Breaking My Own Rule.
I’ll be attending the annual Fall meeting of the Rail Passengers Association next month. It will be held in Miami and to get there from the West Coast by train is not as easy as it once was.
I’m going to fly to Los Angeles from here on Maui and take the Sunset Limited to New Orleans. Since that train no longer extends its service to Orlando, I’ll have to catch the Crescent to Alexandria, Virginia, and then take the Silver Star from there down to Miami.
And here, not without some trepidation, is where I’m going to ignore my own rule against making connections. This time I’m going to take a chance. The Crescent is due into Alexandria at 9:32 in the morning; the southbound Silver Star is due to arrive there at 3:23 p.m. In other words, if the Crescent is anything less that six hours late into Alexandria, I’ll make the connection. So what are my chances?
The Crescent travels on track owned by Norfolk Southern, which gets an F rating from Amtrak for running its trains on time. In 2017, for example, a total of 173,000 passengers on the Crescent arrived at their destinations late. Quoting from Amtrak’s official report, “… many Amtrak trains on this route are forced to wait as long as 3 hours and 12 minutes … routed into side tracks while they wait for NS freight trains using the main track.”
The truth is, I had little choice, starting with the fact that the Sunset Limited out of L.A. only operates three days a week. That dictated when I would get to New Orleans and how long I would be there. One more example of why anything less than a daily schedule can complicate an entire itinerary.
If you really are 8-9 hours late, would a change in Charlotte or Greensboro, NC on the Piedmont To Cary be an option? I mean, with such a delay, you arrive comfortably late in either city to have had breakfast. That is, of course, if they are willing to change your booking. You do loose an evening meal on the Silver Star, but since the diner on that train is discontinued…
Yeah, that could work, depending on how late were might be. But I find I’m getting too old and tired and impatient for stuff like that. If I’m really late, I’ll just head for Reagan and take the next plane to Miami … then fight with Amtrak for a refund for the Silver Star segment.
I wouldn’t trust Norfolk Southern after my 9 hour Norfolk Delay with trains passing us every twenty minutes or so. Good luck on your connection right now the Crescent are three-six hours late. I’ve been cursed with six-hour California Zeyphr Delays and Eight Hour Capitol Limited Delays but I know I always have your advice in those times. It’s always tempting to buy that travel insurance if your train runs late. Amtrak is probably letting NS delaying its trains on purpose to decrease reliability, therefore, having lower ticket sales as an excuse to shut down Amtrak :( I’ll try to ride Amtrak as often as I can, but if time is short it may be out of the option.
Have a great trip to the 48 states!
Just couldn’t work it out any other way. If I blow the connection in Alexandria, I’ll have to fly down to Miami from there.
I’ll let you know what happens.
What about a Southwest Chief to Lakeshore/Capitol/Cardinal then to a Silver Star/Meteor?
That would have worked–except for the three-times-a-week schedule of the Cardinal. The truth is, I have only ridden the Crescent twice before and enjoyed the ride and the scenery. Wanted to do that again. Plus I really enjoy New Orleans and gave myself a day there for another visit to the wonderful WW2 museum and another incomparable meal at Irene’s Cuisine in the French Quarter.