Help a greenhorn out! PLEASE!!!

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So my family and I are taking the train (#20) from N.O. to NYC in July. My wife and I just thought it would be a fun experience for not only our kids, but she and I as well.

We have never been on a train trip before. After doing a bit of research on this board I see problems with trains being on time.

Can anyone tell me if we should expect a 6 hr delay on this trip? I followed a suggestion that I saw in a thread here that said to go to amtrak.com and find the schedule for the last five days. I did this and saw the train arriving a few minutes early on a couple of days, but 1-2 hrs late on the others.

I can handle a delay of 1-2 hrs. Is this the norm? Anyone here with experience on this route?

Also, I booked two roomettes. We are in car 2010 rooms 001 and 002. Is this cool? Are there "roomette" locations that are better than others? Are rooms 004 and 005 better than 001 and 002? :)

Folks, any and all replys will be much appreciated!
 
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AlanB

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Stuck,

While one can never guarantee anything, especially since Amtrak runs at the mercy of the freight RR's who own the tracks, 6 or more hours late for the Crescent is unusual. Again, that's not to say that it can't happen, but it is unusual. A quick check of the database that Faraz setup shows and average delay of only 37 minutes late into NY over the last 3 weeks.

The worst delays were just about 2 hours late, but many days the train actually arrived on time.

Note: There were about 5 days of data that was missing in the middle of the stats.

As for the roomettes, there is nothing wrong with 1 & 2 and I see no reason to move further down in the car. Frankly the least desirable rooms would probably be 11 & 12, since they are getting near the end of the car so you hear more noise as the door leading to the next car opens and closes.

Car 2010 will also put you right next to the dining car, so you won't have a very long walk to reach the diner.
 
Joined
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Stuck,
While one can never guarantee anything, especially since Amtrak runs at the mercy of the freight RR's who own the tracks, 6 or more hours late for the Crescent is unusual. Again, that's not to say that it can't happen, but it is unusual. A quick check of the database that Faraz setup shows and average delay of only 37 minutes late into NY over the last 3 weeks.

The worst delays were just about 2 hours late, but many days the train actually arrived on time.

Note: There were about 5 days of data that was missing in the middle of the stats.

As for the roomettes, there is nothing wrong with 1 & 2 and I see no reason to move further down in the car. Frankly the least desirable rooms would probably be 11 & 12, since they are getting near the end of the car so you hear more noise as the door leading to the next car opens and closes.

Car 2010 will also put you right next to the dining car, so you won't have a very long walk to reach the diner.
Thanks Alan....coming your way in late July. Cant wait!
 

battalion51

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Apparently Alan's falling down on the job. I'd highly recommend checking out these travel tips from OTOL. It's got a lot of great insight on what to bring, what to expect on board, etc.
 

had8ley

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Apparently Alan's falling down on the job. I'd highly recommend checking out these travel tips from OTOL. It's got a lot of great insight on what to bring, what to expect on board, etc.
WOW !!! What a site. I'm impressed. Good find.
 

had8ley

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Apparently Alan's falling down on the job. I'd highly recommend checking out these travel tips from OTOL. It's got a lot of great insight on what to bring, what to expect on board, etc.
Thanks a bunch!
From your header you sound like your in U of A territory. We were there (Tuscaloosa) at the end of March and the agent said the station was rumored to close April 1st. Can you confirm? (I emphasize RUMOR; don't want to be put into the rumor monger catagory.)
 

AlanB

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Apparently Alan's falling down on the job. I'd highly recommend checking out these travel tips from OTOL. It's got a lot of great insight on what to bring, what to expect on board, etc.
WOW !!! What a site. I'm impressed. Good find.
Please don't take this the wrong way, but I can't believe that you've never seen that site before in all the time you've been here with us. :eek: I and many others have linked to it hundreds of times in posts around here. You can find me over there too and in fact I did the last revision of those hints & tips, freshening up and revising things based upon the changes that have occured since HaRRy Sutton originally wrote them.
 
