Amtrak Features and Comfort Updates

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Have you actually ridden in a freshened roomette? I haven’t yet, but I believe it’s simply new seat covers over the same seats. I have ridden in a new coach seat briefly, and it did seem a little more supportive. Maybe the material alone makes it a bit stiffer.

Yes, papers used to be provided. With tablets and devices, it seems they felt it unnecessary and wasteful. I liked em personally, as long as it wasn’t USA Today, which I don’t care for, but really, now we can download any paper in the world, right to our device. Papers are a dying breed.
 

zephyr17

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I like the new roomette seats. The old seats caused a lot of back discomfort, for me. The new ones look a lot more comfortable. I still would like to see toilets in Superliner roomettes.

At one time, didn't Amtrak offer a morning newspaper for roomette and bedroom travelers?
Those look like they have simply been reupholstered to me. They look nice, but there is no indication of a redesign.

Putting toilets in Superliner roomettes would require a pretty significant internal tear down. Superliners are designed with a "wet" end and a "dry" end. The roomettes are on the dry end.

Yes, they did offer a morning newspaper. I used to enjoy getting the local paper in smaller places like Minot. Towards the end, they pretty much just went with USA Today everywhere, which I had no use for. Ultimately they decided they largely weren't being read because most people had smart phones and discontinued it.
 
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I hope it isn't just new seat covers.

There is something to sitting in your roomette, enjoying a cup of good cup of coffee (which is a rarity with Amtrak), and looking at the view out the window while turning the pages of a real newspaper.

Once upon a time, sleeping car passengers were served a cup of coffee and a newspaper at the time of a wake-up call.
 

trimetbusfan

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Have you actually ridden in a freshened roomette? I haven’t yet, but I believe it’s simply new seat covers over the same seats. I have ridden in a new coach seat briefly, and it did seem a little more supportive. Maybe the material alone makes it a bit stiffer.

Yes, papers used to be provided. With tablets and devices, it seems they felt it unnecessary and wasteful. I liked em personally, as long as it wasn’t USA Today, which I don’t care for, but really, now we can download any paper in the world, right to our device. Papers are a dying breed.
I saw somewhere that car 32088 is refurbished. It might be the only car that has been refurbished so far.

There is also at least one SSL with the new seats (I’m not sure what the number is).

Meanwhile, I have seen many refurbished coaches.
 
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The article says it’s “published 5hrs ago” when I clicked on it. Is this not basically the same article that was published just prior to Covid ? No specific quotes, details or timelines in this article.
I think it is a recycled article from when they announced this non event a couple of years ago. Amtrak hasn't done anything.
 
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Now here's an article from The Points Guy that appears to be legit, so maybe Amtrak is finally serious with the refresh. And perhaps explains why cars from the thin sleeper fleet are being taken out of service so frequently of late. These types of stories appear to be advertorials which are paid placements. Not genuine journalism because it has the imprimatur of Amtrak, but is news to a degree.

 

joelkfla

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Now here's an article from The Points Guy that appears to be legit, so maybe Amtrak is finally serious with the refresh. And perhaps explains why cars from the thin sleeper fleet are being taken out of service so frequently of late. These types of stories appear to be advertorials which are paid placements. Not genuine journalism because it has the imprimatur of Amtrak, but is news to a degree.

That's the exact same article as the OP. MSN republished the Points Guy article.

It does say new cushions, not just covers. The internal construction of a cushion can make a big difference in comfort & support. I believe the cushions are just velcroed in place, so replacing them would involve almost no extra effort.
 

jis

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2. The cost seems too small.
It is just cosmetic - carpet replacement and changing out the upholstery and curtains. Seems to be in line with that. It is similar to the changes made to coaches which were carried out at terminals with minor repair facilities, and does not require taking a car out of service for extended periods of time.
 

AmtrakBlue

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That's the exact same article as the OP. MSN republished the Points Guy article.

It does say new cushions, not just covers. The internal construction of a cushion can make a big difference in comfort & support. I believe the cushions are just velcroed in place, so replacing them would involve almost no extra effort.
The sleepers MAY be getting new cushions, but the coaches did not. It could be that whoever wrote this article misspoke about the cushions.
 

Northwestern

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Have you actually ridden in a freshened roomette? I haven’t yet, but I believe it’s simply new seat covers over the same seats. I have ridden in a new coach seat briefly, and it did seem a little more supportive. Maybe the material alone makes it a bit stiffer.

