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Business class on the Illini/Saluki is a ripoff

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Seaboard92

Conductor
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The answer to that window question was answered years ago by many rail roads. This is the GM&O parlor car from St. Louis to Chicago which I rode many times. Some of them had a fan tail section on the rear, others just a door. The chairs all swiveled so you could talk to the person next to you or across the aisle or look out the window what ever you chose. Nice heavy overstuffed chairs made it more comfortable than the half plastic seating today. And the attendant was always around and would brush your cloths as you got off or shine your shoes while in route. He would bring your drinks or food from the diner which was usually to the front of this car which ran on the back all the time. Photo didn't copy to well but you can get the idea. View attachment 19648

I've actually worked several cars with that arrangement before. They are great cars but horrible to pass thru when serving when people like the one in the picture want to have their legs in the aisle. But I have always preferred this style of seating to what Amtrak calls Business Class
 

AmtrakFlyer

Service Attendant
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Nov 27, 2016
Messages
112
I always paid for a roomette from Lax to San Jose (day trip) just for use of the Parlour car and the included lunch and dinner. Well worth the $103+/- upgrade over coach. Best experience Amtrak ever offered in my opinion. Now we have no Parlour Car and thanks to covid no lunch or dinner to speak of.

Going forward hopefully the next regime can get V2 dinners used as true diners on some trains and a true business class lounge on others.

I’m pretty sure there’s 4 excess Sightseers or CCC’s sitting around that can be modestly upgraded to replace the Parlour cars on the CSL and maybe expanded to the EB or Zephyr. What I’m saying is make a product that people will pay $100, $200 or more to upgrade to and then go home and rave to their friends about...
 
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IndyLions

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Nov 6, 2016
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Brownsburg IN
Most folks who want to ride an enhanced "class" mostly want to feel superior to the regular crowd, in my humble opinion.
I took a day return trip from Chicago to Detroit, very enjoyable visit, but I noticed on the way back, that the business class coach was fully packed, where as us more humble poor folk had two seats each, and as much elbow room as we desired!
What I’m mostly looking for is a quiet environment. A good percentage of the time you get that in BC - even if it is full. In Coach - it’s more of a crapshoot.

Also - I know if there is a 2 + 1 seating arrangement, I probably have a reasonable chance of snagging a solo seat for more privacy if traveling alone.

Better seats and other perks (coffee, drinks) are a bonus - but for me don’t factor nearly as high in the value proposition.
 

jiml

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Somewhere in Southern Ontario
I’m pretty sure there’s 4 excess Sightseers or CCC’s sitting around that can be modestly upgraded to replace the Parlour cars on the CSL and maybe expanded to the EB or Zephyr.
Interesting idea.

FWIW several Sightseer lounge cars have been making guest appearances in California Surfliner consists in the last few weeks (for those who follow railcams). Maybe the regular lounge cars are out for maintenance?
 

crescent-zephyr

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Oct 21, 2015
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3,016
I’m pretty sure there’s 4 excess Sightseers or CCC’s sitting around that can be modestly upgraded to replace the Parlour cars on the CSL and maybe expanded to the EB or Zephyr. What I’m saying is make a product that people will pay $100, $200 or more to upgrade to and then to home and rave to their friends about...
Amtrak didn’t retire the PPC Cars... they cut the ppc service and blamed it on the cars old age. They could provide the ppc service at anytime with ssl cars if they wanted to.
 

IndyLions

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Brownsburg IN
I always paid for a roomette from Lax to San Jose (day trip) just for use of the Parlour car and the included lunch and dinner. Well worth the $103+/- upgrade over coach. Best experience Amtrak ever offered in my opinion. Now we have no Parlour Car and thanks to covid no lunch or dinner to speak of.
I couldn’t agree more. Best (full) day trip I ever spent on Amtrak was on the CSL from LAX to OAK in a Roomette. Access to the Metropolitan Lounge in LA, privacy when I wanted it, access to the Lounge car and two fine meals enjoying others’ company. Great value.

Going forward hopefully the next regime can get V2 dinners used as true diners on some trains and a true business class lounge on others.

