For the first time since its creation, the Washington-based Amtrak passenger train system is featuring a picture of the nation's capital on its all-year-at-a-glance 1986 calendar. By now, it must be gracing thousands of walls across the land. Last year's calendar showed the California Zephyr on its western route.

The full-color 1986 calendar picture by railroad artist Gil Reed is reproduced above in black and white. It shows, somewhat fancifully, Amtrak's Crescent, bound from Washington to Atlanta and perhaps New Orleans -- service to the latter having just been curtailed. With some buildings and features airbrushed out and others rearranged, one might say the picture shows the train headed toward Long Bridge (the railroad counterpart of the 14th Street bridges).

As viewed, the train had just left Union Station, not pictured on the calendar, which serves 2.4 million passengers annually and is the third busiest station on the Amtrak system (behind New York's Pennsylvania Station and Philadelphia's 30th Street Station, although Chicago's Union Station is not far behind).

The calendar shows the cherry blossom-lined Tidal Basin and such Washington landmarks (only two of them actually visible other than fleetingly from Amtrak trains) as the Library of Congress, the Capitol, the Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial.

We said recently that we wouldn't go beyond Chessie the cat in promoting commercial calendars, but because this is local -- and to save myself from countless telephone calls -- here's the source: Amtrak Calendar, Box 7717, Dept. S, Itaska, Ill. 60143 -- $4.50 for one, $8 for two, $10 for three.