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How to boost Cardinal Ridership?

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Maybe this has been posted before but I couldn't find anything...

 

I've been doing some thinking about the Cardinal, the one of many of Amtrak's stepchildren. Having lived in Charlottesville and watched the changes of Amfleet to superliner and back again, diners to lounges and back again... I was trying to think of ways to boost the ridership.

 

A few months back while doing some strolling through the interweb I found some info (no clue where I found this online, sadly I didn't think to bookmark it) that the C&O used to operate a train on a similar routing as the Cardinal but it continued onto Richmond and maybe even Norfolk/Newport News; I'm thinking that the name for the train was something like “The Cavalier.” The name would seem appropriate since it runs through Charlottesville/UVa etc. Maybe some of the knowledgeable folk may remember this, no?

 

In any regards, would something like this work again, adding a few cars (I know Amtrak has so many extra cars sitting around they don't know what to do with them - *sarcasm ) onto the Cardinal and splitting the eastbound train in Charlottesville and sending part onto Richmond / Norfolk / Newport News be of any help ridership? Maybe doing this say in Clifton Forge and sending the part of the train onto Ranoke and the Tricities area? Currently there is “through way bus/motorcoach service to Richmond which must mean there is some type of demand for this?

 

Another thought I had was to try and make at least part of the Cardinal daily on the Eastbound end near DC, IRC on the westbound end this is done and the train has a different name and number; Hoosier State maybe? Would changing the time schedule benefit the train? I remember as a kid being thrilled when the two Cardinals would both meet in Charlottesville, it was a real treat for me as a youngster. I also remember a time when you could leave Charlottesville westbound get off in Staunton spend a few hours there and then take the eastbound back.

 

Would love to hear some thoughts on this...

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Guest kentuckian
Maybe this has been posted before but I couldn't find anything...

 

I've been doing some thinking about the Cardinal, the one of many of Amtrak's stepchildren. Having lived in Charlottesville and watched the changes of Amfleet to superliner and back again, diners to lounges and back again... I was trying to think of ways to boost the ridership.

 

A few months back while doing some strolling through the interweb I found some info (no clue where I found this online, sadly I didn't think to bookmark it) that the C&O used to operate a train on a similar routing as the Cardinal but it continued onto Richmond and maybe even Norfolk/Newport News; I'm thinking that the name for the train was something like “The Cavalier.” The name would seem appropriate since it runs through Charlottesville/UVa etc. Maybe some of the knowledgeable folk may remember this, no?

 

In any regards, would something like this work again, adding a few cars (I know Amtrak has so many extra cars sitting around they don't know what to do with them - *sarcasm ) onto the Cardinal and splitting the eastbound train in Charlottesville and sending part onto Richmond / Norfolk / Newport News be of any help ridership? Maybe doing this say in Clifton Forge and sending the part of the train onto Ranoke and the Tricities area? Currently there is “through way bus/motorcoach service to Richmond which must mean there is some type of demand for this?

 

Another thought I had was to try and make at least part of the Cardinal daily on the Eastbound end near DC, IRC on the westbound end this is done and the train has a different name and number; Hoosier State maybe? Would changing the time schedule benefit the train? I remember as a kid being thrilled when the two Cardinals would both meet in Charlottesville, it was a real treat for me as a youngster. I also remember a time when you could leave Charlottesville westbound get off in Staunton spend a few hours there and then take the eastbound back.

 

Would love to hear some thoughts on this...

 

Yes, the C&O's George Washington (I think) once upon a time had a section that went to Richmond and on to the VA Beach area. I think this would make sense for Amtrak for two reasons. One, passengers could take the train to Richmond, either because that was where they were going, or to connect with the Meteor for Florida. (I'm assuming these are the reasons for the current bus service.) Secondly, a train continuing on to somewhere in the VA Beach area would allow a direct route to that tourism destination.

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Interestingly enough, I was just reading about this train on wikipeia this morning, which says that our guest was absolutely correct. The GW had a section that continued on to Newport News. It's worth noting that Newport News != Virginia Beach, as the two are separated by Hampton Roads and an hour's drive.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardinal_and_Hoosier_State

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In any regards, would something like this work again, adding a few cars (I know Amtrak has so many extra cars sitting around they don't know what to do with them - *sarcasm ) onto the Cardinal and splitting the eastbound train in Charlottesville and sending part onto Richmond / Norfolk / Newport News be of any help ridership? Maybe doing this say in Clifton Forge and sending the part of the train onto Ranoke and the Tricities area? Currently there is “through way bus/motorcoach service to Richmond which must mean there is some type of demand for this?

