Upcoming Amtrak LD Schedule Changes (2021)

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Palmetto

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Here's something to consider: many airlines schedule once-a-day service to leave their terminals at o'dark thirty. I took Air New Zealand to Apia, Western Samoa one time from L.A. Arrival in Apia was at 2:30 AM. Going back to L.A. departure time was at 3 AM. I point this out because Amtrak is not the only one that has "poor" departure/arrival times. As always, the solution to this dilemma for Amtrak is service that occurs more than once a day. The host railroads won't like that, though.
 

jebr

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You have it backwards. It's CP that runs the train between Chicago and Hastings, MN, where it gets onto the BNSF for the rest of the way to the West coast.
Yeah, that's my bad there. I was thinking of the eastbound Empire Builder (so coming from the west, not the east.) The statistics out of MSP are for the eastbound (which should reflect the trackage west of MSP.) I've corrected my post.
 

tricia

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Going northbound you actually should get some decent scenery especially on the left side of the train. I used to work a contract that was a scenic excursion one weekend of the year every year. So you'll pick up some good scenery. On the southbound in the summer you should pick up a bit of the upstate of South Carolina and the mountainous part of Georgia in daylight. The scenery actually improved with this trade off. It's only the business market that lost out.
Not only the business market. Everyone who uses the train at stations from Atlanta to Charlotte will have to plan to board past midnight.
 

Cal

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I'm baffled at the notion that Amtrak's schedules "need" to be reworked and made still longer so that host railroads can accommodate them. Don't they all already have a heckuva lot of padding? Certainly the Crescent does.
Yep, they do. This just shows that Amtrak isn't given priority enough if they have to extend the schedule even more.

I just hope they don't mess with the CZ and other routes that the current schedule gives them good scenery.
 

NativeSon5859

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Better departure time out of NOL for sure. That’s all I really care about. And a 915pm arrival isn’t too bad. If anything in the inbound dinner service on 19 won’t be as rushed.

ATL customers will get used to the new schedule in time.
 

Steve4031

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Going northbound you actually should get some decent scenery especially on the left side of the train. I used to work a contract that was a scenic excursion one weekend of the year every year. So you'll pick up some good scenery. On the southbound in the summer you should pick up a bit of the upstate of South Carolina and the mountainous part of Georgia in daylight. The scenery actually improved with this trade off. It's only the business market that lost out.
While I personally would want to ride the new schedule to see the now visible scenery, I think not carefully thinking about the Atlanta-Washington-New York market is a mistake. The ridership west of Atlanta has been light for years. The only thing that could strengthen it IMHO would be a routing via Montgomery and mobile, adding two larger markets. But timing would suffers.
 

merkelman06

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Right now they are not showing any connections northbound in CVS to the Cardinal or in WAS to the Capitol Limited or Silvers. All connections show up southbound though.
 

jis

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Right now they are not showing any connections northbound in CVS to the Cardinal or in WAS to the Capitol Limited or Silvers. All connections show up southbound though.
That is mostly because the timings southbound have not changed at WAS or CVS. All the changes are further south AFAICT. So they did not have to make any changes as far as connections go.

I suspect they have not programmed the connections from the northbound Crescent that are still feasible for the new timing yet. And being Amtrak, until someone points that out to them they probably won't do the work, or they will maybe get around to it eventually.
 

zephyr17

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I'm baffled at the notion that Amtrak's schedules "need" to be reworked and made still longer so that host railroads can accommodate them. Don't they all already have a heckuva lot of padding? Certainly the Crescent does.
Because it is part of the regulation finalized in December 2020 giving the STB authority to enforce passenger delay metrics. It is the only win the freight railroads got.

The basic passenger delay metric adopted is counting any passenger delayed more that 15 minutes at their destination station. The railroads wanted only endpoint times counted, or certain major intermediate points. Nope, any station, be it Chicago or Cut Bank.

The new reg has actual teeth.
 

AmtrakBlue

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That is mostly because the timings southbound have not changed at WAS or CVS. All the changes are further south AFAICT. So they did not have to make any changes as far as connections go.

I suspect they have not programmed the connections from the northbound Crescent that are still feasible for the new timing yet. And being Amtrak, until someone points that out to them they probably won't do the work, or they will maybe get around to it eventually.
Or they’re waiting to update time changes for those other trains. 🤷‍♀️
 

saxman

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So are we to assume Amtrak is going to tweak on the schedules. Connections are of upmost importance for Amtrak's LD trains. As with any schedule change for an overnight train there are going to be winners and losers.

I made a rough spreadsheet of the new schedule:

1620143549721.png

Not much change going southbound. They start adding padding around Greensboro with an additional 10 minutes and eventually get to adding 90 minutes into New Orleans.

Northbound. You get to Atlanta pretty late, but north of Charlotte, you start to get better times. The connections are actually better if you want to go into eastern North Carolina such as Raleigh. It's also a shorter time to wait for the Cardinal in Charlottesville. In DC, there's not really enough time to catch the Star, but plenty to catch the Meteor.
 

NativeSon5859

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Now all they need to do is adjust the Sunset Limited schedules. Have #2 arrive NOL at 0730, and have #1 depart NOL at 2230. That way you could have same day connections in NOL between the Sunset and Crescent.
Wishful thinking probably...
 

jis

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For the Sunset, they will tend to preserve the Coast Starlight connection at LAX before they fix any other connections. That has been their stand for decades.
 

