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
to ride the rails again on the Amtrak Crescent train # 20 for the
time this year and the fourth time total. I arrived at the Atlanta
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,
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
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
car. I like the interior of this car, the blues and gray's and new
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
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
I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE TRAIN!!! It's the equipment, the noise, the
movement, the scenery, especially during the holiday season. It's nice
see the Christmas lights of the various buildings we pass by. It's
we are on a Christmas train under the tree passing all of the
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
few industrial businesses here and there, the suburbs, Typical America
call it. I've never been on a train when it rained though.
I'm HUNGRY so I went down to the lounge car to get something to eat
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
the food service area there is a cityscape printed on the wall and it
its own phone booth Its just a regular café car, and an Amfleet I car
that, usually its another Amfleet II a club car like the last time I
the Crescent in February. The main problem about having an Amfleet I
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
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
the smoke out so that it wouldn't disturb the non smoking passengers.
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
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
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
I think my writing style is like that of Steve Grande. I don't do much
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
won't be too much writing and there will be a gap once I go to sleep
in the morning there will be a lot more.
The Crescent stops in Taccoa G.A. to pick up two people, we only stay
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
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
Our train stops in Spartanburg, another nice station. It must be nice
a town like this to have its own Marriott hotel, a very large hotel.
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
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
it quits for tonight. I have made a self record for staying up and I
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
conductor (Charlotte, like Atlanta is a crew change stop.) and asked
if I needed anything, I said I was writing down the car numbers for a
travelogue I was doing for trainweb.com he said cool, and that he
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
two Viewliners one diner one very out of place café car, four Amfleet
coaches and two express baggage cars at the end, ill include the
with car numbers at the end of this travelogue. But there is one
there is new crew dorm lounge on the train like there usually is,
has the conductor baffled. It says that there's one in the paperwork
there isn't. He asked me if I saw it, I said no. Looks like they will
resting wherever they happen to be. I guess this consist is not as
as it seems. After a little chat I thanked the kind man and returned
my seat and went to sleep.
I woke up at 6:30 am and dragged myself down to the diner for
and came back to witness the first morning's light, and what a sight
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
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
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
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
see two very large AEM7's back to our train and then couple gently to
1700 series baggage car. The numbers of our Toasters (a common
given to these things, suits them well because they do look like
toasters), are 943 and 934, they are painted in that Acela paint
and are the ones that have been completely overhauled and equipped
new cabs and a lot of other things. When I see the doors of the
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
although the main hallway is a bit cramped the rooms themselves look
inviting. After exiting the Viewliner sleeper I entered the diner,
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
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
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
to have been given a face lift compared to just a few years ago when
crescent ran on an all heritage fleet ( my first ride back in 1992 I
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
There's one thing I love about the NEC, very fast travel especially
two powerful AEM-7's we will make up time here. As we leave Union
we pick up speed fast passing cars on the neighboring freeway. The
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
stops and other train stations and I watch as the heads of the people
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
things, they look so beautiful and are very fast, I hope to ride on
someday, maybe this spring break when I spend time in Philadelphia
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
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
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
here lasts only two minutes and we zip out of the station to my last
on the Crescent, Philadelphia
We arrive in Philadelphia. I sadly exit my train, for its next stops
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.
spending about 30 minutes at baggage claim I meet with my sister and
a cheese steak, my favorite!!! However my stay in Philly isn't long
at 2:15pm I'm due to depart on the westbound Three Rivers #41. I hope
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.
doors tend to malfunction sometimes and could jerk and hurt any
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.
Cadet 4th Class
Air Force ROTC
Engines #'s 64, 130
Viewliners: Colonial View#62007, Atlantic View#62001
Coaches #'s 25037, 25062, 25100-mine, 25059
Express Baggage numbers not known.