The Cardinal is a long-distance Amtrak train in the United States, between New York Penn Station and Chicago Union Station, with major stops in Philadelphia, Washington, Charlottesville, Charleston, Huntington, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis. The train runs three times a week in both directions. It is one of three trains connecting the Northeast East Coast to Chicago, the others being the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited.
Trains depart New York on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday, and Chicago on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. The 1,844 km journey between Chicago and New York takes 28 hours. The Hoosier State previously operated a service between Indianapolis and Chicago four days a week in addition to the Cardinal, on days when the Cardinal was not running. On June 30, 2019, the Hoosier State train service was discontinued when the state of Indiana stopped funding the route. During fiscal 2019, the Cardinal carried 108,935 passengers, an increase of 12.5% from fiscal 2018. In 2016, the train had a total revenue of $7,658,608, up 0.2% from 2015.
The Cardinal brings in about $7-8 million a year in ticket revenue; The most recent figures show revenue of $7,658,608 in fiscal year 2015-2016, relatively unchanged from the previous five years.
The Cardinal is the successor to several earlier trains, mainly the New York Central (later Penn Central) James Whitcomb Riley and the George Washington of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O). The James Whitcomb Riley was an all-coach train that ran between Chicago and Cincinnati (via Indianapolis) during the day. The George Washington, C&O, was a long-distance sleeper who drove between Cincinnati and—through a fork in Charlottesville, Virginia—Washington and Newport News, Virginia. Both routes continued to exist until Amtrak was created in 1971.
Amtrak, upon inception, continued to operate through the spring and summer of 1971. It was not until after the summer that it slowly started integrating the two trains.
During the early Amtrak era, the Riley was plagued by the poor condition of the tracks of the former New York Central airline in Indiana. In 1973, the route was moved to the former Pennsylvania Railroad track through Indianapolis. In 1974, Amtrak moved the entirety of the Penn Central track; By this time, the track had deteriorated so badly that the Riley was limited to 10 mph (16 kph) for much of its route through Indiana. A number of other long-distance trains that ran along the former Penn Central track in the Midwest were also plagued by similar problems. The James Whitcomb Riley was renamed the Cardinal on October 30, 1977, because the Cardinal from which the train gets its name was the state bird of all six states through which it ran.
In the early 1990s, the Cardinal ran the usual Amtrak long-haul lineup, consisting of two F40s/E60s plus several freight handling cars (MHC), baggage cars, followed by several Amfleet cars, an Amfleet lounge, a Heritage diner , two or three Heritage 10-6 sleepers, a slumber coach and finally a luggage dormitory. However, following the delivery of the Superliner II fleet, the Cardinal was re-equipped with Superliner in 1995. As a result, the route was shortened to end in Washington instead of New York. Then, as now, Superliners could not operate north of Washington because of the low clearances in Baltimore and New York. During the period with Superliner equipment, equipment usually consisted of two Superliner sleeping cars, a diner, a Sightseer Lounge, a baggage car and a coach.
In 2002, two derailments on other routes caused numerous Superliner carriages to be taken out of service. As a result, e