The Cardinal Could Go Daily!
Wow! It appears that a number of forces have combined and there is actual movement toward a daily Cardinal. Ironically, the recent flooding in parts of West Virginia has played a part of this “perfect storm” of events.
The Cardinal, for those who may not know, runs on a meandering southerly route from Chicago to Indianapolis and Cincinnati, through the New River Gorge (photo above), crosses the Shenandoah Valley, climbs over the Blue Ridge Mountains to Charlottesville, then on into Washington and, from there, up the Northeast Corridor to New York City. It is a great ride.
But it only happens three days a week. There has been talk for years about running the train daily, of course, but as far as I can tell, it’s been sporadic and half-hearted since it has been accepted as fact that a daily Cardinal was simply not in Amtrak’s plans. “Unwanted step-child” was a phrase often heard.
But a series of efforts and events have occurred recently that could change all that. First, NARP produced some public service radio announcements urging a daily Cardinal and, through the efforts of almost 30 NARP members, almost 200 radio stations in towns and cities all along the Cardinal’s route agreed to air the spots at no charge.
Second, I am short on specifics, but I do know that the Cardinal was used to transport school supplies to areas of West Virginia devastated by terrible flooding in recent weeks, underscoring the important role a train–any train–can play when disasters strike. It is simply unacceptable to tell people facing dire circumstances that they’ll have to wait for badly needed supplies “because the train only comes here three days a week”.
Third, non-profit passenger rail advocacy groups like NARP and Friends of the Cardinal and All Aboard Ohio have been banging this drum for years and their voices were added to the clamor when their members stepped up the letter-writing to local newspapers and public officials.
And finally–hold onto your chairs now!–after adding Business Class and an additional sleeper to the Cardinal’s consist and being pleased with the results, Amtrak says they want to hold meetings with advocacy groups to discuss the feasibility of running the train on a daily basis.
Yeah . . . Wouldn’t that be something!
The interesting thing about a daily Cardinal will be what happens to the Hoosier State. My thinking is CHI-IND in the morning, returning in the evening. Basically an inverse of the current schedule.
You’re absolutely right … I really wonder if Ed Ellis could continue to operate in the face of a daily Cardinal.
I’m encouraged but I’ll believe it when I see it. I’d also have more faith if there were legal requirements that Amtrak would continue to operate National Network trains such as the Cardinal, on routes where local/state governments put money into improvements. The Sunset Limited East is an example of Amtrak bad faith. “Suspended” after its tracks in Louisiana and Mississippi were damaged by hurricane, it was never legally discontinued. The hurricane has been the lame excuse used by Amtrak, many years after CSX rebuilt the railroad better than it had been before, and told Amtrak it was ready for resumption of service.
Before a plug nickel is spent by local/state interests on a daily Cardinal, Amtrak MUST commit to continuation of service, even if it “needs the money to shore up the ‘profitable’ Northeast Corridor…and if that happens, why can’t Amtrak beg money from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland and the rest? Why must the rest of the country pay for their own short distance service, AND also that in the Northeast?
Daily service would be a good thing. Problem is, can they can secure enough equipment for the service? We all know about Amtraks capacity restraints due to not enough equipment & engine problems. So I guess we’ll wait & see.
I know, I know … but the Amtrak people we’ve spoken to say they can handle it. We shall see, eh?