Cardinal discussion

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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby Arlington » Sat Jan 07, 2017 7:23 am

David Benton wrote:Thurmond's 5 residents took 295 trips in 2015, if you transpose that to CIN, we need HSR.
My point is , you ted to need a reason to travel , as well as population. Tourist attractions, major or specialized health care, major sporting event , conventions, all generate more traffic than a city without such attractions.
I imagine Las Vegas has a lot more air traffic than other cities its size, for example.

For teeny cities you should probably, just assume that 1 or 2 trips per day will essentially get off there as random noise. Even then a forecast of zero for Thurmond would be economically correct--- 295 trips *is* basically zero.

The more people a city has-, the more valid it is to assume they make trips like "people". By the time you have 220k and no particular attraction, like CHW, a ratio is valid

And then at the far extreme there are known Leisure destinations like Las Vegas and Orlando that generate and demand for more trips than their population would suggest. As far as I know this is not true for Charleston or Cincinnati both of which are ordinary American towns needing travel at about the same rate per capita as any other American town except that Cincinnati service happens in the dead of the night when ordinary Americans do not demand travel.

Las Vegas is again an outlier on time of day it happens to be the one place where Airlines have found it possible to have a hub that operates at 1 a.m. that this is true suggests nothing for travel forecasting in West Virginia or Ohio.

The forecast for riders at a station might be:

1 passenger per daily train
5k passengers per 220k in population
.01 passenger per local hotel-rooms squared

Most places overall riders will be by population (and normal hotels per pop numbers)

Tiny places will get riders just because the train stops. Thurmond gets 0.3% of the Cardinals riders for a reason not much stronger than "the train stopped".

Leisure places (Vegas and Orlando and White Sulphur Springs) will get outlier numbers because their hotel rooms per capita are so high
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby gokeefe » Sat Jan 07, 2017 12:02 pm

Alcochaser wrote:I had heard stories of the crew forgetting to stop there as it is a flag stop, and they don't stop very often. So I took my lantern and literally made sure to FLAG the with the proper signal. Got the proper two hoots in response both times. Engineer called out to the conductor on the radio "Flag at Thurmomd"


Very cool. Thanks for sharing!
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby jp1822 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 1:31 pm

Arlington wrote:Let's begin by noting that the Cardinal takes 28 hours from NYP to CHI. Clearly it is not being operated for the convenience of New York to Chicago travel, which is better handled by either the Lake Shore Limited (19 hours), or even connections (Pennsylvanian + Capitol Ltd) or (NEC + Capitol Limited) which run in the 20 to 22 hour time range. In addition to being slow, it is "small", representing just 17% of Amtrak's capacity between New York and Chicago (3 out of 17 itineraries) and about 30% of capacity between Washington and Chicago (3 out of 10 trains).

The first thing, then, to conclude, is that the Cardinal is being operated for the convenience of all the people between Staunton VA (just beyond Charottesville) and Connersville IN (just before Indy) for whom it is, perhaps, their sole means of moving conveniently from "home" to "the Big City"

But also, given the really lousy timing at Cincinnati (1am westbound and 3am eastbound), you'd have to say that the Cardinal "works" for everyone along the way except Cincinnati (pop 2.2m), in the same way that the Pennsylvanian and Capitol Limited do a bad job of serving Pittsburgh (pop 2.6m) but serve everyone else pretty well.

I look at that and say the Hoosier State would probably do much better if it were extended to CIN, even without Ohio's help (same as the Downeaster depends on New Hampshire and Maryland's MARC trains go into West Virginia...the fare money pays for it, even though NH/WV "freeload"). Plenty of Indianans would benefit too: not just Connersville, but also the 3 counties in Indiana that are part of the CIN metro area.

There's got to be a better way to serve the Cardinal's route. Going daily seems to just repeat the flaws of the current route and schedule.


They need to desperately do another ridership analysis on the Cardinal. With it's meandering route it serves so many different markets. A separate corridor train from Indy to Chicago should be put in place - let IPH handle this. Cardinal still stops here, but I think the Cardinal should terminate in say Galesburg or the last station that it could intersect on a western journey from Indy.

Terminate the train in Washington DC. A split of the train to the Virginia Tidewater region makes sense - or a connecting train......

