• Capitol Beltway Station-Lanham,MD 1970-1983

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

Everyone: Does anyone have photos or other info on the old Capital Beltway station (CBW) which was replaced by the New Carrollton Station in 1983? I recall the station looked temporary-wooden high level platforms with asphalt surfaces? I remember towards the end the platforms-two outside the tracks I recall looked somewhat warped and does anyone know where the station building exactly was and how many cars the parking lot accomodated? Were there gauntlet track or tracks there? I also thought that Amtrak did the right thing by moving down to NCR. It surprised me that it was six years later after the Metro opened to NCR in late 1978 instead of being sooner. Another question I had was when the Baltimore-Washington CR then MDOT locals operated the schedule said Lanham-did that mean CBW station? Anyone have any photos or info? Thanks in advance-MACTRAXX
  by GeorgeF
Mr. MACTRAXX, the original lot was smallish, perhaps 75 cars. It regularly overfilled at major holidays. One time these cars, parked on the approach road, were ticketed (including mine); but Prince George's County annulled the tickets and sent us a written apology, which I still have. If you look carefully, you can still see remains of the tunnel used to get from the building to the southbound track's platform. (I think that's still the case, anyway.) The parking lot was immediately inside the Beltway, towards Route 50.

The Lanham station was, at the end, only a stop at a minor grade crossing (I think the "platform" was perhaps 12 feet of asphalt) which was closed when Metroliners began service.

  by NellieBly
The original Capital Beltway station was north of the current New Carrolton station. A concrete cap on the stairway leading to the underpass can still be seen between tracks 1 and 2 (platforms were adjacent to Tracks 2 and 3, just as at the current station).

One major difference was that trains stopping at the Beltway would have to use the gauntlet track, while through trains went "straight rail". What this meant was that northbound trains got an "advance approach divering" and then an "approach diverging" at Landover interlocking and had to run at 45 mph all the way to the stop (about a mile). As I recall, both platforms were gauntleted.

The current station is set up so that freights are gauntleted away from the platform on Track 2, but passenger trains (including those that don't stop) make the straight rail move.

The Capital Beltway station also featured a narrow and drippy tunnel with long, steep flights of stairs -- a real joy with luggage. But hey, it was a start.
  by Tom Curtin
"Capital Beltway" was a misnomer as, to the best of my recollection, the station wasn't even accessible from the Beltway, rather you got to it from Rt. 50. The access road from 50 was, as I recall, very long.

Last time I was in the area the station building was still there.

I also recall that not many trains ever stopped there. I was living in the Wash. area the first couple of years it was in service, and I remember there was not a lot of opportunity to use it.

  by RRspatch
Ah, Capital Beltway station. Now that brings back lots of memories.

I grew up in the city of New Carrollton and spend many a day sitting on the platform watching GG1's, Metroliners, E33 and E44 pass by. Later on I hired on with Amtrak as a tower operator on the then Baltimore division. One of the towers I worked at was "Landover Tower" which controlled the signals and switches at Capital Beltway. When Capital Beltway closed, Landover then controlled "Carroll" interlocking which is located where Capital Beltway used to be. A little later on in my career with Amtrak I controlled both "Carroll" and "Landover" as the CETC 1 dispatcher in Philadelphia.

The station was built as part of the Metroliner High Speed project back in the late 60's/early 70's. There were two platforms. One was between No.1 and No.2 track serving No.2 track. The other platform was along side No.3 track. Both platforms were connected by a tunnel that connected to the station builting. The station building was a green (Penn Central green?) pre fab building that had a small ticket office, two restrooms and a waiting room that held maybe 20 to 30 people.

Here is a photo that I found by Googling "Capital Beltway Station" -


The photographer is standing on the No.2 track platform looking north. The gauntlet tracks can be clearly seen in this picture with the train on the platform track. The highway bridge in the background is the Capital Beltway bridge.

As you can see in the picture, the platforms were wooden with a blacktop overlay. Towards the end in the early 80's the platforms started to sag noticably.

Today not much remains of Capital Beltway. The tunnels have been capped and the platforms torn down to make way for the switches at "Carroll". The station building still stands and is now used by the Maryland DOT. The parking lot is used to park highway maintanence trucks and a large salt dome stands at the northend of the lot.

As far as the Lanham MARC station is concerned, MARC trains stopped there until the station at New Carrollton opened in 1983. The station was located at the old Lanham road crossing (which was closed when the Metroliners started running). MARC trains never did stop at Capital Beltway.


  by RRspatch
Found another photo of Capital Beltway station -


In this photo we are looking south. The photographer is standing on the No.3 track platform.

The northbound signals for "Lanham" interlocking can be seen in the background. The two signals on the right side are the controlled signals for No.2 and No.3 tracks. The round objects between the two signals on the right is the gauntlet indicator. One had an arrow that pointed upward indicating the route was set for a straight move. The other had an arrow pointing to the right indicating the route was set for the platform. The two gauntlet indicators you can see are for No.2 track. The gauntlet indicators for No.3 track are out of view behind the catenary pole. The signal on the far left is the automatic signal for No.1 track (1265 IIRC).

The station building would be directly behind the GG1 on the other side of No.1 track.

On the far right of the photo you see a person standing under the overhang that protected the enterence to the tunnel.


RRspatch: Thanks for the info! These are the first CBW photos I have seen in quite some time. I wonder how many railfans took photos there back during the period 1970-1983 when CBW was open. The platform type-wood with asphalt was used on high level platforms built on the LIRR and what is now Metro North in the late 60s/early 70s era with the coming of the then-new M1 cars. I saw it as sort of a temporary fix-in some cases these platforms were constructed right on top of the old low platform. Over time beginning in the early 80s the LIRR began to replace them and I recall the last hold-out was Huntington which was finally completed about 10 or so years ago. This station is very busy-the LIRR had to replace the platform in four separate sections to allow both platforms to constantly stay in use. You mentioned that you worked at Landover Tower-where did the local trains stop at for their Landover stop-right at the tower I assume? What became MARC's Penn Line evolved from just a two-trip BAL-WAS MU service into a well-used commuter operation. Just the two photos illustrate how things change-we sometime take these things for granted before we realize it sometimes they are gone-like the GG1 locos for example. Thanks-MACTRAXX