California Zephyr: consist?

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Joined
Jul 11, 2008
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542
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San Francisco
I vote for the north side, for the view of Donner Lake. the Delta and Bay. But then again, IIRC, the view of charming Truckee is on the south side. But for that, you can just go into the vestibule to look out the other window.
 

PaunchyPirate

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Apr 18, 2022
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Pennsylvania
Going west, the most common opinion I have seen is that looking out the north side is best. However, you don't get to pick a room based on facing north or south. The car can be turned either direction on the actual train. It can vary daily (but probably doesn't). It is a roll of the dice which way your room's window will face.
 

zephyr17

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I'm going to be in SLC for a few days and instead of flying back east, I'm contemplating taking CZ to RIC then BART to either SFO or OAK. Train is currently at 30%, so I'm hoping I'll have my choice of roomettes when I call. Going west is it more scenic out the north side or south side of the car? Or does it really matter?
1. As others have pointed out, how a sleeper is oriented in a given consist is a matter of chance. They are switched into a consist in whatever direction they are already facing. They are designed to run either end forward and do.
2. The "% full" appears to be a measure of coach capacity and does not include sleepers. The 30% full you are seeing is pretty much immaterial to sleepers. While I would expect the sleepers to be sold out over the entire route at the last minute this time of year, the DEN-SLC segment is the most popular and there is significant turnover at SLC, so the chances at getting a sleeper from there west are probably not bad at the last minute even in summer.

Rather than relying on %full to measure sleeper availability (since it pretty much doesn't), a better gauge is to make a dummy reservation for a party of 8 (max you can do on the site), each with their own room. If the CZ is running a full consist, which post #8 seems to indicate it is, there should be about 30 revenue roomettes total in inventory (13 in each of the two standard sleepers, 4 in the transdorm). If there are 8 open, that means a pretty good chunk of roomettes are available (at least 8, possibly all of them, though very unlikely at this late date at this time of year). If it is less than 8, that'll be the available inventory.
 
Joined
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Messages
542
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San Francisco
Going west, the most common opinion I have seen is that looking out the north side is best. However, you don't get to pick a room based on facing north or south. The car can be turned either direction on the actual train. It can vary daily (but probably doesn't). It is a roll of the dice which way your room's window will face.
But don't forget, you also have the observation car (if you can find a seat).
 
Joined
Jun 30, 2021
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Location
Columbus, OH
Thank you everyone for your guidance. I saw the CZ #5 was cancelled from SLC to EMY for this Thursday and I was supposed to fly home out of SLC early Friday morning. Instead I'm taking the #1005 from SLC to RIC where I'll take BART end to end to SFO and fly home Saturday morning instead. Booked a roomette for what I consider to be a smoking price.

@zephyr17 Thanks for the fare research tip.
 

railpost

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Aug 4, 2012
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Chicago
As of recent I have been observing the California Zephyr on line from the Galesburg Virtual Railfan Camera and it appears that the consist is made of a Dorm Sleeper , 2 Sleepers, a Diner , a Sightseer Lounge and 2 Coaches. I have observed that consist on a regular basis so it appears that is the current "normal consist".
It appears that the current practice is to run the sleepers next to the diner for obvious reasons as well.

So my question is how long has the California Zephyr been only running with 2 coaches which seems unusual during the summer vacation season when as a rule trains tend to run with larger consists. I would assume that a long distance Superliner Train would normally run with a least 3 coaches during the summer"high season" especially the California Zephyr.

If I am correct the dormitory sleepers sell their remaining rooms (not being used by the crew) for passenger use and so that would then officially have the Zephyr running with 3 or 2 and a half sleepers and only 2 coaches. That seems unusual but there can be higher sleeper demand on the train.
 

zephyr17

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They typically sell 4 roomettes in the aft end of the transdorm as revenue rooms, not all unoccupied rooms.

Sleepers always run next to diners except for sleepers where they split sections to different destinations (car lines 2730/2830, 2130/2230, the Bostom sleeper on the LSL).

The traditional pre-COVID consist of the Zephyr was at least a transdorm and 2 standard sleepers and two coaches year round. During the summer they'd add a third coach and a third sleeper, sometimes just Chicago-Denver, but in more recent years just prior to COVID running through.

Almost no trains are running their traditional summer consists due to equipment shortages. Many are not even at their traditional "winter" consists. Amtrak put much equipment in storage at the beginning of COVID and furloughed many their mechanical forces. Many cars remain stored and are not roadworthy due to lack of maintenance and inspections
 
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railpost

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Chicago
That's exactly what I was afraid of Zephyr 17. So now Amtrak is sacrificing it's ridership for "deferred maintenance". The Southwest Chief derailment I am sure hasn't helped things.

Is that also the reason that the Sightseer Lounges were taken off of the Capitol Limited also or is just another shortsighted policy decision by an Amtrak bureaucrat manager. Would you know how many of their Sightseer Lounges are not being used now and would they be serviceable with light maintenance or are they all in need of heavy maintenance? Thanks.
 
Joined
Jun 2, 2022
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Miami, FL
I just looked at my 9/17/22 reservation on #5 from CHI to EMY, and found it was cancelled. Called Amtrak res and found apparently sleeper 532 is not operating at least for the whole month of September, only coach available. Does anyone have some details about what is actually happening here? I want to reschedule if possible, but the agent I spoke with checked with customer service, and there was no further information.
 

Bob Dylan

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I just looked at my 9/17/22 reservation on #5 from CHI to EMY, and found it was cancelled. Called Amtrak res and found apparently sleeper 532 is not operating at least for the whole month of September, only coach available. Does anyone have some details about what is actually happening here? I want to reschedule if possible, but the agent I spoke with checked with customer service, and there was no further information.
Sounds like the current Amtrak practice of pulling Sleepers is going to continue, thus fewer Rooms are available for booking which means those Cancelled have to ride in Coach or rebook on other days!

Per a post on trainordrrs, an " Insider" says that Amtrak is discussing plans to return to 5 or even 3 days a week LD Trains in the Fall!🤬
 
Joined
Jun 2, 2022
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Miami, FL
As best as i can understand they "only" cancelled the second sleeper, but you will get varying responses if you call res.. apparently they aren't told hat's going on. I rebooked for 3 weeks earlier with fare protection and hope for the best!
 

zephyr17

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As I've said in other threads, until the reports show that this equipment crap fest is definitively over, make sure you are booked into the "base" (my term) sleeper for any given train. That is the 30 car for any Superliner except the CZ, where it is the 31, and the Cap, where it is the 00. That minimizes the chance of getting the rug pulled out from under you (it doesn't eliminate it, as we've seen with Sunset consists with no working toilets).

This summer this plague hit the Builder and the SW Chief. Now it hit the CZ. In my view, no train is immune under Amtrak's current Klown Kollege school of management.

Or you could get a ticket on the Saluki and try to sneak into one of its wheel count sleepers. With that particular development, any possible defense of the idiots in Amtrak's C Suite is gone in my view. What defense is possible for using sleepers as axle count cars when passengers are booted out of their accommodations or the failure of every toilet on an entire consist? For a literal "crap fest"?

BTW, the call center is usually the last to know much of anything and are legendarily ignorant of ground truth in the field. They know fares and current availability and can ticket you. They are not otherwise a good source of information.
 
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