Todd's Railfan Guide to
Washington DC

In General
Getting Here
Station by Station


In General

Location / Name:
Washington DC, H Street NE, east of Union Station

What's Here:
the DC Streetcar

GPS Coordinates: 38.900206, -77.004660 (west end)
ZIP: 20002

Access by train/transit:
the Metro, Union Station stop
MARC at Union Station
Amtrak at Union Station
VRE at Union Station
oodles of bus lines at Union Station

The Scoop:

The DC Streetcar system is a much ballyhooed streetcar system that is years late in opening for a large variety of reasons.  The complete system was supposed to be something like 20 miles long, but because of delays, stupid decisions and choices in just about everything, the system is only 2.2 miles long, and opening about a year and a half late.

For transit fans, we are glad to have a streetcar system back in DC.

For the general public, reactions are mixed.  Many see the system as a huge waste of money.  Why?  Pick a reason, the are many: incompetent management and oversight, huge cost overruns, a carbarn that cost three times what a typical facility cost, stupid layout of the tracks, problems in the physical plant, such as rail breaking, no connections to anything but bus lines, and so on.

We have gone too far to turn back or turn the project off.  So time will tell if the government of DC has done a good thing or not.


Thanks to Denver Todd for his help with my railfan guides and suggesting welcome changes to help all ya'll.

Websites and other additional information sources of interest for the area:

Aerial shots were taken from either Google Maps or www.bing.com/maps as noted.  Screen captures are made with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it! 

Getting Here

295 to the Benning Road exit, west to H Street NE.

If you are going thru the city, find your way to Union Station and head around the "backside" of the station to H Street NE.


Station by Station

The Shops






The following set of pictures is from November 2011, taken on the way to the Gaithersburg MD Train Show.  Pictures progress from the southern end of the line to the north end on the right, just shy of the overpass to go over the Amtrak tracks, just behind Union Station, and show some of the station areas where they have built up the sidewalk for access to the cars.  It looks like they used the project as an excuse to beautify the immediate area along H St.


Five years later, again, on the way to the Gaithersburg Train Show, we finally have trains running.  These pictures are from November 6th, 2016.  Rides as of that day, are still free, since that way since opening in January.  They are STILL working on the shops building.





the PCC Cars That Came Before


Obviously, with a government run project such as this, especially in Washington DC where no-one knows what they are doing, there is bound to be pages and pages of commentary.  Here is some of what I have come across:



Finally, someone prints an article in a positive and upbeat manner!:

The two following articles illustrate why streetcars are not an effective mode of transportation when people depend on it to get them "there" and on-time - not that the DC Streetcar system goes anywhere people need to get in the first place :-)  And when are they going to keep Megabusses off H Street?

Personal Comments

I especially like Dave Hagan's comment! :-)  It's like, HELLO, is there no-one around with any expertise in designing these things?  Why do we keep getting such inept people to be in charge of massive amounts of money and public projects?  Aren't consultants supposed to know WTF they are talking about?  And the carbarn, doesn't anyone know when to "keep it in their pants?"  I could go on forever......





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. 

Please Note:  Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.

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 :-)

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.

By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous and/or other stuff.

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 is here

Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.


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NEW 01/01/2014
Last Modified 25-Jun-2017