- Crescent (Amtrak)
name = Crescent
numbers = 19 southbound
New York City– New Orleans, Louisiana
distance = mi to km|1377
start = 1979
end = present
Amtrak, CSX, NSThe "Crescent" is a passenger trainoperated by Amtrakin the eastern part of the United States. It runs mi to km|1377 daily from Pennsylvania Station in New York Cityto New Orleans Union Passenger Terminalin New Orleans, Louisianaas train 19 and returns on the same route as train 20. Most of the route of the "Crescent" is on the Norfolk Southern Railway. The "Crescent" passes through more states (including the District of Columbia) than any other Amtrak route.
A decade after the Civil War, the predecessor of Southern Railway, the Richmond and Danville Railroad Company, established the "Piedmont Air Line Route." This connected the Northeastern US with Atlanta and New Orleans both via Richmond and via Southern's present route through Charlottesville, Va., and Lynchburg, Va. The "Southern Express" and the "Southern Mail" operated over these routes, on an advertised time of 57 hours and 40 minutes, including a change at Atlanta.
Today's "Crescent" is the lineal descendant of the "Washington and Southwestern Vestibuled Limited," inaugurated in January, 1891, by the Richmond and Danville Railroad along the "Piedmont Air Line Route." This Washington-Atlanta train was soon nicknamed the "Vestibule" because it was the first all-year train with vestibuled equipment operating in the South.
The brochure announcing the train hailed it as "a service second to none in completeness and elegance of detail ...providing all the latest and best facilities for the comfort and enjoyment of its patrons." And the "Vestibule" lived up to its billing. Drawing room and stateroom sleeping cars, dining cars, smoking and library cars and observation cars embodied the latest, most luxurious designs. They were gas lighted throughout and equipped with hot and cold running water. The vestibuled platforms proved an interesting novelty. Many passengers spent considerable time walking from one car to another just to enjoy the unusual experience of being able to do so without having their hats blown away.
Soon the Washington-Atlanta schedule expanded to include a through Pullman to New Orleans via Montgomery and Mobile, Ala., over the rails of the Atlanta & West Point, the Western Railway of Alabama, and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. New York was brought into the schedule, via a connection with the Pennsylvania Railroad's "Congressional Limited." Scheduled time for the New York-New Orleans run was advertised as a "40-hour, unprecedented" trip. Because of the popularity of this through service, the "Washington and Southwestern Vestibuled Limited" became a solid train of through cars between New York and New Orleans. It carried the first dining cars to operate between those two cities.
As Southern's railway partners sought to discontinue passenger services Southern Railway rerouted the train to an all-Southern route and operated the train as the "
Southern Crescent" between Washington, DC's Union Station and New Orleans. The "Southern Crescent" inaugurated service in 1970 by combining two trains that had run separately between New York and New Orleans for decades: the "Southerner", which ran over the Southern Railway between New Orleans and Atlanta via Birmingham; and the original "Crescent", which had previously used Atlanta and West Point Railroad, Western Railway of Alabamaand Louisville and Nashville Railroadtrackage between New Orleans and Atlanta via Mobile, Alabama. For the combined "Southern Crescent", Southern moved the train to the Birmingham route instead of the Mobile route.
Meanwhile, the A&WP, Western of Ala and L&N continued to run the "Crescent" between Atlanta and New Orleans. Each morning, the "Crescent" and the "Southern Crescent" departed Atlanta for New Orleans over different routes. By then, the "Crescent" was a coach only train sustained by two storage mail cars. Eventually, it was run combined with the "Pan American" south of Montgomery. In 1970, with the mail contract cancelled, the "Crescent" was discontinued.
Southern Railway, a predecessor of Norfolk Southern, initially opted out of Amtrak in 1971, although after
May 1, 1971, Amtrak, assuming the services of the Penn Central, carried the "Southern Crescent" between New York and Washington.
The "Southern Crescent" was one of the two last privately operated long-distance passenger services in the United States. On
February 1, 1979, Southern left the passenger business and turned over operation of the train to Amtrak, which again simplified the name to the "Crescent".
As a privately run operation, the "Southern Crescent" became a standout operation, the last of a kind in the United States. However, revenue losses forced Southern Railway to reconsider and the train was turned over to Amtrak in 1979.Fact|date=May 2008
Hurricane Katrinastruck Louisiana, Mississippiand Alabamain August 2005, the "Crescent" was temporarily truncated to Atlanta. Service was restored first as far as Meridian, Mississippias an interim measure as Norfolk Southern crews worked to repair the damage to their lines serving the Gulf Coast. Amtrak restored service to New Orleans on October 9, 2005with the northbound "Crescent" 's 7:20 AM departure; the first southbound arrival occurred later in the day. [ [http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/News_Release_Popup&c=am2Copy&cid=1093554021576 Amtrak - Inside Amtrak - News & Media - News Releases - Latest News Releases ] ]
The tracks used were once part of the
Pennsylvania Railroad, Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroadand Southern Railway systems, and are now owned by Amtrak, CSX Transportation, and Norfolk Southern Railway, respectively. The following lines are used:
Northeast Corridorfor the ex-PRR lines north of Washington, DC, now owned by Amtrak
Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad, Washington to Alexandria, Virginia, now CSX
Virginia Midland Railway(ex-Southern Railway), Alexandria to Danville, Virginia, now NS
Piedmont Air-Line Railway(ex-Southern Railway), Danville to Greensboro, North Carolina, now NS
North Carolina Railroad(ex-Southern Railway), Greensboro to Charlotte, North Carolina, now NS
Atlanta and Charlotte Air-Line Railway(ex-Southern Railway), Charlotte to Atlanta, Georgia, now NS
Georgia Pacific Railway(ex-Southern Railway), Atlanta to Birmingham, Alabama, now NS
Alabama Great Southern Railroad(ex-Southern Railway), Birmingham to Meridian, Mississippi, now NS
New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad(ex-Southern Railway), Meridian to New Orleans, Louisiana, now NS
A usual consist on the Crescent includes:2 P42s, (1 AEM-7 or HHP-8 between Washington and New York)1 baggage/mail car,2 Viewliners,1 Heritage dining car,1 Amfleet II lounge,and 4 Amfleet II coaches.
* Amtrak (
October 6 2005), " [http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/News_Release_Popup&c=am2Copy&cid=1093554021576 Amtrak Trains to Roll Out of New Orleans on October 9] ". Retrieved October 6 2005.
* Schafer, Mike; Amtrak's atlas, "Trains" June 1991
* [http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Route/Horizontal_Route_Page&c=am2Route&cid=1081256321858&ssid=136 Amtrak - "Crescent"]
* [http://southern.railfan.net/ties/1979/79-3/cresc.html Southern Crescent takes sentimental journey ]
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