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.