Could Siemens Viaggio be the next sleeper car?

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Mailliw

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I think ADA requirements would need to be redefined to apply to trainsets, not individual cars in order for future bilevels to be worth it.
 

George K

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Do the western trains really need bilevel?

I was looking at passenger capactity:

Two Superliner Sleepers can accommodate 84 passengers, assuming two passengers per compartment. Not counting family bedroom here.

One Viewliner Sleeper can accommodate 32.

A train with three Viewliner Sleepers would be the equivalent, except that you'd have 6 bedrooms instead of 12 - allowing for differences in the family bedroom.

3 Viewliners would have 36 roomettes vs 28 for two Superliners.

Looks like adding just one car would accommodate two superliners' worth of passengers fine, and if reconfigured, you could have the same number of bedrooms while by reallocating space devoted to roomettes.

As far as dining goes:

Superliner dining car has 18 tables - theoretically accommodating 72 passengers.
Viewliner has 10 tables - for 40 passengers max.

Also looks like the kitchen in the Superliner is much larger (with almost twice the seating capacity, I'm not surprised.)

Allowing for the (relatively) minor differences in coach capacity in Viewliner (70 or 58) v Superliner (74), it looks like any long distance train could work as a single-level with the addition of one sleeper and perhaps a creative approach to the dining car(s).

Am I missing something here?
 

cocojacoby

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There could be a way where all the cars could be bi-level with no single-level. I think that there still should be a ADA bi-level car that has coach seats and rooms with a Elevator from the lower-level to the high-level. I have always love the bi-level fleet in Amtrak but it needs to make it accessible to everyone.
What does that mean exactly? Right now the only "accessibility" is from one bedroom on the Viewliner sleeper to one table in the Viewliner diner and if you aren't in the first sleeper forget it. There is no way for a wheelchair to pass through any other car - single or double deck.

There isn't anywhere for a person in the Superliner ADA room to go even if that person in a wheelchair can take an elevator from the lower floor to the upper floor. Then what?

So just how are you going to accomplish this totally accessible goal? You can't make all the new cars 12 feet wide.
 

Steve4031

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Simple with Amtrak’s deferred maintenance practices would be best. The sleeping car rooms need to retain the large windows like the superliners. Seats need to be more comfortable than those European compartments.
 

jiml

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Do the western trains really need bilevel?

I was looking at passenger capactity:

Two Superliner Sleepers can accommodate 84 passengers, assuming two passengers per compartment. Not counting family bedroom here.

One Viewliner Sleeper can accommodate 32.

A train with three Viewliner Sleepers would be the equivalent, except that you'd have 6 bedrooms instead of 12 - allowing for differences in the family bedroom.

3 Viewliners would have 36 roomettes vs 28 for two Superliners.

Looks like adding just one car would accommodate two superliners' worth of passengers fine, and if reconfigured, you could have the same number of bedrooms while by reallocating space devoted to roomettes.

As far as dining goes:

Superliner dining car has 18 tables - theoretically accommodating 72 passengers.
Viewliner has 10 tables - for 40 passengers max.

Also looks like the kitchen in the Superliner is much larger (with almost twice the seating capacity, I'm not surprised.)

Allowing for the (relatively) minor differences in coach capacity in Viewliner (70 or 58) v Superliner (74), it looks like any long distance train could work as a single-level with the addition of one sleeper and perhaps a creative approach to the dining car(s).

Am I missing something here?
Someone made a similar suggestion a couple of pages back and I agreed with him/her. The majority of participants seem to feel that going from bi-levels to singles would be a step back - hence the wide ranging discussion on potential options. The only downside to longer trains is platform length/multiple stops - all solvable with more frequencies.
 

jis

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Someone made a similar suggestion a couple of pages back and I agreed with him/her. The majority of participants seem to feel that going from bi-levels to singles would be a step back - hence the wide ranging discussion on potential options. The only downside to longer trains is platform length/multiple stops - all solvable with more frequencies.
Multiple stops isn’t exactly a show stopper either, in the leisurely LD schedules 😬
 

Steve4031

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Multiple spots occur on the empire builder routinely. Columbus is one example. I’m sure there others. Multiple spots occurred routinely in 1970s. Hardly the worst thing.
 

sttom

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At this point, if Amtrak were to do an RFP for long distance cars, the options still are Siemens, Stadler or Alstom. Frankly, they'll probably be the only option for most North American fleet orders.