But this train needs to operate daily with Superliners between Washington DC and it's western terminus with markets defined. Right now it's all over the place. Cincy DEFINITELY needs to be served at a better hour. They could even do a current schedule adjustment - two hours later eastbound and a 9 am departure westbound from DC - to help with CINCY.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby CHTT1 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 1:56 pm

Want do you mean let Iowa Pacific take care of a Cincy train? You mean let Indiana DOT and Ohio DOT run a Chi-Cincy service. Iowa Pacific doesn't run the Hoosier State on its own account. It runs it under contract with InDOT. Iowa Pacific is not going to run its own trains without state assistance.
Terminate the Cardinal in Galesburg!!!! You want to establish a whole new maintenance base, food vendor and crew base in some little town in the middle of nowhere? Bypassing the second largest city in the U.S. for a place that isn't even the top 10 population centers of Illinois!!! All for the dozen or so folks who might want to transfer to the CZ or SWC on a given day.
As far as terminating the train in Washington, hasn't it been shown that ridership increased a lot when the Cardinal became a through train to New York?

Chicago - Indianapolis -Cincinnati should be a multi-train corridor just like the Chicago-St. Louis and Chicago-Detroit corridors, but good luck in getting Indiana and/or Ohio to cooperate in establishing such a corridor.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby justalurker66 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 7:15 pm

gokeefe wrote:The ridership numbers don't bear that out, see the earlier referenced fact sheets. The train's ridership bases are out of Cincinnati (to Chicago and points between) and Charlottesville (to Washington).

I'd go with Charlottesville if the train had to be split in two. Three out of the top seven city pairs include Charlottesville (with DC #4, with NY #5, with Chi #7). Only one of the top nine city pairs passes through Charliottesville (#6 Chicago and Washington).
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Sat Jan 07, 2017 7:55 pm

If you did that, the Charlottesville-New York part would just be another Lynchburger.

Of the three proposed Cardinal "splits" (at Cincinnati, at Huntington, at Charlottesville), the only one where there is precedence in Amtrak history is at Cincinnati (CHI-CIN was the James Whitcomb Riley, formerly Penn Central, and CIN-WAS (at the time) was the George Washington, formerly Chesapeake & Ohio). The problem with any of these splits is that sleepers would have to be stored and/or serviced at an intermediate location.

I'd rather just have one train CHI-CIN and one train CVS-NYP (both regular trains w/o sleepers), and screw West Virginia unless they want to pay for a train. Then we can use the sleepers for a faster CHI-PA(PGH-HAR-PHL)-NYP train.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby gokeefe » Sat Jan 07, 2017 8:11 pm

I find these last few posts very interesting in that it has really brought to light the true fundamental issue at hand. The Cardinal simply should not run as a through train to Chicago. The route isn't competitive nor is the timing. Passengers originating in West Virginia and traveling towards Chicago would have a layover in Cincinnati but Union Terminal these days is really quite nice and there would be more than sufficient facilities present for a handful of "Moutaineers" (ok ... they probably are not all WVU alums ...) to pass the time while waiting for departure of the train to Chicago.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby east point » Sat Jan 07, 2017 9:31 pm

Some here are selling the Cardinal short. Here it is the dead of winter and its sold out tomorrow and most trips for rest of month have very few openings. For the needs of the Cardinal seems to be more rolling stock and maybe daily service. WASH <> CHI $100, BC 160, sleeper 500 - 600 / Don't let the POL s think that teir train ( not the Cardinal ) can get cancelled at just a whim.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby gokeefe » Sat Jan 07, 2017 11:52 pm

Wow. No kidding. I never would have guessed that.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Sun Jan 08, 2017 7:43 am

The idea that the Cardinal is selling out doesn't impress me. Correct me if I'm wrong but several trains sell out. I have heard LSL and SM at least selling out on occasion. I know when I tried checking prices between PHL and CHI the LSL often is much higher than the CL. All LD trains with additional coach capacity could improve revenue. That isn't unique to the Cardinal. And the Cardinal will never be able to compete with the LSL or CL for LD travel between CHI and NYP/WAS as long as it takes 6 hours longer. As stated before, the top five city pairs by ridership are all short distance.

Would daily service help? Absolutely. I still think it will be the third choice between CHI and the NEC. If the Hoosier State is canceled, then there is no increase in service between CHI and IND and considering the top two Cardinal city pairs are on that route, you would not expect net ridership to gain (in fact if passengers go from Iowa Pacific's nice cars and better food service to Amtrak's not as nice cars and food service I can see ridership dropping between the cities). And the Cardinal has "failed" as a daily train (if you consider the Floridian, National Limited, and Lone Star failures, the Cardinal's performance was worse than them), Amtrak did cancel the route and the 3x/week service was assumedly a compromise to Byrd.