 

What if the train split at Clifton Forge and half went Roanoke, Lynchburg, Richmond, Norfolk, Newport News? That would effectively achieve most of the never-gonna-happen TransDominion Express as a state-supported Amtrak service. But you'd probably never get Virginia money for it, just like the TDX never got funded.

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In any regards, would something like this work again, adding a few cars (I know Amtrak has so many extra cars sitting around they don't know what to do with them - *sarcasm ) onto the Cardinal and splitting the eastbound train in Charlottesville and sending part onto Richmond / Norfolk / Newport News be of any help ridership? Maybe doing this say in Clifton Forge and sending the part of the train onto Ranoke and the Tricities area? Currently there is “through way bus/motorcoach service to Richmond which must mean there is some type of demand for this?

What if the train split at Clifton Forge and half went Roanoke, Lynchburg, Richmond, Norfolk, Newport News? That would effectively achieve most of the never-gonna-happen TransDominion Express as a state-supported Amtrak service. But you'd probably never get Virginia money for it, just like the TDX never got funded.

First, the TDX sank very legitimately from the analysis of cost versus ridership. (Casts real high, ridership not too good) Without megabucks being spent, the TDX simply was too slow to attract much ridership.

 

In the early Amtrak years, there was both a Newport News and a Washington section of this train. Most of the passenger loading was on the Washington section. The railroad line used by that section between Charlottesville and Richmond is no longer signaled. The string Roanoke, Lynchburg, Richmond, Norfolk, Newport News does not represent any existing railroad route. I do nto think that there is any reasonable Clifton Forge to Roanoke line. You could run Roanoke, Lynchburg, Petersburg, Norfolk. Newport News and Norfolk are on the opposite side of the entrance to Chesapeake Bay and there is no railroad between them.

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Make Cardinal a daily trip, not tri-weekly.

 

This is the single most important thing to do to increase ridership. People can't schedule one week vacations around a three-day a week schedule.

 

One need look no further than the Texas Eagle to see what happened to its ridership numbers when it went daily.

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Make Cardinal a daily trip, not tri-weekly.

Yes. One reason I didn't ever take the Cardinal was that I never arrived into CHI on the Cardinal's departure dates. Even in October, I had to reschedule my departure date from PDX just to arrive in CHI on the right date!

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I dont see how a train can make it as "public transportation" only running three days a week !!!

It needs to be daily!!!

 

Trainfan

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I also vote for making the route offer daily service. May I also suggest that the track be upgraded from Chicago to Cincinnati, so as to allow for a higher average speed ? I understand that some parts of the Cardinal's route through IN lack ABS, but just to improve the ride, and get the average speed as close to the maximum allowed speed of 59 mph would be a good start. Timeliness is an important issue as well.

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Aye, a daily Cardinal would be great...especially if they could add a baggage car! I'll also add that it would be great if we could make the Hoosier State run daily with the Cardinal so we could have a morning and night train running each way between Chicago and Indianapolis. Wishes cost nothing though....

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Maybe this has been posted before but I couldn't find anything...

 

I've been doing some thinking about the Cardinal, the one of many of Amtrak's stepchildren. Having lived in Charlottesville and watched the changes of Amfleet to superliner and back again, diners to lounges and back again... I was trying to think of ways to boost the ridership.

 

A few months back while doing some strolling through the interweb I found some info (no clue where I found this online, sadly I didn't think to bookmark it) that the C&O used to operate a train on a similar routing as the Cardinal but it continued onto Richmond and maybe even Norfolk/Newport News; I'm thinking that the name for the train was something like “The Cavalier.” The name would seem appropriate since it runs through Charlottesville/UVa etc. Maybe some of the knowledgeable folk may remember this, no?

 

In any regards, would something like this work again, adding a few cars (I know Amtrak has so many extra cars sitting around they don't know what to do with them - *sarcasm ) onto the Cardinal and splitting the eastbound train in Charlottesville and sending part onto Richmond / Norfolk / Newport News be of any help ridership? Maybe doing this say in Clifton Forge and sending the part of the train onto Ranoke and the Tricities area? Currently there is “through way bus/motorcoach service to Richmond which must mean there is some type of demand for this?

 

Another thought I had was to try and make at least part of the Cardinal daily on the Eastbound end near DC, IRC on the westbound end this is done and the train has a different name and number; Hoosier State maybe? Would changing the time schedule benefit the train? I remember as a kid being thrilled when the two Cardinals would both meet in Charlottesville, it was a real treat for me as a youngster. I also remember a time when you could leave Charlottesville westbound get off in Staunton spend a few hours there and then take the eastbound back.