Joined
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Apparently Alan's falling down on the job. I'd highly recommend checking out these travel tips from OTOL. It's got a lot of great insight on what to bring, what to expect on board, etc.
Thanks a bunch!
From your header you sound like your in U of A territory. We were there (Tuscaloosa) at the end of March and the agent said the station was rumored to close April 1st. Can you confirm? (I emphasize RUMOR; don't want to be put into the rumor monger catagory.)
Sorry, I cant give you ana answer! My family and I live in Louisiana, but I have an aprtment in Tuscaloosa which is where my work is! I will tell you this, the depot is right across the street from where I rented furniture for my apt. If it aint shut down now, it nedds to be! :D

stuck
 
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had8ley

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Feb 27, 2006
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Apparently Alan's falling down on the job. I'd highly recommend checking out these travel tips from OTOL. It's got a lot of great insight on what to bring, what to expect on board, etc.
Thanks a bunch!
From your header you sound like your in U of A territory. We were there (Tuscaloosa) at the end of March and the agent said the station was rumored to close April 1st. Can you confirm? (I emphasize RUMOR; don't want to be put into the rumor monger catagory.)
Sorry, I cant give you ana answer! My family and I live in Louisiana, but I have an aprtment in Tuscaloosa which is where my work is! I will tell you this, the depot is right across the street from where I rented furniture for my apt. If it aint shut down now, it nedds to be! :D

stuck
I know the station is not in the best shape nor is it in a perfect neighborhood but somewhere on the depot is a plaque from when the Women's Club had re-done the depot some years ago. They planted flowers and added a P.A. system which I'm not sure if it works or not. The agent used to annouce the arrival of #19 and #20 on it. Like anything else; if you don't take care of it it will eventually fall apart.
 
T

train88

Guest
The station in Tuscaloosa, Alabama is not closed. It serve the West Alabama and North Mississippi area. I am proud to say that the P.A. systems works and announce the arrival of #19 and #20 and also announce where it will be making other stops. P.J. is the station agent Tuesday thru Saturday and he is one of the best at his job. We are proud of our station and our agent here in Tuscaloosa and The University of Alabama home town. Roll Tide
 
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The station in Tuscaloosa, Alabama is not closed. It serve the West Alabama and North Mississippi area. I am proud to say that the P.A. systems works and announce the arrival of #19 and #20 and also announce where it will be making other stops. P.J. is the station agent Tuesday thru Saturday and he is one of the best at his job. We are proud of our station and our agent here in Tuscaloosa and The University of Alabama home town. Roll Tide
Gentlemen and Ladies, my statement about the Tuscaloosa station was strictly tongue in cheek. It was made with absolutely no thought given to its past history, or its historical meaning to the area. As a newbie, the last thing I would want to do is offend anyone.

My apologies to all affected by my comments.

stuck

ps By the way, just for you Bama fans, there is a big misconcrption that all Louisiana folks are LSU fans. Nothing is further from the truth. Go Bama Go Saban! :D
 

battalion51

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Geaux Cajuns baby! LOL :lol:

Tuscaloosa's a very nice town, I was at UA for a conference last year, and they have a beautiful campus. Of course nothing can compare to The Florida State University. B)
 

Bill Haithcoat

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stuck in Tuscaloosa, welcome aboard.

noting that your remark was tongue in cheek.....cool....movng on there this note: my sister attended the Un of Ala in the late 50's. She a was familiar with the trains from Chattanooga to Tuscaloosa.

About 10 years ago she and I drove through Tuscaloosa. We stopped at the station, naturally.

She was most impressed. Stated the building looked the same structually but was much cleaner, looked better,smelled better, etc. That would have been 40 years after her use of it. Kinda says something.
 
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Bill Haithcoat

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Back to the issue of punctuality. The northbound Crescent can even be as much as an hour early into NYC. How? Because all the stops from Alexandria, Va., above are to DISCHARGE passengers only.