But I think almost everyone would agree a 3x/week Cardinal is not effective and one of the worst if not the worst LD trains (lowest revenue of any train, second to Sunset Limited in lowest ridership) and most of the ridership along the route are between cities that already has daily service (CVS-NYP has 2 other daily trains, Lynchburger and Crescent). Let's say for sake of argument we can get a daily "Broadway Limited" of some sort before we can make the Cardinal daily. Tell me why we shouldn't replace a 3x/week Cardinal with a daily Broadway, using one more train set and easily doubling ridership (especially if Amtrak can use their own 110 mph track in Michigan to save on paying NS for a significant portion of the route and providing direct access from Michigan to PHL/NYP)? Now a daily Broadway probably requires some track negotiations and for the mess in Chicago to clear up. But which will Amtrak be able to do first, a daily Broadway or a daily Cardinal? I really think if we're discussing "when is the Cardinal be daily?" 5-10 years from now, Amtrak will still be in the red and the Cardinal will be one of the biggest money losers. Why waste 2 LD sets on a train that can only be used 3x/week if there is an obvious better option using 3 sets?

As for Congress, Byrd's dead. Hopefully the next time Amtrak's budget is cut, the Cardinal will be the one canceled and not some better train. If any better train gets canceled to save the Cardinal it will be as horrible as the decision to cut the Broadway to save the Cardinal.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby Arlington » Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:11 am

east point wrote:Some here are selling the Cardinal short. Here it is the dead of winter and its sold out tomorrow and most trips for rest of month have very few openings. For the needs of the Cardinal seems to be more rolling stock and maybe daily service. WASH <> CHI $100, BC 160, sleeper 500 - 600 / Don't let the POL s think that teir train ( not the Cardinal ) can get cancelled at just a whim.


January has a spread travel season, at least at UVa where J-term runs Jan 3 to 15 and kids are free to travel as if it were an extended break.

And there isn't a "cancel" groundswell here so much as a "it is unsustainable as it is" and "CSX may hobble it" and "how is it a good thing to serve CIN so badly?"
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby ThirdRail7 » Sun Jan 08, 2017 1:52 pm

Rockingham Racer wrote:Forgive me for asking, but isn't the Subway still open at Zoo? And if it is, why can't people in the Phildelphia area go to the North Philadelphia station to get a through long-distance train as in days of yore? All of the PRR's through trains skipped 30th St. AFAICR.


The subway is still open, but there is very little service and no Amtrak presence at PHN.

gokeefe wrote:I find these last few posts very interesting in that it has really brought to light the true fundamental issue at hand. The Cardinal simply should not run as a through train to Chicago. The route isn't competitive nor is the timing. Passengers originating in West Virginia and traveling towards Chicago would have a layover in Cincinnati but Union Terminal these days is really quite nice and there would be more than sufficient facilities present for a handful of "Moutaineers" (ok ... they probably are not all WVU alums ...) to pass the time while waiting for departure of the train to Chicago.


You can say that about most long distance trains. Heck, you can say that about a lot of trains in general. This train is basically trying to serve three functions. It basically serves as two corridor trains with a bridge in between the middle. The third function is to serve as the congressional glue for the other states and their service. The lack of upgrades on the route will continue to hobble the main portion of CHI-IND. If they cut the Cardinal, do you really see INDOT continuing the service to IND. While Virginia "may" continue to fund another train to CVS, that may impact the funds needed for other routes.


Philly Amtrak Fan wrote: Let's say for sake of argument we can get a daily "Broadway Limited" of some sort before we can make the Cardinal daily. Tell me why we shouldn't replace a 3x/week Cardinal with a daily Broadway, using one more train set and easily doubling ridership (especially if Amtrak can use their own 110 mph track in Michigan to save on paying NS for a significant portion of the route and providing direct access from Michigan to PHL/NYP)? Now a daily Broadway probably requires some track negotiations and for the mess in Chicago to clear up. But which will Amtrak be able to do first, a daily Broadway or a daily Cardinal?


If not for the Buckingham branch, you could probably get away with another Cardinal tomorrow. That's is because they could eek out the equipment, there is a crew profile for the route, existing route profiles, existing stations, existing contracts for servicing and fueling and an existing Amtrak presence. None of that exists on most of your mythical Broadway route. Indeed, you couldn't even get another train to PGH on NS territory for now (and this route previously had two trains a day) and you somehow think it will be easier to get another train over their territory to CHI......daily?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!


