Middle of the Night in Cleveland


Amtrak schedules its long distance trains to maximize connections and for optimal arrival and departure times at the end point terminals.

That means that if you live near the middle of a route between Chicago and the East Coast, you’re going to see Amtrak during nighttime hours. Cleveland is about the mid-point for the Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited.

If you were to visit the Cleveland Amtrak station at 2 p.m. on any given afternoon, no one would be around and the station might even be locked. But go there are 2 a.m. and the place will be alive with waiting passengers.

All four Amtrak trains that serve Cleveland are scheduled to arrive between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. The “best” scheduled time is for the eastbound Lake Shore Limited, which is scheduled to depart at 5:50 a.m., which is not terrible, but still requires getting up rather early.

Of course, people travel every day on flights that leave about the same time, but with few exceptions domestic flights do not leave between midnight and 5 a.m. from U.S. airports.

This photo was made at 2:29 a.m. as I awaited the arrival of the westbound Capitol Limited. It was running late, but not by much.

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One Response to “Middle of the Night in Cleveland”

  1. Philly Amtrak Fan Says:

    If I had enough money to do so, I would:

    1) Start a new train from Chicago to New York via Pittsburgh/Philadelphia to travel overnight between Pittsburgh and Philly both ways so the train could serve Cleveland in the daytime both ways. All Aboard Ohio had a suggested train schedule that also served Michigan, giving them a direct train to the Northeast instead of taking a bus to Toledo and catching the CL or LSL in the graveyard shift: http://allaboardohio.org/2015/09/22/new-report-restore-passenger-rail/. Of course, the train would allow for direct access to Chicago for most of Pennsylvania although during the graveyard shift for Altoona, Johnstown, and Harrisburg (it’s still better than no train to Chicago).

    2) Reschedule the Cardinal so it left Cincinnati before midnight going east and early in the morning going west so Cincinnati (and Indianapolis) are at better times than they are now. The train would also leave New York later and arrive in New York earlier. I believe the old Cardinal schedule way back in the 70’s was like that.

    These two train schedules wouldn’t be compatible with connections to the West Coast/Texas but the Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited already exist for that purpose. Why not give Ohio trains outside the graveyard shift? Of course, if you could find a way for Columbus to get a train it would be great too. You could also separate the Hoosier State and Cardinal schedules and keep the Hoosier State on the current Cardinal schedules, leaving at 6am from Indy (or maybe 7am or 8am if you don’t have to worry about it getting delayed east of Indy) and leaving Chicago to make it to Indy before midnight. Even if you can’t run the Cardinal daily, at least run the Hoosier State daily and have two trains Indy-Chicago on Cardinal days.

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