Royal Blue (train)
The Royal Blue was the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s flagship passenger train between New York City and Washington, D.C. The B&O’s use of electrification instead of steam power in a Baltimore tunnel on the Royal Blue Line, beginning in 1895, marked the first use of electric locomotives by an American railroad. It was discontinued on April 26, 1958, including all passenger service north of Baltimore, and replaced by a new Royal Blue train.
About Royal Blue (train) in brief
The Royal Blue was the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s flagship passenger train between New York City and Washington, D. C. The B&O’s use of electrification instead of steam power in a Baltimore tunnel on the Royal Blue Line, beginning in 1895, marked the first use of electric locomotives by an American railroad. Spurred by intense competition from the formidable Pennsylvania Railroad, the dominant railroad in the lucrative New York–Washington market since the 1880s. The Royal Blue in its mid-1930s reincarnation was noted for a number of technological innovations, including streamlining and the first non-articulated diesel locomotive on a passenger train in the U.S., a harbinger of the steam locomotive’s eventual demise. It was discontinued on April 26, 1958, including all passenger service north of Baltimore, and replaced by a new Royal Blue train, the National Limited, continuing west from Washington to St. Louis via Cincinnati. The train was the last Royal Blue to run on the New York-Washington route. The name was used between 1890 and 1917 for its improved passenger service between NYC and D.C. launched in the 1890s, collectively dubbed theRoyal Blue Line. Later, as Europe reeled from the carnage of World War I and connotations of European royalty fell into disfavor, the B& O discreetly omitted the sobriquet Royal Blue line from its New York passenger service and the Royal blue disappeared from B & O timetables. The Baltimore Belt, which included a 1.4-mile long tunnel under Howard Street in downtown Baltimore, was completed on May 1, 1895, when the first train traversed through the second passenger tunnel.
The tunnel also included the first mainline electrification of a U. S. railroad, installing an overhead rail system in the middle of the rail system and its approaches to Howard Street on June 27, 1895. The rail line was also the first rail line in the United States to have a third rail system, installing the third rail in the Howard Street tunnel and its approach to the fourth rail. The line was completed in 1891 and included a 4-mile-long tunnel between Locust Point and Canton to connect with the Washington Branch of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad. In 1881, the Pennsylvania Railroad purchased a controlling interest in the PW&B, and in 1884 it denied the B &O further use of the PW &B to reach Philadelphia. The P&B’s passenger trains then used the Reading’s New York Branch northward from Philadelphia to Bound Brook, New Jersey, where the Jersey Central’s rails were used to reach the Communipaw Terminal in Jersey City. From Communipaws passengers connected to ferries for a twelve-minute crossing of the Hudson River to either Liberty Street or Whitehall Terminal in lower Manhattan. The new route presented problems, because a boat was necessary to cross the harbor. The solution was a ferry in the Baltimore Belt. In 1886, the P&O built a new line from Baltimore to connect to the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad.