Written by Aaron-Michael Fox.
The Biden-Harris Administration announced Friday a $500,000 grant from the Department of Transportation for the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (“Amtrak”) to prepare a plan to restore daily rail service to West Virginia for the first time since 1982.
While it is not yet known when daily service will begin, currently the Cardinal leaves Huntington heading east at roughly 7:20 a.m. every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday. She returns heading west on the same days at roughly 9:50 p.m. Huntington passenger rail traffic arrives and departs from the Amtrak Station at 10th Street and 8th Avenue.
The “Cardinal” line crosses the southern half of West Virginia from Huntington to the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs on its larger route between Chicago and New York City. Expanding the Cardinal line would mean the possibility of a daily commute train from Ashland, KY to Huntington, WV or from Huntington to Charleston, WV; and back again.
We're building the first high-speed rail projects in our nation’s history.
It’s part of an $8.2 billion investment we're making in 10 major passenger rail projects across America.
We’re putting high-speed rail on the fast track.
— President Biden (@POTUS) December 9, 2023
The expansion in service is part of a $2.1 billion award package for Amtrak and its partners to upgrade rail infrastructure, improve existing routes, and advance plans to expand service.
“The Cardinal operates between New York and Chicago, offering unforgettable views of the Southeast’s stunning natural beauty. You’ll see gently rolling horse country, the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains, the Shenandoah Valley, and the wild white-water rivers of West Virginia as they can only be seen by train. Heading westward, the train rolls along the banks of the mighty Ohio River—from the quaint towns of Ashland and Maysville, to the skyline of Cincinnati. From there, your journey continues to Indianapolis, and then northward to Chicago.”
According to its website, Amtrak is a for-profit corporation that operates intercity passenger rail services in 46 states and D.C. Amtrak was created by Congress in the Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970, assuming the common carrier obligations of the private railroads in exchange for the right to priority access of their tracks for incremental cost.
The expansion is one of several projects named as part of the “Corridor Identification and Development Program,” which is a Federal program that supports long-term passenger rail development in cities and communities across the country. The initial funding will go toward preparing a plan for the logistics of how to expand to daily service.
“This is a great investment in further connecting West Virginia communities, bringing more visitors to our great state and creating new economic opportunities,” Sen. Joe Manchin said in a statement. “I am committed to seeing daily rail service in Charleston, Huntington, White Sulphur Springs, Hinton, and the many communities along the Cardinal line. I will continue working to see that West Virginia gets the important rail service it needs and deserves.”
Tickets for Amtrak trips can be purchased at www.Amtrak.com.