Yes, papers used to be provided. With tablets and devices, it seems they felt it unnecessary and wasteful. I liked em personally, as long as it wasn’t USA Today, which I don’t care for, but really, now we can download any paper in the world, right to our device. Papers are a dying breed.
Have you actually ridden in a freshened roomette? I haven’t yet, but I believe it’s simply new seat covers over the same seats. I have ridden in a new coach seat briefly, and it did seem a little more supportive. Maybe the material alone makes it a bit stiffer.

Yes, papers used to be provided. With tablets and devices, it seems they felt it unnecessary and wasteful. I liked em personally, as long as it wasn’t USA Today, which I don’t care for, but really, now we can download any paper in the world, right to our device. Papers are a dying breed.
I also don't like USA TODAY. I do like reading local newspapers, however.
I too could do without the coffee (though hot water for tea is much appreciated), but would love 😍 to have a local paper from along the route in the morning.
I would much rather read a local newspaper than the major, big city ones. The newspaper in Minot, MT, that Zephyr 17 mentioned would be interesting. Or, the Cut Bank, Mt. "Pioneer Press" which is also along the E. Builder route. I've never been interested in online news. The worst is "Yahoo" news on my Yahoo home page. There might be a news outlet worse than Yahoo. but I've not come across one.

On the Coast Starlight, on the way to Portland, Amtrak used to provide a copy of the Portland "Oregonian" just outside the door of your roomette or bedroom.

Yes, newspapers might be a dying breed. The number of pages have dwindled, while the cost of the paper has skyrocketed.

Why can't Amtrak sell stacks of local newspapers in their snack bars? While they're at it, also sell real, hard copy booklets of their train timetables? I think they could sell them at a premium price.
 
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I just want to meet, and have a word with, whoever designs tray tables for Amtrak interiors.

On one hand, you have the massively heavy and cumbersome pull up tables, for instance in Surfliner biz, which scare half the car if they're dropped, and could probably double as armor panels on a tank.

On the other hand, you have the flimsy plastic tray tables in roomettes, which can't even hold a laptop and coffee and the same time, are constantly jammed, and so flimsy they bounce if you try to type on a laptop.

Humans have been making tables for... many thousands of years, I imagine. Surely it can't be that hard to design something sturdy, appropriately sized, easy to clean, and that operates smoothly and with reasonable effort and minimal noise.
 
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trimetbusfan

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I just want to meet, and have a word with, whoever designs tray tables for Amtrak interiors.

On one hand, you have the massively heavy and cumbersome coach tables, for instance in Surfliner biz, which scare half the car if they're dropped, and could probably double as armor panels on a tank.

On the other hand, you have the flimsy plastic tray tables in roomettes, which can't even hold a laptop and coffee and the same time, are constantly jammed, and so flimsy they bounce if you try to type on a laptop.

Humans have been making tables for... many thousands of years, I imagine. Surely it can't be that hard to design something sturdy, appropriately sized, easy to clean, and that operates smoothly and with reasonable effort and minimal noise.
The ones on the Viewliner IIs are pretty nice. Woudln't complain if they were all like that. (obviously a different setup would be needed for coach seats though).
 

mikewrite

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Thoughts on the bedroom Superliners following our first LD trip recently on the CZ:

