Serving Chicago, Indianapolis, Louisville, and intermediate points
Amtrak train numbers: 850 and 851
Predecessor railroad train numbers: None
Inaugurated December 17, 1999, the Kentucky Cardinal replaced the Hoosier State as the Chicago-Indianapolis train operated by Amtrak on the days when the tri-weekly Cardinal doesn't operate, with extended service to Jeffersonville, Indiana, across the Ohio River from Louisville. The Kentucky Cardinal equipment is combined with the Cardinal at Indianapolis three days a week; on the other four days, it runs as its own train into Chicago.
Primarily because of the fairly poor condition of the track in southern Indiana, the train runs on a leisurely all-night schedule. There are no sleeping cars, and the only food available is vending machine snacks.
On December 4, 2001, the route was extended into Louisville itself, providing the city with its first Amtrak train service since the Floridian was discontinued in 1979.
The original raison d'etre for the Kentucky Cardinal was to have been freight business, with Amtrak originally trying to land a contract to carry UPS shipments between Louisville and Chicago. That didn't work out, and with Amtrak exiting the freight business beginning in 2002, plus the low passenger counts, the train's days were numbered. The last run of the Kentucky Cardinal was July 6, 2003.
The four-day-a-week Chicago-Indianapolis service continued after July 6th, using the Cardinal name.
Condensed historical timetables:
READ DOWN READ UP
(1999) (2002) (2002) (1999)
8:10P 7:45P Dp Chicago Ar 8:37A 10:05A
1:13A 1:25A Indianapolis 4:50A 4:41A
8:40A 6:45A Jeffersonville 10:10P 10:25P
----- 7:30A Ar Louisville Dp 9:20P -----
The Amtrak Train Names Project