Amtrak Crescent Discussion

Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

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Ending chronic northbound delays?

Postby SouthernRailway » Sun Oct 29, 2017 6:11 pm

I have an upcoming trip on the northbound Crescent and see that unfortunately the train is almost never on time, and is often delayed up to 3 hours or more. Thanks to mmi16's helpful insights, it appears that these chronic delays are due to freight congestion west of Atlanta. (The southbound Crescent appears pretty timely, apart from the summer of 2017 during Penn Station work.)

It looks as though these delays have been going on for years. What is Amtrak doing about this, and when can we expect to see these delays ended?

I also thought that Norfolk Southern was considered to be a well-run railroad, but a railroad that has chronic delays of hours and hours on the same route nearly every day for years does not seem well-run.

A train that's late every now and then is tolerable, but one that is late 3 hours or more, or so, basically every single day makes it basically worthless to people who live between Atlanta and Spartanburg, SC, since they'd be able to board at a civilized hour if the train is on time but in the middle of the night if it's not.

Thanks.
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Re: Amtrak Crescent Discussion

Postby mtuandrew » Sun Oct 29, 2017 7:23 pm

Took the Crescent NB out of Clemson once - this is accurate, and we still had a dozen people boarding at whatever obscene hour it was. (Time for state governments to look into a NYP-WAS-CLT-ATL daylight Regional?)
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Re: Amtrak Crescent Discussion

Postby Greg Moore » Sun Oct 29, 2017 9:10 pm

I don't think a NYP-ATL daylight would work. But WAS-ATL is right at the edge of the limit for a day train and would work.
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Re: Amtrak Crescent Discussion

Postby electricron » Sun Oct 29, 2017 9:51 pm

WAS to ATL is 634 rail miles. That's much too short for Amtrak to provide by law without a state subsidizing it. Which state, or states, do you think should? Good luck getting them to participate. It's 859 rail miles between NYP and ATL, 109 rail miles longer than the 750 needed for Amtrak to provide the service. It takes the Crescent almost 18 hours to travel between NYP and ATL. That's a very long haul for a coach only train.
https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/proj ... 090217.pdf
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Re: Amtrak Crescent Discussion

Postby Backshophoss » Sun Oct 29, 2017 10:12 pm

Part of the problem is getting thru Atlanta,seems there's a crossing CSX and NS fight over to get thru,and some form of freight congestion
that fouls Amtrak's run just south of Atlanta on NS
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Re: Amtrak Crescent Discussion

Postby Arlington » Mon Oct 30, 2017 6:54 am

Palmetto is a long, coach-only train and comes close to breaking even. The idea of a day train that hit, CLT, and ATL is simply that these are even larger anchor cities than the Palmetto hits, and whether it starts at NYP or WAS it should require only a.modest PRIIA subsidy such as NC and VA might provide (it might start only as a NYP-CLT train once CLT is expanded)

Attitudes towards transit seem.to be slowly evolving on the Atlanta end, too. It may also be that Clemson starts engaging its influential alumni once it sees the benefits that UVa and VaTech are getting from Roanoke service.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
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Re: Amtrak Crescent Discussion

Postby SouthernRailway » Mon Oct 30, 2017 9:51 am

Maybe the solution would be to have 2 NYC-Atlanta trains and a separate train between New Orleans and Atlanta.

Seems as though having longer-distance trains run on the NEC to NYP, instead of originating in Washington, adds significant ridership and helps the trains' finances (see the Palmetto, for one), so I wouldn't see Amtrak do a Washington-Atlanta train.
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Re: Amtrak Crescent Discussion

Postby Greg Moore » Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:31 pm

Just a point of clarification on why I think WAS-ATL works, barely.

Forget funding for a minute. That's a separate issue.

The question is "what time can you leave WAS"
If we assume 6:30 AM (that's early, I know, but makes the "math" easier) you can expect to get into ATL by 9:00 PM.
That's a long day, BUT, it's definitely doable in a day. But ideally, you'd want to shorten that by say 2 hours (and either leave at 8:30 and arrive the same time or leave a bit earlier and then arrive a bit earlier).

Getting in at 9:00 PM might be an issue if the NB Crescent is late, but that can be worked around.

Given this time, it gives plenty of time to loop the train some place, refuel, restock and store it for the night, and then bring it into the station for say an 6:30 AM departure northbound.

Again, long day, but given the number of WAS-ATL coach passengers I see, across all demographics, I could definitely see a daylight version of this train doing QUITE well as it also would effectively hit other cities.

Don't bother trying to extend this one to NYP. It would just take look long If someone really want NYP, they'll take the Crescent.
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Re: Amtrak Crescent Discussion

Postby east point » Mon Oct 30, 2017 1:33 pm

electricron wrote:
Greg Moore wrote:I don't think a NYP-ATL daylight would work. But WAS-ATL is right at the edge of the limit for a day train and would work.

WAS to ATL is 634 rail miles. That's much too short for Amtrak to provide by law without a state subsidizing it. Which state, or states, do you think should? Good luck getting them to participate. It's 859 rail miles between NYP and ATL, 109 rail miles longer than the 750 needed for Amtrak to provide the service. It takes the Crescent almost 18 hours to travel between NYP and ATL. That's a very long haul for a coach only train.
https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/proj ... 090217.pdf


The Crescent is limited in its speeds NYP <> WASH. You can expect a new train to mirror the Carolinian & Palmetto times NYP - WASH
which can cause a total time reduction to 17 hours. Since train 171 leaves NYP at 4:40 an 8:00 departure from WASH could be possible. Extra cars off at WASH. The train could still carry to local passengers NYP - WASH and be a LD train to ATL much like the Palmetto. Am sure the reverse train could do the same.

