Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Cardinal’

Hoosier State Ridership Up 11.6% in April

May 11, 2017

The Indiana Department of Transportation reported this week that ridership of the state-funded Hoosier State increased by 11.6 percent in April to 2,034 passengers when compared with the same month last year.

Revenue rose 11.6 percent to $62,099 and the on-time performance since October was 85 percent, including more than 90 percent in March.

The Chicago-Indianapolis route was taken over by Amtrak in March from Iowa Pacific Holdings.

The Hoosier State operates quad-weekly on days that Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Cardinal does not run between Indianapolis and Chicago.

Cardinal, Hoosier State to be Rescheduled

April 28, 2017

Amtrak plans to reschedule the Cardinal and Hoosier State between Chicago and Indianapolis on May 1.

Trains 50 and 850 will operate 11 minutes earlier at all stations from Dyer to Indianapolis, departing Dyer at 6:44 p.m., Rensselaer at 7:35 p.m., Lafayette at 9:46 p.m. and Crawfordsville at 10:20 p.m. The arrival at Indianapolis will be 11:39 pm. All times shown are local.

Nos. 51 and 851 will be scheduled to arrive in Chicago at 10 a.m., five minutes earlier than the current schedule.

The Chicago to New York No. 50 originates in Chicago on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Train 850 originates in Chicago on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Train 51 runs between Indianapolis and Chicago on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Train 851 will originate in Indianapolis on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

W.Va. Senate Passes Daily Cardinal Legislation

April 7, 2017

A bill that seeks to promote daily operation of Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Cardinal is poised to pass the West Virginia legislature and be sent to Gov. Jim Justice.

The Senate approved the legislation on a 32-1 vote this week without discussion.

HB 2856 had been approved on March 22 on a 95-5 vote by the House of Delegates.

The House must concur in a title amendment to the bill before it reaches the governor’s desk.

The bill has the support of the Justice administration. “I couldn’t be more solidly behind it. It’s integral to tourism to have that train operating daily,” said Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher said of the legislation, which does not appropriate any funding for operating expenses of the now tri-weekly train.

Instead, it authorizes the state Tourism commissioner to enter into compact agreements with other states served by the Cardinal, and with Amtrak to improve the quality and frequency of Cardinal service.

The commissioner will be allowed to establish a special revenue account in which funds could be deposited to promote daily Cardinal service.

The Cardinal passes through West Virginia in both directions on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays, serving Huntington, Charleston, Hinton, White Sulphur Springs and Prince.

W.Va. Legislature Moves Toward Daily Cardinal

March 24, 2017

One half of the West Virginia legislature is supporting legislation that would permit the state tourism commissioner to work with Amtrak and other states to make the Chicago-New York Cardinal a daily operation.

The House of Delegates approved the bill on a 95-5 vote and it now goes to the Senate for consideration.

The bill would establish a special revenue account that could be used by the state to help fund the outreach effort, but it does not appropriate any funding to help pay the operating costs of the Cardinal.

The Cardinal currently operates tri-weekly, passing through West Virginia westbound on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, and eastbound on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.

Amtrak Takes Over Hoosier State Today

March 1, 2017

Amtrak has announced that it will provide Wi-Fi, business class and a Café Car on the Hoosier State when it takes over the train today (March 1)

It will also assign its great dome car Ocean View to the train for the month of March.

Amtrak logoThe equipment lineup for Nos. 850 and 851 will include 68-seat Horizon fleet coaches and a café car with an attendant that will provide table seating at one end and 14 business class seats at the other.

All cars will have power outlets, reading lights and tray tables  at each seat and free cellular-based AmtrakConnect® Wi-Fi that combines mobile data from multiple carriers along the route.

Business class will provide 2-1 seating with leather seating surfaces, foot-rests and leg-rests.

Passengers booking business class aboard the Hoosier State will receive a 25-percent points bonus for Amtrak Guest Rewards members, complimentary coffee or tea, and use of the Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge in Chicago, which offers priority boarding.

