33. ISBN 978-0-253-34705-3.
  11. ^ "Museum of the Railway Timetables". November 25, 1975. Retrieved May 25, 2023.
  12. ^ "Museum of the Railway Timetables". October 25, 1981. Retrieved May 25, 2023.
  13. ^ "New Buffalo Station". Amtrak News. 6 (12): 6–7. November 1979. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  14. ^ "Travel Advisory; Grand Central Trains Rerouted To Penn Station". The New York Times. April 7, 1991. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  15. ^ Graczyk, Mark (November 24, 2013). "Hidden History: 118 hurt in Batavia train derailment, 1994". Archived from the original on December 14, 2013. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
  16. ^ "Railroad Accident Report: Derailment of Amtrak Train 49 on Conrail Trackage Near Batavia, New York, on August 3, 1994" (PDF). July 11, 1996. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
  17. ^ "New Amtrak Timetable Arrives for Fall-Winter" (PDF). Amtrak. November 3, 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 31, 2013. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
  18. ^ a b c "Crescent – Lake Shore Limited – Silver Service: PRIIA Section 210 Performance Improvement Plan" (PDF). Amtrak. September 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 27, 2011. Retrieved November 19, 2011.
  19. ^ "Most Hudson Line trains to Operate to/from Grand Central Terminal during Infrastructure and Bridge replacement Period" (Press release). Amtrak. April 10, 2018. Archived from the original on August 14, 2022. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  20. ^ Kenton, Malcolm. "Amtrak to end checked baggage service on 'Lake Shore' Boston section". Trains Magazine. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  21. ^ Lazo, Luz (June 16, 2020). "Amtrak is ending daily service to hundreds of stations. Blame the coronavirus pandemic, the railroad says". Washington Post. Retrieved June 5, 2021.
  22. ^ Jorgenson, Dawn (May 27, 2021). "Amtrak is resuming a dozen long-distance trips, all across the country". KSAT. Graham Media Group. Retrieved June 5, 2021.
  23. ^ "Amtrak – Lake Shore Limited". USA Rail Guide. Retrieved October 22, 2011.
  24. ^ Melzer, Matthew (January 28, 2008). "Dining with Amtrak's Diner Lite". NARP. Archived from the original on August 28, 2008. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  25. ^ "Amtrak restores 'Lake Shore' dining car". Trains. December 14, 2009. Retrieved May 5, 2010.
  26. ^ "'Lake Shore Limited' to temporarily lose dining cars". Trains Magazine. Waukesha: Kalmbach Media. July 25, 2016. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  27. ^ "A look at Amtrak's new cold meal service". Trains Magazine. July 5, 2018. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  28. ^ "Updated: Cold-meal service coming to 'Capitol,' 'Lake Shore Limited'". Trains Magazine. April 19, 2018. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  29. ^ Johnston, Bob (January 17, 2019). "'Lake Shore', 'Capitol' get hot entrees; coach passengers left in the cold". Trains Magazine. Archived from the original on September 19, 2020. Retrieved January 18, 2019.
  30. ^ "Amtrak Flexible Dining". www.amtrak.com.
  31. ^ "Dunkirk May Open Amtrak Station". Buffalo News. January 5, 1996. Archived from the original on March 29, 2015. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
  32. ^ Gress, Julia (June 16, 2022). "Amtrak Considers Westfield, Dunkirk For New Railway Stop". Western New York News Now. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
  33. ^ "Lake Shore Limited – Train 449 On-Time Performance". Amtrak. September 2017. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  34. ^ "Lake Shore Limited – Train 449 On-Time Performance". Amtrak. September 2017. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  35. ^ Johnston, Bob (August 27, 2021). "Viewliner II sleeping cars headed to Lake Shore Limited's New York section". Trains Magazine. Waukesha: Kalmbach Media.
  36. ^ FY19 Year End Ridership (PDF) (Report). Washington: Amtrak.


  1. ^ Amtrak's Fiscal Year (FY) runs from October 1 of the prior year to September 30 of the named year.