|Service type||Inter-city rail|
|Locale||Eastern United States|
|Former operator(s)||Southern Railway (1970–1979)|
|Annual ridership||202,686 (FY22) 77.4%[a]|
|Termini||New York City, New York|
New Orleans, Louisiana
|Distance travelled||1,377 mi (2,216 km)|
|Average journey time||Southbound: 30 hours, 47 minutes|
Northbound: 32 hours, 36 minutes
|Train number(s)||19 (southbound), 20 (northbound)|
|Class(es)||Coach Class, Sleeper Class|
|Seating arrangements||Reserved coach seating|
|Sleeping arrangements||Viewliner Roomette (2 beds) |
Viewliner Bedroom (2 beds)
Viewliner Bedroom Suite (4 beds)
Viewliner Accessible Bedroom (2 beds)
|Catering facilities||Dining car, lounge café car|
|Baggage facilities||Checked baggage available at|
|Rolling stock||Viewliner and Amfleet|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Operating speed||Up 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 in the eastern United States. It operates over a 1,377 miles (2,216 km) route between Pennsylvania Station in New York City and Union Passenger Terminal in New Orleans as train numbers 19 and 20. Major service stops outside the Northeast Corridor include Birmingham, Alabama; Atlanta, Georgia; and Charlotte, North Carolina.
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.
Main article: Southerner (U.S. train)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. The train began using rebuilt Heritage Fleet equipment in 1981.: 78
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).
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.
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. 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.
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 2000's, with the route having supposed to been up and running by 2002. The plan fell through when Amtrak abandoned the NGS. 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. This merger was approved on March 15, 2023, and officially went into effect on April 14th, 2023, allowing this proposal to move forward. In June 2023, Amtrak applied for funding to begin the project to extend service from Mississippi to Texas along the I-20 corridor.
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:
In December 2020, a usual consist on the Crescent included:
Amtrak plans to replace the P42DC locomotives with Siemens ALC-42 locomotives by 2027, and the Amfleet cars with new long-distance cars by 2032.
|NY||New York City||Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station|| Amtrak (long-distance): Acela, Adirondack, Cardinal, Lake Shore Limited, Palmetto, Pennsylvanian, Silver Meteor, Silver Star|
Amtrak (intercity): Berkshire Flyer, Carolinian, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express, Keystone Service, Maple Leaf, Northeast Regional, Vermonter
LIRR: ■ Main Line, ■ Port Washington Branch
NJ Transit: ■ North Jersey Coast Line, ■ Northeast Corridor Line, ■ Gladstone Branch, ■ Montclair-Boonton Line, ■ Morristown Line
NYC Transit Bus
|NJ||Newark||Newark Penn Station|| Amtrak: Acela, Carolinian, Cardinal, Keystone Service, Northeast Regional, Pennsylvanian, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter|
NJ Transit: ■ North Jersey Coast Line, ■ Northeast Corridor Line, ■ Raritan Valley Line
Newark Light Rail
NJ Transit Bus
|Trenton||Trenton|| Amtrak: Carolinian, Cardinal, Keystone Service, Northeast Regional, Pennsylvanian, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter|
NJ Transit: ■ Northeast Corridor Line, ■ River Line
SEPTA Regional Rail: ■ Trenton Line
NJ Transit Bus, SEPTA Suburban Bus
|PA||Philadelphia||30th Street Station|| Amtrak: Acela, Carolinian, Cardinal, Keystone Service, Northeast Regional, Palmetto, Pennsylvanian, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter|
SEPTA Regional Rail: all routes
NJ Transit: ■ Atlantic City Line
SEPTA City Transit:
SEPTA City Bus, SEPTA Suburban Bus
|DE||Wilmington||Wilmington|| Amtrak: Acela, Carolinian, Cardinal, Palmetto, Northeast Regional, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter|
SEPTA Regional Rail: ■ Wilmington/Newark Line
DART First State
|MD||Baltimore||Baltimore|| Amtrak: Acela, Carolinian, Cardinal, Palmetto, Northeast Regional, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter|
MARC: ■ Penn Line
MTA Maryland, Charm City Circulator
|Hanover||BWI Airport|| Amtrak: Acela, Northeast Regional, Vermonter|
BWI Marshall Airport Shuttle to Baltimore/Washington International Airport
MTA Maryland, UMBC Transit
| Amtrak: Acela, Capitol Limited, Carolinian, Cardinal, Palmetto, Northeast Regional, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter|
MARC: ■ Brunswick Line, ■ Camden Line, ■ Penn Line
VRE: ■ Manassas Line, ■ Fredericksburg Line
Metro: Red Line
DC Streetcar: H Street/Benning Road Line
Metrobus, DC Circulator, MTA Maryland, Loudoun County Transit, OmniRide
Intercity bus: Greyhound, Megabus, BoltBus, BestBus, Peter Pan, OurBus
|VA||Alexandria||Alexandria|| Amtrak: Carolinian, Cardinal, Northeast Regional, Silver Meteor, Silver Star|
VRE: ■ Fredericksburg Line, ■ Manassas Line
Metro: Blue Line, Yellow Line
|Manassas||Manassas|| Amtrak: Cardinal, Northeast Regional|
VRE: ■ Manassas Line
|Culpeper||Culpeper||Amtrak: Cardinal, Northeast Regional|
|Charlottesville||Charlottesville|| Amtrak: Cardinal, Northeast Regional, Amtrak Thruway to Richmond, Washington, D.C.|
Charlottesville Area Transit
|Lynchburg||Lynchburg|| Amtrak: Northeast Regional|
Greater Lynchburg Transit Company
|NC||Greensboro||Greensboro|| Amtrak: Carolinian, Piedmont|
Greensboro Transit Authority, Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation
|High Point||High Point|| Amtrak: Carolinian, Piedmont, Amtrak Thruway to Winston-Salem, North Carolina|
Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation
|Salisbury||Salisbury||Amtrak: Carolinian, Piedmont|
|Charlotte||Charlotte|| Amtrak: Carolinian, Piedmont|
Charlotte Area Transit System
|Clemson||Clemson||Clemson Area Transit|
|Gainesville||Gainesville||Red Rabbit Bus|
|Birmingham||Birmingham||Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority|
|Tuscaloosa||Tuscaloosa||Tuscaloosa Transit Authority|
|MS||Meridian||Meridian Union Station||Greyhound Lines|
|Hattiesburg||Hattiesburg||Hub City Transit|
|New Orleans||New Orleans
Union Passenger Terminal
| Amtrak: City of New Orleans, Sunset Limited |
Streetcar: Rampart–St. Claude Line