Curtis Tate Published

Grant Called ‘First Step’ Toward Making Cardinal A Daily Train

A locomotive pauses at a relatively new concrete station platform in fading daylight on a summer evening.
Amtrak's westbound Cardinal makes a station stop in Charleston.
Curtis Tate / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A new federal grant could help restore daily Amtrak service to Huntington, Charleston and the New River Gorge.

Amtrak will use a $500,000 grant from the Federal Railroad Administration to begin the planning process toward making the Cardinal a daily train.

Currently, the train runs three days a week and connects West Virginia to Chicago, Washington, D.C. and New York. It stops in Huntington, Charleston, Montgomery, Prince, Thurmond, Hinton and White Sulfur Springs.

The route is among 69 corridors nationwide where Amtrak is looking to begin or expand service.

In the year that ended Sept. 30, the Cardinal posted a 3 percent increase in riders to 82,705. Only one other Amtrak route, the Sunset Limited, operates three days a week, from Los Angeles to New Orleans.

West Virginia has a daily Amtrak train, the Capitol Limited. It stops in Martinsburg and Harpers Ferry.

In a statement, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin called the grant a first step.

“This is a great investment in further connecting West Virginia communities, bringing more visitors to our great state and creating new economic opportunities,” Manchin said.

Amtrak’s expansion plans are part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which became law in 2021.