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Can crew open sleeper doors?

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Joined
Nov 23, 2020
Messages
2
Location
Chicago, IL
Hello, new member making his first post! Please forgive me if this has been addressed previously, but is it possible for a conductor or attendant to open a roomette or bedroom door that has been locked from the inside? I was wondering from a safety issue, like if a family member was concerned for their elderly parent or an invalid who was not responding to their calls.

Thanks!
 

tricia

Conductor
Joined
Aug 23, 2011
Messages
1,170
Location
Spring Creek, NC
Welcome to AU! Roomettes at least (bedrooms too?) have a mechanical latch that hooks over a post on the roomette-side (not hallway side) of the door jamb. It might be possible to flip the latch open using a stiff but very thin tool slid between door and jamb--but I don't know if crew carry such a thing.

Others here will probably know better.
 

bratkinson

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 7, 2004
Messages
853
Location
QB 101
Every time I ride in a Viewliner sleeper, I get a laugh at how 'they' tried reinventing the wheel, in this case, the door latch. On both sides of the sliding door, one put a couple fingers into the latch area and pushed a vertical bar maybe 1/2" sideways to unlock & open the door. Internally, it would lift a small flat rod with a notch in it that engaged a horizontal bar in the door jamb. On the room side, there was a slide thing that would 'lock' the door by preventing the rod with a notch from moving upward. The problem was that try as one may, in many situations, locked or not, the door would simply roll open as the flat rod with a notch would disengage itself probably due to vibration. I, for one, had it 'open itself' while I was seated on the toilet.

Fortunately, within maybe 3 years or so, they removed the 'guts' of those latches and installed the tried and true (for the last 80-90 years, I suspect) 'standard' latch with a substantial post, a heavy notched rod that comes over it, and a heavy swivel piece that prevented the rod from being raised. The old latch bar and finger area are still evident on both sides of the doors.

Perhaps the only downside of the 'standard' latch is that it can't be opened from outside the room whereas the original Viewliner latches could with a key, as I recall. Another downside of the 'standard' latch is the door won't stay closed by itself while away from the room, in the diner or lounge car, for example. I travel with a number of pieces of ordinary carpenters 'shim stock' and jam a piece or two between the door and the hallway side panel at the top of the door when I leave the room. It keeps the door closed and at the top, is usually not noticed by anyone in the hallway. And if I forget it's there upon return and use a little muscle to open the door, the shims drop inside the wall and I'm out 20 cents.

As for entering a room in an emergency, I read somewhere at least 5 years ago that the usual method was to press/push out the hallway 'window' in a Viewliner (not the one in the door) as it can be easily reinstalled by shop forces, supposedly. In Superliners, maybe a crowbar is the obvious quick solution, but damaging the door to open it makes the room unusable until the car is shopped and the door repaired or replaced. I think I'd go for trying to press out the window or smashing it if in a hurry. But then flying glass may injure anyone in the room.
 
Joined
Nov 23, 2020
Messages
2
Location
Chicago, IL
As for entering a room in an emergency, I read somewhere at least 5 years ago that the usual method was to press/push out the hallway 'window' in a Viewliner (not the one in the door) as it can be easily reinstalled by shop forces, supposedly. In Superliners, maybe a crowbar is the obvious quick solution, but damaging the door to open it makes the room unusable until the car is shopped and the door repaired or replaced. I think I'd go for trying to press out the window or smashing it if in a hurry. But then flying glass may injure anyone in the room.
That was my thinking as well, that they would prefer to use a window.

Thanks for the many answers and welcomes!
 

RebelRider

Train Attendant
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Messages
75
Location
America's Railroad
There is a very simple, fast and non-destructive method to gain entry to a Viewliner I room from the outside. It requires one tool. I'm obviously not going to post the method and, in my experience, few employees seem to know this method. I've heard too many stories about crowbars, sledge hammers and removing window panes that it pains me.
 

railiner

Conductor
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
8,653
Location
Palm Beach County
If
There is a very simple, fast and non-destructive method to gain entry to a Viewliner I room from the outside. It requires one tool. I'm obviously not going to post the method and, in my experience, few employees seem to know this method. I've heard too many stories about crowbars, sledge hammers and removing window panes that it pains me.
If you're referring to removing the rubber window seal....I believe employees and first responder's have been trained in that....
 

