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Crescent (train)

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The Crescent crossing the Pearl River near Picayune, Mississippi, in March 2010
Service typeInter-city rail
LocaleEastern United States
Current operator(s)Amtrak
Former operator(s)Southern Railway (1970–1979)
Annual ridership271,518 (FY23) Increase 34.0%[a][1]
TerminiNew York City, New York
New Orleans, Louisiana
Distance travelled1,377 mi (2,216 km)
Average journey timeSouthbound: 30 hours, 47 minutes
Northbound: 32 hours, 36 minutes
Service frequencyDaily
Train number(s)19 (southbound), 20 (northbound)
On-board services
Class(es)Coach Class, Sleeper Class
Seating arrangementsReserved coach seating
Sleeping arrangementsViewliner Roomette (2 beds)
Viewliner Bedroom (2 beds)
Viewliner Bedroom Suite (4 beds)
Viewliner Accessible Bedroom (2 beds)
Catering facilitiesDining car, lounge café car
Baggage facilitiesChecked baggage available at
selected stations
Rolling stockViewliner and Amfleet
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Operating speedUp to 125 miles per hour (201 km/h) (Northeast Corridor)
Track owner(s)Amtrak, CSX, NS

The Crescent is a daily long-distance passenger train operated by Amtrak between New York City and New Orleans (the "Crescent City"). The 1,377-mile (2,216 km) route connects the Northeast to the Gulf Coast via the Appalachian Piedmont, with major stops in Charlotte, North Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; and Birmingham, Alabama.

Most of the route of the Crescent is on the Norfolk Southern Railway. It is the successor of the Southern Crescent, introduced in 1970 by Norfolk Southern's predecessor, the Southern Railway.





Today's Crescent is a direct descendant of the Southerner, a streamlined passenger train operated by the Southern Railway from 1941 to 1970. The daily train followed essentially the same route as the modern Crescent, providing sleeper service between New York and New Orleans via Washington, Atlanta, and Birmingham.

Southern Crescent


Since its inception, the sister train of the Southerner was a second New York–New Orleans sleeper, the Southern Railway's Crescent. The two trains shared generally the same route between New York and Atlanta, but diverged between Atlanta and New Orleans. The Crescent took a more coastal route, operating via Mobile and Montgomery over Atlanta and West Point Railroad, Western Railway of Alabama, and Louisville & Nashville Railroad trackage. The Southerner stayed inland to run exclusively on Southern Railway trackage through Birmingham.

Southern Railway's Southern Crescent at Peachtree station on January 21, 1971

In 1970, amid a push by its partners to discontinue passenger operations, the Southern Railway merged the Southerner and the Crescent into one service: the Southern Crescent. The new train used the route of the Southerner, operating via Birmingham instead of Mobile. Although the Birmingham route was slightly longer, it was fully owned by the Southern Railway and therefore more reliable. The Southern Crescent was numbered 1 southbound and 2 northbound. Penn Central carried it between Washington and New York along the Northeast Corridor, inheriting the longstanding haulage agreement from the Pennsylvania Railroad.

For most of the 1970s, the Southern Crescent was supplemented by the Piedmont, a former New York–New Orleans train that had been cut back to a regional Atlanta–Washington (later Charlotte–Washington and Salisbury–Washington) service running along the middle leg of the Southern Crescent route.[citation needed]

Amtrak took over most inter-city passenger trains in the United States on May 1, 1971, but the Southern Railway initially opted out. Amtrak did inherit most of Penn Central's passenger services, including the haulage agreement for the Southern Crescent. For a portion of the mid-1970s, the Southern Crescent only operated tri-weekly between Atlanta and New Orleans, and carried a run-through Amtrak 10-6 sleeper on those days to connect to the Sunset Limited. On occasion, when the Southern deemed an Amtrak car to be short of its standards, it substituted a Southern sleeper in the consist. Additionally, one of the two dome coaches in the Southern car fleet was added for the leg south of Atlanta.[citation needed]

The Southern Crescent was one of the last two privately operated long-distance passenger services in the United States, the other being the Rio Grande Zephyr. However, mounting revenue losses and equipment-replacement expenses forced Southern Railway to leave the passenger business.

