Amtrak considering changes to Crescent

ATLANTA — Amtrak is considering running shorter versions of the Crescent passenger train between Atlanta and New Orleans to save money because of lower ridership numbers, according to a recent report from the passenger railroad.

According to the report, Amtrak could “shorten the train south of Atlanta by switching off of the train two or three coaches, the lounge car, and one locomotive. These cars would be serviced at Atlanta during the day and added to the evening northbound train back to New York.”

The Crescent runs daily between New York and New Orleans via Atlanta.

Amtrak believes the “proposal (could) reduce operating costs while increasing capacity, ridership, and revenue north of Atlanta, where Amtrak is currently turning away customers due to lack of capacity, it said in the report, noting that “switching cars in Atlanta will require agreement with the host railroad, Norfolk Southern,” the railroad that owns the track for much of the route.

In 2010, the Crescent carried 298,688, according to numbers from Amtrak.

According to railroad numbers, about 21 percent of the train’s passengers ride on the “southern segment” of the route — between Atlanta and New Orleans. That results in about nine percent of the train’s revenue.

In September, the Crescent operated on time 75 percent of the time, according to Amtrak. Over the past year, the train has been on time just more than 70 percent of the time.