Eastbound Cardinal stopped in Prince, West Virginia
|Service type||Inter-city rail
Higher speed rail (NEC only)
|Locale||Midwestern United States
Southeastern United States
|Predecessor||James Whitcomb Riley|
|First service||October 30, 1977|
|Ridership||116,373 total (FY12)|
|End||New York City|
|Distance travelled||1,146 miles (1,844 km)|
|Average journey time||26.5 hours|
|Sleeping arrangements||Roomettes and bedrooms|
|Baggage facilities||Checked baggage available at
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|Track owner(s)||Amtrak, CSX, BB, NS, CN, UP, and Metra|
The Cardinal is a passenger train route operated by Amtrak three times per week. It departs New York Penn Station on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to connect with Chicago Union Station via Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Wilmington, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Charlottesville, Virginia, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Indianapolis, Indiana. Trains leaving Chicago Union Station depart on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The length of the route is 26½ hours, and operated over 1,146 miles (1,844 km). The Hoosier State provides service the other four days on the 196 miles (315 km) section from Chicago to Indianapolis.
During fiscal year 2012, the Cardinal carried 116,373 passengers, up 4.9% from the same period in 2011 when the route had a ridership of 110,923. The 2011 ridership was a 3.6% increase over the same period in 2010, when the line carried 107,842 passengers.
The Cardinal had total revenue of $7,536,903 in fiscal year 2012, an increase of 6.2% from the same period in 2011 when the route brought in $7,097,809. The 2011 figure was a 11.3% increase from 2010.
The Cardinal is the successor of several previous trains, primarily the New York Central (later Penn Central) James Whitcomb Riley and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O) George Washington. The James Whitcomb Riley was a daytime all-coach train which operated between Chicago and Cincinnati (via Indianapolis), while the George Washington was a C&O sleeper which ran east from Cincinnati to Washington, DC and Newport News, Virginia. Up until the late 1950s the Riley would carry the Washington's sleeper cars between Cincinnati and Chicago. Both routes survived until the formation of Amtrak in 1971.:51; 93
Amtrak kept service mostly identical at first. Through Washington-Chicago and Newport News-Chicago coaches began operating July 12, and a through sleeping car began September 8. Throughout the 1970s Amtrak would drop the George Washington name and re-route the train off the rapidly deteriorating Penn Central track in Indiana. The Newport News section ended in 1976, replaced by the New York—Newport News Colonial.
The James Whitcomb Riley was renamed the Cardinal on October 30, 1977, as the Cardinal was the state bird of all six states through which it ran. However, due to poor track conditions in Indiana, the train was rerouted numerous times, first over various Penn Central/Conrail routings, then ultimately over the former Baltimore and Ohio route via Cottage Grove by 1980.
The Cardinal was eventually extended from Washington, D.C. to New York City, but was discontinued on September 30, 1981. A congressional mandate resurrected the train on January 8, 1982, and followed another new route, via Richmond, Indiana and Muncie, Indiana. This arrangement lasted until April 27, 1986, when the train was finally moved to its current route via Indianapolis.
With the Indianapolis routing, the Cardinal began operating jointly with the Chicago—Indianapolis Hoosier State. The Hoosier State operated to Indianapolis on the days the Cardinal does not. This pattern ceased on October 25, 1987, then resumed again on July 19, 1998. On December 17, 1999 Amtrak extended the Hoosier State to Jeffersonville, Indiana (and later to Louisville, Kentucky) and renamed the train the Kentucky Cardinal. This new train was a daily service; on days when the Cardinal operated, the two trains ran combined between Indianapolis and Chicago. Amtrak ultimately discontinued the Kentucky Cardinal on July 4, 2003.
In the July 2010 issue of Trains magazine, the Cardinal was noted as being one of five routes under consideration for performance improvement. For the Cardinal, the proposed changes include:
- Daily operation from tri-weekly
- Conversion back to Superliner equipment
- Changing the western terminus to St. Louis, Missouri
In addition, Railfan and Railroad magazine suggested that the train be rerouted to St. Louis as well, with a separate section bound for Chicago.
In early October 2010, Amtrak released a report detailing plans to increase the Cardinal's service from three trains a week to daily service, as well as increasing the train's on-time performance and food service. The January 2011 issue of Trains later revealed that that Amtrak would scrap re-routing and Superliner conversion and instead adopt not only daily service, but also purchasing dome cars to be used along the Chicago-Washington, D.C. portion of the trip. In addition, the routing into Chicago Union Station would be changed and station platforms along the route containing coal dust would be scrubbed and cleaned.
However, obstacles to a daily Cardinal persist. Track capacity is limited on the Buckingham Branch where the Cardinal operates, preventing frequent freight trains from passing a daily Cardinal. This problem applies to the future Greenbrier Presidential Express train, which would also traverse the Buckingham Branch on a weekly basis. The Buckingham Branch requires additional funding to expand several sidings before allowing additional service.