RebelRider

Train Attendant
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Messages
75
Location
America's Railroad
If you're referring to removing the rubber window seal....I believe employees and first responder's have been trained in that....
Nope. Doesn't involve removing rubber seals or windows on the outside or inside of the car. I consider that destructive. This method you can just slide the door open like normal.

And no, employees are not trained or directed to remove rubber around the hallway windows inside a sleeper. It's certainly happened, but it's not in any documentation I've ever seen.
 

Lonestar648

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
May 17, 2015
Messages
2,787
I have never heard of any employee being trained to open the sleeper room doors. I do expect that the veteran employees, Conductors or SCAs have enough experience with these cars to make things happen in most any emergency.
 

railiner

Conductor
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
8,653
Location
Palm Beach County
If they are not trained to open a locked door in an emergency, they certainly should be, and the FRA should require it.
It could potentially save a life. I know for a fact that Amtrak teaches first responders along their routes, on emergency response and evacuation procedures.
If some passenger suffers a heart attack in a locked room, in some remote location, by the time first responders can reach them, could be too late to render CPR. Or other first aid....
 

bms

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 29, 2018
Messages
264
Location
Cleveland
I travel over 10,000 miles on Amtrak every year. Only once have I seen Amtrak deal with a medical incident, and they did it well. A gentleman became quite ill aboard the Lake Shore Limited, and appeared to me to be having heart problems. We were close to the Syracuse station stop and the crew of #48 called an ambulance, which met the train at the station and presumably took the passenger to Upstate University Hospital. The crew was completely professional as they were totally calm and did the best thing to help their passenger. Based on seeing how well they did in that situation, I'd trust Amtrak personnel if I were the sick person too.
 

Tom Booth

Service Attendant
Joined
Jul 5, 2019
Messages
167
Location
Jersey City
If they are not trained to open a locked door in an emergency, they certainly should be, and the FRA should require it.
It could potentially save a life. I know for a fact that Amtrak teaches first responders along their routes, on emergency response and evacuation procedures.
If some passenger suffers a heart attack in a locked room, in some remote location, by the time first responders can reach them, could be too late to render CPR. Or other first aid....
I was on that train too and your recollection jives with mine perfectly. Everything was handled expeditiously and professionally.
 

Tom Booth

Service Attendant
Joined
Jul 5, 2019
Messages
167
Location
Jersey City
I travel over 10,000 miles on Amtrak every year. Only once have I seen Amtrak deal with a medical incident, and they did it well. A gentleman became quite ill aboard the Lake Shore Limited, and appeared to me to be having heart problems. We were close to the Syracuse station stop and the crew of #48 called an ambulance, which met the train at the station and presumably took the passenger to Upstate University Hospital. The crew was completely professional as they were totally calm and did the best thing to help their passenger. Based on seeing how well they did in that situation, I'd trust Amtrak personnel if I were the sick person too.
I travel over 10,000 miles on Amtrak every year. Only once have I seen Amtrak deal with a medical incident, and they did it well. A gentleman became quite ill aboard the Lake Shore Limited, and appeared to me to be having heart problems. We were close to the Syracuse station stop and the crew of #48 called an ambulance, which met the train at the station and presumably took the passenger to Upstate University Hospital. The crew was completely professional as they were totally calm and did the best thing to help their passenger. Based on seeing how well they did in that situation, I'd trust Amtrak personnel if I were the sick person too.
I was on that train too and your recollection jives with mine perfectly. Everything was handled expeditiously and professionally.
 

Cho Cho Charlie

Conductor
Joined
Apr 9, 2009
Messages
2,263
Location
Near an Amtrak station
At least on the Viewliner roomettes, I have seen all sorts of locks on the sliding door. It seems that as the original locks broke over the years (decades?), the ingenious repair people have each come up with their own way of replacing it. I don't think any of these, could be easily opened (unlocked) from the hall.

Along these lines, I would think that some passengers (females?) would be uncomfortable sleeping if they knew their locked door could still be opened from the hall.
 
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