Cardinal (passenger train)

Cardinal (passenger train)

Infobox rail line
name = "Cardinal"
color =

logo_width = 158px

image_width = 250px
caption = Westbound Cardinal stopped in Charlottesville, VA
type = Inter-city rail
system = Amtrak
status =
locale =
start = Chicago, Illinois
end = New York City
stations =
routes =
ridership =
open = May 1, 1971
close =
owner =
operator = Amtrak
character =
stock =
linelength = convert|1147|mi|km
tracklength =
notrack =
gauge = RailGauge|ussg
el =
speed =
elevation =

infobox rdt|Amtrak Cardinal
map_state = show
The "Cardinal" is a 1,147-mile (1,844 km) passenger train route operated by Amtrak, connecting New York Penn Station with Chicago Union Station three days a week via Washington, D.C., Charlottesville, Virginia, Cincinnati, Ohio, Indianapolis, Indiana, Philadelphia, and Wilmington, Delaware. Travel time, end-to-end, is about 26½ hours. The "Hoosier State" provides service the other four days on the 196-mile (315 km) section from Chicago to Indianapolis.


The "Cardinal" is the successor of several previous trains.

The "James Whitcomb Riley" was introduced by the New York Central on April 281941 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.

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. Following the delivery of the Superliner II fleet, however, the Cardinal went Superliner, in the mid-nineties. This resulted in it being truncated to Washington D.C. due to the inability for the train to fit into New York. During these years, 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, the Cardinal could no longer be sustained as a Superliner train. The Cardinal was then given a normal long distance single level consist, including diner, lounge, sleeper, and dormitory cars. Fleet shortages since then have shortened the Cardinal further, and at one point, the train was running with 2-3 Amfleet II coaches and a lounge. While the sleeper car has been restored, the Cardinal has not had a dorm or a diner since. The Cardinal presently contains 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 dorm and a sleeper.

Route details

The "Cardinal" operates over Amtrak, CSX Transportation, Norfolk Southern Railway, Buckingham Branch Railroad, Canadian National Railway, Union Pacific Railroad, and Metra trackage:
*Amtrak Northeast Corridor, New York to Washington
*CSX Landover Subdivision, RF&P Subdivision, Washington to Alexandria
*NS Washington District, Alexandria to Orange
*BB Washington Subdivision and North Mountain Subdivision, Orange to Clifton Forge
*CSX Alleghany Subdivision, New River Subdivision, Kanawha Subdivision, Russell Subdivision, Northern Subdivision, Cincinnati Subdivision, and Cincinnati Terminal Subdivision, Clifton Forge to Cincinnati
* CSX Cincinnati to Indianapolis
*CSX Cincinnati Terminal Subdivision, Indianapolis Subdivision, Indianapolis Terminal Subdivision, Crawfordsville Branch Subdivision, Lafayette Subdivision, and Monon Subdivision, Indianapolis to Munster
*CN Elsdon Subdivision, Munster to Thornton
*UP Villa Grove Subdivision, Thornton to 81st Street
*Metra SouthWest Service, 81st Street to Chicago

tation stops


*Mike Schafer, Amtrak's atlas, "Trains" June 1991
* [ Routes and Trains on the Eve of Amtrak]
* [ Amtrak's First Trains and Routes]
* [ PRR Chronology]


External links

* [ Amtrak - "Cardinal / Hoosier State"]

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