Jump to content
v v

What's your favourite? Cardinal or Lake Shore Limited

Recommended Posts

If you were travelling sleeper WB from New York City to Chicago in late December, which train (Cardinal or Lake Shore) would you use... and why?

 

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OTOH, Lake has better timing, runs 7 days a week, and generally has better availability of sleepers and (usually) pricing, however on 12/23 (amsnag) the Cardinal is priced much better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OTOH, Lake has better timing, runs 7 days a week, and generally has better availability of sleepers and (usually) pricing, however on 12/23 (amsnag) the Cardinal is priced much better.

They do have the exact same price buckets going end to end. So if you're not in a rush, can make the three day schedule work, and can find sleeper availability, it's great!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Cardinal has amazing scenery. But what I like about it more is the really interesting vibe it has. It's got that small town living room feel. And it's very social.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While the buckets are the same, because of the 3 day scheduling and the lower number of available rooms the LSL for end of Dec (20-30) has rooms actually available in lower buckets than the Cardinal, with the exception of 12/23. where the Card is cheaper (by a good bit)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Depends on whether you want a shorter or longer trip, and whether you want to change in Albany or DC, unless they're running through by December.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cardinal:

Plus: at the moment the food is better

Plus: New River Gorge (though late in the day)

Plus: friendly vibe

Minus: leaving NYP at the crack of dawn

 

Lake Shore Limited:

Plus: Hudson and Mohawk River valleys

Plus: daily service

Minus: fresh & contemporary dining

 

That said, God only knows what food will be available on each of these trains come December! (...and whether the Cardinal will be running at all after the end of the year...)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've traveled both in December and the biggest issue is the lack of daylight hours for sightseeing. Other than that it was all new to me and I enjoyed both.

Edited by anumberone

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yet again thank you, the pointers about ticketing cost and availability has encouraged us to book our tickets today, a week or two earlier than we thought we would.

 

At the beginning of the week we arranged and booked our arrival in NYC, we arrive early morning on the 22 December. We always intended to leave NYC on the 23 December but couldn't decide by which route, we've booked the Cardinal to be followed by the Southwest Chief to Los Angeles. That means we will be onboard the SWC on Christmas Eve, Day and Boxing Day (is BD a UK holiday only?).

 

The first response sold us on the idea to take the Cardinal, all the other responses continued to confirm that with good info too.

 

The New River Gorge looks superb, anyone know about what time the Cardinal passes through it? But if it's dark it's a shame, may get lucky and have a clear night sky.

 

Have to write though that Seaboard had the killer response... "It's got that small town living room feel. And it's very social" Seaboard, you know our weak spot!

 

So far hardly started any planning after arriving at Union Station, LA, but if there's any interest I'll post a schedule in 'Travelogues' when plans are clearer.

 

Thanks again AU

 

ps: can we send Trump back to you soon, he's creating mayhem here at the moment! ha h a ha (this is not a political comment we just need a little peace and quiet)

Edited by v v

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I took the Cardinal westbound in the fall one year and it was dark before we reached the New River Gorge. I don't recall if we were running late, but even on time it will be dusk-to-dark by they time you get there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have taken both the Cardinal and the LSL a couple of times. I prefer the Card for the scenery. The LSL has rough tracks causing a bumpy ride.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Minus: leaving NYP at the crack of dawn

This is going to sound weird, but that's kind of a plus for me. I like waking up early, heading to the station, settling into my roomette, and getting breakfast on the train.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Boxing Day is mostly UK/Commonwealth, in some countries may be 2nd Day of Christmastide or St. Stephens Day. Boxing Day would be a major holiday in Canada, not the US.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice trip Jamie,😎 I totally agree with your choice of the Card, it's the Rodney Dangerfield of Amtrak Trains, it doesn't get any respect,( especially in Philadelphia😄) but is a wonderful experience, sort of like an old timely Un-named Secondary LD Train as compared to the Crack Trains. !

