Wednesday, October 8, 2003

Amtrak stretches route to Philly and New York



By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] The Cardinal stops at Union Terminal on its route from Chicago to Washington, and soon to New York.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
In less than three weeks, it will be possible to take a single train from Cincinnati all the way to New York City.

Amtrak Tuesday confirmed that it was extending its Cardinal line - which originates in Chicago and makes a stop in Cincinnati at Union Terminal - from Washington, D.C. to New York Oct. 27. The train also stops in Hamilton.

"We believe this will build business for the Cardinal line, because we feel there is a rich market for New York in areas such as Kentucky and West Virginia," Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said. "This guarantees a direct train to Philadelphia or New York City without a connection."

Fares were not available Tuesday for a Cincinnati-New York trip. A one-way coach ticket to Washington ranges from $50 to $98; a one-way sleeping cabin ranges from $62 for a small to $270 for a large that fits 3 to 4 people. Sleeper fares are per room and not per passenger.

The addition comes as Amtrak, in the midst of financial struggles and a battle to get more money from Congress, is revamping its entire schedule. The Cardinal line will still only operate three days a week each way: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays eastbound and Wednesday, Friday and Sunday westbound.

In fiscal 2002, which ended last September, the route carried 13,324 passengers who boarded or departed in Cincinnati. Fiscal 2003 figures weren't available.

It will still be difficult to make the trip, both in terms of the length of the journey and when the train departs. The eastbound train leaves Cincinnati at 4:49 a.m.; it is scheduled to arrive in New York at 11:30 p.m. The return trip is no less unpleasant: The westbound train will leave New York at 9:25 a.m. Wednesdays and Fridays and 9:05 a.m. Sundays and won't arrive in Cincinnati until 3:08 a.m.

E-mail jpilcher@enquirer.com



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