Amtrak Cardinal title card
Amtrak Cardinal

The Amtrak Cardinal: A new passenger’s guide

The Amtrak Cardinal travels thrice a week between Chicago, IL, and New York, NY, with 30 intermediate stops, including Washington, DC; Charlottesville, VA; Cincinnati, OH; and Indianapolis, IN.

A quick look at the Amtrak Cardinal

This train has several popular stops, including New York, Washington, Charlottesville, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Chicago.

The views of the Amtrak Cardinal

The Cardinal offers unforgettable stunning views of the Southeast. As you roll along, you will pass through horse country, the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains, the Shenandoah Valley, and the wild white-water rivers of West Virginia, with views only visible by train.

An outside view of the Cardinal's cafe car.
The Cafe Car on the Cardinal

Heading westward, the train travels on the banks of the mighty Ohio River, traveling through the quaint towns of Ashland and Maysville to the skyline of Cincinnati. From there, your journey continues to Indianapolis and then northward to Chicago.

Who owns the tracks the Cardinal uses?

The Cardinal operates over rails owned by another railroad; here is a list of host railroads that Amtrak uses of 15 or more miles.

The Amtrak Cardinal’s on-time performance

Delays happen regardless of how you travel. While sometimes Amtrak is responsible for the delays or acts of God, often they are caused by host railroads.

  • From January 2023-2024, the Cardinal averaged a station-on-time performance of 56.3% with an average delay of 74 minutes.
    • This does not mean the train is late for all the stops; late trains can make up some time as they travel.
  • The main reasons for delays caused by the host railroads.
    • CSX: freight train interference and signal delays
    • NS: passenger train interference and track work and maintenance delays
    • BBRR: freight train interference and passenger train interference.

Accommodations Offerings for the Amtrak Cardinal

This train offers two sleeping and coach accommodations.

Coach Seating

Amtrak Cardinal offers coach seating in Amfleet 2 cars, which is an economical way to travel, and features:

  • Comfortable reclining seats
    • With foot and leg rest
  • Ample legroom
  • Fold-down tray
  • Individual reading lights
  • 120v electric outlets are on the wall.
  • There are two bathrooms in each car.
  • There are also places above your seat to store your baggage, or you can use the luggage rack at the end of the car.

Amtrak Cardinal coach car layout

Sleeper Car (Rooms) Accommodations

Learn about the advantages of getting Amtrak sleeping accommodations.

What Cardinal Rooms Include

  • Fresh linens and towels
  • Complimentary meals
  • Lounge access in Chicago, New York, Philidelphia. and Washington DC
  • Dedicated car attendant
  • Access to showers
  • The windows in each car have curtains that block out light and give you privacy.
  • These rooms have seats by day and beds by night.

Room Options On Amtrak’s Cardinal

  • Roomettes
    • Smallest of accommodations
    • Suitable for one cozy for two
  • Bedroom
    • It is about twice the space of a roomette.
    • There is a bathroom, sink, and shower in the room.
  • Accessible Room
    • Offers accommodations for disabled passengers.
    • There is a bathroom, sink, and shower in the room.

Amtrak Cardinal sleeper car layout

The layout below is of the older Viewliner sleeper, but the new one is similar. This train also uses a dorm baggage car with half roomettes and half baggage. Those cars still have a shower and bathroom.

Bikes, Pets, Wi-Fi, and Luggage

Wi-Fi

This train has free Wi-Fi that supports general web browsing activities. Learn more about Amtrak Wi-Fi, such as how to log in and the do’s and don’ts.

Pets and service animals

  • Amtrak allows dogs and cats
    • The max combined weight of the pet and carrier is 20 pounds.
    • For trips up to seven hours.
    • You need to fill out paperwork before you get to the station.
    • Learn more about Amtrak’s Pet policy and get the needed paperwork.

If you have a service or comfort animal, ensure you read Amtrak’s service animal policy before booking to make sure your critter qualifies and is appropriately on your reservation.