Ocean View will provide upper level seats for coach passengers on a first come, first served basis at no extra cost. The car was built in 1955 by the Budd Company for the Great Northern Railway.

One-way adult ticket prices for coach service to and from Chicago range from $25 to $48 from Indianapolis, $25 to $47 from Crawfordsville, $23 to $45 from Lafayette, $17 to $30 from Rensselaer and $12 to $22 from Dyer.

Children ages 2-12 are half-fare and discounts are also available for students, seniors, military and others.
The additional charge each way for business class is $21 from Indianapolis and Crawfordsville, $20 from Lafayette and $14 from Rensselaer and Dyer.

Amtrak and Indiana Department of Transportation, which provides some funding for the service, are offering a “buy-one, get-one” fare during March, so two adult passengers can travel for the price of one.

See the Deals tab on Amtrak.com for applicable requirements for fare code V216.

The Hoosier State operates from Indianapolis to Chicago on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and  Friday mornings. It operates from Chicago to Indianapolis on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

The Chicago-New Cardinal operates on days and time slots that the Hoosier State does not operate.

Since July 2015 Iowa Pacific Holdings had provided equipment, on-board service and marketing for the Hoosier State with Amtrak providing operating personnel and maintaining relationships with the host railroads.

IP pulled out of the Hoosier State after INDOT refused its request for additional money to provide the service.

AAO Still Trying to Move the Passenger Needle

February 22, 2017

A message showed up in my email inbox the other day from All Aboard Ohio, a passenger advocacy group, that has released a report titled, “Ohio Passenger Rail Assessment of Needs.”

The report was timed to coincide with the Ohio legislature getting to work in hammering out the state’s budget for the next two years.

ohioAAO is trying to push legislators to “begin planning, constructing or completing $23.6 million worth of passenger rail improvements” over the next two years.

Much of that work involves upgrading stations served by the state’s three Amtrak trains, the Capitol Limited, Lake Shore Limited and Cardinal.

Some of the funding would also be used to plan potential future intercity rail routes, including a proposed Chicago-Fort Wayne-Columbus route that has never seen Amtrak service.

As AAO sees it, more than $80 million in state funding could be available under state law to be used for passenger rail development without paying for the operating costs of any actual trains.

An AAO news release about the report was written in the typical optimistic tone of rail passenger advocates and sought to put the best possible face on intercity rail.

It focused on such facts as how Amtrak covers 94 percent of its costs through revenues and set a ridership record in fiscal year 2016.

It also reiterated a tactic that AAO has used in the past of trying to shame Ohio policy makers into taking action by noting how neighboring states and the Canadian province of Ontario are investing millions in the development of intercity routes and services while Ohio spends zilch.

The state capital of Columbus is the largest metropolitan area in the western hemisphere without passenger rail service.

Some folks in Phoenix might quibble with that although the Valley of the Sun does have a light rail system that is seeking to expand.

Rail passenger advocates tend to be an optimistic lot. They have to be. If they acknowledged the long and difficult road ahead they might throw up their hands in frustration. AAO is no exception.

“We look forward to continuing our dialogue with Ohio’s policymakers in achieving realistic, near-term improvements to our state’s transportation system,” said AAO Executive Director Ken Prendergast. “We urge Ohioans to contact their state lawmakers in Columbus today and inform them with a short, polite message that they want better passenger rail service in Ohio.”

AAO has around 500 members and even if all of them contacted their legislators it is doubtful that it would have much effect on what the legislature is likely to do in terms of supporting intercity passenger rail.

Ohio has never spent a dime on funding intercity rail service, unlike neighboring Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

It received a federal grant to help develop the Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati corridor, but Gov. John Kasich killed the project shortly after winning election in 2010 and the federal government took back the grant and reallocated it elsewhere.

Ohio’s apathy, indifference or hostility – choose which word you think fits best – toward intercity rail development is not likely to change this year.

