Of all the states that have Amtrak service, I would think Ohio collectively is among the states that have the worst departure/arrival times along the Amtrak system. Most of the scheduled times are either near or during the graveyard shift (times that most adults would not want to be awake, especially in Am-shacks). From experience, I can say Utah is pretty bad too. There are probably others and a few states with no service at all but Ohio is notable because it is a state with a large population. Two of the largest cities in Ohio, Cleveland and Cincinnati, have late night/overnight times.
Certainly the lack of Amtrak service in Ohio can be blamed on John Kasich and other governors that have neglected rail service. But other states do not have state supported trains and are served by LD trains at better times. Based on the schedules, it looks like Amtrak sees Ohio as a pass through state between CHI and the NEC. Could schedules be changed or trains added to better serve Ohio?
There are currently two routes that pass through Ohio, the TOL-CLE branch which is served by the CL and LSL and the CIN branch which is served by the Cardinal. For Ohio, they have essentially two choices: arrive/leave during the graveyard shift and allow transfers to the West Coast in CHI or arrive/leave at better times and lose the ability to transfer to the west.
Ideally, you could reschedule either the CL or LSL to serve TOL and CLE at better times. The problem is both trains have a lot of eastern passengers who would lose the ability to transfer in CHI if the schedule shifted.
I had previously proposed new trains from CHI to the NEC via Michigan. Another option would be to extend the Pennsylvanian to CHI and shift the CL schedule to arrive in PGH before midnight and leave PGH early in the morning so they would serve Ohio at better times:
29 (7 hr shift) 30 (6 hr shift)
WAS 11:05pm 7:05am
PGH 6:48am/6:55am 11:05pm/11:20pm
CLE 9:53am/9:59am 7:45pm/7:54pm
TOL 12:08pm/12:22pm 5:39pm/5:49pm
CHI 3:45pm 12:40pm
With an early morning arrival into WAS and late night departure from WAS, you create many more transfer opportunities (even the Carolinian and Palmetto can transfer to the CL). Anyone in Ohio who wishes to transfer to the west in CHI could still take the LSL and anyone in PGH could take the extended Pennsylvanian.
The problem would be any passenger transferring from west of CHI traveling to WAS would have to then take the Pennsylvanian to PHL and transfer to WAS. Also anyone who wants to double transfer between west of CHI to south of WAS would be in trouble. Using AAO's Pennsylvanian extension (http://freepdfhostin.../cf26514bc8.pdf
), the Pennsylvanian would get into PHL at 3:48pm so a transfer to the Cresent isn't possible (7 minute leeway) and you would have an hour and 10 minutes to get to the SM. To arrive into PHL earlier, you could not run the Pennsylvanian through Michigan. The Pennsylvanian can leave CHI at 8:40pm, arrive in PGH at 7:05am, leave in PGH at 7:30am (the current time) and arrive in PHL at 2:55pm. You could shift these times a half hour or an hour earlier to arrive in PHL earlier. If you want to add Michigan service, you can add to the CL schedule. That would require a later westbound arrival time into CHI and an earlier eastbound departure from CHI.
If you shift the Cardinal, you lose fewer potential transfers than shifting the LSL and CL
The "ideal" schedule from Cincinnati's perspective (ignoring transfer possibilities) is for the train to arrive eastbound into CIN before midnight and westbound into CIN early in the morning.
51 (6 hr shift) 50 (6 hr shift)
NYP 12:45pm 3:58pm
PHL 2:15pm 2:26pm
WAS 5:05pm 12:19pm
CVS 7:48pm/7:57pm 9:10am/9:19am
CIN 7:36am/7:46am 9:17pm/9:27pm
IND 11:20am/12:00pm 5:50pm/5:59pm
CHI 4:05pm 11:45am
The arrival/departure times in CIN would be way better than what they are now. The train also gets into NYP a lot earlier and leaves a lot later. You would lose the ability to transfer in CHI for western trains but you would have more time to transfer to/from the SM and Crescent. In NYP, you could then catch a night train to BOS/New England.
The Cardinal schedule back in the late 70's/early 80's also had "good" CIN times and didn't allow for western transfers so these schedules wouldn't be unprecedented.
Now these schedules wouldn't work under the current Cardinal/Hoosier State arrangement. The CHI-IND legs would then overlap and Iowa Pacific would be forced to use two trains rather than the same train for both the northbound and southbound routes.
On the other hand, I think these schedules would work for a daily Cardinal train. Amtrak's PRIIA plans would be to combine the Cardinal and the Hoosier State into a daily Cardinal. But if you do that, you lose the partnership with Iowa Pacific and some of you sound pleased with the dome cars.
What if we had a daily Cardinal using these times and then had a separate daily Hoosier State train using the current times? So Indianapolis would have two daily trains to CHI. Passengers who want to transfer in CHI to/from the west can take the existing times (Hoosier State) while passengers who just want to go to CHI can take the new, better Cardinal times. These times also are way better for travel from IND to the East Coast. To extend the Hoosier State to CIN, you would need a second set and you'd have a train originating from CIN and arriving in CIN in the middle of the night. Would a sleeper car be required? The eastbound train CHI to CIN couldn't practically leave CHI any earlier than 5:45pm. You might be able to leave CIN two hours later and arrive in CHI at 12:05pm (delays would be less of a problem as the train is only CIN-CHI).
I think the Cardinal shift is more practical than the Capitol Limited shift. You would only require the Cardinal to go daily which Amtrak (and many AU members) would like anyway. CIN passengers would lose the ability to transfer west of CHI but would have better departure/arrival times all along the Cardinal route (and some additional transfer opportunities in WAS). It would be easier than adding a new CHI-NEC train (although I certainly would like to see one for other reasons: CHI-Keystone, better times for CLE and TOL, and the possibility of NEC to Michigan service).
Edited by Philly Amtrak Fan, 29 January 2016 - 07:34 AM.