EDIT -- Virginia DOT might like this proposal as it gets the second Lynchburg train in service. VA DOT might only have to put in Half of what they would need to for a specific Lynchburg train ? Then Danville gets another train. NC might as well put one in or make it connect to a Piedmont that would not have to go Greensboro <> CLT ?

The biggest problems will be equipment ( probably 1-1/2 train sets ? ) and getting 2 slots across Long Bridge.
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Re: Amtrak Crescent Discussion

Postby palmland » Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:06 pm

It baffles me why VA DOT doesn't work with NC DOT and reroute the Carolinian via Charlottesville/Lynchburg. If there was a connecting Piedmont Greensboro-Raleigh, I believe ridership would increase significantly. The Palmetto well serves the smaller NC towns of Rocky Mount, Wilson, and Selma. The Carolinian would likely pick up a significant amount of traffic from the much larger towns of Charlottesville and Lynchburg as well as Danville and Greensboro. If it left NYP at 6am instead of current 7, the Carolinian would arrive Charlotte at 6pm rather than 8 (saves 1 hour on the more direct routing). This change would require no additional equipment and little if any additional cost with its shorter rail miles.

The next step would be to extend it south and would arrive in Greenville at 8pm and Atlanta well before midnight. The equipment could turn for an early am departure north. The problem with this would of course be the additional crew expense and miles on the NS, but certainly doable. Probably an initial extension to the fast growing industrial city of Greenville and increasing baby boomer retirement destination would be logical, but SC is not likely to pay for anything. NYP-Greenville mileage is 709.
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Re: Amtrak Crescent Discussion

Postby east point » Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:39 pm

palmland wrote:It baffles me why VA DOT doesn't work with NC DOT and reroute the Carolinian via Charlottesville/Lynchburg. If there was a connecting Piedmont Greensboro-Raleigh, I believe ridership would increase significantly. The Carolinian would likely pick up a significant amount of traffic from the much larger towns of Charlottesville and Lynchburg as well as Danville and Greensboro. The next step would be to extend it south and would arrive in Greenville at 8pm and Atlanta well before midnight. .


Rerouting the Carolinian would drop all the daytime connections from CLY - RGH to Richmond . Petersburg and intermediate stops. . The population on the present route is much higher that Danville - CVS. Its the intermediate stations that count the most. CLT / GRO does not have many passengers for Danville / CVS. If RGH - Petersburg ever gets restored time will be close to same as the NS route.
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Re: Amtrak Crescent Discussion

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:59 pm

What east point said.

However, if Georgia and South Carolina still refuse to put in money on the statewide level for a WAS-ATL Regional, it would still be possible with funding from VADOT, NCDOT, and individual institutions further south like the City of Atlanta, Clemson University and city, the counties en route, etc. The states can provide back-door funding through crossing mitigation and the like. It is definitely not ideal, but such a coalition of local organizations is still holding for the Hoosier State.
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Re: Amtrak Crescent Discussion

Postby palmland » Mon Oct 30, 2017 4:20 pm

east point wrote:
palmland wrote:It baffles me why VA DOT doesn't work with NC DOT and reroute the Carolinian via Charlottesville/Lynchburg. If there was a connecting Piedmont Greensboro-Raleigh, I believe ridership would increase significantly. The Carolinian would likely pick up a significant amount of traffic from the much larger towns of Charlottesville and Lynchburg as well as Danville and Greensboro. The next step would be to extend it south and would arrive in Greenville at 8pm and Atlanta well before midnight. .


Rerouting the Carolinian would drop all the daytime connections from CLY - RGH to Richmond . Petersburg and intermediate stops. . The population on the present route is much higher that Danville - CVS. Its the intermediate stations that count the most. CLT / GRO does not have many passengers for Danville / CVS. If RGH - Petersburg ever gets restored time will be close to same as the NS route.


But what is the real market? Is it CLT to Petersburg, Richmond as you suggest, or is it CLT to WAS/ NEC (and Lynchburg/CVS to NEC)?
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Re: Amtrak Crescent Discussion

Postby Bob Roberts » Mon Oct 30, 2017 4:26 pm

I am under the impression that NS is not enthusiastic about more passenger traffic on their Charlotte-Atlanta main as it is currently operated. They have been quite protective about additional traffic around their new intermodal yard at the Charlotte airport and they have some very time sensitive traffic in the upstate as well. None of this is an issue on the NCRR (NE of Charlotte since NS is only a tenant on those tracks.

I suspect the kind of money that NS is going to want for a new CLT-ATL frequency would be a pretty good downpayment on SEHSR dedicated ROW.
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Re: Amtrak Crescent Discussion

Postby east point » Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:14 pm

Operating a train NYP <> ATL by way of RGH will provide service that may have never been operated. You have stations south of CLT having a train going to stations east of Greensboro to Lorton that has never had that service ?.. Some one may tell us if SOU RR ever had thru cars from GRO east but doubt it ? Connects capitals of ATL, RGH, & Richmond which gets POLs interested.
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