Could Siemens Viaggio be the next sleeper car?

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Mailliw

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There are signs that Amtrak management is realizing that putting all their eggs on the regional corridors may not be the best idea. They've not been having much luck partnering with states, and then there's the proposal to drop the 750 mile rule down to 500 miles. The later implies interest in creating new long distance routes. Granted this could mean more daylight LDs like the Palmetto, but it could also lead to night trains (leave after dinner, arrive before breakfast or lunch) between city pairs. Sleeping cars are actually quite lucrative and help subsidize passengers in economy so they aren't going away unless the LDs themselves go away.
 

neroden

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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.
Honestly most of the platforms in the system are older, date from longer single-level trains, and are longer than the trains anyway. The exceptions are usually either former "halts" or much newer, are too short for the trains which already exist and should be lengthened in any case! The number of platforms where adding one car would make a difference to how many times the train has to stop is quite limited, though my "home station" of Syracuse NY is one of them.
 

Anthony V

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There are signs that Amtrak management is realizing that putting all their eggs on the regional corridors may not be the best idea. They've not been having much luck partnering with states, and then there's the proposal to drop the 750 mile rule down to 500 miles. The later implies interest in creating new long distance routes. Granted this could mean more daylight LDs like the Palmetto, but it could also lead to night trains (leave after dinner, arrive before breakfast or lunch) between city pairs. Sleeping cars are actually quite lucrative and help subsidize passengers in economy so they aren't going away unless the LDs themselves go away.
According to Passenger Rail Oklahoma chairman Evan Stair, any new route, even those over 750 miles long, would have to be state funded, making the cutoff mileage irrelevant when it comes to adding new long distance routes. This could be why Amtrak is focusing on shorter corridors instead of LD trains. Shorter corridors don't pass through as many states as a new LD route would, making it easier to get all affected states onboard with the proposal.
 

neroden

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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.
When the freight railroad criminals lose spectacularly and are ordered to provide service -- which is what is going to happen if they don't back down soon -- their managements' reactions should be interesting. Will they continue to act like spoiled toddlers and find themselves fined, or even have Congress seize the tracks from them? Or will they start behaving like grownups?
 

neroden

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According to Passenger Rail Oklahoma chairman Evan Stair, any new route, even those over 750 miles long, would have to be state funded, making the cutoff mileage irrelevant when it comes to adding new long distance routes. This could be why Amtrak is focusing on shorter corridors instead of LD trains. Shorter corridors don't pass through as many states as a new LD route would, making it easier to get all affected states onboard with the proposal.
This may have an impact for Oklahoma, but it doesn't matter for trains like the Lynchburg route which are, in terms of avoidable costs, *profitable*; you don't require state funding if the state funding required is $0 or negative. There is a lot of this stuff in the East, concealed by Amtrak's phony "allocation" accounting.
 
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nferr

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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?
There's no family bedrooms on the Viewliners, so no, they're not what I would call essential.
 

jiml

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There's no family bedrooms on the Viewliners, so no, they're not what I would call essential.
Other than peak seasons where kids are out of school and travelling with their parents, Family Bedrooms are often both available and reasonably-priced, making them just another decent-sized bedroom with a view out both sides. Sometimes they're not much more than a roomette:

 

cocojacoby

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There's no family bedrooms on the Viewliners, so no, they're not what I would call essential.
I took my kids to Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon on Amtrak. The family room was very much appreciated on the California Zephyr and Southwest Chief. On the Lake Shore Limited to/from Boston I had to pay much more money for two roomettes.
 
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Cal

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Other than peak seasons where kids are out of school and travelling with their parents, Family Bedrooms are often both available and reasonably-priced, making them just another decent-sized bedroom with a view out both sides. Sometimes they're not much more than a roomette:

Speaking of Jeb Brooks, he is releasing a California Zephyr video in the coming weeks. I'm excited 😁
 

Steve4031

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An interesting thought about those couchette cars. Those rooms accommodate 4 individuals. Imho Amtrak could sell them as family rooms for groups of 3 or more. Then maybe two weeks before departure open them up for sale for 2 passengers.
 

jiml

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An interesting thought about those couchette cars. Those rooms accommodate 4 individuals. Imho Amtrak could sell them as family rooms for groups of 3 or more. Then maybe two weeks before departure open them up for sale for 2 passengers.
If sold to 2 people that would be a solution for us older folk who prefer 2 lower bunks and currently have to buy 2 roomettes. 🤔
 

Mailliw

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This is why I'm fond of the 4- Berlin couchette/Russian kupe setup, it's extremely versatile. An affordable option for families or small groups, a some premium option for couples, and individual berths can be sold to budget travelers. I just don't see Amtrak going for the concept or the new pod couchettes since they lack daytime configuration. ☹
 

jiml

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The other problem is they're just not that comfortable. You're talking about 1 1/2 inches of foam covered with vinyl on a steel shelf. These are not mattresses by North American standards. The quality of bedding supplied increases with the class of service (and the cost) depending on the railroad in question and some do provide a supplementary mattress pad. I've seen one up close and frankly think I prefer a comfy reclining Amtrak/VIA coach seat for actually sleeping and a lay-flat airplane seat is heaven by comparison. Then again, I'm not that young anymore. ;)
 
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sttom

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Offering a 4 person room similar to a couchette doesn't mean a 1 for 1 carbon copy. It could be spruced up in the design phase. Which could be a more efficient use of space or at least give next gen Viewliners a family room.
 

jiml

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Offering a 4 person room similar to a couchette doesn't mean a 1 for 1 carbon copy. It could be spruced up in the design phase. Which could be a more efficient use of space or at least give next gen Viewliners a family room.
I agree, but suspect some are basing an endorsement of couchettes entirely on capacity without regard for comfort. Others have done a better job of explaining why shared sleeping space behind a closed door isn't going fly in litigious North America, but as budget family rooms they make sense. As mentioned above, the lack of daytime configuration would have to be addressed.
 