NativeSon5859

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For the Sunset, they will tend to preserve the Coast Starlight connection at LAX before they fix any other connections. That has been their stand for decades.
Kind of a shame in a sense. You have multiple Surfliners plus the bus connections to the San Joaquin throughout the day. New city pairs like LAX/SAS/HOS-BHM/ATL/CLT would open up. But maybe the numbers don’t look as good for those compared to the Starlight connection.
 

zephyr17

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For the Sunset, they will tend to preserve the Coast Starlight connection at LAX before they fix any other connections. That has been their stand for decades.
There was a pretty big gap on that when during the UP meltdown they changed the LA departure to 2 pm for a few years.

Notwithstanding the Starlight connection, I liked that schedule. Beaumont Pass in daytime, going along the Salton Sea at sunset, Pecos High Bridge in the afternoon.
 

Cal

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There was a pretty big gap on that when during the UP meltdown they changed the LA departure to 2 pm for a few years.

Notwithstanding the Starlight connection, I liked that schedule. Beaumont Pass in daytime, going along the Salton Sea at sunset, Pecos High Bridge in the afternoon.
Me too. I actually rode it during that time. However I didn't care much for the scenery at the time, unfortunately. I would love for the schedule to return to that. Seeing the approach into LA during daylight would be nice
 

bms

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As always, the solution to this dilemma for Amtrak is service that occurs more than once a day. The host railroads won't like that, though.
I think the current Crescent schedule, offset by 12 hours, would make a nice ATL-WAS day train. Norfolk Southern would successfully oppose any new service unless Amtrak moved to a new station to eliminate the bottleneck at Peachtree Station. The official State Rail Plan recommends building Five Points Station downtown, but I doubt their legislature will fund that station anytime soon.
 
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Anderson

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So are we to assume Amtrak is going to tweak on the schedules. Connections are of upmost importance for Amtrak's LD trains. As with any schedule change for an overnight train there are going to be winners and losers.

I made a rough spreadsheet of the new schedule:

View attachment 22157

Not much change going southbound. They start adding padding around Greensboro with an additional 10 minutes and eventually get to adding 90 minutes into New Orleans.

Northbound. You get to Atlanta pretty late, but north of Charlotte, you start to get better times. The connections are actually better if you want to go into eastern North Carolina such as Raleigh. It's also a shorter time to wait for the Cardinal in Charlottesville. In DC, there's not really enough time to catch the Star, but plenty to catch the Meteor.
One other thing I'll note: While a slight massage SB into Greensboro would be nice, this effectively gets you a partial "day train" from CLT northwards (the lack of which has been a sore point on that side of VA for some time). A move which had preserved the times on the south end there but which had moved the northern end a bit would not have been unwelcome given this choice.

As to the Star, I think the connection might move to Alexandria (which adds about 40-45 minutes to the pad (1:52 to 3:25 gives 90 minutes).
 

saxman

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Now all they need to do is adjust the Sunset Limited schedules. Have #2 arrive NOL at 0730, and have #1 depart NOL at 2230. That way you could have same day connections in NOL between the Sunset and Crescent.
Wishful thinking probably...
The most important connection are the through cars from the Texas Eagle.
 
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MARC Rider

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Here's something to consider: many airlines schedule once-a-day service to leave their terminals at o'dark thirty. I took Air New Zealand to Apia, Western Samoa one time from L.A. Arrival in Apia was at 2:30 AM. Going back to L.A. departure time was at 3 AM. I point this out because Amtrak is not the only one that has "poor" departure/arrival times. As always, the solution to this dilemma for Amtrak is service that occurs more than once a day. The host railroads won't like that, though.
Ah yes, Travelers to the Holy Land have long chronicled the experience of the famed EL Al 2 AM departures for various points in Europe and North America. I myself experienced two of these. One, in 1972, was a flight to Paris, and involved my being taken into a closed booth and hand-frisked. The security agent found a pocket knife I had forgotten about. He laughed and after telling me what a junky knife it was (he was probably correct), he put in in a box and checked it through to Paris. The second time was with my wife in 1989, for the 2 AM flight to New York. When they took us out to the plane, the door had been disassembled, and mechanics were busily working on it as we were boarded. Fortunately, except for turbulence that kept the fasten seat belt sign on most of the trip, the flight was uneventful.

I think these weird departure times were planned with the idea of facilitating onward connections. This was true for our 1989 flight to New York, as we had a connecting flight to BWI. The process for connecting flights involves your clearing customs and immigration, and then rechecking your bag for the domestic segment. As you can imagine, this takes a good amount of time, so the inbound flight really needs to arrive early in the day to ensure the maximum number of connections. I think we got into Paris around 6 or 7 AM, and our New York flight was similar. In that case, we not only needed to clear Customs and recheck our bags, we had to go to a completely different terminal at JFK. I don't think the BWI flight left until 10 or 11 in the morning. It's one reason why the next time I fly across the Atlantic, I'll probably just take British Airways from BWI, so I don't have to deal with the connection at JFK.
 

railiner

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Now all they need to do is adjust the Sunset Limited schedules. Have #2 arrive NOL at 0730, and have #1 depart NOL at 2230. That way you could have same day connections in NOL between the Sunset and Crescent.
Wishful thinking probably...
Be careful what you wish for....they could establish that same day connection at New Orleans by really slowing down the Sunset and adding a night to its trip.
Sort of like they did to the Canadian...
 

Seaboard92

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hat I would do is build a new station in Atlanta near the former Terminal Station. Then shift the Crescent via Montgomery and Mobile. Followed by adding another train down the Silver Star route to Columbia, continuing on to Atlanta via Augusta, before going on to Meridian and Dallas
 

Just-Thinking-51

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I'm baffled at the notion that Amtrak's schedules "need" to be reworked and made still longer so that host railroads can accommodate them. Don't they all already have a heckuva lot of padding? Certainly the Crescent does.
Add time to a schedule does not help the overall timekeeping. With the new enforcement, things might change or not. I am just not hopeful.
 
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