First NEC Sleeper Journey - A Huge Letdown

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20th Century Rider

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Just wanted to share a few thoughts and pictures from my overnight journey from BOS - WAS on the inaugural return of sleeper cars to the NE Regional 65-67.
I would put this in the trip reports, but I thought it might spark additional conversation.
Miles in Transit (who had a roomette next to mine booked only from BOS to BBY) has a video out.

Arriving at South Station and being able to wait in the lounge is a plus. Amtrak lounges are great, and often staffed by wonderful people. This was no exception.
They offered to check my bags, but I did not have any luggage aside from my instrument and backpack.

The sleeper car was the first car at the front of the train, so it was quite a walk, especially since tracks have been shortened at SS due to construction. I must admit, the cars are old, but from the outside, they look great!
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I am sorry to report the my roomette was dirty when I arrived. The floor had not been thoroughly vacuumed, and while the seats were clean, the table and all other surfaces had to be wiped down. This was different from my November trip aboard the Cal Zephyr, which was overall a well cleaned room and pleasant trip.
The train departed and arrived on time, and station stops were exactly as planned, with the exception of New Haven, which lasted longer than scheduled. I was genuinely surprised how well patronized the train was, especially at the Providence stop. About 50 people boarded the train there.

In the morning, the "continental breakfast" they offered was abysmal. It was a cracker, a muffin, with a bottle of Fiji water (the best thing in the box) with a Kind Breakfast bar. The box they offer is identical on the outside to the Acela First Class "snack box," just much worse.

My experience at Union Station was positive, though the Acela Lounge there is quite a letdown. I expected cleaner seats (crumbs were all over some of them) and cleaner bathrooms (someone left the men's room a mess in more ways than one).

My Acela return journey after brief business in DC was great. The train was on time every step of the way, and Amtrak's Acela product is obviously fine tuned and very good. I would say business class offers the best value, as first class really is not much different with the exception of food (but during covid times, there's basically no difference). It was especially fun to take advantage of the 20 minute NYP stop and check out the new station.
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By far the biggest let down of the sleeper train however, is the full volume diatribes the took place at every single major stop throughout the journey (the worst was NYP; that announcement lasted 2 minutes).
How is anyone in the sleeper car supposed to get consistent sleep. I doubt anyone who books a sleeper car is getting out at any of the intermediate destinations (especially NYP).
Doesn't Amtrak have a moratorium on announcements after 9 p.m.? I know that this train is technically a corridor train, but when I last road the sleeper version in 2001, there were no announcements after New London.

Overall a big disappointment, despite this being a much desired service. Will I take it again? Definitely. Will I recommend it? Maybe not to everyone.
Thoughts on the announcements and food service?
Amtrak will go to the ends of the world to make sure they mess up a good idea... in this case a return to the 'Night Owl.' How much did it cost? Did they pay you to clean up the room you paid for??? Did those midnight announcements help you to sleep better? And was that bottle of Fiji water the best part of the trip?

Sounds like the service... is really 'watered down.'

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west point

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Why can't a SCA assigned elsewhere on the train take care of the few persons left in the sleeper south of WASH ?
 

EchoSierra

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Could Superliner equipment get between ALB and BOS what with that one tunnel and the catenaries?
No. I think Worcester is as far east as they can go. Back in 2008, Good Morning America had their Whistle Stop Tour which used a special train with Superliners (the consist was two P42s, an NPCU (90225, specially modified with dome antennas for broadcasting while on the road), three superliners, two sightseer lounges, a transdorm, and two private cars) touring the country. They were unable to go to Boston and had to settle for Worcester instead, because that's as far as the Superliners could go. Some of the bridges east of Worcester are too low for the Superliners.

Re the volume issue... time for another plug for gaffer's tape. Gaffers tape plus paper napkins make a great ad hoc volume control.

Gaffer's tape - the tape that keeps Amtrak habitable...
Gaffer's tape is expensive, but I guarantee that it's worth it. It's strong, removes cleanly, and the adhesive leaves no residue.
 

Tlcooper93

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No. I think Worcester is as far east as they can go. Back in 2008, Good Morning America had their Whistle Stop Tour which used a special train with Superliners (the consist was two P42s, an NPCU (90225, specially modified with dome antennas for broadcasting while on the road), three superliners, two sightseer lounges, a transdorm, and two private cars) touring the country. They were unable to go to Boston and had to settle for Worcester instead, because that's as far as the Superliners could go. Some of the bridges east of Worcester are too low for the Superliners.



Gaffer's tape is expensive, but I guarantee that it's worth it. It's strong, removes cleanly, and the adhesive leaves no residue.
I read that Superliners can get as far as just outside Back Bay (barely), so theoretically, you could have a superliner train terminate at Landsdowne. This story does sound interesting though. I could be wrong.
 
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EchoSierra

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Back when that Good Morning America train ran, Lansdowne was named Yawkey, and only had a side platform on track 2.

I think that the superliners might have issues with the bridges over by the Newton stops, but they might also fit just fine, because it's entirely possible that no one has actually measured with a measuring tape, the height of those bridges above the rail head (due to settling, compacting, reballasting, etc, the height can change from what they set it to when the maintenance on the RoW was done). A few years ago, when the AAPRCO had their Pine Tree Limited tour over the MBTA, it was always *assumed* that the full dome cars would not clear the bridges on the Lowell line, but someone insisted that they try it anyway, and sent someone out there with a tape measure. They found that if they proceeded at a reduced speed, the dome cars would clear the bridges on the Lowell line between North Station and West Medford by a couple inches, so as long as the cars didn't rock, they'd clear the bridges just fine, and that's what they did.
 