Carry-on & checked bags on the Cardinal

Not all stations can handle checked baggage. Click the station links below to see if they offer checked baggage service. Your beginning and ending stations must both offer checked bag service.

Baggage area of a Viewliner Bag dorm car
Amtrak has dorm baggage cars on some trains; here are some baggage areas.
  • Amtrak checked baggage allows:
    • Two bags up to 50 lbs.
    • Seventy-five linear inches per person for free.
    • Charges apply for additional and oversized luggage.
    • You are permitted two for free and two extra for a fee.

Each passenger may carry on:

  • One personal item, 25 lbs. (12 kg) and 14 x 11 x 7 inches, and 
  • Two carry-on pieces of luggage, 50 lbs. (23 kg) and 28 x 22 x 14 inches each
  • If you transfer to the Pacific Surfliner at some point along your journey, the baggage size for that train is up to 28 x 22 x 11 inches each. 

Charges apply for additional and oversized luggage; check out Amtrak’s carry-on bag policy for more information.

Bikes on the Cardinal

  • Space is available for standard, full-size bicycles

Food Offerings On The Amtrak Cardinal

One food car on this train serves double duty; while the cafe is open to all, some choices are only available for sleeper passengers. The cafe has a similar layout to the car below.

Cafe car

  • The Amtrak cafe offers:
    • A variety of hot and cold meals
    • Snacks
    • Hot, cold, and adult beverages
    • The car is open from early morning until late at night.
      • The car may be closed for breaks and sleeper meal times.
    • You can find the cafe between the coach cars and the sleeper cars.

You can consume your purchase in this car; coach passengers usually get the side closest to the coach cars.

You can bring food and drink, but Amtrak cannot store or heat your food. Additionally, you cannot consume alcohol you brought onboard unless you are in a sleeper.

Flex dining

Amtrak Flex Meal
Amtrak’s Asian Noodle Flex dining entree is serviced with a dinner roll, salad, dessert, and beer.

Flex dining is a meal system for sleeping car passengers, and at this time, it is unavailable for coach passengers.

  • More about Flex Dining:
    • These meals are prepared ahead of time and warmed on the train.
    • Complimentary dining for sleeping passengers.
    • You can eat in private rooms or the cafe car.
    • Meals include breakfast selections, while lunch and dinner share the same menu.
    • Complimentary non-alcoholic beverages.
    • One complimentary adult beverage comes with dinner!

Meals offered to sleeper car passengers

DIRECTIONCITY SECTIONSDAY OF TRAVELMEALS OFFERED
#50 WestboundChicago, IL – Indianapolis, INDay 1
Mo, Th, & Sa
Dinner
Connersville, IN – New York, NYDay 2
Tu, Fr, & Su
Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
#51 EastboundNew York, NY – Maysville, KYDay 1
Su, We, & Fr
Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
Cincinnati, OH – Chicago, ILDay 2
Mo, Th, & Sa
Breakfast

Amtrak Cardinal Schedule

The Cardinal runs three days a week. This guide was current at the time of publication. Amtrak does change times, and I do my best to keep everything current.

