Saw it passing Martinsburg. I was on the balcony of the old station/hotel beside the current station. I hope to find out where it's headed. Likely Beech Grove, but I wonder what they plan to do with it there. There are a couple possibilities.
Now if I were a true railfan I would get up to Cleveland at 2:30 tomorrow morning so I could see this car being pulled to Chicago on the CL 29. But alas, I am not that dedicated and will await a report from Tyler on its progress.
These cars started life as Superliner I diners. They were sent to Sanford, where the local Sanford shop rebuilt them into lounges specifically for the Auto Train. The Company didn't have enough Sightseers to equip the Auto Train, and the less-than-scenic route didn't require the ceiling windows of a Sightseer. Since the lion's share of Auto Train's passengers tend to be Senior Citizens, it was decided that the service area should be upstairs. The cars were intended to operate adjacent to the diners, and the Auto Train serves massive numbers of passengers for dinner, so one end of the upper level was set up to be used as a supplementary dining area. Smoking was permitted in one special, separate area on the lower level. This area was enclosed with a glass door, and had a "smoke-eater", which didn't always work as well as advertised (It's the thought that counts, I guess). Smoking ended a few years ago. The rest of the lower level was non-smoking, and included a small restroom. Since the cars were converted from diners, there were food service elevators (AKA Dumbwaiters). One of these was retained to facilitate moving stock to the upper level. Most Auto Train employees preferred these cars over the Sightseers, although there were always a few who disagreed. Sightseers were pretty; these were tailored for the needs of the Auto Train, and I have always thought they were more practical. These cars are still being used on the Auto Train, and it is hoped that this car will be returned to that service.
These conversions were done before everybody and his/her brother/sister had cell phones, so a very expensive pay phone was installed on the lower level. In addition, a coffee, tea, & decaf station was installed where these beverages could be obtained at any time, complimentary. I don't know the current status of that.
In Ryan's picture, you're looking at the lounge end. Beyond the rounded service counter are; 1. The stairs to the lower level (to the left) 2. The food service elevator (to the right) 3. The coffee station (to the left). 4. Tables set up as dining car tables at the far end, for use as overflow dining if necessary.
Yes, the bowls on the tables have complimentary snacks. I usually put out more snacks than that when it was up to me. Current management may have something to do with this.
It looks like the photo was taken right around boarding time, before the passengers had a chance to annihilate the snacks and crush broken chips & pretzels into the carpet (LOL). The fellow on the left is one of the Lorton Mechanical Dept. Foremen, probably doing a final check before departure southbound.
No. 1, Top: Standing in the upstairs "dining" area, facing the service area. Left side, nearest is a shelf for snacks, etc. Then the food service elevator. Right side is the coffee station, then stairway to lower level, then condiments, then service counter. I know the attendant. Far end is the lounge area in Ryan's picture.
Second: Full view of the lounge end, upstairs.
Third: Same as no. 1, but taken to show two of the ten dining tables.
Fourth: Standing between the lower level entry doors, facing the nonsmoking area of the lower level lounge. Unisex restroom door is in far right corner. The stairway to upper level, telephone booth, food service elevator, and former smoking area are behind the photographer.
Former smoking area. Photographer is standing in the doorway. When this was for smoking, there was a glass door, which has now been removed. Behind the photographer's left shoulder is the former telephone booth (removed --- now a storage area) and the food service elevator. Behind the photographer's right shoulder is the stairway and the electrical locker.
All these photos were taken in Lorton. This view faces north.
Tom, These shots were from our return trip to Fl. On the way up they had just decided to return the sleeper lounge to the consist and the car they used on the way up was the second diner from the couch section. I did not make for a very good lounge, but it did add some extra seating. I'll look and see if I have a pic of that. This was the other train set and I don't know if theyu are still using a diner for a lounge.