Crescent schedule change - first time in 50 years!

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Joined
Mar 16, 2019
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What a huge discovery, effective June 6. The Crescent now arrives New Orleans about 1h 40m later than the past umpteen years, and departs 2h 15m later the next morning out of New Orleans. I noticed Atlanta (where I lived during my "party" years) now gets a better schedule northbound (doesn't leave New Orleans until 9:15am, which means no need to get up to catch that 7:00am train), but on the other hand, no more dinner service out of Atlanta northbound, since it now leaves for Wash/NYC at 11:29pm. : (
 

west point

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Changing the schedule does not help things today. #19 southbound left Atlanta on time and now is 3:34 late at Anniston Al. If base prediction is correct ( yea right ) will arrive no earlier than 1:55 Slidell and NOL 1:05 late.
 

Cal

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Changing the schedule does not help things today. #19 southbound left Atlanta on time and now is 3:34 late at Anniston Al. If base prediction is correct ( yea right ) will arrive no earlier than 1:55 Slidell and NOL 1:05 late.
Due to mechanical issues as well.
 

Hytec

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My worst on #19 was 12 hours down into Hattiesburg (HBG). We were already 5 hours down about 5 miles out of Meridian, where we were held for 7 hours while NS fueled 3 freight locomotive consists of 4 engines each at the Meridian platform. That is more than 30,000 gallons requiring many semi-tankers. Apparently the tankers had to park in the station parking lot and run a hose across the platform to the engines.

Needless to say our conductor was furious, screaming into his radio to the AMTK dispatcher. But the AMTK dispatcher could do nothing because the NS dispatcher(s) wouldn't respond to calls.
 

railiner

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My worst on #19 was 12 hours down into Hattiesburg (HBG). We were already 5 hours down about 5 miles out of Meridian, where we were held for 7 hours while NS fueled 3 freight locomotive consists of 4 engines each at the Meridian platform. That is more than 30,000 gallons requiring many semi-tankers. Apparently the tankers had to park in the station parking lot and run a hose across the platform to the engines.

Needless to say our conductor was furious, screaming into his radio to the AMTK dispatcher. But the AMTK dispatcher could do nothing because the NS dispatcher(s) wouldn't respond to calls.
Now that may be the worst case I have heard of...
If I was there, I would have recorded it, and tried my best to get media to pick up the story, in an effort to shame NS. But unless the passenger's were incited to riot, the media would probably care less....
 

jis

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It is amazing (and sometimes amusing) to see how cavalier the railroad system controllers are about communicating (or not) with trains and with many other minor and major decisions. Can you imagine an air traffic controller simply ignoring the calls from an aircraft in flight for hours and getting away with it? Here is an example of where private companies work really poorly and can get away with it simply because trains can stop essentially on the dime wherever they are, and their failsafe is to stop and wait for the controller to come out of their torpor as they choose and please.
 

TheCrescent

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The new(ish) Crescent schedule, combined with continuing delays, makes the northbound Crescent unreliable and impractical.

First, the Crescent has always been a night train between Atlanta and Washington. For the first time ever, it's now a day train north of Charlotte.

For people who would board in Atlanta and SC, taking the northbound Crescent was practical because the train was a night train, and little time would be spent traveling during the day. But now that it's a day train between Charlotte and NYC, taking the northbound Crescent to the Northeast requires using up a day to spend on the train, which at least for me is not practical.

And there is already a Charlotte-NYC day train, the Carolinian, so now there are two Charlotte-NYC day trains.

Second, the northbound Crescent's delays are continuing. Today the train was over 7 hours late!

I now take the Crescent only southbound, and I return northbound on a plane.

I see that Amtrak plans additional trains between Charlotte and Atlanta. But given the atrocious timekeeping around Birmingham and Atlanta, causing extensive delays to the northbound Crescent, having additional trains on that route serves no purpose since they will be so unreliable that ridership surely won't be what it could be.

Amtrak really needs to get Norfolk Southern to fix these delays and restore the northbound Crescent to being a night train.

And the Flexible Dining and lack of a dining car are less than ideal, but I can vent only about so much.
 
Joined
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The new(ish) Crescent schedule, combined with continuing delays, makes the northbound Crescent unreliable and impractical.
That's an understatement. It sucks. Amtrak screwed its customers to placate NS and NS is continuing doing it to Amtrak. We use the Carolinian to head to the NEC and the Cardinal out of WV to go to Chicago to go west.
 
Joined
Sep 14, 2021
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I live in the Atlanta area. Each morning I check to see how the new 'improved' Crescent schedule is working. Short answer - a total failure! Waiting in Peachtree Station's modest waiting room overnight would be torture.

I have fond memories of riding to Southern Crescent to DC for work meetings in the 1970's. With a 8:15am arrival in DC, meetings that began at 9:30 were quite possible. We'd meet all day and then head south at 7:30pm with arrival in ATL at a bit after 8am. Much better than flying!

At what point do we say that our nation's rail network needs to be separated from the operating companies? Something like an Interstate Highway System for trains. I understand concerns with the ability of government to organize this. We do have government sponsored Airways and Highways. Is it time for Railways?
 
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I live in the Atlanta area. ...
I introduced my son to Amtrak from Atlanta to NYC for business. He loved the idea that he could relax on the train while getting work done and arrive in NY early enough to get in a half day of business. He no longer needs to travel for business as he retired at age 40. However, because of the new schedule and the rotten food, he and his family, like us, no longer take the Crescent to the northeast - or anywhere. :(
 
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I live in the Atlanta area. Each morning I check to see how the new 'improved' Crescent schedule is working. Short answer - a total failure! Waiting in Peachtree Station's modest waiting room overnight would be torture.