Train 51
Westbound
Communities ServedMilesTrain 50
Eastbound
Read DownThis train runs three days a week.Last Stop
6:45a
Su-We-Fr
New York, NY
Moynihan Train Hall (NYP)
010:23p
We-Fr-Su
R 7:05aNewark, NJ – Penn Station (NWK)10D 10:03p
7:42aTrenton, NJ (TRE)58D 9:27p
8:15aPhiladelphia, PA
William H. Gray III 30th St. Station (PHL)
91D 8:56p
8:40aWilmington, DE (WIL)116D 8:30p
9:28aBaltimore, MD – Penn Station (BAL)185D 7:41p
10:09a | 10:59aWashington, DC – Union Station (WAS)225D 6:44p | 7:09p
11:19aAlexandria, VA (ALX)233D 6:27p
11:52aManassas, VA (MSS)2585:35p
12:25pCulpeper, VA (CLP)2935:00p
1:43p | 1:52pCharlottesville, VA (CVS)3403:35p | 3:44p
2:54pStaunton, VA (STA)3792:38p
4:13pClifton Forge, VA (CLF)4371:09p
5:05pWhite Sulphur Springs, WV (WSS)47212:01p
5:36pAlderson, WV (ALD)49611:18a
6:06pHinton, WV (HIN)51710:50a
6:43p Prince, WV (PRC)54010:18a
6:59pThurmond, WV (THN)5519:56a
7:50pMontgomery, WV (MNG)5929:02a
8:29pCharleston, WV (CHW)6198:31a
9:44p | 9:51pHuntington, WV (HUN)6687:19a | 7:26a
10:14pAshland, KY (AKY)6836:45a
10:57pSouth Shore, KY
Portsmouth, OH (SPM)
7125:55a
11:52p
Su-We-Fr
Maysville, KY (MAY)7665:02a
1:41a
Mo-Th-Sa
Cincinnati, OH
Union Terminal (CIN)
8283:37a
3:36aConnersville, IN (COI) 8931:31a
5:15a | 6:00aIndianapolis, IN (IND)951We-Fr-Su
11:49p | 12:15a
Tu-Th-Sa
6:58aCrawfordsville, IN (CRF)99810:30p
7:36aLafayette, IN – Amtrak Station (LAF)10259:56p
7:40aRensselaer, IN (REN)10727:45p
8:29aDyer, IN (DYE)11186:45p
10:00a
Mo-Th-Sa
Chicago, IL – Union Station (CHI)11475:55p
Tu-Th-Sa
Last StopStationsMilesRead Up
This schedule is a guide; check with Amtrak for current times. ‘
  • Su- Sunday; Mo-Monday; Tu-Tuesday; We-Wednesday; Th-Thursday; Fr-Friday; Sa-Saturday
  • R = Receive passengers only; this means you can board the train, but you cannot buy a ticket on this train to this station.
  • D = Depart only; you can buy a ticket to this station but not from this station. The train may leave early from this stop.
  • * = Stations with Amtrak Connecting Services.

Printable Amtrak Cardinal Schedule

You can print out the PDF below or download them to your device. This document is longer because it includes most connection services, so feel free to print just what you need.

You can also print route or customs schedules from Amtrak! Learn how to print your own Amtrak schedule.


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Kevin Monteith

Kev Monteith has been traveling on Amtrak since 2012. With over a decade of experience, he has been on over 800 trains, covering over 200k miles of rail. Kev enjoys helping others achieve their travel dreams by providing support and information. Outside of travel, Kev enjoys making music as an organist and outings with family.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Hank

    Thanks for this.

    1. You are welcome!
      Safe Travels,
      Kev

  2. Thanks especially for this timetable, Kev. Last spring, I mentioned to my wife that an Amtrak Cardinal T-shirt would be a nice Father’s Day gift. When my wife saw a picture of it, she wanted one too, so we bought two. Living in Alexandria, Virginia, at the time, I thought that a day trip on the Cardinal would be fun. I had done it some years before with a friend. I tried searching the booking thingy on the Amtrak website by train numbers, stations, range of dates, and found nothing. I couldn’t tell whether the train was even running. Since then we have moved to Pennsylvania, but maybe we will take a long ride later this year.

    1. You are welcome, Steve! The Cardinal is still going, but three times a week. I hope you ride it again; it is one of my favorite trains.

  3. Laurie Preece

    Kev, Im so confused!🤪 I’ve never rode on a train, would Love to take a Scenic Train Ride!
    I’ve been searching and calling disconnected # for 2 days! Do you know of anything that leaves out of Huntington, WV? Thank You!😊

    1. You are on the right page because the Cardinal is the only train leaving Huntington, WV (three times a week), and you can view the schedule.

      You could take it to Chicago or up the East Coast. One idea is to take it to Chicago and the Capitol Limited that day and then stay somewhere on the East Coast before taking the Cardinal back home. It could take some clever booking, but it is possible!

      Happy planning and safe travels,
      Kev

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