The Lake Shore Limited was pushed back to a later eastbound departure when the Three Rivers was eliminated. The Lake Shore Limited, as Mr. Norman notes, is now the "cleanup train out of Chicago. It's a horrible eastbound schedule that allows no dinner upon departing Chicago and no dinner while cruising down the Hudson River from Albany - even though one could be served - and was on the list of things that were "supposed to happen" but haven't. Instead there is the "pre-boarding" at Chicago for the Lake Shore Limited around 8 p.m. or so, if everything is on-time and all is in place etc.
The Heritage Diners are all based out of Sunnyside, New York. The cafe/lounge car assigned to the Lake Shore Limited stays with the Lake Shore Limited and is not rotated out to head down the NEC unless there are immediate or routine maintenance issues that Boston Yard crew can't handle. So yes, in a way, the Heritage Diners are pooled together with the Crescent and Silver Service Heritage Diners at Sunny Side. The Lake Shore Limited Diner stays intact with the inbound Lake Shore Limited until the next day's westbound departure. It could get swapped out if a Heritage Diner is bad ordered on the Crescent or Silver Service trains. In this case, an Amfleet Diner Lite may substitute until a Heritage Diner is "found" to be put back into the Lake Shore's consist. Even more reason why Amtrak needs to make ONE train do a same day turn at Sunnyside Yard. Presently none of the single level long distance trains do - and at least ONE could if scheduled properly.
It would make sense for a "Diner" to go to Boston, but the passenger traffic is just not there to support it any more. Amtrak feels the low traffic volume between Albany-Boston can be handled with an Amfleet Diner Lite car. I can remember when the Lake Shore operated with four coaches and two 10-6 Heritage sleepers to Boston (split from the Lake Shore at Albany). But not any more! Just two Amfleet II coaches, a cafe/lounge (hopefully Amfleet Diner-Lite) and a Viewliner sleeper.
Hopefully the Amfleet Diner Lite is assigned and not a Horizon dinette, as I think a Amfleet Diner Lite is better suited for pairing on the Lake Shore Limited as long as it has a Heritage Diner.
The Heritage Diner was pulled out of service from the Lake Shore Limited from about 2007 or so until just recently. Glad the Heritage Diner is back! But I see many head into the Albany train station to get their dinner for either the ride to Boston or ride down the Hudson River. Amtrak is missing a great revenue opportunity. The onboard staff for the Heritage Diner is basically not needed until the day following departure from Chicago eastbound - to serve breakfast and lunch (and occasionally a late dinner if the train is running very late).
Personally, I'd like to see an overhaul of Chicago-East Coast long distance Amtrak train service. I don't think the Capitol Limited nor the Lake Shore are suited for late night "clean-up service" out of Chicago. The Capitol Limited worked out great when it departed Chicago at 5:45 p.m., arriving in Washington DC at 12 noon. The Lake Shore would be great if it could depart at 6:45 p.m. - or something like that - and arrive into NYP around 2 p.m. The Three Rivers discontinuation really disturbed Chicago to East Coast long distance train travel. I doubt same day connections from westbound long hauls to east coast trains at Chicago would be dropped. Amtrak puts a lot of reliance on these connections.
Could the Cardinal be the "cleanup train" from Chicago to the East Coast under a new schedule - operating daily and divorced from the Hoosier State (i.e. Hoosier State would operate on a more passenger friendly schedule daily). Course I would say to terminate the Cardinal at Washington DC, as here, if needed passengers could transfer to NEC trains to NYP or even Boston (i.e. train 66/67 with a Viewliner sleeper restored leaving at 10 p.m.). Southern connections could actually be made via the Crescent and bus to Richmond (to the Silver Meteor, not the Silver Star). Course intermediate stops across the NYC Water Level Route and on to upstate NY and through central PA would be completely missed. Misconnect passengers could overnight in Chicago or Washington DC for the next day's train. The best solution was the Three Rivers as the "clean-up" train, perhaps operating over the NYC Water Level Route to Cleveland and on down to Pittsburgh, but I doubt that will come to be, even though it should with the Capitol Limited, Lake Shore and Cardinal (operating tri-weekly) are often booked up in advance. The discontinuation of the Three Rivers eliminated the Capitol Limited's schedule where by it left Chicago and Washington DC in the 5 p.m. hour and elimiated what was left of NYC-Chicago's premiere train - the Lake Shore Limited (Leaving NYP at 4:30 p.m. and Chicago at 6:45 p.m.). The Three Rivers was scheduled so it could even make connections with various southbound trains even at Philly travelling eastbound - especially if under a tightened schedule.
Perhaps middle ground would be alternating the Three Rivers and Cardinal on a tri-weekly schedule and Amtrak "flipping a coin" in hopes trains make it into Chicago for their eastward connections. But I'd still leave the Cardinal on a potential "clean-up" train out of Chicago - leaving Chicago around 9 p.m. with a tightened up schedule and perhaps improvements at Charlottesville to get on the NS main quicker.
And I did like the option of splitting the Lake Shore at Clevland, running one section to Boston, with the other to NYP. The Pennsylvanian could then shift to an afternoon departure from Pittsburgh.
Amtrak has options and could tighten schedules up possibly. It would also help if it could deploy more equipment where needed (i.e. the Cardinal) and make better utilization of equipment by doing a same day turn of perhaps the Silver Meteor at Sunnyside Yard, NYC. This would provide the needed Viewliners for a daily re-instated Three Rivers or every other day running for the Cardinal and Three Rivers (with a second Viewliner sleeper) and restoration of a Viewliner sleeper on the NEC (Northeast Regional trains 66/67). Course Amtrak may have to put one more Viewliner out in service rather than just the "39" on a given day!
EDITED: Cardinal/Three Rivers/NEC Sleeper Service option