Amtrak era


The Southern Railway turned over full operation of the Southern Crescent to Amtrak on February 1, 1979. Amtrak simplified the name to the Crescent and renumbered it 19 southbound and 20 northbound, though for several years the Southern assigned it operating numbers 819 and 820.[2][3] The train began using rebuilt Heritage Fleet equipment in 1981.[4]: 78 

The Amtrak Crescent dining car in 2019

On October 28, 1989, Amtrak added a section of the Crescent between Birmingham and Mobile, Alabama, known as the Gulf Breeze. It ran until April 1, 1995, when it was cancelled due to budget issues. A replacement Amtrak Thruway bus ran until October 16, 1997. The Atlanta–New Orleans portion of the Crescent was reduced to tri-weekly operation from April 2, 1995, to November 11, 1996 (quad-weekly from November 1995 to February 1996).[5]

When Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama in August 2005, the Crescent was temporarily truncated to Atlanta. Service was restored first as far as Meridian, Mississippi, while Norfolk Southern crews worked to repair the damage to their lines serving the Gulf Coast. Amtrak restored Crescent and City of New Orleans service to New Orleans on October 9, 2005.[6]

From July 10 to September 1, 2017, the train terminated at Washington, D.C. instead of New York City due to track work at Penn Station.[7] Starting October 1, 2019, traditional dining car services were removed and replaced with a reduced menu of 'Flexible Dining' options. As a result, the dining car serves as a lounge car for the exclusive use by sleeping car passengers.[8]

Proposed expansion


As part of Amtrak's Network Growth Strategy (NGS), adding a section from Meridian, Mississippi to Fort Worth, Texas has been discussed since the early 2000s, with the route having supposed to been up and running by 2002. The plan fell through when Amtrak abandoned the NGS.[9] However, in March 2023, Amtrak announced that it is seeking federal funding to once again study this proposal. Due to Kansas City Southern Railway's (KCS) continued opposition to hosting this train on the Meridian Speedway, the study was dependent on a proposed merger between the KCS and Canadian Pacific Railway being approved by the United States Surface Transportation Board.[10] This merger was approved on March 15, 2023,[11] and officially went into effect on April 14, 2023, allowing this proposal to move forward.[12][13] In June 2023, Amtrak applied for funding to begin the project to extend service from Mississippi to Texas along the I-20 corridor.[14]


Route map of the Crescent

The tracks used were once part of the Pennsylvania Railroad; Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad; Southern Railway and North Carolina Railroad systems; they are now owned by Amtrak, CSX Transportation, and Norfolk Southern Railway, respectively. The following lines are used:[citation needed]

Rolling stock


In December 2020, a usual consist on the Crescent included:[15]

Siemens ALC-42 locomotives began replacing the P42DC locomotives on the Crescent in 2023.[16] A Viewliner II dining car was added to the Crescent on June 1, 2024.[17] Amtrak plans to replace the Amfleet cars with new long-distance cars by 2032.[18][19]

