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How to boost Cardinal Ridership?


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#21 had8ley

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 08:00 AM

Daily would be dandy but adding it to the "Weakly Specials" would help the numbers. I'm afraid Amtrak has forgotten they still post year old specials and never change them. Oh well, just an idea :)

#22 Guest_kentuckian_*

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 06:24 PM

Making the Cardinal daily would definitely be the first thing to do, I agree.

Doing so might also someday help lead to a Cincy - Louisville - Nashville connecting train, especially if Ohio ever goes through with Cleveland - Columbus - Cincy service.

#23 George Harris

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 07:08 PM

If Amtrak could restore the Cardinal to the dependable train it was in the 1970s, it would increase patronage.

Dependable?????

I rode this thing in December 1971. We left Chicagp on time, blazed down the ICRR to Kankakee, left Kankakee on time, and then clunked across to Cincinatti on the Penn Central at between 25 and no more than 40 mph on really rough trackage, arriving in Cincinatti about 3 hours late. After getting on the ex C&O, things were back up to speed, byt we were still about 2 hours late getting into Charlottesville and DC. I wan't too dissapointed, as it was a beautiful ride across West Virginia in the dome, which I had to myself a good bit of the time. Sunrise over the mountains was beautiful.

#24 Joel N. Weber II

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 09:08 PM

It currently uses two sets. I'm not sure if it could go daily with three, or if it would require 4.


Chicago arrival is scheduled for 10:35 AM and departure for 5:45 PM. I'd think the set that arrives in Chicago has to depart Chicago that same day to make the current schedule with two sets. And then the set that departs Chicago arrives the following day at NYP at 9:40 PM (or whenever it actually arrives in the real world); while it looks to me like that set always spends at least two nights in Sunnyside as it is now (or part of a night plus a whole night), I don't see any obvious reason why it couldn't turn around faster unless it tends to be so late frequently enough that it can't be ready for a 7 AM ish departure the next morning. But the Chicago layover time as scheduled is seven hours and 10 minutes, and the Cardinal is scheduled to arrive at NYP at 9:40 PM and to depart at 6:45 AM, which would give the set a 9 hour and 10 minute layover in New York City.

And if Amtrak gets the new single level dining cars it requested from Congress, it won't need a pretend dining car on this route at all. And as already mentioned in my post above, they've also asked for more single level sleepers.


I was also thinking of how on the Cardinal, half of the pretend dining car is used as what it really is, a lounge car. I don't think a real dining car can really double as a lounge car. Then again, if they lengthen the Cardinal enough with a second sleeping car, perhaps going back to a separate lounge car plus a dining car makes sense.

The other interesting thing to consider is that if a daily Cardinal could run with three sets, there might not be a need for more coaches in the most minimal version of the service: just steal one of the three coaches from each of the two sets to give to the new, third set. Because the sets would spend less time sitting in the yard, this would still mean that there would be more seats departing Chicago and New York City on the Cardinal each week than there are now. But having any coach-only sets is probably a bad idea, and if you have any sort of food service you probably need a car that can act as the crew dorm, so the key question to making the Cardinal daily may be whether a sleeping car and some sort of food service car can be found.

#25 RailFanLNK

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 08:10 AM

I've always had an interest in taking the Cardinal but trying to connect to it from the CZ is almost impossible. With its 5:45 departure time that makes it real close to mostly impossible for a CZ connection. Then to have to wait a couple days later if I want to take THAT train is really not going to work. It makes me have to take the CZ one day early if I so choose and then overnight in CHI to catch it on Saturday. Also, its just a dream but if I could take my church singles to DC the chance of connecting from the CZ to the Cardinal is almost a dream as well. Heck, the CL departure time of 7:05 gets me nervous. So having a daily departure and maybe pushing the departure time back just an hour or so would help alot.

I have travelled on the California Zephyr, Lakeshore Limited, Carolinian, Acela, Capital Limited, Southwest Chief, Pacific Surfliner, Missouri River Runners, Texas Eagle, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, Hiawatha Service and the Cardinal.