Tlcooper93

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Back when that Good Morning America train ran, Lansdowne was named Yawkey, and only had a side platform on track 2.

I think that the superliners might have issues with the bridges over by the Newton stops, but they might also fit just fine, because it's entirely possible that no one has actually measured with a measuring tape, the height of those bridges above the rail head (due to settling, compacting, reballasting, etc, the height can change from what they set it to when the maintenance on the RoW was done). A few years ago, when the AAPRCO had their Pine Tree Limited tour over the MBTA, it was always *assumed* that the full dome cars would not clear the bridges on the Lowell line, but someone insisted that they try it anyway, and sent someone out there with a tape measure. They found that if they proceeded at a reduced speed, the dome cars would clear the bridges on the Lowell line between North Station and West Medford by a couple inches, so as long as the cars didn't rock, they'd clear the bridges just fine, and that's what they did.
Interesting. I was just on the Worcester Line and I tried to guess the height of the bridges. MBTA duplex cars are 15' 6" if I remember correctly, and Superliners are 16' 2". There was definitely at least of a foot of clearance for the MBTA cars, so maybe the supers would have about 3-4 inches of clearance, which I would guess would not be enough.
 

PVD

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It really doesn't matter. They bring nothing to the table. The train goes to Albany and becomes part of the Lake Shore. Unless Mass were somehow convinced to pay for a separate train Superliners have no purpose on this route, as well as adding a bunch of orphan cars at each end, making service a PITA.
 

Tlcooper93

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It really doesn't matter. They bring nothing to the table. The train goes to Albany and becomes part of the Lake Shore. Unless Mass were somehow convinced to pay for a separate train Superliners have no purpose on this route, as well as adding a bunch of orphan cars at each end, making service a PITA.
Half the stuff we talk about doesn’t really matter. It’s more just for the fun of thinking if Superliners COULD make it.
 

William W.

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Consist tonight consists of power, baggage car, Viewliner I sleeper, cafe car w/biz class, and four coaches. I think the sleeper used to be on the rear (?), so that's a nice development.

The SCA seems to know what he's doing, and the snack box looks good.
 

Tlcooper93

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Consist tonight consists of power, baggage car, Viewliner I sleeper, cafe car w/biz class, and four coaches. I think the sleeper used to be on the rear (?), so that's a nice development.

The SCA seems to know what he's doing, and the snack box looks good.
The four times I’ve taken it now (including the inaugural) the sleeper has been the first car after baggage.
 

William W.

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Zero announcements, and I got my complimentary Woodford on the rocks. Night y'all

Overall it was a good experience. Tracks between Baltimore and NYP can definitely be a bit rough, but otherwise it felt like any other LD Viewliner sleeper train. I would definitely take again, especially on a day like today when flight delays are likely and I want to maximize my time in the city.
 
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MARC Rider

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Tracks between Baltimore and NYP can definitely be a bit rough,
The tracks aren't rough, it's just that the train was probably going 110 mph most of the time. Now the short stretch between the Baltimore station and the mouth of the B&P Tunnel, that's some rough tracks, even at the slow speed the train is doing there.
 

AmtrakBlue

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The tracks aren't rough, it's just that the train was probably going 110 mph most of the time. Now the short stretch between the Baltimore station and the mouth of the B&P Tunnel, that's some rough tracks, even at the slow speed the train is doing there.
And arriving at Wilmington northbound.
 

William W.

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The tracks aren't rough, it's just that the train was probably going 110 mph most of the time. Now the short stretch between the Baltimore station and the mouth of the B&P Tunnel, that's some rough tracks, even at the slow speed the train is doing there.
Well whatever it is, the rough spots are amplified when sleeping on a Viewliner vs sitting in a seat on the Acela. Certain points felt similar to the Buckingham Branch section of the Cardinal.

I'm not complaining, just conveying an observation.
 

Tlcooper93

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Viewliners really aren’t meant to be going 110, so it definitely shows its age when the train gets up to speed.

ive taken 67 twice now and didn‘t really get to sleep until after Wilmington anyways, so it never bothered me.
 

Tlcooper93

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Well whatever it is, the rough spots are amplified when sleeping on a Viewliner vs sitting in a seat on the Acela. Certain points felt similar to the Buckingham Branch section of the Cardinal.

I'm not complaining, just conveying an observation.
I saw your train this morning when I hopped on the 8:05 southbound Acela. Love seeing sleepers more frequently at SS. Really makes the station feel like it matters again.
 
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William W.

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I saw your train this morning when I hopped on the 8:05 southbound Acela. Love seeing sleepers more frequently at SS. Really makes the station feel like it matters again.
I also saw your train!
It was cool to be sitting in NYP just as 67 pulled in. Glad I woke up briefly.
 
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Any other anecdotal or concrete reports on sleeping car occupancy? The GF has been flying recently so no new Amtrak reports on this end.
 

Tlcooper93

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Any other anecdotal or concrete reports on sleeping car occupancy? The GF has been flying recently so no new Amtrak reports on this end.
In the four times I’ve taken the sleeper car, it has increased every time to about 2/3 full the final time mid-May.
 
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Any other anecdotal or concrete reports on sleeping car occupancy? The GF has been flying recently so no new Amtrak reports on this end.
On my WAS-BOS trip on Train 66 leaving WAS on May 25, the sleeping car attendant said we had 11 passengers.


How they were arranged in the bedrooms and roomettes, I don't know. I also don't know where they got on and off. At least one of the 11 passengers rode from NYP-BOS only.
 
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