Amtrak Cardinal title card
Amtrak Cardinal title card

The Amtrak Cardinal: Chicago to New York

Welcome aboard the Amtrak Cardinal, the hidden gem of the Amtrak network, offering picturesque landscapes. This is one of my favorite Amtrak routes, and I am delighted to assist you with the train schedule/timetable and basic information. Please note that this train operates only three days a week.

A river and road view from the train.
A view of Goshen, West Virginia, from the window of Amtrak’s Cardinal

Imagine embarking on an 1147-mile journey through breathtaking terrain, immersing yourself in the sights and sounds as the Cardinal travels between Chicago, IL, and New York, NY. Along the way, you’ll pass through 30 intermediate stops, each offering a unique glimpse into the heart of the country—from the nation’s capital of Washington, DC, to the charming streets of Charlottesville, VA, and more!

So whether you’re embarking on a single-night escapade or planning a grand Amtrak adventure, join me aboard the Cardinal, and let’s make unforgettable memories together.

The views of the Amtrak Cardinal

An outside view of the Cardinal's cafe car.

The Cardinal offers unforgettable views as it passes through horse country, including the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains, the Shenandoah Valley, and the wild white-water rivers of West Virginia.

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

If you want to learn about the towns you will pass through, you can use a route guide published by Amtrak, albeit it may be from years ago.

Amtrak Cardinal’s on-time performance and who owns the tracks

Delays happen regardless of how you travel. While sometimes Amtrak is responsible for delays or acts of God, host railroads often cause delays.

  • The Cardinal’s average passenger on-time performance
    • From April 2023 to 2024, the Cardinal’s average on-time performance was 59.% of the time, with an average delay of 71 minutes.
    • For April 2024, the Cardinal averaged a 64.5% average delay of 64 minutes.
  • The main reasons for delays caused by the host railroads of 15 miles or more:
    • CSX (703 miles): freight train interference and signal delays
    • NS (79 miles): signal issues and passenger train interference
    • BBRR (132 miles): passenger train interference and freight train interference

The information for this section comes from the April 2024 Amtrak Host Railroad Report.

Coach class on the Amtrak Cardinal

Amtrak Cardinal
Amtrak Cardinal

The Amtrak Cardinal offers coach seating in Amfleet 2 cars, providing an economical travel option. 

The Cardinal coach seats recline further back than regional Amtrak coach seats and come with foot and leg rests, ample legroom, and a fold-down tray. 

Individual reading lights and 120v electric outlets are available on the wall. 

Each car has two bathrooms across from each other on one end of the coach car.

Additionally, there are overhead storage compartments above the seats for baggage, or passengers can use the luggage rack at the car’s end.

Kev’s coach class travel tips

My first time on the Cardinal train was in coach class in 2013, and since then, I have gathered a few tips to improve the experience.

Two Amtrak coach seats found on Amfleet 2 cars.
A view of Amtrak Amfleet II coach seats

Travel can be unpredictable, so bring a water bottle and snacks. Trains can get dry, and having these on hand ensures you’re always prepared. I also suggest bringing money for the cafe car for meals and extras. You never know when you might need a little something.

One practical tip is to bring an extension cord. Each seat pair on the wall has one outlet, but with an extension cord, each passenger can access more than one outlet. This tip is handy if you have an aisle seat, as you can have power on your side without inconveniencing your seatmate. The cord is often the last thing to go in my bag, so it can be the first thing I pull out on the train.

If you are bringing anything that makes noise, headphones are necessary. Also, remember your chargers, and sometimes, a power brick can come in handy so you can charge while at a station or as you travel.

Check out my “Entertainment on Amtrak” articles for ideas of things to do on the train as you travel.

If you plan to sleep on the train, I suggest you bring an eye mask, earplugs (if you need things quieter), a pillow, and a blanket. There are some inexpensive versions of these out there. Amtrak does offer a comfort kit in the cafe car, but there is a chance they could sell out.

You will not have access to a shower in coach class, but a pack of wet wipes can help keep you fresh.

Amtrak Cardinal coach car layout

Amfleet II Coach car
Amtrak’s single-level Amfleet II coach car.

Sleeper Car (Rooms) Accommodations on the Cardinal

Learn about the advantages of getting Amtrak sleeping accommodations.

What Cardinal Rooms Include

Amtrak Viewliner Roomette
Amtrak Viewliner Roomette
  • 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
    • This accommodation is for passengers with mobility issues.
    • 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.

Amtrak Viewliner 1 Sleeper
Amtrak Viewliner Sleeper car layout

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, read Amtrak’s service animal policy before booking to ensure 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 a dorm baggage car.
  • 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

The Amtrak Cardinal food options

Amtrak Coffee
Coffee tastes better on the rails, especially from the Amtrak cafe car.

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.

Amtrak cafe car
Amfleet cafe car

The Amtrak cafe offers a variety of hot and cold meals and snacks, as well as hot, cold, and adult beverages. 

The car hours are from early morning until late at night but may be closed for breaks, sleeper meal times, and at the Washington DC station stop. The cafe is between the coach cars and the sleeper cars. 

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

While you can bring your food and drink, 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 served here 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

This table will show you what meals you will get while you are on the Cardinal.

DIRECTIONCITY SECTIONSDAY OF TRAVELMEALS OFFERED
#50 WestboundChicago, IL – Indianapolis, IN1Dinner
Connersville, IN – New York, NY2Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
#51 EastboundNew York, NY – Maysville, KY1Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
Cincinnati, OH – Chicago, IL2Breakfast

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 it to your device. This document is longer because it includes most connection services, so feel free to print what you need.

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


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 4 Comments

  1. Hank

    Thanks for this.

    1. Kev

      You are welcome!
      Safe Travels,
      Kev

  2. Steve Dunham

    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. Kev

      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.

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