#26 the_traveler

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 12:58 PM

I've always had an interest in taking the Cardinal but trying to connect to it from the CZ is almost impossible. With its 5:45 departure time that makes it real close to mostly impossible for a CZ connection. Then to have to wait a couple days later if I want to take THAT train is really not going to work. It makes me have to take the CZ one day early if I so choose and then overnight in CHI to catch it on Saturday. Also, its just a dream but if I could take my church singles to DC the chance of connecting from the CZ to the Cardinal is almost a dream as well. Heck, the CL departure time of 7:05 gets me nervous. So having a daily departure and maybe pushing the departure time back just an hour or so would help alot.

Also, even if you could connect from the CZ to the Cardinal, your group would more than fill the ONE sleeper on the Cardinal! (Don't forget that the OBS staff also uses that sleeper.)

I was just playing around with a "mini loophole trip" :P from PDX to BHM. While I did find a route from PDX via SAC and CHI, it connects from the CZ ONLY to the Cardinal - NOT to the CL! :huh:
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#27 Joel N. Weber II

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 01:00 PM

So having a daily departure and maybe pushing the departure time back just an hour or so would help alot.


If that were to happen and I ever found myself actually wanting to board or detrain the eastbound train at Lafayette, IN (LAF) (on my last trip, my parents drove to SOB instead so I wouldn't have to go all the way through Chicago), I would not be thanking you for moving the scheduled LAF time from 9:58 PM to 10:58 PM. The folks at Indianapolis (currently scheduled for just before midnight) wouldn't be thanking you either.

#28 Guest_TIm_*

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 09:15 AM

My thoughts: 1)Move it Back to a Washington to Chicago schedule.
2)Bring Back the Superliners, if there is a train where the Diner-lounge Superliner car could work its on the
Cardinal .
3)MAKE IT DAILY !
4)Consider a Virgina scetion what would provide connections to the Florida trains at Richmond and generating
traffic from the colleges along that route and between possibly between Newport News naval station and Great
Lakes naval station in Chicago.

just a few thoughts.

Tim

#29 WICT106

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 09:28 AM

Some other suggestions would be to upgrade the tracks between Cincinnati and Chicago. As has been noted elsewhere, the NYC made this run in the mid 1940s in some 5 hours 20 minutes. The present day Cardinal is carded at just over 10 hours for this segment of the run. Also, make it daily, if not more than once per day each direction.

Not too certain about returning Superliners to the route, as this would mean that it could no longer fit into the tunnels from Baltimore onwards to NYC. Going sngle level and extending the train through to NYC has resulted in higher ridership for this train. It would be better to have higher levels of riding and occupancy than double deck train cars. Oh, get more than one sleeper per departure while you're at it.
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#30 wayman

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 10:43 AM

What if the Cardinal ran from Chicago with a consist of two P42s, Superliner coach, Superliner coach, Superliner sightseer-lounge, Superliner trans-dorm, Amfleet diner-lite, Amfleet coach, Amfleet coach, Viewliner sleeper? Then at WAS, the Superliners get pulled off when they do the engine change. That way,

* the one-seat ride to New York still exists;
* a second sleeper is added to the consist (well, the trans-dorm, so it's like adding half a sleeper, but it's still a help);
* and a sightseer-lounge is put on the train for the West Virginia scenery.

You still need to find a third (or fourth) Viewliner to make the train daily, but you don't need nearly as many extra Viewliners as you would to increase both frequency (to daily) and capacity (to two sleepers). The consist order is a bit awkward (the Superliner coach passengers have to pass through the trans-dorm to get to the diner-lite), but that's not too big a deal. And Amtrak could run an advertising campaign touting the sightseer-lounge and New River Gorge scenery (Take the Cardinal: it's New River Gorgeous!).

In theory this would work, right?

Edited by wayman, 09 January 2009 - 10:58 AM.

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#31 Bane

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 11:29 AM

Making the Cardinal daily would definitely be the first thing to do, I agree.

Doing so might also someday help lead to a Cincy - Louisville - Nashville connecting train, especially if Ohio ever goes through with Cleveland - Columbus - Cincy service.