In the early 1990s, the Cardinal ran with the usual Amtrak long-distance consist of two F40s/E60 plus several MHC and material handling baggage cars, followed by several Amfleet coaches, an Amfleet lounge, a Heritage diner, two or three Heritage 10-6 sleepers, a slumbercoach, and finally, a baggage dormitory car. Following the delivery of the Superliner II fleet, however, the Cardinal was re-equipped with Superliner cars in 1995. As a result, its route was truncated to end in Washington D.C. as the Superliner equipment could not run into Penn Station, New York, due to low clearances there. With the Superliner equipment, the consist would usually be two Superliner sleeping cars, a diner, a Sightseer Lounge, a baggage coach, and a coach.
In 2002, two derailments on other routes took numerous Superliner cars out of service. Because of this, insufficient Superliner equipment was available for use on the Cardinal. The Cardinal was re-equipped with a consist of single-level long-distance cars, including dining, lounge, sleeping, and dormitory cars. Subsequent fleet shortages shortened the Cardinal further, and at one point, the train was running with two or three Amfleet II coaches and a combined diner-lounge car. While the sleeping car was later restored, the Cardinal has not had a dormitory car or a diner since. Similarly, though the baggage car was also removed, it was restored in response to an upturn in patronage in mid-2010. The Cardinal currently runs with a single General Electric P40DC or P42DC engine, a Heritage fleet baggage car, a single Viewliner sleeping car, three (sometimes four during peak travel periods) Amfleet II long-distance coaches, and a single diner-lounge car.
During May 2013, the Cardinal was advertised online by Amtrak.com for fall scenery viewings using the only remaining full-length dome car in Amtrak service, car number 10031. (Citation: http://www.amtrak.com/fall-travel-on-the-great-dome-car).
- Amtrak Northeast Corridor, New York to Washington
- CSX RF&P Subdivision, Washington to Alexandria
- NS Washington District, Alexandria to Orange
- BB Orange Subdivision and North Mountain Subdivision, Orange to Clifton Forge
- CSX Alleghany Subdivision, New River Subdivision, Kanawha Subdivision, Russell Subdivision, Northern Subdivision, Cincinnati Subdivision, Cincinnati Terminal Subdivision, Indianapolis Subdivision, Indianapolis Terminal Subdivision, Crawfordsville Branch Subdivision, Lafayette Subdivision, and Monon Subdivision, Clifton Forge to Munster
- CN Elsdon Subdivision, Munster to Thornton
- UP Villa Grove Subdivision, Thornton to 81st Street
- Metra SouthWest Service, 81st Street to Chicago
- "Amtrak Fiscal Year 2012 Ridership and Revenue" (PDF). Amtrak. 10 October 2012. Retrieved 10 April 2013.
- "Cardinal / Hoosier State". Amtrak. Retrieved 19 December 2011.
- "Cardinal / Hoosier State". Amtrak. Retrieved 5 May 2010.
- "Amtrak Ridership Rolls Up Best-Ever Records" (PDF). Amtrak. 13 October 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
- Schafer, Mike; Joe Welsh (1997). Classic American Streamliners. Osceola, WI: MotorBooks International. ISBN 0760303770. OCLC 37281634.
- Sanders, Craig (2003). Limiteds, locals, and expresses in Indiana, 1838-1971. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-34216-3. OCLC 50598164.
- "Amtrak's First Trains and Routes". Mark D. Bej. Retrieved 5 May 2010.
- Lynch, Peter E. (2004). Penn Central Railroad. Saint Paul, MN: MBI. ISBN 0760317631. OCLC 53356627.
- "PRR CHRONOLOGY 1976". The Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society. Retrieved 5 May 2010.
- Schafer, Mike, Bob Johnston and Kevin McKinney. All Aboard Amtrak. Piscataway NJ: Railpace Co., 1991
- "Amtrak Trains Under the Microscope in 2010", Trains, July 2010, 20.
- "More trains: Amtrak plans to dailify the Cardinal". The Hook. 2 October 2010. Retrieved 5 October 2010.
- "Amtrak's Improvement Wish List", Trains, January 2011, 20-21.
- "Bob Bryant's Big Little Railroad", Trains, January 2012, 51.
- "Central Virginia Railfan Page--Amtrak Service". TrainWeb. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
- Mike Schafer, Amtrak's atlas, Trains June 1991
- Schwieterman, Joseph P. (2001). When the Railroad Leaves Town: American Communities in the Age of Rail Line Abandonment, Eastern United States. Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press. ISBN 0943549973. OCLC 702179808.
- Solomon, Brian; Mike Schafer (2007). New York Central Railroad. Saint Paul, MN: MBI and Voyageur Press. ISBN 9780760329283. OCLC 85851554.
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