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Julian McCoy's Amtrak Crescent Travelogue
Northbound Train #20, Atlanta-Philadelphia



I can't believe my luck, yet again I've been blessed with an opportunity to ride the rails again on the Amtrak Crescent train # 20 for the second time this year and the fourth time total. I arrived at the Atlanta Brook wood station off of Peachtree street (one of many in Atlanta) at 7:00pm, but thanks to a slow moving N.S. freight our Northbound Crescent, which was on time, has been delayed about an hour and ten minutes, we were supposed to leave at 8:00pm but there's not much you can do if there is a freight ahead of you and N.S. does own this line.

9:17, we leave ATL

The car I'm in is a refurbished Amfleet II coach branded a concept 2000 car. I like the interior of this car, the blues and gray's and new bright lighting are a great improvement from the orange and browns and dull lighting that these cars originally came in when they were first delivered in the 1980's.

It's a light load this trip, maybe because it's Thursday and classes in Georgia aren't dismissed till tomorrow or people don't have enough patience to ride the train. It's always rush rush rush with today's people. During times like these, I'd rather take my time and avoid headaches. That's why I'm on the train I guess. Also I guess it's because I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE TRAIN!!! It's the equipment, the noise, the movement, the scenery, especially during the holiday season. It's nice to see the Christmas lights of the various buildings we pass by. It's like we are on a Christmas train under the tree passing all of the buildings but on a much larger scale. As we pass Lenox Square mall we start to pick up speed. Our tracks are beside a road and its funny watching us a train, an object many people think is very slow, pass cars.

Pretty soon the glitzy lights of Atlanta give way to the rural scenes that trains are known for passing. The small towns, trees, houses, and a few industrial businesses here and there, the suburbs, Typical America I call it. I've never been on a train when it rained though.

9:51 pm

I'm HUNGRY so I went down to the lounge car to get something to eat and type in what I wrote on my laptop. The lounge car like the rest of the Amfleet cars has been refurbished with the same blues and gray's, and in the food service area there is a cityscape printed on the wall and it has its own phone booth Its just a regular café car, and an Amfleet I car at that, usually its another Amfleet II a club car like the last time I ride the Crescent in February. The main problem about having an Amfleet I car on this train is there is no smoking equipment on this car. This car usually runs in the NEC on the Regional trains (what used to be known as Acela Regional, which caused a lot of confusion for passengers) whose route is a non smoking one. When the Amfleet II café cars were refurbished they were equipped with an enclosed smoking booth that vented the smoke out so that it wouldn't disturb the non smoking passengers. Now before this was done Amtrak allowed passengers to smoke in the rear of the café car (I remember this on my second ride) in scheduled smoking hours, this produced a horrible effect for those who don't smoke. Realizing this Amtrak made the change. But, there isn't one on this train and those smoking passengers who have been onboard since the train originated in New Orleans are real figidy and on edge waiting for the train to stop so that they can smoke. The conductor said even though we are a bit behind schedule, he will allow a smoke stop at Charlotte.

10:12pm, we stop at Gainesville G.A., a nice typical small southern station. There's not much to see here and our stop lasts only three minutes. I think my writing style is like that of Steve Grande. I don't do much if I'm traveling with other people, however, when I'm alone I can concentrate, and since I am alone on this trip there is plenty of that. But its night, there's not much to see so in this part of the trip there won't be too much writing and there will be a gap once I go to sleep but in the morning there will be a lot more.


The Crescent stops in Taccoa G.A. to pick up two people, we only stay for a minute.


Our train stops in Clemson, a beautiful small station.


After a quick sabbatical in my coach # 25100, I return to our nice and very clean Café car to be alone again and enjoy bright lighting without disturbing other passengers since it is 12 at night and all the lights have been turned down. Most of the passengers are asleep except a few kids up front.


We stop in Greenville. As we leave Greenville we pick up speed fast, we have a lot of time to make up.


Our train stops in Spartanburg, another nice station. It must be nice for a town like this to have its own Marriott hotel, a very large hotel. It seems a bit out of place here. Id hate to be in one of those cars that's stuck at the crossing waiting for us to go, we leave at 12:55am


I'm still in the lounge car just enjoying the ride and listening to the horn on the engine as we approach and speed past various crossings. I'm nearly out of energy.


We stop in Gastonia; we leave at 1:52am. Next stop is Charlotte in about 24 minutes, after that I'm going to call it quits for tonight. I have made a self record for staying up and I hope I still have my window seat in coach 25001.


We stop in Charlotte and I take a step outside. While walking down the platform and writing down the numbers of the cars in our consist the new conductor (Charlotte, like Atlanta is a crew change stop.) and asked me if I needed anything, I said I was writing down the car numbers for a travelogue I was doing for he said cool, and that he could give me the rest of the train numbers once they get moving again.


We leave Charlotte and I return to the café car. On the Crescent and a lot of other single level trains the café car serves as the conductors office where he takes car of paperwork and things like that, so I meet with the new conductor, whose name I didn't get, and we went over the consist paperwork, it was a normal consist today two engines one baggage two Viewliners one diner one very out of place café car, four Amfleet II coaches and two express baggage cars at the end, ill include the consist with car numbers at the end of this travelogue. But there is one problem, there is new crew dorm lounge on the train like there usually is, which has the conductor baffled. It says that there's one in the paperwork but there isn't. He asked me if I saw it, I said no. Looks like they will be resting wherever they happen to be. I guess this consist is not as normal as it seems. After a little chat I thanked the kind man and returned to my seat and went to sleep.