No new passengers taken aboard. Thus nobody to leave behind. Local rail business in that area (called the Northest corrider) is very well served by many trains throughout the day--the long distance trains from New Orleans(and from Florida) don't have to be get bogged down with that.

So, if already on time when it hits Alexandria, it COULD sprint right on through, dispatcher permitting, and be quite early. ( But don't book an opera on it!!)
 

battalion51

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There is also some padding built into the schedule on the NEC to try to get the train into Penn Station on time. Even though CSX and NS have already lost their candy money on the train, now they're just trying to protect the product. There's also some pad built in for the engine change at WAS and slower operation if the train has to run the diesels through to Philly.
 
Joined
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Geaux Cajuns baby! LOL :lol:


Tuscaloosa's a very nice town, I was at UA for a conference last year, and they have a beautiful campus. Of course nothing can compare to The Florida State University. B)
Geaux Cajuns! :D How on earth did you guess? Thanks! Even though my handle may imply otherwise, I am really enjoying my time here in Tuscaloosa. It is an excellent college town!

On to the business at hand......

Interesting...an engine change at WAS?? Are we allowed to view this?

Finally, are passengers allowed to disembark at some of the major stops?

S I T
 
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Back to the issue of punctuality. The northbound Crescent can even be as much as an hour early into NYC. How? Because all the stops from Alexandria, Va., above are to DISCHARGE passengers only.
No new passengers taken aboard. Thus nobody to leave behind. Local rail business in that area (called the Northest corrider) is very well served by many trains throughout the day--the long distance trains from New Orleans(and from Florida) don't have to be get bogged down with that.

So, if already on time when it hits Alexandria, it COULD sprint right on through, dispatcher permitting, and be quite early. ( But don't book an opera on it!!)
Thanks, Bill!

S I T
 

Bill Haithcoat

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Geaux Cajuns baby! LOL :lol:

Tuscaloosa's a very nice town, I was at UA for a conference last year, and they have a beautiful campus. Of course nothing can compare to The Florida State University. B)
Geaux Cajuns! :D How on earth did you guess? Thanks! Even though my handle may imply otherwise, I am really enjoying my time here in Tuscaloosa. It is an excellent college town!

On to the business at hand......

Interesting...an engine change at WAS?? Are we allowed to view this?

Finally, are passengers allowed to disembark at some of the major stops?

S I T
About watching the engine change or otherwise gettiing off the train. It is not encouraged but to a limited extent it can be done. Just stay in touch with your car attendant. Since you are in sleeper you will be very near the front, where the diesel engine is exchanged for an electric enginie. But do not go any closer than the sleeper immediately behinid the baggage car---for 9/11 reasons. Always keep 9/11 in mind. Several people usually do get off in WAS, some just to smoke, or stretch their legs.

But remember it may not stay long in WAS once its business is done since there are no new people to be boarded. Phlly is ok for stepping off southbound, if on time, but does not work well northbound since it will just pause and leave as soon as it can. I guess a few people step off and smoke in Birmingham and Atlanta. My recommendation is don't bother with it until the next morning in WAS where you may really want to sretch your legs--and not stray too far away.

Note also that you will see most of our major natinal landmarks (except the White House) on the train's left shortly before arrival in DC, after departure from Alexandria, Va. If you have not seen much of them, keep that in mind for a sightseeing tip.
 

AmtrakCrescent20

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Jan 4, 2007
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Geaux Cajuns baby! LOL :lol:

Tuscaloosa's a very nice town, I was at UA for a conference last year, and they have a beautiful campus. Of course nothing can compare to The Florida State University. B)
Geaux Cajuns! :D How on earth did you guess? Thanks! Even though my handle may imply otherwise, I am really enjoying my time here in Tuscaloosa. It is an excellent college town!

On to the business at hand......

Interesting...an engine change at WAS?? Are we allowed to view this?

Finally, are passengers allowed to disembark at some of the major stops?

