Royal Blue (train)
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The ''Royal Blue'' was the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O)'s flagship passenger train between New York City and Washington, D.C., in the United States, beginning in 1890. The Baltimore-based B&O also used the name between 1890 and 1917 for its improved passenger service between New York and Washington launched in the 1890s, collectively dubbed the ''Royal Blue Line''. Using variants such as the ''Royal Limited'' and ''Royal Special'' for individual ''Royal Blue'' trains, the B&O operated the service in partnership with the Reading Railroad and the Central Railroad of New Jersey. Principal intermediate cities served were Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore. 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. Beginning in 1917, former ''Royal Blue Line'' trains were renamed: the ''Royal Limited'' (inaugurated on May 15, 1898), for example, became the ''National Limited'', continuing west from Washington to St. Louis via Cincinnati. During the Depression, the B&O hearkened back to the halcyon pre-World War I era when it launched a re-christened ''Royal Blue'' train between New York and Washington in 1935. The B&O finally discontinued passenger service north of Baltimore on April 26, 1958, and the ''Royal Blue'' faded into history.
Railroad historian Herbert Harwood said, in his seminal history of the service, "First conceived in late Victorian times to promote a new railroad line ... it was indeed one of the most memorable images in the transportation business, an inspired blend of majesty and mystique ... Royal Blue Line ... Royal Blue Trains ... the ''Royal Blue'' all meant different things at different times. But essentially they all symbolized one thing: the B&O's regal route."〔Herbert H. Harwood, Jr., ''Royal Blue Line''. Sykesville, Md.: Greenberg Publishing, 1990 (ISBN 0-89778-155-4), p. ix.〕 Between the 1890s and World War I, the B&O's six daily ''Royal Blue'' trains providing service between New York and Washington were noted for their luxury, elegant appearance, and speed. The car interiors were paneled in mahogany, had fully enclosed vestibules (instead of open platforms, still widely in use at the time on U.S. railroads), then-modern heating and lighting, and leaded glass windows. The car exteriors were painted a deep "Royal Saxony blue" color with gold leaf trim.〔John F. Stover, ''History of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad''. West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, 1987 (ISBN 0-911198-81-4), pp. 172–176.〕
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 and presaged the dawn of practical alternatives to steam power in the 20th century.〔F.G. Bennick, "B&O was first U.S. railroad to use electric locomotives", ''B&O Magazine'', April, 1940, pp. 19–23.〕 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.〔Harwood, ''Royal Blue Line'', pp. 147–148.〕
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