If Amtrak were to order new long distance cars, their sleeper offerings would need to be revisited. If you off the superliners for single level equipment, you lose the family room, so it would need to be replaced. I would have the regular sleepers replaced with modernized 10-6 sleepers. Meaning 1 person roomettes and double bedrooms with one of the doubles being modified to be an ADA room. Assuming it's a single level car. If a bilevel car could be built, the upper level could be a 10-6 with the ADA rooms on the bottom level.

Either way, I do think having a separate car for the bedrooms. Add in some four person family bedrooms and it would be fine. I know OBB couchette cars have 10 rooms and sell them to families. A 5 Bedroom - 5 Family room cars would allow them to offer more room types for different travelers. Before Amtrak, trains could have up to 5 accomodation types. Amtrak effectively having 3 is low given what was historically available.

As for a new generation of Bilevels and ADA, the question of them is would putting in an elevator make sense? I remember reading the report on them and concerns they had about them were finding manufacturers (they admitted they're weren't any in the US at this time), can they be operated without the help of someone on the crew (none of the ones in operation are used without the crew) and the differences between tourist and non tourist operations. That being said, it might not be feasible to do so in all or even most cars. My question would be then, what is the reasonable accommodation going to be? Is having 1 car with an elevator and accessible accomodations good so long as passengers can get to the lounge and diner? Is it ok to say have 2 lounges each with elevators and do the passenger shuffle on a platform while the train is stopped? If neither option is sufficient, then either no elevators or no bilevels or both.

As for needing them, no we don't need them. But there are advantages such as capacity and viewing the scenery that bilevels have a distinct advantage with. Even if Amtrak were to go all single level, I doubt they would ditch having something like Sightseer Lounge. And if it has a viewing deck, the discussion about an elevator will come back into play. Setting rules by trainset could work, but how do you define a trainset? Would all the cars have to be married together somehow to be considered a trainset or would Amtrak of whichever operator have to publish what a standard consist is and where the accessible accomodations are? That is another whole can of worms. And then there is the safety factor, when is it safe for someone with limited mobility to move around a train? I mentioned this the last time it came up, but my grandpa didn't get around as well as he used to when he was in his 80s and he refused to use the stairs on Amtrak while the train was moving. It's different for different people, but safety needs to be taken into account. As it stands people in wheel chairs really can't move around much on long distance trains. Which I would suspect would bring up other safety issues that may not even occur to us.
 

Mailliw

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A 2nd frequency on long distance trains, say a 6-12 hr offset, would be a boon to all those "flyover" communities serviced by only one train in the middle of the night.
 

JermyZP

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What does that mean exactly? Right now the only "accessibility" is from one bedroom on the Viewliner sleeper to one table in the Viewliner diner and if you aren't in the first sleeper forget it. There is no way for a wheelchair to pass through any other car - single or double deck.

There isn't anywhere for a person in the Superliner ADA room to go even if that person in a wheelchair can take an elevator from the lower floor to the upper floor. Then what?

So just how are you going to accomplish this totally accessible goal? You can't make all the new cars 12 feet wide.
This was just an idea for siemens American version of viaggio bi-level cars and not for Superliner cars. I was talking about having ADA coach and sleeper car next to the lounge and dining cars. so they won't have to go through coach cars or other sleeper cars. The siemens viaggio cars have gangways and not doors between cars. There are still problems with my idea but I know that the engineers at siemens could figure it out better than me.
 

Mailliw

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How essential are family bedrooms if 2 regular bedrooms can be combined into a suite? Conversely if you have a dedicated 4 berth room (like couchettes or Russian kupe) would the regular bedrooms still need to be combined? How often do bedrooms actually get combined into suites?
 

Cal

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How essential are family bedrooms if 2 regular bedrooms can be combined into a suite? Conversely if you have a dedicated 4 berth room (like couchettes or Russian kupe) would the regular bedrooms still need to be combined? How often do bedrooms actually get combined into suites?
Bedrooms can be pretty pricey, however. So the FB would be better for families
 

cocojacoby

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And then there is the safety factor, when is it safe for someone with limited mobility to move around a train? I mentioned this the last time it came up, but my grandpa didn't get around as well as he used to when he was in his 80s and he refused to use the stairs on Amtrak while the train was moving. It's different for different people, but safety needs to be taken into account. As it stands people in wheel chairs really can't move around much on long distance trains. Which I would suspect would bring up other safety issues that may not even occur to us.
That is something that has occurred to me too. What are the safety implications of a person in a wheel chair coming through a train? A wheelchair would completely block the aisle. What happens to passengers going the other way with luggage or drinks in hand? What if there is an emergency evacuation? You have to admit that there are passenger convenience and safety considerations that need to be addressed.
 