S I T
Now please don't think I'm some crazy person who wants to disrupt Amtrak's operations by my comments, but I am a railfan. These are strictly my personal experience. I don't want to offend/anger etc. anyone by this post.

First: watching the engine change. I have many times walked all the way to the front of the train to get consist #s, pictures, etc. Often I will ask a baggage handler or other employee standing around, and unless the locos are past where the platform ends, they almost always say yes. No one can get angry at you unless there's a sign, so it isn't really a risk, UNLESS you're in New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal. After the incident there a couple years ago, I wouldn't even risk snapping a picture on the platform there. The platforms are long in WAS so you sould be fine walking all the way to the front of the train, but anyone please correct me if the staff at WAS do have a problem with this. On the SB Crescent, the engine change is done under the station, where there is no platform and it is in the dark, so you couldn't watch it going southbound.

Now, on the Crescent, you can certainly get off at WAS, since the train stops there for roughly 30 minutes, even if late. Once on #20, we were 5 hours late, but still stopped for the regular time, actually longer. You can also get off in Charlotte and ATL, where the train stops for 20 min. each. I like to get off at every opportunity possible, but as Bill said you may not want to. In BHM the train stops for roughly 15 minutes, but the station is ugly. You may be able to see a private car sitting in the station. I should also note that at the southern end of the platform (end of #20) in Charlotte you can get a nice night view of the skyline.

The coach attendants are usually stricter about getting off at stops, and make you stay right next to the door, since they have many passengers to keep up with. The sleeper attendants, however, usually let you go wherever you want to as long as you don't miss the train! :)
 
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AlanB

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Interesting...an engine change at WAS?? Are we allowed to view this?

Finally, are passengers allowed to disembark at some of the major stops?
First: watching the engine change. I have many times walked all the way to the front of the train to get consist #s, pictures, etc. Often I will ask a baggage handler or other employee standing around, and unless the locos are past where the platform ends, they almost always say yes. No one can get angry at you unless there's a sign, so it isn't really a risk, UNLESS you're in New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal. After the incident there a couple years ago, I wouldn't even risk snapping a picture on the platform there. The platforms are long in WAS so you sould be fine walking all the way to the front of the train, but anyone please correct me if the staff at WAS do have a problem with this. On the SB Crescent, the engine change is done under the station, where there is no platform and it is in the dark, so you couldn't watch it going southbound.
First that incident in New Orleans had a few major issues, including that the person was well past the train he was boarding. Perhaps even off the end of the platform. And then the entire incident was poorly handled by both the police and the passenger.

Now, that said, I would urge caution in DC if you disembark to watch the engine change. I do know of people that have been questioned before for trying to do so, myself included. Additionally, they have just this week clamped down on security in WUS, including blocking off some platforms from others on the upper level. One used to be able to walk from one side of the upper level to the other, right alongside the bumper blocks. One can no longer do that, as of this week, for security reasons.

So SIT, if you get off in DC, I suggest the following. First, make sure that you bring your ticket stub with you, so that you have proof that you are indeed a passenger on that train. Second, I would ask you sleeping car attendant if it is ok to do so. This way an Amtrak employee is aware of what your intentions are. Next, don't walk past the engine and stay to the far side of the platform so as to not interfere. Next, keep your eyes and ears open as the track on the other side could have a departing/arriving train. Also watch out for moving golf carts carrying supplies and/or redcaps helping the disabled. Next, if at all possible, bring along one of the kids as that will help to alay fears by other Amtrak employees.

Finally if challenged, show your ticket stub immediately and obviously be polite while explaining that you just wanted to see the engine change with your kid(s).
 
Joined
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Messages
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Interesting...an engine change at WAS?? Are we allowed to view this?