Station stops

State Town/city Station Connections
NY New York City Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station Amtrak Amtrak (long-distance): Cardinal, Lake Shore Limited, Palmetto, Silver Meteor, Silver Star
Amtrak Amtrak (intercity): Acela, Adirondack, Berkshire Flyer, Carolinian, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express, Keystone Service, Maple Leaf, Northeast Regional, Pennsylvanian, Vermonter
LIRR:  Main Line,  Port Washington Branch
NJ Transit NJ Transit:  North Jersey Coast Line,  Northeast Corridor Line,  Gladstone Branch,  Montclair-Boonton Line,  Morristown Line
NYC Subway: "1" train"2" train"3" train"A" train"C" train"E" train
Port Authority Trans-Hudson PATH: HOB-33 JSQ-33 JSQ-33 (via HOB)
Bus interchange NYC Transit Bus
NJ Newark Newark Penn Station Amtrak Amtrak: Acela, Carolinian, Cardinal, Keystone Service, Northeast Regional, Pennsylvanian, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter
NJ Transit NJ Transit:  North Jersey Coast Line,  Northeast Corridor Line,  Raritan Valley Line
Port Authority Trans-Hudson PATH: NWK-WTC
Newark Light Rail Newark Light Rail
Bus interchange NJ Transit Bus
Trenton Trenton Amtrak Amtrak: Carolinian, Cardinal, Keystone Service, Northeast Regional, Pennsylvanian, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter
NJ Transit NJ Transit:  Northeast Corridor Line,  River Line
SEPTA Regional Rail:  Trenton Line
Bus interchange NJ Transit Bus, SEPTA Suburban Bus
PA Philadelphia 30th Street Station Amtrak Amtrak: Acela, Carolinian, Cardinal, Keystone Service, Northeast Regional, Palmetto, Pennsylvanian, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter
SEPTA Regional Rail: all routes
NJ Transit NJ Transit:  Atlantic City Line
SEPTA City Transit: Market-Frankford Subway-Surface
Bus interchange SEPTA City Bus, SEPTA Suburban Bus
DE Wilmington Wilmington Amtrak Amtrak: Acela, Carolinian, Cardinal, Palmetto, Northeast Regional, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter
SEPTA Regional Rail:  Wilmington/​Newark Line
Bus interchange DART First State
Greyhound Lines Greyhound Lines
MD Baltimore Baltimore Amtrak Amtrak: Acela, Carolinian, Cardinal, Palmetto, Northeast Regional, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter
MARC:  Penn Line
Light RailLink
Bus interchange MTA Maryland, Charm City Circulator
Hanover BWI Airport Amtrak Amtrak: Acela, Northeast Regional, Vermonter
Bus interchange BWI Marshall Airport Shuttle to Airport interchange Baltimore/Washington International Airport
Bus interchange MTA Maryland, UMBC Transit
DC Washington Washington
Union Station
Amtrak Amtrak: Acela, Capitol Limited, Carolinian, Cardinal, Palmetto, Northeast Regional, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter
MARC:  Brunswick Line,  Camden Line,  Penn Line
Virginia Railway Express VRE:  Manassas Line,  Fredericksburg Line
Metro: Red Line
DC Streetcar: H Street/Benning Road Line
Bus interchange Metrobus, DC Circulator, MTA Maryland, Loudoun County Transit, OmniRide
Bus interchange Intercity bus: Greyhound Lines Greyhound, Megabus (North America) Megabus, BoltBus, BestBus, Peter Pan, OurBus
VA Alexandria Alexandria Amtrak Amtrak: Carolinian, Cardinal, Northeast Regional, Silver Meteor, Silver Star
Virginia Railway Express VRE:  Fredericksburg Line,  Manassas Line
Metro: Blue Line, Yellow Line
Bus interchange Metrobus, DASH
Manassas Manassas Amtrak Amtrak: Cardinal, Northeast Regional
Virginia Railway Express VRE:  Manassas Line
Bus interchange PRTC
Culpeper Culpeper Amtrak Amtrak: Cardinal, Northeast Regional
Charlottesville Charlottesville Amtrak Amtrak: Cardinal, Northeast Regional, Amtrak Thruway to Richmond, Washington, D.C.
Bus interchange Charlottesville Area Transit
Greyhound Lines Greyhound Lines
Lynchburg Lynchburg Amtrak Amtrak: Northeast Regional
Bus interchange Greater Lynchburg Transit Company
Greyhound Lines Greyhound Lines
Danville Danville
NC Greensboro Greensboro Amtrak Amtrak: Carolinian, Piedmont
Bus interchange Greensboro Transit Authority, Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation
Greyhound Lines Greyhound Lines
High Point High Point Amtrak Amtrak: Carolinian, Piedmont, Amtrak Thruway to Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Bus interchange Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation
Salisbury Salisbury Amtrak Amtrak: Carolinian, Piedmont
Charlotte Charlotte Amtrak Amtrak: Carolinian, Piedmont
Bus interchange Charlotte Area Transit System
Gastonia Gastonia
SC Spartanburg Spartanburg
Greenville Greenville Bus interchange Greenlink
Clemson Clemson Bus interchange Clemson Area Transit
GA Toccoa Toccoa
Gainesville Gainesville Bus interchange Red Rabbit Bus
Atlanta Peachtree Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority MARTA Bus
AL Anniston Anniston Bus interchange ACTS
Birmingham Birmingham Bus interchange BJCTA MAX Bus
Greyhound Lines Greyhound Lines
Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa Bus interchange Tuscaloosa Transit Authority
MS Meridian Meridian Union Station Greyhound Lines Greyhound Lines
Laurel Laurel
Hattiesburg Hattiesburg Bus interchange Hub City Transit
Picayune Picayune
LA Slidell Slidell
New Orleans New Orleans
Union Passenger Terminal
Amtrak Amtrak: City of New Orleans, Sunset Limited
Heritage streetcar Streetcar: 49 Rampart–St. Claude Line
Bus interchange RTA Bus
Greyhound Lines Greyhound Lines