  • The tray tables seemed fine to me. The foldout flaps were useful, though we mostly kept them folded up. I found that the table gave my crossed leg a place to rest against, which made the uncomfortable seat/couch more bearable.
  • The uncomfortable seat/couch - something about these was tough on my tailbone which, once it began to be sore, stayed that way throughout the rest of the journey, requiring countess squirming adjustments of my butt and legs to try to alleviate. Not sure what could be done about the comfort given that the seats/couches need to be sturdy enough to withstand constant use. Perhaps those with better butt padding don't have this problem.
  • The "cupholders" on the windowsill are too shallow, providing no real support against the movement of the train, which can be uncomfortably rough particularly at top speed. I mostly laid my water bottles (either the plastic ones provide onboard or my Cotapaxi insulated bottles) horizontally along the gap where the tray table mechanism meets the window (where they put the menu and station listing). I found I could safely stack a couple of these at a time there.
  • The ancient car's biggest shortcoming for the modern traveler is lack of power outlets. Obviously there are no USB ports, and only three 120-volt outlets, one at one end of the couch and two by the tiny sink. (I guess Amtrak cars are exempt from GFI codes?) None are easily reachable for the (unfortunate) person sleeping in the (tiny, torturous) top bunk.
  • The speaker in one of our bedrooms did not work, which was a blessing and a curse - most of the time it was nice to not have somebody's tinny voice blaring at you, but then there were times it was difficult to hear things we did want to hear by listening to the speakers in the passageway. The quiet hours are an excellent thing, though.
  • It was amusing to see dials that apparently at one time let you play music in your bedroom. These did not work in either of our cars, a I and a II, which I assume is intentional. I'd be interested to hear accounts of what this was like back when they used to work. What kinds of music could you choose? Did it sound OK? When did Amtrak disable them, or did they all just die of old age?
  • Speaking of nonfunctional things that were probably by default, I couldn't tell that the temperature dial in either of our cars did anything. Of course, we wanted max AC given the very high temps along our route, but turning the dial didn't seem to change anything either way. Did these once work, or do they at least provide various levels of heat during cold runs?
  • I never got up the nerve to try the shower, but did find that it dripped water onto the floor in both our cars, which was hard to avoid stepping in when doing m'business in there. The atomic flushing toilets are kinda fun - WHOOOOSH-cha. I guess they can't have a light switch in there because of the shower but it would have been nice to have. The toilet paper was also surprisingly easy on one's parts, better in fact than we had at the Sofitel in Chicago on this trip. (While in CHI we checked out the Pioneer Zephyr at the Museum of Science and Industry, very cool.)
  • The hot water was surprisingly hot in the sink; I was anticipating lukewarm at best. And I loved the soap in the leaning pump bottle! It left my hands feeling both refreshed and extremely clean. Can we buy Amtrak sink soap, haha?
  • The curtains were pretty effective in keeping out light, another nice surprise. Some of the Velcro on the door curtain was jacked up but overall it worked well.
  • One of our cars had a decent "low" setting for the overhead light but the other one had this strange deep blue color that was too creepy to use.
  • We had heard of some trick whereby one could use a latch at the door end of the pulled-out bottom bunk to temporarily move that end of the bunk inward a bit, making it easier to use the bathroom sink or go in and out of the car once the bottom bunk had been made up for sleep. But I could never make this work. The sad fact is that once those bunks are made up for the night you're in a tiny prison with extremely restricted movement.
  • Although it was very easy to hear people in neighboring bedrooms, it actually wasn't a problem for us. But I can imagine one could have noisy neighbors that would make this an issue. Better insulation between rooms would help.
  • I have used the word tiny several times. New riders should gird themselves to bang and lurch around inside very, very cramped spaces everywhere on the trains. We are not tiny people, and while the tight quarters everywhere were a semi-amusing annoyance for me, it was a genuine problem for my partner who is slightly claustrophobic.
  • We each had one modestly sized carry-on bag, having checked our roller suitcases. (After boarding on both westbound and eastbound legs to/from SLC, I noticed that there were several similarly sized rollers and other items stored in the open baggage cubbies on the bottom level of the sleeper car, next to the car entrance, and there was room to spare, so I suppose checking our luggage wasn't really necessary.) There was just room for both our carry-ons under the bedroom seat, though on one leg I stashed mine in the vertical "closet" adjacent to the door. We put a few things on the small shelf near the ceiling, none of which fell off.

I wonder what Amtrak has planned for any serious refurbishment or rebuild of its sleeper cars, or even entirely new cars, beyond adding power and USB outlets.
 

zephyr17

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Speaking of nonfunctional things that were probably by default, I couldn't tell that the temperature dial in either of our cars did anything. Of course, we wanted max AC given the very high temps along our route, but turning the dial didn't seem to change anything either way. Did these once work, or do they at least provide various levels of heat during cold runs?
While not marked as such, that temperature dial only controls the electric radiant heat near the floor along the outer wall. When it works, which seems to be about 10-25% of the time. It has nothing to do with the HVAC and never has. That is controlled for the car (actually by halves) by the attendant. Individuals can control the airflow with the vent louvers (when those aren't broken).

Superliners have common luggage racks downstairs, which you noticed. While you had a bedroom, there is next to no luggage space in a roomette. I always put my bag in the rack, and only bring toiletries, my CPAP, and my "toy bag" backpack up to my room. Viewliners have no common luggage rack, but a largish luggage cubby over the sink that uses space over the aisle.
 

Qapla

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New riders should gird themselves to bang and lurch around inside very, very cramped spaces "everywhere" on the trains.

Perhaps I am not as large as you, but I am not exactly a "slim" guy (I am supposed to lose 75-100 ponds according to my doctor) and I have not found the coach seats or aisles to be "tiny" or "cramped".
 

mikewrite

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North Carolina
Perhaps I am not as large as you, but I am not exactly a "slim" guy (I am supposed to lose 75-100 ponds according to my doctor) and I have not found the coach seats or aisles to be "tiny" or "cramped".
Yes, I've heard the coach seats are fairly roomy. We were in a sleeper car, staying in a bedroom, and both of us found everything about it to be cramped.
 
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