Welcome to the Nation's Capitol. A town of
history not only for the nation, but for us railfans as well. Even though
the railroads of yesteryear are gone, there is still plenty of action
considering where Washington is situated and the lines that converge here.
For freight action, we have NS and CSX. CSX goes north (east by the
timetable), west, and south out of Washington. North and west it
runs on former B&O trackage, south on the former RF&P. Norfolk Southern
comes in from the west on the former Southern Railway.
For passenger service, we have Amtrak and two regional commuter railroads: the
VRE and MARC. Going north, Amtrak runs on the Northeast Corridor using
electric power on former Pennsylvania trackage. Heading south, Amtrak has
two routes out of the city, one travels on the former RF&P/CSX line, splitting
in Richmond to continue southward and east to Newport News. The other
route heads south on Norfolk Southern on a former Southern rout to New Orleans
via Charlottesville. Going west Amtrak runs on the old B&O Metropolitan
line to Martinsburg WV and beyond. Also, Amtrak switches power in
Washington where the overhead grid ends when continuing west or south.
The two commuter railroads have five lines leading out of town. The
Virginia Rail Express splits after Alexandria and heads to Manassas and
Fredericksburg. The VRE is an inbound in the morning and outbound in the
afternoon type of commuter railroad.
MARC, the MAryland Rail Commuter, has two diesel powered lines, and one electric
line sharing resources with Amtrak on the NEC - however, you will see a mix of
diesel and electric trains on the Corridor. The MARC Brunswick line heads
west on the B&O Metropolitan sub to Martinsburg WV. Heading north, MARC
has two options: the electric Penn line, and the diesel Camden line, ending at
Camden station on the south side of downtown. The Penn line trains go into
Penn station, on the north side of the downtown area, with a few select trains
continuing on to Martins, and even fewer going all the way up to Perryville on
the far side of the Susquehanna River. In contrast to the VRE, MARC trains
travel in both directions throughout the day, although the frequency for reverse
traffic isn't as often.
As far as transit goes, Washington DC is not as lucky as Philadelphia or Boston,
but we do have the fairly comprehensive DC Metro system, and the "newly"
opened DC Streetcar system. The Purple line light rail system has been
started on, and is a cross-county system, as opposed to one that comes into DC
from the burbs.
As far as busses go, you have many choices if you are into them. In
addition to the local and commuter busses of the DC Transit, there are busses
from NOVA, Montgomery County, and the myriad of tour busses running around DC.
A few years ago, there used to be a separate Greyhound facility on L Street
adjacent to the station throat, but they now come in the back entrance of Union
Station for arrivals and departures.
Almost every time I come into Washington DC, I start at Union Station - only
because I come in by MARC from Baltimore. As such, I usually like to go up
to the top of the parking garage on the back side of the station. This
gets you up about 50 feet for a commanding view of trains coming into the
station down the four track yard throat.
The Long Bridge between DC and NOVA (Northern Virginia) is a great spot, but the
south end in Virginia is a little bit easier to access and park near to.
I love trains, and I love signals. I am not an
expert. My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page.
This is something I have fun with while trying to help others. My
webpages are an attempt at putting everything I can find of the subject in
one convenient place.
If this is a railfan page, every effort has
been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this
railfan guide is correct. Once in a while, an error may creep in :-).
Most of my maps are a result of personal observation after visiting these
My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a
thousand words, especially for railfanning. Text descriptions only
get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented. Take
along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still
better if you get lost! I belong to AAA, which allows you to get
local maps for free when you visit the local branches. ADC puts
out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their
state maps do not have the railroads on them. If you can find em,
I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and
concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where
tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.
Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.
Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels
inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have
something to add or correct.... credit is always given! BE NICE!!! Contact info
Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as
being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.