Kentucky Cardinal makes first run to Louisville area
Reprinted with permission from Chris Poynter of The Courier-Journal.
CHRIS POYNTER, The Courier-Journal
Traveling by train might be an outdated way to get from one city to another, one state to the next. But Amtrak doesn't think so.
The railroad corporation is expecting people in the Louisville area to hop aboard its new service, The Kentucky Cardinal, which arrived yesterday in Jeffersonville, Ind., the final stop on its maiden run.
It is the first time in 20 years that a passenger train has served the metropolitan area.
Riders aboard the Kentucky Cardinal, which left Chicago Friday night for the 11-1/2-hour trip, were greeted at 8:40 a.m. yesterday by a crowd of 200 people, including Santa Claus, who handed out candy canes and Amtrak bumper stickers.
Chris Weiss, 28, of Chicago, was coaxed onto the train by her fiance, a train enthusiast. While he mingled with other rail fans, she sat in their sleeping compartment, leaning against the window and reading David Guterson's novel Snow Falling on Cedars.
Weiss and her fiance planned on staying in Louisville for the day, then heading back home on the Cardinal's return trip. She compared her train experience to her recent 24-hour flight to Australia.
"This is much better," she said. "You can actually spread out. There's more leg room. You can walk around. It's quieter. You can sleep."
The Kentucky Cardinal is a misnomer, as the train does not cross into the Bluegrass State. It might eventually, however.
Yesterday, Luke Clippinger (a district director for Rep. Baron Hill of Indiana) jokingly called on Hoosiers to contact Amtrak and urge officials to change the name.
The inaugural ride was not perfect. Outside Chicago the train sat for 45 minutes waiting on other trains to pass.
The trip was slow between Indianapolis and Jeffersonville because the maximum speed on the old Louisville and Indiana Railroad is 30 mph.
But none of that seemed to bother the passengers, most of them Amtrak officials and train enthusiasts who came from across America to be a footnote in Amtrak history.
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Caption: BY MICHAEL CLEVENGER, THE COURIER-JOURNAL
Conductor Odis L. Bledsoe Jr. helped passengers find their way aboard Amtrak's Kentucky Cardinal in Chicago.
Copyright 1999 The Courier-Journal