I honestly feel the best way to connect to Nashville is by of way of Atlanta. Simply put bring back the Georgian, St. Louis-Henderson-Nashville-Chattanooga-Atlanta. Growing up in Nashville, I went to these places a lot more then Cincy or Chicago.
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#32 the_traveler

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 12:02 PM

What if the Cardinal ran from Chicago with a consist of two P42s, Superliner coach, Superliner coach, Superliner sightseer-lounge, Superliner trans-dorm, Amfleet diner-lite, Amfleet coach, Amfleet coach, Viewliner sleeper? Then at WAS, the Superliners get pulled off when they do the engine change. That way,

* the one-seat ride to New York still exists;
* a second sleeper is added to the consist (well, the trans-dorm, so it's like adding half a sleeper, but it's still a help);
* and a sightseer-lounge is put on the train for the West Virginia scenery.

In theory this would work, right?

:huh:

How would it be "a one seat ride"? :huh: If someone is going from CHI-NYP or CVS-BAL, and the Cardinal gets to WAS, and they take off the Superliner cars, wouldn't those going north of WAS also have to change cars? :huh: How would this be different than getting on a new train in WAS. :huh:

And if you had a sleeper (in a Superliner car), but the Cardinal is running 6 hours late and gets to WAS at midnight, wouldn't you also have to vacate that sleeper at midnight to get on a Viewwliner sleeper for the remaining 2 hours of your trip? :huh:

I do agree about the second sleeper and the Sightseer thru WV! B)
Take it easy .......

Take the train instead and enjoy the ride!

The view is much better at 3 feet than it is at 30,000 feet!

#33 Ryan

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 12:41 PM

The NYP pax would be put into the Amfleet coaches from the beginning. Pax going to points between CHI-WAS would use the superliners. Same thing with the sleepers.

This sounds like a really good idea - I can't poke any obvious holes in it (but I'm sure someone would). :)
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#34 wayman

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 01:05 PM

The NYP pax would be put into the Amfleet coaches from the beginning. Pax going to points between CHI-WAS would use the superliners. Same thing with the sleepers.


That's precisely it (to address The Travelers questions).

Amtrak might have to consider this as two trains for reservation purposes (the New York section and the Washington section) to make sure capacity for each half of the train is handled correctly, but it would basically be the same system they use for the Empire Builder (Seattle or Portland) or the Lake Shore Limited (New York or Boston). That makes sure they don't accidentally sell Superliner roomettes to New York-bound passengers, or oversell coach seats to New York. Then the coach and sleeper attendants just have to make sure passengers board the correct cars for their destinations at each station, but that's already standard operating procedure even for trains that don't split.

Edited by wayman, 09 January 2009 - 01:07 PM.

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#35 Joel N. Weber II

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Posted 10 January 2009 - 11:37 AM

While I think that the mixed Superliner and single level consist could work, with the minor bits of awkwardness you point out, I think a tradional, single level dome car on an all single level train is consisdered even better than a Sightseer Lounge car. Maybe Amtrak could get three or so more dome cars (buying them back from private owners, maybe) and the Cardinal could have its own special heritage lounge cars, sort of like the Coast Starlight.

#36 Guest_Guest_*

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Posted 10 January 2009 - 11:49 AM

The problem with this train is that it is just too slow. No one wants to take the train from NY to Chicago in 28 hours. Also, the times from Cincinatti and Indianapolis are MUCH more than driving times... to a point where taking this train to the west from NY is not practical at all. Youre right though, the 3x per week schedule doesnt help at all.

#37 Joel N. Weber II

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Posted 10 January 2009 - 12:20 PM

The problem with this train is that it is just too slow. No one wants to take the train from NY to Chicago in 28 hours. Also, the times from Cincinatti and Indianapolis are MUCH more than driving times... to a point where taking this train to the west from NY is not practical at all. Youre right though, the 3x per week schedule doesnt help at all.


If the sleeper prices are the highest in the system, that would seem to demonstrate that there's demand for more frequent service even at the current track speeds.

Nobody who's trying to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible on Amtrak is going to take the Cardinal from Chicago to New York City or DC, given the existance of the Lake Shore Limited and the Capitol Limited. It's all the intermediate stations between Chicago and DC, most of which are not served by any other train, that cause the Cardinal to have value, along with the scenery in the New River Gorge.

