Amtrak Crescent Discussion

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Amtrak Crescent Discussion

Postby NJ3rdRAIL » Tue Mar 30, 2004 2:56 am

Was wondering if anyone can share what they feel are some "must see highlights" on the Crescents route. My family will be travelling on it in a few weeks from Newark Penn thru to New Orleans. We will be travelling with a 2 1/2 year old and would like a heads up on when to head back to our sleeper and grab the camera to be on the lookout for those highlights. I read somewhere that there is an awesome bridge you hit heading southbound right at sunset, but I wouldnt know what bridge that they were referring to as sunset is variable based on the time of year one is riding and of course there is the timetable(schedule) to consider. Also, by the looks of the route, there may be more than one bridge.

A coworker took the Crescent from NYP to New Orleans and was due in at 8:'ish pm but was delayed and arrived 3:48am. Does anyone know of a site that shows arrival times so I can see if this is a rare or likely occurance. I like to have all my ducks in a row before travelling (especially when we have our son with us).

I am trying to make heads or tails of the timetable to see if there will be any stops long enough to jump out and take a few pictures of the train.
Anyone know of a longer stop that would be safe to grab the family, run off and snap a few pix at?

Any helpful hints (sightseeing or otherwise) would be apprecaited. I was told by a helpful poster to be sure to have dinner southbound BEFORE Washington DC as the train gets crowded. That is the kind of info I like to know before I leave. Thanks all! :) Can't wait!!!!
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Postby David Benton » Tue Mar 30, 2004 3:03 am

go to www.amtrak.com . and you can check the arrival times of the train , over the last 30 days or so .
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crescent sightseeing hihglights

Postby bill haithcoat » Tue Mar 30, 2004 3:05 pm

For any train going south from Washington, many major landmarks appear on the right hand side of a southbound train. You will see the Capitol, the Lincoln, Jefferson and Washington monuments, the tidal basin, the basic sights. All within minutes of leaving the station.

Otherwise, I cannot think of any thing in particular. In Philly you see most of the downtown to the left, same in Baltimore. In Atlanta, most of the downtown(and mid-town) is on the left and in Birmingham most is on the right. Nearing New Orleans, most of the water is on the right......so, come to think of it, the national l monuments and the bayous both being on the right southbound, that makes that the best side of the train.
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Crescent Scenery

Postby coalmine » Tue Mar 30, 2004 4:26 pm

There is also some surprisingly rugged country between Atlanta and Birmingham - steep grades and tight turns. Yiou can view this from either side of the train.

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Postby queenlnr8 » Tue Mar 30, 2004 4:59 pm

I believe that Richmond, VA is a rather lengthy station stop. (Fueling?) But, depending on what time you leave Newark Penn, it might be night time when you get there. (Not a really 'WOW' station anyway.)

When you get on the train, which is usually late when I check on it in PHL, ask the conductor or car attendant what the long stops will be. They will be the best ones to ask. Also, during the day, they will announce 'smoking stops' for the nicotine addicted travellers. These will allow you to get out and stretch and snap some photos.

Also, in DC you might want to let your son watch the always interesting engine change. Be sure to scurry off the train as soon as you stop, as they begin right away. The workers are friendly and will usually chat with you while they are waiting for the engines to switch.

Have a great trip! Let us know how you like it.
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CRESCENT SIGHTSEEING

Postby bill haithcoat » Tue Mar 30, 2004 5:25 pm

The Crescent does not stop in or go through Richmond.

The longer stops are the ones shown in the timetable which have a separate arrival time and departure time. That would be Washington, Charlottesville(just a few minutes), Charlotte(in the middle of the night), Atlanta, BIrmingham. Check with the car attendant before wandering off. And remember if the train arrives late it may not stay the amount of time shown in the timetable, but instead may under-stay that amount in order to make up time.

The stops which only show a departure time, don't even try them, unless you perhaps arrive very early. Like Meridian,MS. I recall getting off the train there a time or two, when it arrived early.
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Postby NJ3rdRAIL » Wed Mar 31, 2004 1:14 am

Thank you all for the information. Mr. Haithcoat- I am happy that we will have the opportunity to have both sides of the train accessible from Tuscaloosa AL to New Orleans as we were "bumped" from our deluxe sleeper and were re-accomodated to 2 standards across from each other for this leg of the journey. I hope the Bayous will be clearly visible and further hope the train will not be so late as to miss the bayous if it is too dark to see.

I am sure both my boys (hubby and son) will enjoy the changing of the engines. That is one of the few things I remember about my first and only other LD trip in the mid-70's- changing engines in DC.

Someone told me that as a first class pax-I have access to the lounge in Wash DC- so I assume we will be there for at least a few minutes. I will check out the timetable again. Is this a notable station not to be missed ( like GCS in NY)? I do not recall seeing it on my earlier trip south.
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Postby queenlnr8 » Wed Mar 31, 2004 1:42 am

My mistake on the Richmond, VA comment.