I’m pretty sure there’s 4 excess Sightseers or CCC’s sitting around that can be modestly upgraded to replace the Parlour cars on the CSL and maybe expanded to the EB or Zephyr. What I’m saying is make a product that people will pay $100, $200 or more to upgrade to and then to home and rave to their friends about...
To build on your post - purchase new equipment for most of the LD routes. That frees up the current pool of Superliners and Viewliners for refurbishment and the ability to create a true Business Class product with reconfigured BC cars. Limit the Superliners to the Zephyr, Builder & Starlight. Limit the Viewliners to the Crescent, LSL, Meteor and Night Owl.

With that equipment pool, those trains can always have enough sleepers, an extra diner and an extra lounge in peak season. In offseason, much needed maintenance is performed to keep them in much better condition than they can today.
 

Larry H.

OBS Chief
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Dec 22, 2006
Messages
968
Most folks who want to ride an enhanced "class" mostly want to feel superior to the regular crowd, in my humble opinion.
I took a day return trip from Chicago to Detroit, very enjoyable visit, but I noticed on the way back, that the business class coach was fully packed, where as us more humble poor folk had two seats each, and as much elbow room as we desired!
Its not a matter of superiority, rather a wish to have less noise and distractions. The Saluki carries in normal times 6 cars full of college students and personally I just prefer to not deal with all of that.
 

TRoberts

Train Attendant
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Oct 25, 2020
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24
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Chattanooga TN
I've actually worked several cars with that arrangement before. They are great cars but horrible to pass thru when serving when people like the one in the picture want to have their legs in the aisle. But I have always preferred this style of seating to what Amtrak calls Business Class
I'm not sure if I would like that for a regular business class, the seats are very comfortable but it's not very private.
I think the 2x1 seating is ideal.
 

railiner

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Palm Beach County
The answer to that window question was answered years ago by many rail roads. This is the GM&O parlor car from St. Louis to Chicago which I rode many times. Some of them had a fan tail section on the rear, others just a door. The chairs all swiveled so you could talk to the person next to you or across the aisle or look out the window what ever you chose. Nice heavy overstuffed chairs made it more comfortable than the half plastic seating today. And the attendant was always around and would brush your cloths as you got off or shine your shoes while in route. He would bring your drinks or food from the diner which was usually to the front of this car which ran on the back all the time. Photo didn't copy to well but you can get the idea. View attachment 19648
Now that’s what I would call a real first class parlor car, with those supremely comfortable Heywood-Wakefield “Sleepy Hollow” rotating recliners.
There was usually a wall mounted drop down table for each seat. Some roads ordered optional “wings” for the headrests.
There was also a call button to summon the porter for services...
 

AmtrakFlyer

Service Attendant
Joined
Nov 27, 2016
Messages
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To be politically incorrect but at the same time realistic the minimal charge of a business class ticket with no amenities at least keeps the Greyhound type clientele away. Anyone whose traveled semi regularly on Amtrak especially long distance has seen the conductor have to call a local sheriff/law enforcement to deal with a troublemaker or pot head. It’s not superiority it’s just a case of it is what it is.

Its not a matter of superiority, rather a wish to have less noise and distractions. The Saluki carries in normal times 6 cars full of college students and personally I just prefer to not deal with all of that.
 

Dakota 400

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Mar 5, 2014
Messages
2,457
The answer to that window question was answered years ago by many rail roads. This is the GM&O parlor car from St. Louis to Chicago which I rode many times. Some of them had a fan tail section on the rear, others just a door. The chairs all swiveled so you could talk to the person next to you or across the aisle or look out the window what ever you chose. Nice heavy overstuffed chairs made it more comfortable than the half plastic seating today. And the attendant was always around and would brush your cloths as you got off or shine your shoes while in route. He would bring your drinks or food from the diner which was usually to the front of this car which ran on the back all the time. Photo didn't copy to well but you can get the idea. View attachment 19648
I experienced a Parlor Car once during a trip on the Dakota 400 of C&NW. My Mother had not booked such and I don't remember how we were seated in the Parlor Car, but that's where we were. Maybe the coaches were filled to capacity when the train left Chicago? It was a pleasant experience and obviously remains memorable for me.
 