Philly Amtrak Fan wrote:I really think if we're discussing "when is the Cardinal be daily?" 5-10 years from now, Amtrak will still be in the red and the Cardinal will be one of the biggest money losers. Why waste 2 LD sets on a train that can only be used 3x/week if there is an obvious better option using 3 sets?

As for Congress, Byrd's dead. Hopefully the next time Amtrak's budget is cut, the Cardinal will be the one canceled and not some better train. If any better train gets canceled to save the Cardinal it will be as horrible as the decision to cut the Broadway to save the Cardinal.


A decision you can blame on your representatives at the time. If your representatives acted like Senator Byrd (who protected his service), Senator Hutchinson (who protected her route) or Senator Snow (who built a route from the ground up), something like the Broadway might still exist.

Additionally, towns along the route continue to push for daily service. Even West Virginia has expressed support. Hopefully, they will put their money where their mouths are.

The biggest threat to the Cardinal is the same threat that most people over look from a system perspective.

Arlington wrote: "CSX may hobble it"


Arlington wrote:Isn't the problem, though, that with coal's decline, nobody is investing in rails through West Virginia? Instead, the investment is along routes that intermodal wants (which favor good interstates and bigger population/commercial/manufacturing centers)


It is not just West Virginia. There are other trains and routes that have the same problem...you guys just seem to focus on the Cardinal. Ultimately, hard decisions will need to be made. However, if they continue to operate the Cardinal, they should make it worth the effort and run it (or something) as much as possible.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby David Benton » Sun Jan 08, 2017 1:59 pm

The Cardinal was full when I rode it early December 2012. In fact, It was the only train I had a seat mate with in my entire trip, a interesting older lady travelling to New Mexico.

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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby Arlington » Sun Jan 08, 2017 3:02 pm

This emphasis on "Cardinal was full" doesn't really tell us anything, particularly given that the train takes in only $8m vs $24m in costs. It could mean:
1) Prices were too low
2) The train can only sustain/fill a short consist (poor efficiency locomotive, track, slot costs)
3) People tend to report their train was full (people's similar needs create peak loads; on empty trains there's so few people there's less of chance of getting a trip report here)
When I hear the iron horse make the hills echo with his snort like thunder, shaking the earth with his feet, and breathing fire and smoke from his nostrils, it seems as if the earth had got a race now worthy to inhabit it. --H.D. Thoreau, Walden, 1854
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby jp1822 » Sun Jan 08, 2017 5:58 pm

CHTT1 wrote:Want do you mean let Iowa Pacific take care of a Cincy train? You mean let Indiana DOT and Ohio DOT run a Chi-Cincy service. Iowa Pacific doesn't run the Hoosier State on its own account. It runs it under contract with InDOT. Iowa Pacific is not going to run its own trains without state assistance.
Terminate the Cardinal in Galesburg!!!! You want to establish a whole new maintenance base, food vendor and crew base in some little town in the middle of nowhere? Bypassing the second largest city in the U.S. for a place that isn't even the top 10 population centers of Illinois!!! All for the dozen or so folks who might want to transfer to the CZ or SWC on a given day.
As far as terminating the train in Washington, hasn't it been shown that ridership increased a lot when the Cardinal became a through train to New York?

Chicago - Indianapolis -Cincinnati should be a multi-train corridor just like the Chicago-St. Louis and Chicago-Detroit corridors, but good luck in getting Indiana and/or Ohio to cooperate in establishing such a corridor.


What I said was to let IPH handle the Indy to Chicago corridor route. If State assistance will only allow for a four day a week train - then it's a four day a week train. I think the Cardinal should stop at Indy, but then continue WEST and terminate outside of Chicago as one Amtrak study had suggested. It may have been Kansas City that was the recommended terminus. But the idea was to let the Cardinal intersect with the various long distance trains coming out of Chicago, as opposed to going into Chicago itself and to try to pickup some of Chicago's metro traffic. Not all trains need to go directly to Chicago.

It has NOT been shown that ridership has increased a LOT by having a train that meander from Chicago to Kentucky, West Virginia etc. and terminates in New York City. Have you seen the amount of turnover that occurs at Washington DC on say a eastbound Cardinal! Cardinal continues to NYC for service convenience only.
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