Crescent #20 Washington, DC to NYC Penn Station - 2+ hour delays?

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sebastien

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I have a reservation on the Crescent #20 DC to NY later this month but noticed that a number of the trains have been delayed a couple of hours recently. I am debating whether to take Acela instead, though I really would prefer a Roomette to avoid other travelers, frankly (due to covid) - especially now that the trains are more crowded, I guess due to holiday travel.

I called Amtrak to inquire about the delays. The agent only said "freight interference" or something like that. She also could only give information over the past few days, so I have no idea how long these delays have been going on or just how common they are.

I have been traveling between NYC and DC Union Station for years. During the pandemic I started booking a Roomette. Going south, the Silver Star #91 worked well and more recently the Crescent #19 was ok (seemed like an older train compared to the Silver Star). But both of these trains originate in NYC, so I guess the train is typically already there. I am concerned about long delays with the Crescent #20, as it will have many stops between New Orleans, where it starts, and Washington, DC.

Appreciate any help people can offer on how likely delays are on the Crescent #20, particularly arrival times for Washington, DC and NYC.

Thank you.
 

fdaley

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Crescent #20 has had a series of extreme delays over the past month, so the timing of any trip on this train is pretty unreliable at this point. Most of the delays I have seen began south (west) of Atlanta and were related to freight-train issues. This was a problem before the schedule change in June, and it did seem to get better for a time after the change. Lately, however, Norfolk Southern seems to have reverted to its old ways, and with the new schedule, the delays make for really unattractive actual departure times at Altanta and arrival times at New York.

According to the ASMAD data, the train has arrived at NYP more than an hour late on 10 days out of the past 30. On seven of those trips, it arrived more than three hours late, and a couple of them were more than five hours late. And consider that this is even after the padding that normally allows the train to make up time between northern Virginia and New York.

This is one reason I opted to take No. 176, rather than the Crescent, on an upcoming trip from Lynchburg to Albany. The Crescent is due in NYP at 6 p.m., but on about one-fourth of trips in the past month, it arrived in New York too late to make the connection to the last train (8:55p weekdays, 9:15p weekends) to Albany.
 
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The only long-distance train I'd book for northbound travel within the NEC is the Palmetto, because it has a scheduled longer-than-normal layover in DC as padding to keep the NEC part of the run on schedule. Even then, it is sometimes delayed, as I found out on my trip home from the Gathering this year. Fortunately, it was only 20 minutes late.

I took the Crescent southbound from New York to Baltimore last June, but I think I would avoid that, too, as the coach attendant assigned seats, there was a lot of delay boarding at each station stop to do that, and thus even that train, which originated in New York, arrived in Baltimore 10 minutes behind schedule. The Amfleet 2 long-distance coaches with lots of legroom and curtains on the windows, were nice, but I think I'd prefer to ride a Northeast Regional where I can just get on and find my own seat, or an Acela, where the seat is pre-assigned.
 

joelkfla

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I have been traveling between NYC and DC Union Station for years. During the pandemic I started booking a Roomette. Going south, the Silver Star #91 worked well and more recently the Crescent #19 was ok (seemed like an older train compared to the Silver Star)
On the Star, you have a 50% chance of getting a roomette in a new Viewliner II sleeper. The Crescent runs only Viewliner I's.
 

Bob Dylan

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I'd do the Acela ( Business Class) or BC on a Regional if you can get a good Fare, lots more choices of times and most Acelas and NEC Regionals run close to on time,unlike LD Trains. YMMV
 
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On the other hand, if you arrive at the station, and the LD train is running late, but will get you to your destination first, why not book it?

Back in 1975, I was in Baltimore and needed to go to New York. Of course, back then, all the "northeast regional" trains were unreserved, so I just showed up at the station and went to the ticket counter to buy a ticket. The ticket agent told me, "Wait, the Champion [I think that's what it was] from Florida is running late, but it's on your way and will get you to New York before the next regional train will." So I reserved a ticket on that one for the same price. It was one of the best coach rides I've ever had, the seats had more legroom than a Superliner, and the recline was almost "lie-flat." The train ran very fast, only made a few stops, and certainly did get me into New York earlier.
 
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sebastien

Guest
I'd do the Acela ( Business Class) or BC on a Regional if you can get a good Fare, lots more choices of times and most Acelas and NEC Regionals run close to on time,unlike LD Trains. YMMV
I would be fine with either Regional or Acela as long as they weren't too crowded (for health-safety / covid reasons). But the trains almost all seem to be operating at close to full capacity now. That means more crowded than I would like. That's the draw to a Roomette seat for me.
 
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sebastien

Guest
Thank you for all the helpful replies.