In the long run, I'd certainly love to see dedicated passenger track built for 220 MPH (or faster) trains between Chicago and Indianapolis with an express train in each direction making no local stops at least every two hours, and another train mostly operating along that same high speed track making stops at all the intermediate stations the Cardinal does, also with service at least every two hours. However, I'm also not sure that's really enough trains to justify building that track.

I also think there should be some sort of 220 MPH (or faster) route that connects Indianapolis to Cincinnati (possibly by building Indianapolis to Columbus track, and then connecting Columbus to Pittsburgh, and then building a spur from that Indianapolis to Columbus track to Cincinnati). If that were done, I'm not sure what should be done about service to Connersville, IN, the only stop the Cardinal makes between Cincinnati and Indianapolis (at 1:26 AM eastbound and 3:05 AM westbound); if local service along that track is preserved, some additional intermediate stations should probably be added if that turns into a relatively short local route.

And then there's Cincinnati to DC, which doesn't seem to have any major cities along its route where breaking the route up and offering connections to high speed trains might make sense. Maybe there's an argument that the greater Huntington-Ashland area has 286 thousand people or so, and the greater Charleston, WV area has 304 thousand or so people, and so building two hundred miles of high speed track to connect over half a million people to the rest of a high speed network (if we already had one) would make sense.

#38 wayman

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Posted 10 January 2009 - 02:51 PM

While I think that the mixed Superliner and single level consist could work, with the minor bits of awkwardness you point out, I think a tradional, single level dome car on an all single level train is consisdered even better than a Sightseer Lounge car. Maybe Amtrak could get three or so more dome cars (buying them back from private owners, maybe) and the Cardinal could have its own special heritage lounge cars, sort of like the Coast Starlight.


Buying three random dome cars means Amtrak now owns and has to maintain three unique heritage cars which require different sorts of replacement parts, different maintenance, etc, than anything else they own. Given how much resistance they seemed to run into in getting Boston to agree to service a single Viewliner, imagine how difficult it would be to get New York or Chicago to deal with three odd duck domes. Completely impractical for Amtrak, much as it's a fabulous idea :( If they could actually buy three or four identical dome cars, simplifying their maintenance procedures, maybe it would be advantageous, but the odds of that are pretty low.

The other problem with going with a single-level dome car is it doesn't help them at all with the sleeper situation. I suspect they'll get a lot more revenue out of the Cardinal if they can add that second (trans-dorm) sleeper.
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#39 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 08:43 PM

Dependable?????

I rode this thing in December 1971. We left Chicagp on time, blazed down the ICRR to Kankakee, left Kankakee on time, and then clunked across to Cincinatti on the Penn Central at between 25 and no more than 40 mph on really rough trackage, arriving in Cincinatti about 3 hours late. After getting on the ex C&O, things were back up to speed, byt we were still about 2 hours late getting into Charlottesville and DC. I wan't too dissapointed, as it was a beautiful ride across West Virginia in the dome, which I had to myself a good bit of the time. Sunrise over the mountains was beautiful.


You did not ride this thing in December of '71, you rode the James Whitcomb Riley, which has a different enough route to call a different train.

Secondly, we could more honestly rename the Cardinal the Senator Byrd Special, since that is what it is. Amtrak doesn't want to run this train! This train is unpopular, serves practically nobody and those it serves are served at ridiculous hours of the day. Its like going from New York to Chicago via the Greenbriar. Oh wait, that's exactly what it is!

The train serves limited purpose. Amtrak would be better served by killing this train, yanking a sleeper off the Silver Meteor, and bringing back a two-sleeper, diner-lite, cafe, 5 coach Broadway Limited. That's how I'd improve its ridership- make it relevant.
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#40 Joel N. Weber II

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 09:06 PM

The other problem with going with a single-level dome car is it doesn't help them at all with the sleeper situation. I suspect they'll get a lot more revenue out of the Cardinal if they can add that second (trans-dorm) sleeper.


I don't think the height of a train makes any great difference at all: either way, they'd need to buy more rolling stock. If anything, the testimony before Congress suggests they're likely to buy more single-level long distance equipment before they buy more Superliners.




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