 

Would love to hear some thoughts on this...

 

Cut the sleeper surcharge - the Cardinal must have the most expensive bedrooms of any Amtrak service!

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I dont see how a train can make it as "public transportation" only running three days a week !!!

It needs to be daily!!!

 

Trainfan

VIARAIL Canada runs all its western trains tri-weekly, and all the comments you see on this and other forums are never critical.

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Aye, a daily Cardinal would be great...especially if they could add a baggage car! I'll also add that it would be great if we could make the Hoosier State run daily with the Cardinal so we could have a morning and night train running each way between Chicago and Indianapolis. Wishes cost nothing though....

 

IIRC, there was a discussion in the last few months in which someone (Green Maned Lion?) seemed to be saying that if Amtrak wanted to move towards relying on the coach-baggage Superliner cars more, they might be able to free up some baggage cars for the Cardinal and or Northeast Regional.

 

How many trainsets does the Cardinal have now? 2? And how many would it need as a daily train? 3? If so, it seems to me that the real question on whether this could happen in 2009 is whether another Viewliner and another pretend dining car are available. (We know that more Amfleet coaches and P42s are available if we simply make a little progress towards creating 3 million jobs.)

 

I got a ride in an automobile from SOB to the approximate vicinity of LAF a few weeks ago because the Cardinal / Hoosier State schedule does not make for a short connection. A second daily frequency probably would not happen to fix that problem, either, but Hiawatha Service like frequencies might very well.

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Cut the sleeper surcharge - the Cardinal must have the most expensive bedrooms of any Amtrak service!

 

This is probably a simple matter of Amtrak getting enough additional single level sleepers to add a second sleeping car to the Cardinal.

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splitting the eastbound train in Charlottesville and sending part onto Richmond / Norfolk / Newport News be of any help ridership? Maybe doing this say in Clifton Forge and sending the part of the train onto Ranoke and the Tricities area?

 

Charlottesville to Richmond is only about 73 miles. I would think it would make a fine high speed commuter rail route. But I'm not sure a one seat ride from Richmond to the Cardinal's route west of DC is ever going to make much sense.

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Cut the sleeper surcharge - the Cardinal must have the most expensive bedrooms of any Amtrak service!

 

This is probably a simple matter of Amtrak getting enough additional single level sleepers to add a second sleeping car to the Cardinal.

 

Precisely! It's the law of supply and demmand. With only one sleeping car, that means only 1-accessible room, 2-bedrooms, and at most 8 roomettes and possible even less depending on just how many crew members are onboard.

 

This is an issue that could be solved however if Amtrak actually gets the funding for new single level cars that they requested from Congress. With a new baggage/crew dorm car on this train, you'd free up the roomettes currently in use by the crew, and with the 15 new sleepers requested it might even be possible to add a second sleeper to this train.

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How many trainsets does the Cardinal have now? 2? And how many would it need as a daily train? 3? If so, it seems to me that the real question on whether this could happen in 2009 is whether another Viewliner and another pretend dining car are available. (We know that more Amfleet coaches and P42s are available if we simply make a little progress towards creating 3 million jobs.)

 

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

 

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.

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The Cardinal definitely needs to be on a daily schedule. I traveled on Amtrak's James Whitcomb Riley which was the predecessor to the Cardinal in 1973 from Chicago to Newport News. The train carried a Sleeper, a former B&O square end diner observation lounge, standard low level coaches between Chicago and Washington and a Dome Coach and standard coach between Chicago and Newport News. The train left Chicago around 4PM, Cincinnati around 11PM, arrived in Washington around noon and Newport News midafternoon. I had also ridden this train from Chicago to Charlottesville in September, 1972. During those years, it ran daily and was very well patronized even though West Virginia much of which it traversed in the middle of the night. I remember having breakfast in the dining car both times as the train passed through Eastern West Virgina in the morning. I also traveled on the Cardinal in 1978 when it had switched to the former C&O line from northern Indiana to Cincinnati. It still carried a Sleeper, dinerlounge, but Amfleet coaches. That time I changed to the Shenandoan in Cincinnati which left about an hour after the Cardinal, but arrived in Washington earlier due to use of the shorter from B&O route. Every time I took that Cardinal or its predecessor, it was on time. If Amtrak could restore the Cardinal to the dependable train it was in the 1970s, it would increase patronage.

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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 :)

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Guest kentuckian

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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