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How to boost Cardinal Ridership?

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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.

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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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.

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Guest TIm

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

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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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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

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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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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)

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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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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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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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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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!

 

Ya gotta admit, though, that Cardinal is a very appropriate name just the same: the state bird of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, and Virginia!

 

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.

 

Well, Senator Byrd is old. So maybe in the next few years Congress could sensibly make a change like this, once West Virginia no longer has an elder statesman in the Senate.

Edited by wayman

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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!

 

Ya gotta admit, though, that Cardinal is a very appropriate name just the same: the state bird of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, and Virginia!

 

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.

 

Well, Senator Byrd is old. So maybe in the next few years Congress could sensibly make a change like this, once West Virginia no longer has an elder statesman in the Senate.

 

 

I've ridden durn near everything Amtrak has (or had) and the Cardinal is the hardest train I ever had to get a ticket for, so someone must be riding the train.

 

it also is a route with great potential, maybe has the best scenery in the East. and it is the only train currently serving Cinn and Indy so it is an important placeholder if nothing else.

 

PS I like the idea of the Was and NYC sections.

 

Bob

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So, I like the idea of bringing back the superliners but obviously there probably is not enough equipment. What if schedule was alternated with BOTH amfleet AND superliner car sets? On the days that there is currently no service operate with a superliner set? Obviously the superliner set would not be able to operate past WAS but that would provide daily service to many cities that otherwise only receive 3 times a week service.

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So, I like the idea of bringing back the superliners but obviously there probably is not enough equipment. What if schedule was alternated with BOTH amfleet AND superliner car sets? On the days that there is currently no service operate with a superliner set? Obviously the superliner set would not be able to operate past WAS but that would provide daily service to many cities that otherwise only receive 3 times a week service.

 

That would be far too confusing for both the passengers and Amtrak, especially to the point of which days do you have more roomettes and bedrooms to sell. If they setup two different trains, meaning different names and numbers, that would solve the confusion on Amtrak's side, but it still wouldn't help all that much with the passenger confusion.

 

And I'm also not sure that it would make for the most efficient use of the Superliner equipment, assuming that there is even enough to do that.

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So, I like the idea of bringing back the superliners but obviously there probably is not enough equipment. What if schedule was alternated with BOTH amfleet AND superliner car sets? On the days that there is currently no service operate with a superliner set? Obviously the superliner set would not be able to operate past WAS but that would provide daily service to many cities that otherwise only receive 3 times a week service.

 

I think if you wanted to keep single level equipment on the current Cardinal schedule and add Superliner equipment on the days the Cardinal doesn't run, you'd end up needing more total trainsets than if you make the Cardinal a daily train with identical trainsets each day.

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You're probably right...

 

I worked in the airline industry for the past few 10 years so I'm used to downsizing and upgauging aircraft to meet needs... there probably would be more complications with two different types of train sets than there would be with subsituting aircraft types.

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According to Wikipedia here is the history of the route.

The Cardinal is the successor of several previous trains.

 

The James Whitcomb Riley was introduced by the New York Central on April 28, 1941 as a daytime, all-coach train between Chicago and Cincinnati by way of Indianapolis. It was named after the Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley, known for his celebration of Americana. The Riley was retained by the Penn Central (as trains 303 and 304) after its formation from the ruins of the New York Central and Pennsylvania Railroad. Independently, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway operated the George Washington as its flagship service (C&O trains 1 and 2), running between Cincinnati and Washington, with a section (trains 41 and 42) splitting at Charlottesville and running to Newport News.

 

Amtrak, upon its 1971 commencement of operations, kept service identical at first. Through Washington-Chicago and Newport News-Chicago coaches began operating July 12, and a through sleeping car began September 8. With the November 14, 1971 schedule, the routes were merged, with the George Washington name being applied eastbound and the James Whitcomb Riley westbound. At the same time the route was extended from Washington to Boston, and was assigned train numbers 50 eastbound and 51 westbound.

 

On March 6, 1972 the train was rerouted from Chicago's Central Station into Union Station. On April 30 the service was truncated back to Washington from Boston. On May 19, 1974 the George Washington was renamed the James Whitcomb Riley, giving it the same name in both directions. The Newport News section was discontinued June 14, 1976 and the Colonial began running over its former route east of Richmond.

 

The James Whitcomb Riley was renamed the Cardinal on October 30, 1977, as the cardinal was the state bird of all six states through which it ran. It was discontinued September 30, 1981 (by then having been extended to New York from Washington) and brought back by Congressional mandate on January 8, 1982.

 

 

[edit] Train consist

In the early 1990s, the Cardinal ran with the usual Amtrak long-distance consist of 2 F40s/E60 plus several MHC and material handling baggage cars, followed by several Amfleet coaches, an Amfleet lounge, a Heritage diner, 2 or 3 Heritage 10-6 sleepers, a slumbercoach, and finally, a baggage dormitory car. Following the delivery of the Superliner II fleet, however, the Cardinal was re-equipped with Superliner cars in the mid-nineties. As a result, its route was truncated to end in Washington D.C. as the Superliner equipment could not run into Penn Station, New York, due to low clearances there. With the Superliner equipment, the consist would usually be 2 Superliner II sleeping cars, a diner, a Sightseer Lounge, a baggage coach, and a coach.

 

In 2002, 2 derailments on other routes took numerous Superliner cars out of service. Because of these accidents, insufficient Superliner equipment was available for use on the Cardinal. The Cardinal was re-equipped with a consist of single level long distance cars, including dining, lounge, sleeping and dormitory cars. Fleet shortages since then have shortened the Cardinal further, and at one point, the train was running with two or three Amfleet II coaches and a lounge car. While the sleeping car has been restored, the Cardinal has not had a dormitory car or a diner since. The Cardinal is currently runs with a single engine, three or four Amfleet II long-distance coaches, a single car used as both a diner and a lounge, and a single Viewliner, used as both a crew dormitory and a sleeper.

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I worked in the airline industry for the past few 10 years so I'm used to downsizing and upgauging aircraft to meet needs... there probably would be more complications with two different types of train sets than there would be with subsituting aircraft types.

 

The key issue is probably that the typical Amtrak long distance trainset's round trip probably takes at least two days, whereas an airplane on a domestic route can easily do at least one round trip every day, and two round trips in one day might even be somewhat common.

 

Commuter trains operating weekend / midday service typically don't bother to subtract coaches for off-peak runs because of the labor costs of doing the switching.

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FYI:

 

My husband received a survey in the *snailmail* from Amtrak about his recent trip between NYP and CIN on the Cardinal. Most of the questions, which asked for responses via a scale from "Very Dissatisified to Very Satisfied*, asked about quality issues with food, service and the sleeping cars.

 

He filled it out with input from me since no one asked my opinion and I was the one who made the reservation!

 

Did anyone else receive a survey?

 

-- Jackie

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FYI:

 

My husband received a survey in the *snailmail* from Amtrak about his recent trip between NYP and CIN on the Cardinal. Most of the questions, which asked for responses via a scale from "Very Dissatisified to Very Satisfied*, asked about quality issues with food, service and the sleeping cars.

 

He filled it out with input from me since no one asked my opinion and I was the one who made the reservation!

 

Did anyone else receive a survey?

 

-- Jackie

 

What were his/your answers?

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