Mailliw

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It's fun to consider different design options, but realistically the only viable options for "budget" sleeping accommodation in the US are; roomettes, modernized Slumbercoaches, or a premium seated coach like the coaches on the Ocean or Caledonian Sleeper.
 
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Steve4031

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I agree, but suspect some are basing an endorsement of couchettes entirely on capacity without regard for comfort. Others have done a better job of explaining why shared sleeping space behind a closed door isn't going fly in litigious North America, but as budget family rooms they make sense. As mentioned above, the lack of daytime configuration would have to be addressed.
The 2 lower bunks could fold up into seats. The key is that the seats have to be comfortable and the beds have to be comfortable.
 

Anderson

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There are signs that Amtrak management is realizing that putting all their eggs on the regional corridors may not be the best idea. They've not been having much luck partnering with states, and then there's the proposal to drop the 750 mile rule down to 500 miles. The later implies interest in creating new long distance routes. Granted this could mean more daylight LDs like the Palmetto, but it could also lead to night trains (leave after dinner, arrive before breakfast or lunch) between city pairs. Sleeping cars are actually quite lucrative and help subsidize passengers in economy so they aren't going away unless the LDs themselves go away.
I tend to agree. There are a number of routes that can be covered under 500 miles that aren't under 750 miles:
-CHI-STL-KCY (currently two corridors, but if you "merge" them on some runs they become covered)
-Dallas/Fort Worth-Kansas City (a version of the Heartland Flyer extension where you don't terminate at Newton in the middle of the night)
-San Diego-San Francisco/Oakland/Sacramento (a version of the Coast Daylight)
-The Carolinian as-is
-The Vermonter as-is
-Some/most of the Virginia Regionals as-is
-Chicago-Memphis (this has explicitly been mooted as a possible extension of the Illini/Saluki)
-Nashville-Savannah is notably "on the bubble" here (extending to Jacksonville would solve any issue)
-ATL-NOL would depend on routing choices, but it looks like both the current routing and routing via Montgomery/Mobile should make it

A few others come up short as-is, but some extensions would push them over the edge:
-CLT-WAS is short (ATL-WAS qualifies, as does CLT-NYP [per earlier]).
-CHI-OMA via Des Moines is short, but Chicago-Lincoln should qualify.
-CHI-MSP is short, but CHI-MSP-Duluth would be long enough.

In general it feels like there are quite a few places where Amtrak could leverage a 500+ mile route to fund capex in exchange for an operating deal with a state for some shorter runs (i.e. "Send the second CHI-MSP train to Duluth while Minnesota agrees to let Amtrak run the additional trains on that route".

So I would say that this definitely opens some doors to Amtrak seriously negotiating with states to kick in substantial support to some longer routes and thereby "move" some expenses off of the states' books.
 

JermyZP

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In a Amtrak report and 5 year plan, that came out recently, it stated multiple plans that Amtrak wishes to take on if they received the full amount of funds they requested. One of these plans are to allocate funds for the start of replacing existing long distance equipment, including Superliners and Amfleets IIs. This can only happen if Amtrak receives the full funding that they requested from congress. The chances for new Siemens Viaggio sleepers have gotten a lot better.
 

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west point

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If Amtrak owns the plans for V-2s wonder who could build more sleepers to that design. The problem for any sleeper may be the design and parts for each room ? It has been rumored that the interiors were a problem that CAF slowed the deliveries of the sleepers ? We have to hope that no matter who builds more sleepers that there will not be more parts problems. Parts may be very unique. + the lack of computer chips may be a problem ?
 

neroden

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If Amtrak owns the plans for V-2s wonder who could build more sleepers to that design. The problem for any sleeper may be the design and parts for each room ? It has been rumored that the interiors were a problem that CAF slowed the deliveries of the sleepers ? We have to hope that no matter who builds more sleepers that there will not be more parts problems. Parts may be very unique. + the lack of computer chips may be a problem ?
No, the interiors (by Railplan) were ready ahead of the rest of the cars. There was a problem with the suspension (IIRC) due to the major supplier going bankrupt and closing their factory mid-production. There was also a major problem with CAF being unable to hire or train qualified stainless steel or aluminum welders in Elmira, NY (which does not surprise me). Buy America caused a lot of problems, in fact.
 

jis

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No, the interiors (by Railplan) were ready ahead of the rest of the cars. There was a problem with the suspension (IIRC) due to the major supplier going bankrupt and closing their factory mid-production. There was also a major problem with CAF being unable to hire or train qualified stainless steel or aluminum welders in Elmira, NY (which does not surprise me). Buy America caused a lot of problems, in fact.
Not suspension per se, but the entire truck assembly, because the producer of the forged trucks GSI went out of business mid stream, and a substitute source for the forged trucks had to be found and brought upto speed. Initially it was Columbia Casting that supplied the balance of the trucks. Later AmstedRail stepped into the breach.
 
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