I woke up at 6:30 am and dragged myself down to the diner for breakfast and came back to witness the first morning's light, and what a sight it is. There are snow covered villages just starting to wake up and beautiful woodlands that look frozen in time. Our next stop is Charlottesville V.A. It's a true Winter Wonderland out there, very beautiful. But with beauty came trouble further north in Manassas. An N.S. (Norfolk Southern) freight train derailed in Manassas, the seriousness of the derailment is not known. There was great concern that we would have to unload and board a bus to D.C., but thankfully work crews have fixed the tracks and we are clear.


We arrive in Charlottesville; we leave at 7:43am.


We stop in Manassas a very historic town, Civil war historic, we leave at 9:07am. We are now in VRE, Virginia Railway Express country.


After crossing the Potomac, passing the Jefferson Memorial, seeing glimpses of the Capital building, and riding in one of the longest tunnels I've ever been in, maybe it seems long because we are riding slow, we arrive in Washington D.C. Union Station and I decide to step outside again to watch them switch out the engines. It's a cool site to see two very large AEM7's back to our train and then couple gently to the 1700 series baggage car. The numbers of our Toasters (a common nickname given to these things, suits them well because they do look like toasters), are 943 and 934, they are painted in that Acela paint scheme and are the ones that have been completely overhauled and equipped with new cabs and a lot of other things. When I see the doors of the coaches start closing I take that as a hint that its time to go so I enter the train via a Viewliner car. This is the first time I've been in a Viewliner and it looks a lot better in person than in pictures I've seen, although the main hallway is a bit cramped the rooms themselves look very inviting. After exiting the Viewliner sleeper I entered the diner, itself has received a major overhaul, for the whole interior has been redone. Inside there is new wall paneling that is a peach color and the ceiling is a light green. The whole car has soft lighting which suits it well. The ceiling lights look like tiny stars in the night sky and give off a good effect. The seats have been replaced are green with a strange pattern on them. All in all a good job in my eyes. The whole train seems to have been given a face lift compared to just a few years ago when the crescent ran on an all heritage fleet ( my first ride back in 1992 I was five maybe six at the time but I remember it well). Now that power has been restored to the train its time to embark on my favorite part of this trip, the North East Corridor, Highball! We leave D.C. at 10:45am

The one thing I did notice while looking at the various trains in the yard and at the station in Washington is that MARC has the HHP-8 locomotives that Amtrak has and uses in the NEC, if anybody has any comment on this give me an email at .

There's one thing I love about the NEC, very fast travel especially with two powerful AEM-7's we will make up time here. As we leave Union Station we pick up speed fast passing cars on the neighboring freeway. The fast speed and the smoother tracks make for a nicer ride however for some passengers moving about train it was a bit uncomfortable. We zip by MARC stops and other train stations and I watch as the heads of the people on the platform move as we speed by.


We pass the BWI Airport and station and the dining car attendant makes the first call for lunch.


We arrive in Baltimore and beside us is an Acela train set, I love those things, they look so beautiful and are very fast, I hope to ride on one someday, maybe this spring break when I spend time in Philadelphia with my sister I will take one to NYC. I notice that every time were are on the NEC run the new conductor of the train wears the uniform of an Acela Express conductor, this particular guy was in an extreme hurry as he wanted us to make up for lost time, and was warning smokers that once he gave the verbal, ALL ABOARD!!, that they were to be on the train immediately or they would get left behind.


We arrive in Wilmington. Wilmington seems like a nice city I wouldn't mind living here because it seems that there is a lot to do. But our stop here lasts only two minutes and we zip out of the station to my last stop on the Crescent, Philadelphia


We arrive in Philadelphia. I sadly exit my train, for its next stops are Newark and New York and whatever stations in between. I walk up the stairs and the vast interior of 30th Street Station opens up to me. After spending about 30 minutes at baggage claim I meet with my sister and eat a cheese steak, my favorite!!! However my stay in Philly isn't long for at 2:15pm I'm due to depart on the westbound Three Rivers #41. I hope you enjoyed reading. Stay tuned for other parts of my travels including my return trip on the Jan 2nd.

Authors note of safety. I cannot stress enough how safety is important when riding on a train. There are many things on the train that could cause harm to you or any kids you are traveling with if you are not careful, especially the sliding doors and the area between the cars where the diaphragm is. The doors tend to malfunction sometimes and could jerk and hurt any fingers you might have in the way. Children walking in the vestibule could get seriously injured in the gap between the cars as the train is moving. Always exercise proper safety when on a train!!

May your travels be merry and safe.

Julian McCoy
Cadet 4th Class
Air Force ROTC

Our Consist
Engines #'s 64, 130
Viewliners: Colonial View#62007, Atlantic View#62001
Coaches #'s 25037, 25062, 25100-mine, 25059
Express Baggage numbers not known.

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