Palmetto

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Rode parlor cars many times on the Merchants Limited parlor cars between Boston and GCT. Great ride, and the surcharge to do so was only $2,67 back in the 60s.
 

Willbridge

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Rode parlor cars many times on the Merchants Limited parlor cars between Boston and GCT. Great ride, and the surcharge to do so was only $2,67 back in the 60s.
I rode the Merchants Limited parlor car in September 1971 just before Labor Day from NYP to NHV. It was a nice ride but there were only seven passengers. There was a group of women from the garment industry talking shop and a lawyer going to spend the long weekend with his family in their Maine summer home (they would drive to Boston to pick him up).

The funny part is that the lawyer thought that Oregon was a desert. He had visited the family's ranch property near Lakeview by flying commercial to Boise and then in a chartered prop plane across the desert to the ranch. I explained to him that most people had the opposite impression -- wet, green forests. It all depended on point of view.

In New Haven I talked with the agent. He was thrilled that the nice equipment from the Western roads would become available now that they were no longer needed (my home town Portland went from four daily trains east to zero).

I returned to NYP in coach. Food service was a Penn Central snack coach. The lone woman who was staffing it told me that she used to supervise an all-woman crew on New Haven cafe cars in the Yankee Clipper.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Oct 21, 2015
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To be politically incorrect but at the same time realistic the minimal charge of a business class ticket with no amenities at least keeps the Greyhound type clientele away. Anyone whose traveled semi regularly on Amtrak especially long distance has seen the conductor have to call a local sheriff/law enforcement to deal with a troublemaker or pot head. It’s not superiority it’s just a case of it is what it is.
One trip on the Illini / Saluki surrounded by just released prisoners headed for Chicago is what made me always click “add business class” when purchasing tickets.
 

railiner

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Mar 20, 2009
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Palm Beach County
I rode the Merchants Limited parlor car in September 1971 just before Labor Day from NYP to NHV. It was a nice ride but there were only seven passengers. There was a group of women from the garment industry talking shop and a lawyer going to spend the long weekend with his family in their Maine summer home (they would drive to Boston to pick him up).

The funny part is that the lawyer thought that Oregon was a desert. He had visited the family's ranch property near Lakeview by flying commercial to Boise and then in a chartered prop plane across the desert to the ranch. I explained to him that most people had the opposite impression -- wet, green forests. It all depended on point of view.

In New Haven I talked with the agent. He was thrilled that the nice equipment from the Western roads would become available now that they were no longer needed (my home town Portland went from four daily trains east to zero).

I returned to NYP in coach. Food service was a Penn Central snack coach. The lone woman who was staffing it told me that she used to supervise an all-woman crew on New Haven cafe cars in the Yankee Clipper.
The Merchant's Limited was at one time, an all parlor car train, with a diner, and an observation bar lounge, during its hayday...no coaches.
 

bms

Lead Service Attendant
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Jan 29, 2018
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Cleveland
The Merchant's Limited was at one time, an all parlor car train, with a diner, and an observation bar lounge, during its hayday...no coaches.
Wow! Of course there were numerous all-Pullman and all-coach trains, but I never heard of an all parlor car train! You have blown my mind!
 

railiner

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Forgot to mention that in addition to the open parlors, the Merchants also had daytime drawing rooms that I believe seated up to seven, for private meetings...
 

Willbridge

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The Merchant's Limited was at one time, an all parlor car train, with a diner, and an observation bar lounge, during its heyday...no coaches.
In its glory days it departed Boston and GCT at the same time. I looked through the scheduled parlor car runs and concluded that some of them only made one single direction trip a day, a train that cost a lot of money to operate. The early jet age equivalent would be the United "Men Only Executive Flights" with Caravelles departing New York City and Chicago in the same after-work martini time slot.
 

Palmetto

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Forgot to mention that in addition to the open parlors, the Merchants also had daytime drawing rooms that I believe seated up to seven, for private meetings...

And day roomettes, as well. Unfortunately, when I rode them in the late 60s, track conditions were not optimum, and both drawing room and roomettes were located over the wheels.
 
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