Hoosier State (train) - History


Prior to Amtrak, the Chicago-Indianapolis market was served by several daily trains, with the Pennsylvania Railroad's South Wind and Kentuckian, and the New York Central's James Whitcomb Riley, Indianapolis Special, and Sycamore. With the advent of Amtrak, riders between the Hoosier State's capital and the Windy City still had Amtrak's South Wind and the George Washington/James Whitcomb Riley. However, with Penn Central's financial instability, track maintenance was rare, and Amtrak eventually shifted both trains to other routes through Indiana, and Indianapolis was only served by the National Limited, which ran between New York and Kansas City.

The National Limited's discontinuance in 1979 severed Indianapolis from the national rail network. This was a major issue for Amtrak, as its main maintenance shops were in Beech Grove, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis. Amtrak had been using the National Limited to ferry railroad cars to and from its shops; it was forced to run special trains to Indianapolis instead.

The Hoosier State train began October 1, 1980, running over a different route from the Cardinal. On April 27, 1986, the Cardinal was rerouted to use the same tracks as the Hoosier State from Chicago to Indianapolis, and the Hoosier State began running only on the days the Cardinal did not operate. On October 25, 1987, the Hoosier State was restored to daily operation on a separate schedule from the Cardinal. Funding cuts led to the discontinuance of the Hoosier State on September 8, 1995—the Cardinal continued tri-weekly operation between Chicago, Indianapolis and the East Coast. Amtrak restored the Hoosier State on July 19, 1998, as a tri-, later quad-weekly train.

From December 17, 1999, to July 4, 2003, the Hoosier State was extended south from Indianapolis to Louisville, Kentucky, and renamed the Kentucky Cardinal. After the discontinuance of the Kentucky Cardinal the Hoosier State returned to operating four days a week in tandem with the Cardinal.

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