Finally, are passengers allowed to disembark at some of the major stops?
First: watching the engine change. I have many times walked all the way to the front of the train to get consist #s, pictures, etc. Often I will ask a baggage handler or other employee standing around, and unless the locos are past where the platform ends, they almost always say yes. No one can get angry at you unless there's a sign, so it isn't really a risk, UNLESS you're in New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal. After the incident there a couple years ago, I wouldn't even risk snapping a picture on the platform there. The platforms are long in WAS so you sould be fine walking all the way to the front of the train, but anyone please correct me if the staff at WAS do have a problem with this. On the SB Crescent, the engine change is done under the station, where there is no platform and it is in the dark, so you couldn't watch it going southbound.
First that incident in New Orleans had a few major issues, including that the person was well past the train he was boarding. Perhaps even off the end of the platform. And then the entire incident was poorly handled by both the police and the passenger.

Now, that said, I would urge caution in DC if you disembark to watch the engine change. I do know of people that have been questioned before for trying to do so, myself included. Additionally, they have just this week clamped down on security in WUS, including blocking off some platforms from others on the upper level. One used to be able to walk from one side of the upper level to the other, right alongside the bumper blocks. One can no longer do that, as of this week, for security reasons.

So SIT, if you get off in DC, I suggest the following. First, make sure that you bring your ticket stub with you, so that you have proof that you are indeed a passenger on that train. Second, I would ask you sleeping car attendant if it is ok to do so. This way an Amtrak employee is aware of what your intentions are. Next, don't walk past the engine and stay to the far side of the platform so as to not interfere. Next, keep your eyes and ears open as the track on the other side could have a departing/arriving train. Also watch out for moving golf carts carrying supplies and/or redcaps helping the disabled. Next, if at all possible, bring along one of the kids as that will help to alay fears by other Amtrak employees.

Finally if challenged, show your ticket stub immediately and obviously be polite while explaining that you just wanted to see the engine change with your kid(s).
WOW!! Darn fellas, I just might have to beg off on the watching the engine change, but thank you guys for the info!

OK Alan...Crescent, you have absolutely piqued my curiosity. What was the incident in N.O. that you guys are referencing? Is it out of place for me to ask? :huh:

Thanks again for all the info!! Keep it coming!

S I T
 
G

Guest

Guest
I don't know if its different in WAS, but in Albany everyone is fine with you watching. Done it twice, and both times not had any major problems. WAS is a covered station, and a little less open though. I think what everyone else has been describing is just in case.

And certainly talk to and get to know your attendant and any other staff. Some are gruff, but most are happy to explain things or whatever if they aren't already busy.
 

AlanB

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WOW!! Darn fellas, I just might have to beg off on the watching the engine change, but thank you guys for the info!
I wouldn't beg off trying to watch, just approach it cautiously and talk with Amtrak people that you see so that they understand what you want to do and why, and if they refuse then don't push the issue.

OK Alan...Crescent, you have absolutely piqued my curiosity. What was the incident in N.O. that you guys are referencing? Is it out of place for me to ask? :huh:
It's certainly not out of place to ask, that's what this forum is all about, being able to ask questions that relate to Amtrak, be they good or bad.

As for the incident, winging things from memory and with the caveat that there is always two sides to every story. A railfan at NOL walked down his train the Sunset Limited if I recall correctly, taking pictures. The Sunset used to arrive from LA, hang out for several hours in NOL if it was on time, before continuing on to Florida.

It was during this layover that he got off the train to photograph it. He then noticed that there was either an engine or some private car a few tracks over from his train. He proceeded to walk down the platform for his train, past the engines, so that he could then shoot a picture of that engine/car hiding behind his train.

According to one report, he was warned by a few employees to go back, but did not. Perhaps figuring that it is a platform that is open to the public, so why would it matter. Also of some debate is whether he actually did go beyond the very end of the platform, I’ve heard stories saying yes and others saying no.

In any event, Amtrak police came up and the initial conversation did not go well. Again, I’ve heard differing stories on what was said and by whom, but Amtrak police took him into custody and called New Orleans police. The photographer spent the night in a NOL jail cell while his train left without him continuing on to Florida.
 
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