I have fond memories of riding to Southern Crescent to DC for work meetings in the 1970's. With a 8:15am arrival in DC, meetings that began at 9:30 were quite possible. We'd meet all day and then head south at 7:30pm with arrival in ATL at a bit after 8am. Much better than flying!...

Even when its scheduled arrival in DC was 10AMish, you still could count on an afternoon there. Now, you can't count on scheduling anything for the day of arrival. New York is even worse.

Worse still, everyone from Atlanta through most of North Carolina now has a middle-of-the-night departure time northbound. Given that the Crescent is the ONLY Amtrak service for folks living as much as 3-4 hours drive from the stations between Charlotte and Atlanta, the Crescent's new schedule makes Amtrak pretty much unusable for that entire region.

Wasn't the new Crescent schedule supposed to be a bow to reality, intended to enable the trains to actually run on time? Instead, we've now got a schedule that's a bad-to-impossible match for the needs of most potential passengers along much of its route---made even worse by unreliable timekeeping.

The northbound Crescent REALLY needs to arrive in DC and NYC in the morning, and work its schedule from that. It also needs a shorter run time and better reliability--both of which would be achievable if the host railroad companies would actually live up to their legal obligations.

And southbound, a 9PM arrival in New Orleans is too late for most folks---especially when the train actually arrives significantly later than that so often. Ideally, it'd reliably arrive in time for passengers to have dinner in New Orleans the day they arrive.
 

TheCrescent

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Does Amtrak have a particular person in charge of the Crescent, or the Norfolk Southern relationship? I would assume that Norfolk Southern has a moderately-senior person in charge of passenger operations or the Amtrak relationship. Would anyone know who those people are and how to contact them? (Please feel free to private message me if that information cannot be posted.)

At least in SC, government couldn't care less about anything passenger rail-related, and perhaps a very polite and positive email describing the benefits of having the Crescent be a night train again to some of the people above might at least show that there is a grassroots preference for that.
 
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jimdex

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As an Atlanta-area resident, I have to agree with virtually all of the comments above. Because of frequent delays, the northbound Crescent effectively calls at it's biggest market outside the Northeast during unmarketable hours.
 

jis

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How can you half depend on #20 going north out of ATL? Take it Mondays - Thursdays Jan - mid March. Otherwise I can forget it.
You got it backwards. Crescent runs Northwards through Atlanta Thursday through Monday, and not Monday through Thursday. It does not run Tuesday and Wednesday.
 

TheCrescent

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I don't understand why there isn't a night train between Atlanta and Washington/Philadelphia/New York, in addition to a day train on this route. Leave Atlanta 6pm, arrive NY 9am, and give United or American frequent flyer miles for the trip. Surely someone could figure out a way to fill 6 sleeping cars--perhaps 2 Viewliners and a bunch of budget sleepers.
 
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I don't understand why there isn't a night train between Atlanta and Washington/Philadelphia/New York, in addition to a day train on this route. Leave Atlanta 6pm, arrive NY 9am, and give United or American frequent flyer miles for the trip. Surely someone could figure out a way to fill 6 sleeping cars--perhaps 2 Viewliners and a bunch of budget sleepers.

Aside from lack of equipment....

Sigh. In my dreams, there's a train with that kind of schedule.
 

TheVig

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I live in Charlotte. We have a trip north on the Crescent in a few weeks. It will probably be our last on the Crescent, until hell freezes over and something changes. Will be taking the Carolinian north moving forward.

I’m convinced that even if the entire route was quadruple tracked from NOL to ATL, NS would find a way to delay Amtrak.
 

jis

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Moderator's Note: A number of posts generally discussing the future possibilities of Amtrak LD trains and things holding back development have been moved to the following more appropriate thread:


Any further general topic posts not specifically pertaining to the Crescent's schedule change will be moved to the Futures thread.
 

Amtrak709

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I was intrigued to see this forum thread revisited after being dormant for several months. At the risk of sounding impertinent, W. Graham Claytor Jr. (admittedly my own idol when is comes to railroad men) is probably "rolling in his grave" when he perceives what has happened to his train--the Crescent. I know that one lone passenger travelling once a week ATN-WAS-ATN in the sleepers is a very, very small fraction of the Crescent's (and Amtrak's) operation--but that is exactly what I did for nearly five years. Northbound overnight arriving about 9AM into WAS, conduct necessary business, and return same day at 6:30PM. Same day return allowed me about 9 hours--if #19 was on time--to conduct 15 minutes of business. Until COVID in August 2020 and having made 206 trips, only once did #19 arrive after the departure of #20 same day--requiring me to remain overnight in a hotel in WAS. Based on the Crescent's on-time performance, I guess I was lucky and picked the right days for travel. I, myself, got COVID in August 2020. I was ill for 2+ months and, by the time I returned to work in November 2020, Crescent had gone to a three-times-a-week schedule--thus effectively ending these trips. In June, 2021 when Crescent returned to a daily schedule but operating Northbound on its new schedule several hours later, my first attempt at same day turnaround FAILED. That (and COVID) did end these trips.
For a 74-year railfan, such trips were a dream. Now, because of Amtrak's inconsistencies, I have to make other transportation arrangements when necessary via air (I hate it).
 
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