Edited by Bob Dylan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I rode the Cardinal westbound between Charlottesville and Chicago on my way home for Christmas last year. I left Charlottesville on time on December 17 and was only 17 minutes late arriving in Chicago so we mostly kept to schedule. If on time, the westbound Cardinal will spend about 3 hours in the New River Gorge (6 pm to 9 pm). In December, this time period will be under cover of darkness. On my trip, it was already dark by the time we got to Hinton, the beginning of the New River Gorge traveling westbound, so we didn't see much of it. I was able to see the New River Gorge Bridge, even in the darkness. As recently as 10 years ago, it was the highest bridge in the Americas, the 2nd highest bridge in the world, and the world's longest single-span arch bridge.

 

Nonetheless, there is still great scenery to be seen westbound in daylight even in December. We traversed the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley in daylight, shortly after leaving Charlottesville, and I found the scenery to be superb. The Cardinal (East-West) crosses Skyline Drive (North-South) at a right angle between Charlottesville and Staunton around the summit of the Blue Ridge Mountains. You will also see the famous Greenbrier Resort decked out in Christmas decorations at White Sulfur Springs at around sunset.

 

If you're planning on riding the Cardinal eastbound, you will traverse the New River Gorge between roughly 7:30 am and 10:30 am (if on-time). This would allow you to see most of the New River Gorge in daylight.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Cardinal has an atmosphere that's very hard to articulate. The crews That work Charlottesville to Huntington and Huntington to Indianapolis are the best in the nation in my opinion.

 

The first time I was on board the Cardinal it was a deadhead for me from Washington to Chicago. I was sitting in the lounge car and the conductors along with their work pointed out all of the sights we were passing by. With a very good history of the area.

 

The passengers themselves were a mixture of west Virginias turned Washingtonians, north east corridor people, Chicagoans, and vacationers. And everyone talked in the lounge. Conversations went from craft brew to brexit, to macroeconomic theory. It was something else. It just has that unique charm to it.

 

I've since done the route multiple times and it's amazing. You'll more than likely want a seat on the left side of the train for the gorge.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have always enjoyed the westbound trip on the Lake Shore, and having dinner in the diner along the Hudson, with the hopeless fantasy of being seated with a "Miss Eve Kendall" (character from the movie, "North By Northwest").... :)

 

Of course, that wouldn't work out with the current train... :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I usually take the LSL, because it is the most direct route to see my family in New England. Just before the end of AGR1, I booked a trip on the Cardinal east bound, as it was my last chance (have to conserve my points by going the cheapest way, now that points=dollars, not zones). I only had the points to get to CIN, where I got up at 5am (yes, we were late) and switched to coach. As soon as it was light, my face was glued to the window anyway! It was late fall, and coach was quite full with Amish folk.

 

I know you've already booked, but I'll confirm what others are saying: even if you don't get to see New River Gorge in the daytime, if you haven't taken the Cardinal, I'd say it's worth it. The full moon is Dec 22, so the moon will be pretty bright. Moonrise at Hinton, WV is 6:27pm. I am hoping you have a wonderfully clear evening, and the train is just last enough that the moon will be high! A big advantage of going in winter is that there won't be leaves on the trees to block your view.

 

Enjoy your trip! I am looking forward to reading your trip reports. You are such a keen observer of humanity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've gotta say, taking the Lake Shore end to end in February was pretty bleak and kind of boring. Everyone on the train just felt kind of curt and antisocial, and it was I think the only LD train ride I've ever taken where I wasn't really enjoying it. It also didn't help that we arrived in NYC three hours late so we weren't really able to see the Hudson.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually, each train as well as the Capitol Limited/NEC to Springfield MA all have their plusses and minuses.

