This is me brainstorming here:
Currently Amtrak has a SL going from NOL to LAX and a TE going from CHI to LAX. These trains merge/split in SAS. If you are going from anywhere between CHI and before SAS, you have a layover in SAS from 9:55pm to 2:45am waiting for the SL. The layover eastbound is shorter but right before dawn (4:50am to 7:00am). The SAS to LAX times are lousy (2:45am to 5:35am going west and 10:00pm to 4:50am going east).
My proposal which I'm sure others have thought of:
Run the Texas Eagle directly from CHI to LAX with a minimal stop in SAS.
Extend the Crescent from NOL to SAS along the SL route.
This would kill the SL in name but the entire current route is still being used (NOL to SAS along the Crescent and SAS to LAX along the Texas Eagle).
Some brainstorming on times:
Crescent 19 going south departs four hours later:
NYP 6:15pm, PHL 7:55pm, WAS 10:30pm, Charlotte 6:20/6:45am, ATL 12:13/12:38pm, NOL 11:32/midnight, HOU 9:18/9:55am, SAS 3:05pm
Texas Eagle 21 going south departs CHI at noon (1:45 earlier). The portion to LAX leaves SAS at 9:00pm (5:45 earlier).
CHI noon, STL 5:36/6:15pm, DAL 9:45/10:05am, SAS 8:10/9:00pm, El Paso 7:37/8:02am, Tucson 1:00/1:50pm , Maricopa 3:07/3:17pm, LAX 11:50pm
Passengers from NOL to SAS (including HOU) now have to change trains in SAS and there is about a 6 hour layover (3:05pm to 9:00pm) but the times are much better than the current layover in SAS for passengers coming from STL and DAL.
Texas Eagle 22 going east departs LAX at 11:00pm (1 hr later)
LAX 11:00pm, Maricopa 6:30/6:40am, Tucson 8:28/9:15am, El Paso 4:10/4:35pm, SAS 5:50am/7:00am (SAS to CHI times unchanged)
Crescent 20 going north departs SAS at 2:25pm (8 hrs after the SL does now)
SAS 2:25pm, HOU 7:10/8:10pm, NOL 5:40/7:00am (NOL to NYP times unchanged)
The layover in SAS is now 5:50am to 2:25pm (about 8.5 hrs). You can leave SAS earlier and get into NOL earlier but that would be the middle of the night.
The losers would clearly be anyone from NOL to SAS who wants to go west of SAS. But if this service is daily, that might be a gain. The layover going west isn't much longer than the one with the Texas Eagle now. Plus, they can now go to anywhere along the Crescent route without changing trains in NOL (and again, daily). So you can ask the people between NOL and SAS would they rather see the eastern part of the US or the western part?
The winners would be anyone along the Crescent route who now have a direct route to HOU and SAS. With the new schedule, you would leave PHL at 7:55pm and arrive in SAS at 3:05pm two days later. Right now, you'd have to leave much earlier and wouldn't get into SAS until 9:55pm, NYP to SAS would be 6:15pm to 3:05pm 2 days later instead of 3:40pm to 9:55pm 2 days later. WAS to SAS would be 10:30pm to 3:05 2 days later instead of 4:05pm to 9:55pm 2 days later. The Charlotte times going south are now early in the morning rather than in the middle of the night (although the northbound ones remain unchanged). Plus now you can go North Carolina or ATL to HOU and SAS and connect in SAS for Arizona and LAX (leave ATL 12:38pm, arrive in LAX 11:50pm 2 days later).
Also winning would be the southbound passengers going from north of SAS to Arizona and LAX who lose the 5.5 hr layover. Plus, I would think 11:50pm would be preferable to 5:35am getting into LAX.
The other problem is if Amtrak does it, it is basically saying the eastern part of the SL is never coming back. If they've made up their minds, maybe this is an improvement.
Edited by Philly Amtrak Fan, 11 October 2015 - 04:26 PM.