From now to September 15, and between September 26 and December 15, passengers on the Amtrak Cardinal can enjoy a 20 percent discount. And if you depart mid-September, you'll most likely arrive at your destination by mid-December. Seriously, if you leave New York's Penn Station at 6:45 am on a Wednesday, you should get into Chicago at 10:05 am—the following day. Yes, it takes more than 27 hours to get from Manhattan to the Windy City. (A plane ride from Newark to O'Hare lasts all of two and a half hours.) As my colleague Jonathan V. Last noted in a Casual from a few years back, "In 1938, you could travel from New York to Chicago by train in 16 hours."
I am sure the folks at Amtrak will argue that the point of riding on the Cardinal is to soak in as much of America's beauty as possible on the way from one city to another—including the Allegheny Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley. But it's clear from a basic search on Amtrak's site that a traveler simply cannot get from New York to Chicago in any less time than it took in 1938. You'd also think at the very least the Cardinal could have a catchy jingle like that of the JFK Express. (That line will be in your head for years.)