• Cardinal discussion

  • 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

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  by NellieBly
The Cardinal exits Indianapolis westbound over a former Conrail line, now part of CSX, and I don't know what subdivision name CSX uses. At a railroad point called "Ames", just east of Crawfordsville, the Cardinal uses a hand-throw connection to the former Monon, then runs via the Monon to Munster, IN. My guess is that this is now all one CSX subdivision, but I don't know its name.

At Munster, the Cardinal hangs a left onto the GTW, continues a few miles to Thornton Junction, and hangs a right onto joint CSX/UP track (former C&EI). The train continues north past UP's Yard Center, crosses the IC on a bridge south of Kensington, and ends up on Metra-owned trackage (former C&WI) at 74th Street. The Cardinal then continues to 35th Street, where it gets on former CR trackage to Union Station.
  by ToledoRailFan
Well, I am potentially planning another Amtrak excursion to Washington DC. I graduated college a few weeks ago, and might (hopefully) have to go out to DC for an interview in the near future. I have moved to southern Ohio (45 min north of Cincinnati), and if I have to go to DC, the Cardinal seems like a logical choice due to proximity to the station.

I am willing to drive to Toledo to pick up the Capitol Limited if needed due to scheduling and such, but am keeping my options open.

I'm familiar with the Superliner cars (and fear I may have been a bit spoiled by their size), but what can I expect on an Amfleet car? (I'm assuming that is what will be used on the Cardinal) I have also read that Amtrak serves "Tray Meals" on these cars, as well. Is this the famed meal reduction that has passed so much discussion on here, or is it something else?

I guess what I am looking for - is this going to be an enjoyable trip (environment, scenery, room.. etc), or should I spring for a Capitol Limited trip again (significantly more expensive, and 150 miles up the road, although much more convenient with the schedule).

Thanks in advance!

  by gprimr1
I can't comment on the actual route, but I can comment on Amfleet cars.

I've ridden in many of them on the NEC and Vermonter and they are nice. I've found they have 2 toilets per car and every Amfleet I've been on has power at every seat (what I consider the greatest flaw of the superliner). Some Amflets I've been on have 1 outlet for 2 seats, some have 2 outlets per seat par. And to my suprise, they continue to operate on the Vermonter when it is hooked up to a diseil engine. They remind me of airplanes. They have windows.
Last edited by gprimr1 on Mon May 29, 2006 9:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

  by LI Loco
Amfleet II coaches are OK. Be advised that the Cardinal sometimes runs with Horizon coaches, which are glorified Bombardier single-level commuter coaches, similar to the ones used by Metro North and NJ Transit. They have smaller windows.

I've ridden both the Cardinal and Capitol eastbound. Both routes have memorable scenery. The trip through the New River Gorge on the Cardinal is not to be missed; eastbound you go by during daylight.

OTOH, Capitol has better food service, i.e. a dining car vs. dinette on the Cardinal.
  by themallard
ToledoRailFan wrote:Well, I am potentially planning another Amtrak excursion to Washington DC. I graduated college a few weeks ago, and might (hopefully) have to go out to DC for an interview in the near future. I have moved to southern Ohio (45 min north of Cincinnati), and if I have to go to DC, the Cardinal seems like a logical choice due to proximity to the station.
Well normaly there is a one viewliner car on the end for first class passengers, a cafe car, a few Amfleets and an Horizon car or two on the end. If your unlucky enough to be in that car you wont have the luxury of an at set outlet and have to bear with a drab red or green interior. I love how red supposedly makes you hungry and that there is an overhead sign in the car that says "^ CAFE ^" The food is microwaved; best not to get anything with a lot of bread, gets a little soggy, but its tolerable. I never had to chance to ride the Cardinal when it had a full diner.The sandwiches are good. Train 51 NY to Chicago is normally on time. Train 50 from Chicago to NY can be late, but on one occasion it was 10 minutes early pulling into Staunton VA. That day I made it into Trenton, NJ 30 minutes ahead of schedule. The C&O is jointed rail through Virginia, I dont know about the condition of track further westward. I've had crews comment its the worst track they've ever ridden on, but it's rather soothing, and a bit nostalgic when you're from NJ and used to continuously welded rail. Good Scenery, lots of cows, the picturesque Shenendoah Valley, the telegraph lines look like they are still in use to carry electricity or for signals, not sure. Many C&O stations survive along the route as Amtrak stations, or private residences. In Staunton the passenger and frieght stations are converted into popular restuarants. The station is located in the former signal tower on the eastern end of the platform.


Last edited by themallard on Tue May 30, 2006 6:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

  by Tadman
It's not my favorite Amtrak train - no full diner, single level, goes thru the good scenery in the dark and the Indiana cornfields during the day. And I can't stand being stuck in a horizon for more than an hour or two. And it runs primarily on CSX, so don't count on being on time. Where did you move north of the nasty? I lived in oxford for four years when at Miami - great place.
  by jp1822
Perhaps a little off topic - but I couldn't help to note the dislike for the Horizon cars. I also can't stand them, although the refurbished ones are a little more tolerable (with green seat interior, electrical outlets and more legroom etc.). Some of the Horizon cafe cars even got an upgrade that isn't too bad - but these are mostly operating in the Midwest corridors. But overall, I'll take a refurbished Amfleet any day (the one's with the blue interior).