Kasich is still governor and is unlikely to change his views toward intercity rail service. Nor is the current legislature likely to be any more open to rail than is the governor. They are not going to be shamed or moved to action.

There may be some small victories, such as state funding of existing station improvements, but little to nothing else.

So AAO works to develop support for a rail a little at a time. Like I said, it’s going to be a long struggle.

Indiana Passenger Rail Group Pressuring Indianapolis to Fix Up Decrepit Union Station

February 9, 2017

The Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance is trying to pressure city officials into taking action to rehabilitate Indianapolis Union Station.

indianaThe facility, which is used by Amtrak and Greyhound, has been described by some rail advocates as a “civic embarrassment.”

The Rail Alliance has invited city leaders to meet with them to discuss how the station can be improved.

IPRA member Bill Malcolm said that the station is unwelcoming, unsightly and even scary.

“If it’s a turnoff to even go into that facility, people are not going to take advantage of it, [they won’t] take their families up to go shopping  . . . because it’s just kind of a frightening place,” Malcolm said.

The city’s department of Metropolitan Development operates the station, which is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Cardinal and the Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State.

Connersville Amtrak Ridership Fell in FY 2016

February 2, 2017

Connersville is the only Amtrak station in Indiana that does not see daily service.

Amtrak CardinalThe town of 13,000 located southeast of Indianapolis is served in the middle of the night by the tri-weekly Chicago-New York Cardinal.

It also earned in 2016 the distinction of having the lowest ridership of the 11 Amtrak stations in the Hoosier state.

That came on the heels of record ridership in 2015 in Connersville.

Amtrak figures show that ridership in Connersville fell 24 percent last year from what it was in 2015. In 2016 Amtrak boarded and discharged 586 passengers, compared with 770 the year before.

Revenue earned from business in Connersville was 23.2 percent less in 2016 than the year before at $37,650 for fiscal year 2016, compared with $48,990 in 2015.

Going back to 2008, ridership at Connersville has been in the 600 to 700 range. The lowest ridership was recorded in 2011 when 532 boarded or got off.

What happened in Connersville was not all that out of line with Amtrak’s ridership in Indiana generally.

Amtrak ridership in Indiana during FY 2016 was 134,012 riders, a decline of 1.1 percent from the 135,509 who rode in 2015.

In the meantime, Amtrak plans this year to rebuild the Connersville station to bring it into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Oxford, Miami U Pledge Money for Amtrak Stop

January 5, 2017

Trains magazine reported this week that the City of Oxford, Ohio, and Miami University have agreed to contribute $350,000 toward the cause of establishing an Amtrak station in the southwestern Ohio city.

Amtrak 4The station will be a platform and shelter to serve the tri-weekly Chicago-New York Cardinal.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told the magazine that Amtrak favors establishing a stop for the Cardinal in Oxford and will work with the community and CSX to bring it to fruition.

Currently, the only Ohio stop for the Cardinal is in Cincinnati, 40 miles away.

Nos. 50 and 51 once served Hamilton, Ohio, but that service ended in 2005.

No timeline has been set for when construction of the station will begin or when service will be inaugurated.

Oxford Indicates it May Fund Amtrak Station

December 29, 2016

News media reports out of southwest Ohio indicate that the City of Oxford is prepared to spend up to $350,000 to establish a stop for Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Cardinal.

Amtrak 4The seven-member Joint Miami University-Oxford Amtrak Committee estimates that establishing the stop would cost between $1 million and $1.3 million.

That would include a 300-foot platform, an open-air canopy or shelter, and sidewalks.

Members of the Oxford City Council have spoken in favor of the station and signaled they are willing to consider helping to fund it.

The study committee has suggesting establishing the station south of Chestnut Street adjacent to Talawanda Local Schools’ Nelson-Morrow Building.

Parking and restrooms could be provided in the former Talawanda High School site.

No time frame has been announced on when the city might approve funding for the station.