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Crescent:Why Two locomotives?

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crescent-zephyr

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LOL. I feel so old.

But that sounds about right. I think the trip I was thinking of when I noticed this was back in the 90s in an old Heritage Slumbercoach.
Gulf Breeze ended in 1995, the Amtrak Express lasted until David Gunn came on in 2002. So I’m guessing the Atlanta switching would have been from 1995-2002-ish? (Gunn came on in 2002 but the program wasn’t fully over until 2005).

I remember seeing the little switcher bringing the cars over when waiting to board the crescent.... yes that makes me feel old as well! Ha.
 

jruff001

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Gulf Breeze ended in 1995, the Amtrak Express lasted until David Gunn came on in 2002. So I’m guessing the Atlanta switching would have been from 1995-2002-ish? (Gunn came on in 2002 but the program wasn’t fully over until 2005).
I *think* it would have been early 90s / pre-Gulf Breeze but not sure.
 

jruff001

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This page from a 1990 timetable references both the Gulf Breeze (so my Gulf Breeze recollection must have been off), and a slumbercoach operating NYP-ATL. I think they also cut out a coach or two and a regular heritage 10-6 sleeper at ATL but those are not listed separately. I just remember it being a really long train NYP-ATL.
 

jruff001

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The Southern always did. The New York/Washington-Atlanta market is big. With good marketing and great service, this could be a great market like it was in Southern Railroad days.
I think the market is extremely limited for a train trip that takes 14-18 hours (on those occasions when it is on time) when there are multiple flights an hour between ATL and IAD/DCA/BWI/PHL/EWR/LGA/JFK that take about two hours and can be had for around $50-$60.

But it is a nice way to go for those who are not in a hurry and can afford a sleeper.
 

NativeSon5859

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The world is a different place now.

While there will always be a good number of people riding the Crescent between ATL-WAS just based on population alone, air travel options are much better with more frequency and cheaper prices, than they were even in the early 90's, when the Crescent was still getting add-on cars in ATL and what not.

Let's face it - LD train travel is a niche service, and it will remain that way until this country gets serious about funding and investing in Amtrak.
 

MARC Rider

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I think the market is extremely limited for a train trip that takes 14-18 hours (on those occasions when it is on time) when there are multiple flights an hour between ATL and IAD/DCA/BWI/PHL/EWR/LGA/JFK that take about two hours and can be had for around $50-$60.

But it is a nice way to go for those who are not in a hurry and can afford a sleeper.
I love it when people quote really cheap airfares (or any price for anything, for that matter), and when you actually went to book a flight at a time when you wanted to fly, such low fares just weren't av available. I remember about 10 - 15 years ago when Southwest was touting "$39" fares between BWI and Manchester, NH. I was never able to get one cheaper than $79, and there were times when I saw them as high as $139. And that was during the off-season.

Of course the train can't compete with flying if you just have to get there quickly. But it can compete time-wise with driving (and while you sleep, the train's still moving.) And there are a lot of people who drive long distances. And there is a market for people who can't drive or fly for medical reasons. And there is traffic between intermediate stations for which airline service isn't was good as those between the major hubs. There's no reason why the Crescent shouldn't be a financially sustainable operation.
 

jruff001

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I love it when people quote really cheap airfares (or any price for anything, for that matter), and when you actually went to book a flight at a time when you wanted to fly, such low fares just weren't av available.
And I love it when railfans overestimate how much of a market there is in the general (non-foamer) population to go through an ordeal on Amtrak when they can fly or drive somewhere usually more conveniently and cheaply.

But anyways. I chose a random date a couple of weeks out (Oct. 6) and plugged it into a reliable flight booking search engine I use (ITA Matrix). There were some as cheap as $39 (from EWR on United) but those were outliers so I disregarded them to try to minimize comments, and took a more realistic average of what I saw.

Also, the number of people wiling to sit in coach overnight would make the market even smaller, but of course a sleeper would cost way more.
 

crescent-zephyr

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And I love it when railfans overestimate how much of a market there is in the general (non-foamer) population to go through an ordeal on Amtrak when they can fly or drive somewhere usually more conveniently and cheaply.
Hey, welcome to the forum. What’s your position on rail travel? Why have you joined the board?

It may be helpful to know that before replying to your thoughts.
 

jruff001

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Hey, welcome to the forum. What’s your position on rail travel? Why have you joined the board?

It may be helpful to know that before replying to your thoughts.
Thanks. I have answered similar questions before which I don't see posed to other people here. (Apparently because I do not parrot the typical AU party lines on certain topics?)

I love traveling by train and would love to see Amtrak's LD trains do well.

Now its your turn! :)
 

crescent-zephyr

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Thanks. I have answered similar questions before which I don't see posed to other people here. (Apparently because I do not parrot the typical AU party lines on certain topics?)

