I would not be surprised if Iowa Pacific shows up with a bid of some sort. I'd actually be more surprised if they didn't show up with something.If one look at the tracks at CVS with Google Earth, there is little to no room for a connecting track without cutting into the building to the north. Then there is the bridge nearby over the NS tracks. The track crossover is so close to the NS platform at the CVS station, it might be impossible for the Cardinal to use the NS platform and crossover to the BBRR/CSX track without a major track reconfiguration and thus an expensive project. Which would be difficult to justify as it would have little to no benefit for freight rail.The consensus I recall was that there was barely enough room as it was...but that while it worked on paper, the problem was that (A) you'd clip the corner pretty badly, (B) you'd be blocking both tracks at once, and © spending money to do that after sorting out the BBRR was an inefficient use of cash.
So VA DRPT is putting much of the Shortline Preservation Program funding, roughly $4 to $5 million a year, into maintenance, repair, upgrade projects for the Buckingham Branch to get it into a state of good repair for freight train and traffic to the ports in Hampton Roads. There is obviously a secondary agenda of helping the Cardinal as it provides useful passenger service for Virginia, but it appears to be a secondary purpose.
The situation with the 4 day a week Hoosier State and 3 day a week Cardinal is unique. The requirement that the HS receive state subsidies makes for a complicated situation with regards to running a daily Cardinal service. if Amtrak were to announce next week that the Cardinal would be upgraded to daily service in 2015 once the bulk of new Viewliners were delivered, that would remove the incentive for IN to subsidize the HS and provide capital funds for track improvements. The situation gets more complicated with INDOT actively seeking for someone else to operate the HS.
With the RFPs due on April 29, should not have to wait that long to find out how many companies, if any, submitted proposals to run the HS.