  1. ^ "Amtrak Fiscal Year 2023 Ridership" (PDF). Amtrak. November 27, 2023. Retrieved November 30, 2023.
  2. ^ Amtrak Colors for Crescent Railway Age January 5, 1979, page 25
  3. ^ Lang, Neil (November 1977). "Amtrak News" (PDF). Pacific News. No. 208. p. 17. ISSN 0030-879X. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 20, 2022.
  4. ^ Schafer, Mike (1991). All Aboard Amtrak: 1971–1991. Piscataway, New Jersey: Railpace Co. ISBN 978-0-9621-5414-0. OCLC 24545029.
  5. ^ Warner, David C.; Goldberg, Bruce (2021). Fifty Years of Amtrak Trains: A Comprehensive Survey of Amtrak Routes: 1971–2021. Bucklin, Missouri: White River Productions. pp. 112–115. ISBN 978-1-932804-70-6.
  6. ^ "Amtrak Trains to Roll Out of New Orleans on October 9" (Press release). Amtrak. October 10, 2005. Archived from the original on October 8, 2005.
  7. ^ "Infrastructure Renewal at New York Penn Station". Amtrak. 2017. Archived from the original on August 9, 2017.
  8. ^ "Amtrak Introduces Enhanced Menu and Flexible Dining Experience on Five Routes" (Press release). Amtrak. September 13, 2019.
  9. ^ "Amtrak Plans for Successful Future" (PDF). trb.org. Retrieved March 12, 2023.
  10. ^ "New FRA grant funds to be sought to consider the I-20 route". Amtrak Media Center. March 10, 2023. Retrieved March 12, 2023.
  11. ^ Fung, Esther (March 15, 2023). "Canadian Pacific's Merger With Kansas City Southern Is Approved". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 8, 2023.
  12. ^ "Amtrak Statement from CEO Stephen J. Gardner regarding CP-KCS Merger Decision". Amtrak. March 15, 2023. Retrieved May 8, 2023.
  13. ^ "Merger between Kansas City Southern Rail, Canadian Pacific now official". KMBC News. April 15, 2023. Retrieved May 8, 2023.
  14. ^ Anderson, Kyle (June 5, 2023). "Amtrak Applies for Federal Grants to Improve Long Distance Network". Amtrak Media. Retrieved June 5, 2023.
  15. ^ Butterworth, Scott (December 31, 2020). "Aboard Amtrak's Crescent, surprising comfort and welcome seclusion on a slow train to Mississippi". Washington Post. Archived from the original on January 2, 2021.
  16. ^ Paul, Joe Sr.; Welsh, Michael; Kraft, Michael (February 2024). "Amtrak New Fleet Acquisition Updates" (PDF). Next Generation Corridor Equipment Pool Committee. p. 7.
  17. ^ Johnston, Bob (May 20, 2024). "Viewliner diner serving 'flexible' meals to be added to Crescent June 1: Analysis". Trains. Retrieved May 20, 2024.
  18. ^ FY24-29 Five-Year Plans (PDF). Amtrak. March 2024. p. 45.
  19. ^ "FY 2022-2027 Service and Asset Line Plans" (PDF). Amtrak. 2021. p. 133.

Further reading

  • Stout, Greg (2005). Southern Railway Through Passenger Service in Color (1st ed.). Morning Sun Books. ISBN 978-1582481661.
  • Schafer, Mike. "Amtrak's Atlas," Trains, June 1991.


  1. ^ Amtrak's Fiscal Year (FY) runs from October 1 of the prior year to September 30 of the named year.
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