Rochester to Island Avenue (Pittsburgh)

At the crossovers and junction at Rochester (MP 25.9), where the Cleveland Line along the north bank of the Ohio River trails in from the west and the double track main line turns east, along the north bank of the Ohio River, with speed limit 30 mph, rising to 40 mph at MP 25.7 and 55-50-40 at MP 25.6, turning south following the riverbank, past crossovers at CP West Conway (MP 24.5), where the speed limit rises to 60-50-40, and at CP Freedom (MP 23.9), north end of the yard at Conway (MP 22.6), where the speed limit is 60-40. Conway Yard, the biggest on the former Conrail system, has two hump yards, receiving yards in each direction, plus locomotive servicing facilities. Located 22 miles west of downtown Pittsburgh, Conway is nonetheless the location referred to as “Pittsburgh” in Conrail freight train symbology.

The rest of the way to Pittsburgh, the line follows the Ohio River, past crossovers at CP Baden (MP 21.7) and at East Conway (MP 20.8), where four tracks start and the passenger speed limit rises to 70 mph on the outer two tracks, Ambridge (MP 16.5), where the line curves south-southeast, crossovers at CP Leets (MP 15.0), where the number of tracks reduces to three, Edgeworth, Sewickley (MP 12.5), detectors at "Sewickly" (MP 11.9), where the line turns east-southeast, still along the river, Haysville, Glenfield, Emsworth, Ben Avon, a turn southeast, CP Bell (MP 4.8), where the number of tracks increases to four, trains headed for the Mon Line must switch to the correct tracks, and the speed limit drops to 50-40, and Island Avenue (MP 2.7), where the Mon Line departs to the southwest, at a wye, while the main line continues southeastward.

Most former-Conrail freights through Pittsburgh do not run through the former Pennsylvania station, but bypass the city to the south and west by means of the Mon Line. This leaves the main line at Island Avenue, via the Ohio Connecting bridge,  to the west side of the Ohio River, which becomes the Monongahela River past downtown, somewhat uphill from the CSX line along the river,  then crosses back to the east side just east of the steel mills at Braddock.

A substantial break in environment occurs overnight on the passenger trains between Chicago and the East Coast, between the mid-Western farmland and the "rust belt" of the industrial East and/or the Appalachian mountains, depending on the exact eastern boundary of darkness. By the time it's light enough to see the scenery, an eastbound Amtrak train is usually alongside the Ohio River, just west of the large Conway yard, on the former Pennsylvania line, or further east.