I love traveling by train and would love to see Amtrak's LD trains do well.

Now its your turn! :)
I grew up riding Amtrak because we lived in a small town without a major airport. I'm also a railfan but I don't ride amtrak as a railfan (Ok sure once I rode from Denver to Granby and back in the same day but that doesn't count right? :)

I typically use Amtrak for travel just like I use airlines. On the east coast they are pretty comparable in my book provided they both serve the cities you need to get to. I'm always comparing airlines first class to a roomette on a sleeper, that's the only way I will travel.

Going west I used to cash in my 2-zone redemption on points. Those were the days. It's really hard to justify the westbound trains now when comparing them to air travel. Higher prices for way less service. Add in the 3-day a week schedule and I'm just about out. Which I think is what the current amtrak management wants.

Regarding the Crescent...

Why do people ride Mega Bus or Greyhound from New York to Atlanta?
Why do people ride Amtrak?
Why do people fly?
Why do people drive their own vehicle?

It doesn't really matter why... what matters is that people want to use that service. NYC to Atlanta should have multiple daily trains and should be a heavily used corridor. All of the above are subsidized in some way.
 

Qapla

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I'm a little confused ...

What does flying from Atlanta to NY or riding the MegaBus anywhere have to do with why the Crescent has two engines?
 

bms

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Even if a route were 100% flat, I think any long-distance train powered by P42s should use two of them in order to have a good chance that one is still running 750+ miles later. P42s are good locomotives, but they have worked a full career and are ready to retire!
 
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tgstubbs1

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Mar 3, 2020
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I read an article about long freights using multiple locomotives. They called it distributed power and have them at both ends. Maybe even in the middle.

I think it helps those long trains on grades, etc. It probably doesn't hurt reliability either, as long as one locomotive can handle the load if the other one quits.
 

frequentflyer

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Even if a route were 100% flat, I think any long-distance train powered by P42s should use two of them in order to have a good chance that one is still running 750+ miles later. P42s are good locomotives, but they have worked a full career and are ready to retire!
True, but from Amtrak's perspective, why pay for an extra 2000 gallons of fuel at every refuel when you don't have too.
 

jiml

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I read an article about long freights using multiple locomotives. They called it distributed power and have them at both ends. Maybe even in the middle.

I think it helps those long trains on grades, etc. It probably doesn't hurt reliability either, as long as one locomotive can handle the load if the other one quits.
I'm not sure it has anything to do with grades, but most railroads use Distributed Power now. Where I live is pretty flat and yet CN freights run with as many as 5 high-power units - two or three on the front, one mid-train and sometimes another on the end. Of course the trains are almost 2 miles long. The railcams from across North America show similar from all the majors, with a mix of hilly and flat terrains. I'm sure there's a larger "philosophy" at work, but I suspect its economically driven - i.e. more train length with fewer crew.
 

MARC Rider

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Also, the number of people wiling to sit in coach overnight would make the market even smaller, but of course a sleeper would cost way more.
Well, most people riding the long distance trains don't go overnight, just like most of the people riding the Acela don't travel through New York (i.e. go from Washington all the way to Boston.)

In any event, both the long distance trains and the Acela seemed to run pretty full most of the time (before the pandemic), so there must be some sort of market. The long distance trains must be popular enough so that the Legislators from the rural state through which they travel are willing to support them. Some of them were even close to covering their operating expenses.

Sure, long distance rides in sleepers are a small minority of the transportation market, but they do form an important part of the revenue puzzle for long-distance passenger rail service, which, though not the major traffic mode, is still is an important part of the overall national transportation system. And, if my experience is typical, the long-distance riders aren't all foamers pursuing their hobby. I run into more people using the train for real transportation, not a nostalgic joyride, than I run into foamers. If they were able to run the trains reliably on time, you might get even more people riding.
 

Qapla

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I have ridden in coach overnight several times - pre-Covid. I have not ridden in a sleeper. As such, I cannot say how full the sleeper cars were since I did not get to walk through them and see - especially during the overnight sleeping hours.

I have walked through the coach cars during sleeping hours. If
the number of people wiling to sit in coach overnight would make the market even smaller
then why was practically every seat taken by someone sleeping in them? I have yet to ride coach during sleeping hours in a car that only had wide-awake people waiting to get off at the next stop.

I have seen cars full of people sleeping the night away as I walked through multiple coach cars on my way toe to café car where the few people who were awake were sitting playing cards and/or snacking and talking.
 

jruff001

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Jan 23, 2020
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In any event, both the long distance trains and the Acela seemed to run pretty full most of the time (before the pandemic), so there must be some sort of market.
Yes I agree there is "some sort of market."

I have walked through the coach cars during sleeping hours. If then why was practically every seat taken by someone sleeping in them?
One sort-of full train per day with a couple hundred seats doesn't mean there is a huge market.
 
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