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Amtrak Crescent 08-April-2020 on the #BackBelt

Amtrak Crescent 08-April-2020

Crescent #20 (Northbound), passing through City Park, 8-April-2020, 0714CDT

Amtrak Crescent 08-April-2020

I usually catch the Crescent #20 (northbound) at my favorite coffee shop. That’s the PJ’s Coffee at 5555 Canal Blvd., in Lakeview. The coffee shop is right next to the Norfolk Southern (NS) “Back Belt.” Crescent #20 occasionally pulls special cars. Sometimes the train carries “private varnish,” old railcars restored by various entities. They charter the old cars to groups looking for an adventure. The Crescent periodically brings deadhead equipment to points north. Amtrak also attaches special cars as well.

Amtrak Crescent 08-April-2020

The second of only two coaches on Crescent #20 today.

In our period of curve-flattening to protect us all from the novel coronavirus, I’m naturally not going to the coffee shop. New Orleans City Park operates an nursery (not open to the public) back by the tracks. It has a parking lot that makes a great trainspotting location. Nobody works there between 0700-0730, so I pull up, catch the Crescent, and then get out before I’m annoying anyone.

Other trains on the #BackBelt

My observation point at the PJ’s is great for general train-watching. The Back Belt connects yards on both sides of the metro area. All the railroads run local freights, dropping off and picking up cars. Long-haul trains roll by as well. They often have 5-6 engines, since they have to get up and over the Mississippi River on the Huey P. Long Bridge. BNSF, UP, NS, and CSX regularly pass by.

Today’s consist

Amtrak Crescent 08-April-2020

Baggage/Dorm car bringing up the rear of #20 this morning.

The consist for Amtrak Crescent 08-April-2020 was small:

  • Two P42 Genesis engines
  • Two coaches
  • Cafe car
  • One sleeper
  • Baggage/Dorm

Compare this with the usual, pre-coronavirus consist:

  • Two P42 engines
  • Four coaches
  • Cafe car
  • Diner
  • Two sleepers
  • Baggage/Dorm

The current, trimmed-down train fits the times. So few people travel right now.

What will the future hold for the Amtrak Crescent?

The future of the long-haul trains is a regularly-discussed and debated topic. So, the Republicans reject support for Amtrak regularly. While the party as a whole isn’t bullish on Amtrak, Congressmen whose districts benefit directly from the trains keep things going. Long-haul passenger rail isn’t high priority during the pandemic. So, we’ll see when we get past this.

Amtrak on NewOrleansRailroads dot com

We offer this post as our first on Amtrak. While we present websites for Southern/NS and the Pontchartrain Railroad, Amtrak posts remain here on the main blog for now. If you’d like to write about Amtrak in New Orleans, we’ll move Amtrak Crescent 08-April-2020 a separate format!