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Amtrak’s own numbers show LD trains holding their own

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Willbridge

OBS Chief
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Mar 30, 2019
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A 4 person couchette is pretty nice even if there are just two of you. One person per couchette would be luxe! I took the Trans-Siberian from Beijing to Moscow twice and both times once we got past Ulaan Baatar there were just two of us in the regular 4 person couchette. Not great, but fairly good. The only problem was the horrendous condition of the toilets. If I could have had a couchette to myself with no extra fee I would have been a happy camper.
Hearing about about overnight trains in Europe is good news. It seems like a lot of the longer distance sleeper trains went away for a few years, or so my searches seemed to indicate. I think I took a single IC from Berlin to London (though in retrospect I think I may have switched trains in Brussels) back in the day. But it really seems like it was a single train all the way to London. I think most of the longer rail trips in Europe are now 2 or 3 segments. Or so my searches on The Man in Seat 61 seem to indicate. Great site for planning international rail travel.

You are right about the reduction in overnight service in Europe. It was a combination of actual market changes caused by expansion of the high-speed networks and the Gardner Doctrine, that the advent of discount airlines and chopping up of the system into corridors made overnight service obsolete. In the lull, Flixbus and other long-distance bus companies were handed the market, with a few exceptions.

In the absence of overnight trains, as I've written before, tourists and rail-oriented business travelers were hit with bizarre itineraries by the trip planning software. Some people saw that a niche market remained and that combined with "going green" is leading to a revival. The DB - which did in its own CIty NightLine - has introduced some ICE trains that are in effect "owl" routes, such as Berlin to Munich overnight via Frankfurt. These compete with the bus lines. In the meantime NightJet has expanded and has some interesting links such as with SNCF for Paris <> Berlin overnight via Strasbourg.
 

joelkfla

Service Attendant
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Oct 16, 2018
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On the other hand there are accessible equivalents of bedrooms, but not roomettes; even in the 21st century VIIs. I think Superliners could be so modified without looking their grandfathered status, but it would be a major issue with any bilevel replacement.
Are ADA regulations different for intercity vs commuter rail? There doesn't seem to be an issue with new bilevel cars that are only accessible on the lower or mezzanine levels?.
I don't think there could be an accessible roomette; they're too small to navigate a wheelchair in. Even the Viewliner I handicap bedroom is a little tight for maneuvering a mobility scooter. That's probably why, for handicapped persons, the accommodation charge for the handicap room is roughly equivalent to a roomette .
 

sttom

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Jan 23, 2019
Messages
579
On the other hand there are accessible equivalents of bedrooms, but not roomettes; even in the 21st century VIIs. I think Superliners could be so modified without looking their grandfathered status, but it would be a major issue with any bilevel replacement.
Are ADA regulations different for intercity vs commuter rail? There doesn't seem to be an issue with new bilevel cars that are only accessible on the lower or mezzanine levels?.
The FRA is considering revising ADA rules for trains, but they are still in the research stage and haven't done a full formal study yet, which means formalized regulations are years away. One thing they are considering changing is making the ADA restrooms larger on new trains as well as the feasibility of having chair lifts in between levels on bilevel trains.
 

Devil's Advocate

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I do think a lie flat seat is something Amtrak needs to seriously investigate for its long distance trains
I don’t. It would be as expensive as a roomette and not as nice. There’s really no point in it. I do think 2-1 reserved business class would be great for all trains but Amtrak seems to have abandoned BC on LD trains?
The problem with airline style lay flat seats is they waste the space above the seat. In passenger coachs, especially single level, stacking is the most efficient use of space. Ideally Amtrak should try to make an updated version of the Slumbercoach.
Lie flat seats have become a standard product for premium long haul travel but I'd wager around 99% of passengers today have no interest or familiarity with booking open sections and slumbercoach products from fifty years ago. It should be possible to find a premium cabin vendor who can figure out a way to fit modern lie flat seats into Amtrak rolling stock in an economically viable manner. The specific pattern and layout will require some trial and error alterations but it should be quite doable. The upfront cost would be high but would also even out over time.

