I know it's not within Amtrak's control given PRIIA rules and a messy history, but I think expanding Hoosier State service to 3 times a day (at least) is definitely "low-hanging" fruit. If the Downeaster can be a success as a 5x a day train, so can the Hoosier State. Indy-Chicago is in that sweet spot of too close for a commercial flight, but still not convenient to drive.
Here ya go:
It's been studied. Needs maybe $250 million investment to cut 29 minutes from the schedule, and then modest subsidies like every other corridor service. (More money could buy more time savings, thru CREATE, on the Illinois side of the state line.)
The study ain't great but it has good info. Conspicuously omitted is any mention, ridership or revenue, of how chopping 29 minutes off the run could help the Cardinal's bottom line. Or any mention of the benefit to the Cardinal of being part of a corridor service with multiple frequencies.
iirc About 10 or 12 year ago, Illinois paid to add two more Lincoln Service frequencies St Louis-CHI to the existing two corridor trains and the Texas Eagle on that route. So it went from three trains a day to five. Total ridership more than doubled in a year or two, and ridership improved even on the Eagle. The convenience of multiple departure and arrival times attracted more passengers to the Eagle than were lost to the other trains. We could expect a similar result for the Cardinal on that Indy-CHI segment if it were flanked by two or three or four daily runs of the Hoosier State.
A longer term goal would be to upgrade the tracks Cincinnati-Indianapolis-CHI to 110-mph as is being done St Louis-CHI. There is easily an hour and probably two hours or more to be chopped from the Cincy-Indy segment. Corridor service here would give Cincy daylight service and increase connecting traffic for Amtrak thru CHI. It could also boost the Cardinal ridership despite it still having at least one post-midnight stop in Cincy, because the train would arrive in CHI early morning in time for a full business day.
So we need a few Billion to upgrade the route Cincy-Indy-CHI and a Billion or more for additional equipment for these and other added trains. Let's hope the funding is included in the next Stimulus package.
What was it Everett Dirksen said?
Edited by railiner, 17 December 2017 - 01:32 PM.