Okay, I accept that a good number of the Crescent 20 trains may be delayed over an hour between DC and NYC. But it seems like the delays originate prior to Washington, DC. I guess I will need to check just which locations are responsible, but if it's before, say, Culpeper, VA then maybe I could just monitor that train's status the day I plan to travel. The time the train takes to get from Culpeper to DC Union Station would be enough for me to get to Union Station myself. If the Crescent is way behind schedule I would just wait another day (or two) when I hope eventually one of the trains will operate on time. Based on the helpful link AmtrakBlue posted, the Crescent 20 seems to operate close enough to on time slightly less than 50% of the time. At least the past 30 days.

Obviously, not an ideal way to travel, but with most Amtrak trains operating at close to full capacity these days I would prefer to try to book a Roomette, if possible (as I prefer to avoid crowds during the pandemic).

I will check to try to figure out just where the delays originate but appreciate any helpful feedback others can offer. Thanks again!
 

west point

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Crescent #20 is in a lot of trouble for time operation. NS from NOL to ATL just has all sorts of freight train delays. To top that off there is a problem just short of the ATL station. It is at a location called Howell CP. CSX often has the CP blocked with their too long freights trying to get through Tilford yard although the yard is just a crew change for most crews. So, you have delays from NOL all the time.

To make matters worse #19 takes the same type delays south of ATL. Yesterday #19 was so late arriving NOL that the crew delay the departure of #20 about 1:40 from NOL. Then the Meridian crew takes #20 to ATL. So then many times #20 takes more delays to ATL. Then if #20 arrives later than 0030 #19 departure has to be delayed if it is on time into ATL.

Get the picture? late, later, and awful late both trains until Amtrak can get another crew either to ATL or NOL. Amtrak in the near past does not seem to have extra crew available.
 
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Crescent #20 is in a lot of trouble for time operation. NS from NOL to ATL just has all sorts of freight train delays. To top that off there is a problem just short of the ATL station. It is at a location called Howell CP. CSX often has the CP blocked with their too long freights trying to get through Tilford yard although the yard is just a crew change for most crews. So, you have delays from NOL all the time.

To make matters worse #19 takes the same type delays south of ATL. Yesterday #19 was so late arriving NOL that the crew delay the departure of #20 about 1:40 from NOL. Then the Meridian crew takes #20 to ATL. So then many times #20 takes more delays to ATL. Then if #20 arrives later than 0030 #19 departure has to be delayed if it is on time into ATL.

Get the picture? late, later, and awful late both trains until Amtrak can get another crew either to ATL or NOL. Amtrak in the near past does not seem to have extra crew available.
And all this after Amtrak gave in completely to NS and wrecked their Crescent schedule in exchange for not having delays. Did Amtrak get taken for a ride or are they on the side of the Class 1s?

All I know is that I won't be taking the Crescent any more. It's not worth it to get to the Northeast and I can drive the 4 hours to the Cardinal to go West. No more El Paso trips but I can still get to Albuquereque - at least until they start negotiations with the other Freights "to improve on-time performance" Hah! What a scam!
 

acelafan

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I had not looked at the southbound Crescent OTP into New Orleans recently. That is pretty sad. Amtrak should not have given into NS to lengthen the schedule.

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JRR

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I had not looked at the southbound Crescent OTP into New Orleans recently. That is pretty sad. Amtrak should not have given into NS to lengthen the schedule.

View attachment 26294

I was told by crew members (prior to Covid) that they consider 2 hrs late as being on time. Your report confirms this.
 

TheVig

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Yeah somedays, the NB Crescent doesn't make it here to Charlotte until mid morning.

The last several presidents we've had, have had real hard ons for writing executive orders. I'd to see one get signed regarding OTP. If for nothing other than stiring the pot with the class 1's.
 

neroden

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The new schedule was basically a precondition to claim damages from NS. Let us see if management claims the damages. Of course it may be CSX causing trouble but NS doesn't seem to know how to dispatch since they installed an idiot AutoRouter a while back, so it is probably NS
 

jis

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The new schedule was basically a precondition to claim damages from NS. Let us see if management claims the damages. Of course it may be CSX causing trouble but NS doesn't seem to know how to dispatch since they installed an idiot AutoRouter a while back, so it is probably NS
That BTW was done when Moorman was the CEO before he moved to Amtrak!
 

fdaley

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Compare these numbers to the pre-schedule change and you'll likely see not much difference. Amtrak accomplished nothing.

It is true that for at least a year or two before the schedule change, the northbound Crescent frequently was delayed by 2 hours or more south of Atlanta. The new times at Atlanta and north approximated what the train actually often was achieving under the old schedule. The problem is that the delays have continued. So what Amtrak "accomplished" is that, where a three-hour-late No. 20 wound up leaving Atlanta about 11 p.m. under the old schedule, it now leaves about 2 a.m.
 
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