The FRA is considering revising ADA rules for trains, but they are still in the research stage and haven't done a full formal study yet, which means formalized regulations are years away. One thing they are considering changing is making the ADA restrooms larger on new trains as well as the feasibility of having chair lifts in between levels on bilevel trains.
Shrinking budgets and sledgehammer compliance might leave us with no public transportation at all some day.
 
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mlanoue

Train Attendant
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Oct 30, 2003
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Joliet, Illinois
For those thinking about lie flat seats on trains, again China has an example on its high speed service. Got to about %:45 of this video:

That looks nice, although I can't see how it's better than having a roomette. Seems like these seats take up a lot of space in the car and doesn't really give you anything like privacy. Of course if the price is somewhere in between a room and a regular coach seat--then, it makes more sense. (Maybe he explains the price in the video, i just watched a short bit in the middle.)
 

jis

Conductor
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About all the sleeper examples in China, I would caution that the high speed train sleeper service is strictly for just one overnight. Typically these trains leave in the evening and arrive next morning, the longest journey is 14 hours from Beijing to Guangzhuo.

The reclining Business Class seats are actually for day trains. The capsule and compartment sleepers in the D class trains are as shown in my post in the other thread. Those are for the single night overnight journeys as mentioned above.

There are multi night overnight journeys too, but those use regular Hard and Soft Sleepers. What is called Hard Sleeperwould be called AC Sleeper Class in India, and what is called Soft Sleeper in China would roughly be called AC First Class in India. In both countries, both are used extensively for multi-night journeys. There are entire trains 24-26 cars long that have nothing but these two kinds of Sleepers, with India also having a two tier variant of their Sleeper Class.
 
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toddinde

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It’s all very interesting. There are two entirely separate kinds of markets for overnight trains in the US. The existing long distance trains and the shorter distance, overnight trains that could be developed. On the long distance trains, I would want to see marketing that indicated there was a market for an intermediate class. On shorter distance routes, there surely would be from a very deluxe, first class accommodation, to an intermediate, to coach.
 

sttom

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Messages
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Lie flat seats have become a standard product for premium long haul travel but I'd wager around 99% of passengers today have no interest or familiarity with booking open sections and slumbercoach products from fifty years ago. It should be possible to find a premium cabin vendor who can find a way to fit modern lie flat seats into Amtrak rolling stock in an economically viable manner. The specific pattern and layout will require some trial and error alterations but it should be quite doable. The upfront cost would be high but would also even out over time.


Shrinking budgets and sledgehammer compliance might leave us with no public transportation at all some day.
I would say a lie flat seat would be far more doable than a new Slumber Coach seeing as how lie flat seats are made for airlines and adapting something that's already being made would be easier than redesigning the wheel with respects to building a second generation of Slumber Coaches.

Thankfully, our laws dealing with discrimination have a "within reasonable accommodation" clause. Hopefully that will temper things when the new regulations get written assuming they find an update feasible.
 

jloewen

Train Attendant
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Mar 10, 2009
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After all, why should someone in a wheelchair not be able to sleep in the upper level if they want to?
How do you get the wheelchair (and the person) up the stairs??
 
Joined
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I'm not sure where the lie-flat seat would land price-wise, but if it was close to the price of a roomette I would pay the extra for a private room.

If there was an option for a reserved business class seat in a dedicated car, preferably with the ability to reserve a solo seat, that would be an ideal middle price point between coach and roomette.
 

dlagrua

Conductor
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Nov 24, 2009
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Hillsborough, NJ
Finally, someone else says what I've been saying all year. Now we have to get RPA to take a more aggressive stance.
I was never a supporter of RPA unitil we were able to join Jim Mathews and Jonsie Stone for dinner two years ago on a CL trip to Chicago. IMO the RPA now has the best leadership that its ever had. If you read Matthews testimony to Congress, he has touched on all the right points. Hopefully after the election congress will provide funding to restore service to normal. Everyone associated with rail travel agrees that something must be done. With 3X wk service the connections are just not convenient. Its now next to impossible to go NYC to MSP let alone reach the Western states . If you miss a connection in CHI then you must wait two days to catch the next train. This is unacceptable.
 
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