Mailliw

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Both the Venture trainsets and the Avelia Liberty trainsets are designed with wide enough aisles and connections to allow wheelchair users to safely move throughout the train. Designing a sleeping car allowing requires some creativity, but it's possible. Doing the same with bilevel trainsets just isn't practical.
 

PaTrainFan

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Let's be realistic. Yes, more frequencies would be a dream for us railfans. But does anyone sincerely believe Amtrak has the wherewithal for additional long distance trains on most routes? Not a chance this will happen. Barring radical change in philosophy, management is committed to the shorter distance corridor concept. Their "ConnectUS" plan verifies that.
 

MikefromCrete

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Let's be realistic. Yes, more frequencies would be a dream for us railfans. But does anyone sincerely believe Amtrak has the wherewithal for additional long distance trains on most routes? Not a chance this will happen. Barring radical change in philosophy, management is committed to the shorter distance corridor concept. Their "ConnectUS" plan verifies that.
In addition, you need the cooperation of the freight railroads. Look at how hard CSX is fighting Amtrak on adding two roundtrip trains from Mobile to New Orleans. Think CSX will just OK to a second train on the Lake Shore Limited?
 

PaTrainFan

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In addition, you need the cooperation of the freight railroads. Look at how hard CSX is fighting Amtrak on adding two roundtrip trains from Mobile to New Orleans. Think CSX will just OK to a second train on the Lake Shore Limited?
Which is why some of Amtrak's thinking is a pipe dream for even the shorter routes. I suspect the rest of the freight carriers are watching the Mobile fight with great interest, viewing it as a test case.
 

sttom

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Both the Venture trainsets and the Avelia Liberty trainsets are designed with wide enough aisles and connections to allow wheelchair users to safely move throughout the train. Designing a sleeping car allowing requires some creativity, but it's possible. Doing the same with bilevel trainsets just isn't practical.
Moving between the cars isn't the problem with the superliners, it's moving between the levels. If the federal government is going to set regulations that require unrestricted and unassisted access to all public parts of a train, future single level cars will be effected by the same rules. And my best guess is that to accommodate the turning radius of a wheel chair, the Viewliners or whatever their replacement will be called will likely lose a bedroom to accommodate that turn radius. So going all single level isn't going to avoid ADA regulations because the single level cars aren't all access either if your in a wheel chair. Assuming the regulations change in the next couple of years, this will effect future single level cars as well. And frankly, a Superliner can better absorb the capacity loss than a Viewliner. But this is all based on ADA regulations changing to make public transit harder to provide. And of having access to both levels is going to be required there is a good chance this rule will be applied to other forms of transportation like planes, busses and ferries. Planes aren't a huge problem since the A380 and 747 passenger models aren't going to be built much longer so they aren't really a problem. But bus operations, they're likely going to be next. And no offense to activists, but they're usually blind to other issues. I was one at one point. As well meaning as some disability advocates are, I seriously doubt most of them are familiar with transit operations enough to know that what they might want might slowly kill some forms of transit. Amtrak's response to more intrusive regulations on its accomodations could be to not have sleeping compartments anymore and go to an all lie flat seat arrangement just for the sake of capacity and be ADA compliant.
 

cocojacoby

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If the federal government is going to set regulations that require unrestricted and unassisted access to all public parts of a train, future single level cars will be effected by the same rules. And my best guess is that to accommodate the turning radius of a wheel chair, the Viewliners or whatever their replacement will be called will likely lose a bedroom to accommodate that turn radius.
Lose a bedroom? How about half the roomettes since a wider aisle probably eliminates them on one side? Also since the bedrooms will have to be narrower they will probably have to be longer and may take up the room of 1 1/2 bedrooms. So reduce them by 50%?

So honestly this just isn't practical. You may be pricing bedrooms out of the reach of almost everyone since the operational cost per room will be very high.

