My son and I have a roundtrip on the Capitol Limited out of Chicago next week (first long distance train for both of us). We're in a sleeper car both ways. Does this train currently have an observation/lounge car? If not, can one sit in the cafe/diner car when not eating to get a break from the sleeper?
The Sightseer Lounge is not part of the consist now. The train has a "Cross Country Cafe" car, also called a "Diner Lounge." One end of the car has tables, the other end has lounge seating. This car serves as both a dining car for flex meals served to sleeping car passengers and as a cafe car for coach passengers.
The last time I rode the Capitol in October 2021, they would close the cafe to coach passengers during the time they were serving flex meal dinners to the sleeper passengers. Many sleeper passengers got room service, with meals delivered by the sleeping car attendant. When they reopened the cafe car for coach passengers, they didn't kick out the sleeper car passengers hanging out in the diner part of the diner-lounge. I spent a lot of the afternoon on the second day of the ride (eastbound) hanging out in the diner-lounge enjoying the scenery, even after they reopened the cafe and started serving coach passengers. This would seem to conform with the stated Amtrak policy of reserving the dining car as a "sleeper lounge." However, this being Amtrak, it is possible that on a different day with a different crew, other rules might apply.