Perhaps Amtrak should be storing the Horizon coaches that are not so comfortable, as opposed to storing over 70 Amfleet cars. Course I can not completely ascertain the status of the 70 Amfleet cars that are being stored on East Coast (Wilmington Bear Shops I presume) or whether they are Amfleet II or Amfleet I's etc. And yes - they are being stored. Hopefully Amtrak won't be foolish enough to sell them off. They'd be great for new corridor service etc. They'd also be great to have in service during peak travel period, rather than running sold out trains. Happens more than one can imagine here on the NEC. I doubt they are all unrefurbished Amfleets with the red interior that are being stored - as there are still some of those plying the NEC. Even so - I'd rather have a unrefurbished Amfleet than some of the crummy Horizon cars that are out there.

Anyway, you won't see me on the Cardinal with the single level equipment. This route deserves Superliners (and a Sightseer car) for its long amd scenic trek between Chicago and Washington DC. The Superliners afforded more sleeping and coach capacity than at present and the single level Cardinal's Viewliner is constantly sold out. Food service, even with the latest option Amtrak is implementing would proabably be better than what the Cardinal is getting now. Go back to terminating this train in DC. I think the through traffic this train gets by terminating in NYC is overexaggerated.

  by ToledoRailFan
:-\ well, I had to succomb to the almighty airplane. I've never flown commercial before, either - but I have to get there Monday and come back Tuesday - so the Cardinal was ruled out, and I have a prior engagement Sunday, so I am not able to leave Saturday night from Toledo on the Capitol Ltd.

I'm a bit saddened by this.

  by Jersey_Mike
For future reference the Cardinal is a wonderful route that gets little support from Amtrak. It has high ridership, but only runs 3 days a week with a way to short consist. The train is basically a slow moving cattle car and the sleepers cost 4 times what they do on the Cap despite the less-optimal route.

The cardinal is actually a very successful LD train with 82% of seats turning over 3 times over the course of the trip. It could easily support a 4th day of service.
  by capltd29
I was wondering how well the Cardinal Performs. It would seem to me that such a short(consist) train with only tri-weekly service would always be on the cutting block because of low ridership. This doesnt seem to be the case. I may be wrong though. It would also seem that most passengers would not be riding NYP-CHI or WAS-CHI. Instead, more like Huntington-White Sulphur Springs, or Charlotteville-Cincinnatti, for example.

Does anyone have any figures for this train? How much does it return?


Jon Parker

  by Gilbert B Norman
I should properly defer to others on your inquiry, Mr. Parker, but in the past here at the Forum, we have established that, superb scenery best viewed from a Superliner Sightseer aside, the through train to Corridor points has enhanced ridership.

But alas, even establishing the stop at Alderson and the through schedule was not enough to entice Martha to ride home to NY after she got "sprung' from "camp cupcake'.

Combining the train with a scheduled Regional NY-Wash only makes sense in that the previous tri weekly frequency on the Corridor caused an imbalance in Train & Engine crew assignments, i.e. the Engineer likely must deadhead home under pay; the Train crew could be assigned "make work' Asst Condr positions for their return.

  by mkellerm
It would also seem that most passengers would not be riding NYP-CHI or WAS-CHI. Instead, more like Huntington-White Sulphur Springs, or Charlotteville-Cincinnatti, for example.
The following is taken from a file that used to be freely available on the NARP website, profiling the ridership on each train and listing the city-pairs with the heaviest usage for FY05. These results would seem to support your expectation:

City pair Mileage Share of total riders
Chicago, IL - Indianapolis, IN 196 9%
Chicago, IL - Cincinnati, OH 319 6%
Chicago, IL - Lafayette, IN 122 5%
Charlottesville, VA - Washington, DC 114 3%
Charlottesville, VA - New York, NY 339 3%
Chicago, IL - Charlottesville, VA 807 3%
Cincinnati, OH - Washington, DC 602 2%
Chicago, IL - Washington, DC 921 2%
Chicago, IL - Charleston, WV 528 2%
Chicago, IL - Philadelphia, PA 1,056 1%
Charlottesville, VA - Philadelphia, PA 249 1%
Charleston, WV - Washington, DC 393 1%
Chicago, IL - Huntington, WV 479 1%
Indianapolis, IN - Washington, DC 725 1%
Chicago, IL - Crawfordsville, IN 149 1%
Cincinnati, OH - New York, NY 827 1%

All other pairs: 51%

By way of comparison, 35% of Capitol Limited passengers ride Chicago-Washington, and 14% of LSL passengers ride Chicago-NYP; in both cases these are the most popular city-pairs.

  by SimplySam
I also question the viability of running any service less than daily. When Amtrak followed the "Mercer" plan and cut CZ, EB etc to less than daily the lost revenue outweighed the reduced expense. At least Amtrak corrected that mistake. But they still left the Sunset and Cardinal at 3X week. If Amtrak can't afford to run both daily, in my opinion one should be increased to daily and the other dropped.

Or possibly the Cardinal could be "daylighted" ie split into CHI-CIN and CIN-NYP daytime (daily) trains. This would certainly improve hours of service for local passengers. Looking at the above ridership statistics, few riders (other then end to end) appear to cross the CIN "divide." Also this would reduce costs, ie no diner or sleepers, just coachs/cafe. CHI-WAS/NYP passengers have other options that are quicker anyway. If you are traveling the Cardinal route for the scenery, the all daytime ride should make up for the hotel in CIN.

  by Gilbert B Norman
Lest we forget, Mr. Sam, establishing a maintenance facility, which would be needed if a "James Whitcomb Riley' and "Sportsman" were to replace the Cardinal, at Cincinnati represents additional costs - all of which would be directly assignable to the route.

  by David Benton
NY -cincinatti is abit of a stretch in a day , especially eastbound .
Perhaps somewhere like Huntingdon would be a better changeover point .
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