Maybe Amtrak can ask for an exception. Maybe Amtrak can go with narrower wheelchairs like the airlines use. Common sense needs to apply here.
 

jiml

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Moving between the cars isn't the problem with the superliners, it's moving between the levels. If the federal government is going to set regulations that require unrestricted and unassisted access to all public parts of a train, future single level cars will be effected by the same rules. And my best guess is that to accommodate the turning radius of a wheel chair, the Viewliners or whatever their replacement will be called will likely lose a bedroom to accommodate that turn radius. So going all single level isn't going to avoid ADA regulations because the single level cars aren't all access either if your in a wheel chair. Assuming the regulations change in the next couple of years, this will effect future single level cars as well. And frankly, a Superliner can better absorb the capacity loss than a Viewliner. But this is all based on ADA regulations changing to make public transit harder to provide. And of having access to both levels is going to be required there is a good chance this rule will be applied to other forms of transportation like planes, busses and ferries. Planes aren't a huge problem since the A380 and 747 passenger models aren't going to be built much longer so they aren't really a problem. But bus operations, they're likely going to be next. And no offense to activists, but they're usually blind to other issues. I was one at one point. As well meaning as some disability advocates are, I seriously doubt most of them are familiar with transit operations enough to know that what they might want might slowly kill some forms of transit. Amtrak's response to more intrusive regulations on its accomodations could be to not have sleeping compartments anymore and go to an all lie flat seat arrangement just for the sake of capacity and be ADA compliant.
At least when it comes to buses most communities offer alternative "mobility" transit, since not every bus on every route can be accessible - at least in the short term. What always fascinated me is how planes are virtually exempt from the requirements placed on Amtrak. Simply saying that planes can't be designed to the same standards being forced on passenger railways shouldn't carry weight for much longer if trends continue. When airlines are told that they must widen doors on their next generation of aircraft, reserve the first two rows of FC for wheelchairs or eliminate one seat in each row to widen the aisle, it will no longer be only Amtrak getting the attention.
 

sttom

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Lose a bedroom?
Losing 1 bedroom in a Viewliner is more what I see as the minimum that would be lost should a rule like this get implemented. More than likely both with narrower roomettes. The other option I could see are European style double rooms that are perpendicular to the window being modified to fit. What is more likely I fear is Amtrak just ditching compartments all together. A lie flat seat is a seat after all. And seats even now have a much lower threshold for being ADA compliant that compartments. I can see this going 3 ways. 1) the regulations are found to be largely unfeasible and aren't implemented and disability advocates make noise. 2) they are implemented and Amtrak ditches sleepers entirely in it's next fleet order. Or 3) they comply with single level cars with crap amenities and less capacity system wide. As much as I would love to see the western long distance trains run 3x daily, I doubt it will happen.
 
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cocojacoby

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Okay, I'm just throwing this out there:

Retrofit or build new Superliner diners and sightseer lounge cars as follows:

Sightseer Car:

1 - Replace lower lounge with two HP bedrooms. There already is an accessible toilet right there or completely remove lounge and toilet and replace with two fully equipped HP bedrooms.

2 - Add lift to upper level (maybe instead of stairs?)

3 - Can all of the swivel chairs be turned to allow for passage of a wheelchair? If not install narrower tables or seats at one end of the car to provide accessibility to the end door that faces the dinner.

4 - Add wheelchair space somewhere in the lounge.

Diner Car:

1- Make both end tables at one end accessible utilizing flip down seats so that they can be used by everyone if possible.


amtrak-diagram-superliner-diningcar.jpgSightseer_Lounge_Car.jpg

Now a wheelchair passenger has full access to all of the passenger related amenities. Leave the coaches and sleepers alone except now you can add one or two (depending on the number of sleepers) sellable family rooms to every consist. There really is no need to have accessibility through the entire train.

Amtrak may have to ask for a waiver but this seems to provide equal and enhanced access to the most important features of the train. It doesn't cause a loss of room revenue but in fact adds to the bottom line. The Sightseer now actually generates room revenue and the H bedroom in the sleepers can be sold as a second family room.

BTW - On a recent Auto Train trip, I never saw anyone using that lower lounge.

Please tell me if I am missing something.
 
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mlanoue

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How were the bi-level cars that Illinois/California originally ordered a decade ago designed to comply with the ADA? They had cafe cars, I believe. Was there an elevator somewhere? I know they didn't pass the crush tests, but the design must have received an OK on the accessibility didn't it?
 
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