 

In almost every instance, from my home near Springfield, riding business class to Washington then the Capitol from there almost always comes out the least costly...sometimes several hundred dollars. Riding the opposite direction from Chicago, the connection to the last train of the day to Springfield (#148) used to be 'tight' and I've made it every time as it was slightly less than 2 hours to 'make it' at Washington. With the latest NEC timetable, #148 has been moved back 2 hours account the startup of CTRail communter trains NHV-SPG so it won't have me sweating bullets about making it in the future. In fact, I'll be doing just that the first week of September. I've taken the Pennsylvanian both was to/from the Capitol and it's either a long wait at PGH westbound(in VERY uncomfortable chairs), or being nervous about arriving PGH too late to catch the Pennsylvanian the other way.

 

If I 'catch it right'(price wise), the Lakeshore Ltd is the best schedule for me, hands down. But it's usually the most expensive, unless I book it 3-4 months or more in advance. It also allows me to save a few dollars and get away from the horn all night by riding coach SPG-ALB then sleeper beyond. The NY section sleepers are directly adjacent to the now bare tables do-it-yourself boxed meal car...formerly known as a diner with real meals. I used to look forward to getting a steak dinner leaving ALB. The switch to boxed meals is a strong negative for me for a number of reasons.

 

I like the Cardinal for scenery, especially along the New River. However, I much preferred the Cardinal of 25-30 years ago when it ran on a 'flipped' schedule, departing WAS about 9-10 PM and arriving CHI about 24 hours later. That worked out exceedingly well while I was living in Milwaukee and riding Amtrak on business a couple times per month. Connections at Washington to eastern LD trains were great both ways! But at the moment, the Cardinal is 'difficult' for me to get to or from. Westbound, I have to spend a night in the DC area, or, at least, somewhere I can get to DC for the 11:00AM departure...or after September, somewhere along the NEC (maybe NWK) where I can get up at the crack of dawn and catch it. I'm doing that in a couple of weeks. I still haven't booked how I'm getting to WAS, though. I'm still thinking about it. And going eastbound, it's almost a disaster for me, unless I want a too book a hotel room somewhere between WAS and NYP. I've connected to #66 to BOS then SPG maybe 15-20 times, but I decided 2 years ago, sitting up all night trying to sleep is almost impossible for this now 70 year old. These days, I wouldn't even consider connecting to the Cardinal from a western train at CHI. I tried doing that 3 years ago and ended up getting bused from Galesburg to Indianapolis. In watching the almost total lack of punctual arrivals of all western trains at CHI these days, I've eliminated the Capitol Ltd as a connection as well.

 

So, if I want to save some money, the Capitol Ltd wins. Shortest travel time, the Lake Shore Ltd. Most scenic and, for the moment, the best food, the Cardinal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In February the Hudson doesn't usually look that great anyway. Much better late spring through fall......Leaving from NYP, which is my home station, NEC to Cap in WAS usually offers the best combination of fares and travel times. Penn to PGH is a few bucks less, but way earlier departure. Best scenery is Card, but again, very early out.

Edited by PVD

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In February the Hudson doesn't usually look that great anyway. Much better late spring through fall

Yes, but it's still the Hudson and I can appreciate a huge river with some pretty massive cliffs and hills on the other side. It's definitely a lot better in the spring or fall, but it's still better than nothing, which is what I got to see at the end of my trip. My main quips were the poor service in the dining car, bleak scenery for most of the ride, and the generally curt and anti-social crew and staff alike.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I may be unusual here, but my favorite time of year to travel is the winter. If there is snow, that looks better than any other type of scenery in my opinion. If not, the leaves are bare so more scenery is visible. Also, if I'm on a longer trip I can actually appreciate the lack of daylight. The next day is much less enjoyable if I am tired, but it is difficult to get good sleep in coach. If I want to get six hours, I probably need 9-10 hours of laying down, plus an hour to prepare for sleep and waking up in the morning. Meanwhile, I enjoy watching the scenery so much that I can never convince myself to sleep when it is light out. In the summer, it is often only dark for about 8-9 hours, so I inevitably wake up exhausted. In the winter, there's nothing to see by around 6:00 so I have plenty of time to get sleep.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×