Yes, WAS is a station not to be missed. Part mall, part train station, all restored. BUT, you won't have the opportunity to see it while the engines are being changed. It is advised that you not leave the platform area as the train could leave at anytime after that diesel is put on the front. (I had to RUN to use the ATM.)

There are some great scenes in the movie Hannible with WAS as a supporting cast member. :wink: [/i]
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crescent highlights

Postby bill haithcoat » Wed Mar 31, 2004 8:00 am

I could not agree more with queenlnr8, the WAS station is one not to be missed---but for another time. You would not dare wander off into that l while the train is stopped. So, visit it another time---shopping,food court,movie theatres, access to commuter rail and subways, still a grand old building, resembles the Capitol and the other government buildings.

By the way, are you returning on the train? If so, be sure to eat dinner northbound before Atlanta, just as you should eat before WAS southbound----same reason. Train gets very crowded between WAS and ATL, each direction..

In Atlanta, you will start seeing some of MARTA tracks and trains before arriving at the station(I live in Atlanta). Much of that is on the train's right at first, but it skips around. MARTA is our mass transit system, subway, etc. You will see what little you see of Atlanta's downtown to the train's left as you are parked in Atlanta. It will soon disappear from view.

Do hope for the promptness and time change to be in your favour as you enter New Orleans, becasue the swamps etc are one of the two equal highlights--the other being the government monuments in WAS.
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crescent scenci highlights

Postby bill haithcoat » Wed Mar 31, 2004 8:35 am

One more thing.....if you ride it northbound, you wake up to delightful scenery in the rolling hills of Virginia. There is no ONE specific point, it is all rather pretty, with the sun rising, etc..
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Crescent tidbits

Postby octr202 » Wed Mar 31, 2004 8:49 am

Is the engine change on the Crescent still at Washington? I was under the impression that the Crescent, like the Florida trains, made its engine change at 30th St. in Philly nowadays. It hasn't always beent eh case...i remember riding it as a kid and seeing it pull into Wilmington behind electrics (actually two meatballs anytime I rode it -- never managed to get an E60 either time).

The old Southern Railway crossing of Lake Pontchartrain is a highlight, as many have hinted at. I can't recall how long the railroad trestle is that the Crescent passes over, but its still long, though no where near as long as the Causeway (something like 24 miles long over there on that highway). I remeber as a kid the ride over the Lake was like being on a ocean-going train.

Enjoy the trip!
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Postby queenlnr8 » Wed Mar 31, 2004 10:14 am

I believe that all engine changing (at least from electrics to diesel) is done at WAS. PHL (IMO) is too small of a station to do engine changes.

BTW, you won't see squat of the magnificent 30th Street Station in Philly. It's mostly a fly through station on NEC. (I don't think that any one train stops for >10 minutes here.) This, along with WAS, is another station to add to the list of ones to see.
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Postby octr202 » Wed Mar 31, 2004 11:44 am

Recently (i.e., the last few years), the trains that drop/add mail cars (MHCs/Roadrailers) at Philly were also making their engine change there. As the train is already being switched, it doesn't add time to change the power also.

It also has the benefit of freeing up electrics, since the LD trains don't need them south of Philly.

I believe this applied (applies?) to the Silver twins, the Palmetto, the Crescent, and the Cardinal (when its operating as a single-level train to NYP).
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Postby NJ3rdRAIL » Fri Apr 02, 2004 1:51 am

Again, great tips! It sounds like we will need to make a"practice" run to Phila 30th St. this weekend- not too far for a short trip. A friend just took a Metroliner from NJ to WAS for business and will be taking the Acela back tomorrow- he was very pleased w/his first trip ever on a train of any distance. I am anxious to hear his thoughts comparing the two.

As we get ready for our trip, I will need to find out what speed film is best for shooting pix from the moving train.

Thanks for the tips. We will plan our meal schedule around our sons needs and the "busy stops"- and I hope to get some nice pictures of the trip.
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Postby LI Loco » Fri Apr 02, 2004 8:32 am

Was wondering if anyone can share what they feel are some "must see highlights" on the Crescents route.


Short answer: none.

Sorry, folks. The operative word was "must see." Scenery along the route is unimpressive. There some high points; Atlanta - Birmingham, as an earlier correspondent mentioned, a few bridges, the sun setting over the Shenandoah Mountains in the distance, among them. But none of these are things someone can live without seeing, and there are much better routes for mountain scenery, even in the east.

The only things that stood out from my trip to New Orleans was seeing schools of large fish at the surface of Lake Ponchartrain when we crossed westbound around 7 pm; I wanted the train to stop so the chef could catch dinner <G>.

This doesn't mean don't take the train from Washington (or New York) to New Orleans (or Atlanta). The Crescent ranks among Amtrak's better LD runs, and if the food and service are up to par you should have a pleasant trip. Just don't count on the scenery to keep you amused; bring a few books and CDs along, just in case, and visit the club car from time to time <G>.
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