- Sep 17, 2009
Even though the Ultra Domes are taller than Superliners, the effective headroom on each level is similar. The lower level of the Ultra Domes is at standard single level height, rather than suspended between the wheel trucks, as Superliners are. Some Ultra Domes allow passage to adjacent cars on both levels…Has anyone ever used any of these bi-levels as sleeping cars? Even with the 18' tall cars, I am skeptical that there will be decent headroom for upper berths. After my recent experience trying to get into and out of an upper berth in a Superliner sleeper, I have come to the conclusion that I just can't get into and out of the bunk. I have no problems with the upper berths in the Viewliners (except that the mattresses seem to be made of concrete.)
That is correct. The 18' tall Ultradome has 7' available (4'TOR to lower floor + 7' lower floor to base of upper floor + 7' upper floor to roof = 18') for each level realistically leaving room for a headroom of about 6'6" at each level. That is significantly less than the possible 9'+ or so headroom available (from 14'6"-4' = 10'6") on a car like the Ventures or Viewliners.Even though the Ultra Domes are taller than Superliners, the effective headroom on each level is similar. The lower level of the Ultra Domes is at standard single level height, rather than suspended between the wheel trucks, as Superliners are. Some Ultra Domes allow passage to adjacent cars on both levels…
They are stacked on top of each other. If you get creative, you can probably fit at third level.What would the capacity of a car with diagonal lie-flat seating from the survey be? That specific setup would require 1:1 seating which doesn't seem like a good use of space (unless of course you stack them on top eachother).
I am not quite sure diagonal is the way to go. Seems that the last time we discussed this we came to the conclusion that horizontally staggered straight like Delta One was the best way to go and that could fit somewhere between 36 and 40, somewhat in line with what could be done vertically staggered in full length Slumbercoaches. @cocojacoby is the resident expert on this subject as I seem to recall.Thanks, but I meant the setup from the Amtrak survey. Though if they're the same think then somebody at Amtrak is really thinking outside the box.
With a bit more innovative zigging and zagging, specially in a 14'6" tall car with essentially 10' of vertical space to play with, maybe they can actually fit a lie flat seat at each level. Just thinking aloud.
Reading this, it certainly makes sense to standardize the new fleet but I see no reason that a 14'6" low-level bilevel food service/lounge car couldn't be included in the mix. On the food service car the upper level would have dome windows and serve as the dining area and the lower level would contain a full-width kitchen. On the lounge version the upper level would also have dome windows and be setup as a full-length lounge with a snack bar on the lower level.My friend Carl Fowler posted the following message on Facebook forwarding a post from Ira Silverman on the subject of future Sleepers which I thought would be of interest here. So I got Carl's permission to post it here:
Form Carl Fowler (with his permission):
Ira Silverman, a retired former Amtrak and MARC executive, has very graciously shared his thoughts on the design of a new long-distance fleet for both Amtrak and VIA Rail Canada. He has also ok'd my sharing this on Facebook. He's succinctly amplified my earlier suggestions for a new fleet that could serve the entire country. This is vital if Amtrak is to be able to respond to regional demand.
This concise essay brilliantly sets out overall design parameters for a meaningful new equipment order and the concept of the US and Canadian carriers ordering a joint design could save millions and facilitate a quicker delivery. In a sense this has been the case with the US and Canadian orders currently underway for the Siemens "Venture" corridor fleets, but the orders have not truly been coordinated.
Ira Silverman's rail career was focused on passenger service--unusally for our times. He worked first for the Illinois Central (one of the last "pro-passenger private carriers) as a Financial Analyst and Assistant to the Senior Vice President, Operations; then spent 20 years (1975-1995) at Amtrak, serving as Manager, Operations Planning and Equipment, and as Route Manager Eastern Routes and Director, Route Marketing; before his work at MARC (Maryland Area Regional Commuter Rail), as Chief Transportation Officer and Manager, Transit Strategy. His experience makes him uniquely qualified to offer ideas for a new LH fleet.
One of the areas that current Amtrak management consistently fails to systematically draw upon is the expertise of retired, but long-experienced passenger rail experts, most particularly including its own former managers. Amtrak has lost an incredible amount of long-term expertise not only from normal retirements, but also from ill0considered buy-outs. I have known Ira Silverman through my involvement with NARP/RPA and Amtrak since the 1970s and have great respect for his expertise. His essay follows:
New Amtrak-VIA Long Distance Fleet
Both Amtrak and VIA need to acquire new long-distance cars. For the sake of economy of procurement, a joint order makes sense. VIA has more flexibility because all of its long-distance trains can accommodate bi-level/dome equipment. Amtrak has 5 long distance routes serving New York which cannot operate with bi-level equipment and presently use a different fleet of equipment. This increases the amount of protect equipment at Chicago, New Orleans, and Washington.
This proposal envisions a single fleet except for a small number of full-length dome lounges and dome sleeper lounges for VIA and present Superliner routes. Sleeping cars will have a mix of Viewliner roomettes and larger VIA-style prestige rooms. Cars should be designed with the maximum height to make upper berths as spacious as possible. Present designs have deficiencies in many details and new cars should incorporate experience with present cars. In addition the demands of the ADA community have resulted in wider aisles at the expense of seat comfort.
A new type of car will offer a railbed sleeper using lay flat seats such as found on trans-oceanic flights and the "Spirit of Queensland" train service in Australia. These cars can be used to supplement coach seating and allow higher density seating in coaches. They will attract riders who will not ride coach but cannot afford sleeping cars. This design has the best economics for a single rider versus a Viewliner roomette. Before finalizing the design, an test could be conducted with experimental cars of this type on existing long distance trains.
One advantage of a single level fleet is minimizing design compromises to accommodate ADA requirements. The full level dome lounges may have to be designed with an elevator to meet these requirements. (Note from Carl Fowler" Stadler has already done this in its fleet of new North American crash-compliant domes for the ROCKY MOUNTAINEER).
In addition, any car except for the dome cars can operate anywhere in the system. This would allow cars from western long-distance trains to be operated on Florida trains in the winter.
One feature that could be incorporated would be articulating two or three coaches or sleepers in a unit.
Greater attention has to be paid to details of cars: reading lights, reduced lighting at night in coaches as well as improved noise and air flow at body end doors. The availability of USB and electrical outlets are also important.
And in coaches seat design is critical and has already proven to be a problem in new Midwest cars. (Note from Carl Fowler: Readers know my preference for the famous "Sleepy Hollow" seats originally from the Heywood-Wakefield company--but the Santa Fe had a top challenger used on its El Capitan--the "Travel-ease" seat from the Dwight Austin Company. This had more geared parts than the SH seat, but boasted adjustable head, leg and foot-rests).
• Single level coach. 64-68 seats per car.
• Single level Tourist class car. 40 seats identical to airline transatlantic first/business class or Spirit of Queensland in Australia.
• Full length dome lounge like GN/ATSF. Food unit and bar on lower level. The car is used as lounge and food car for coach. A second car in a consist is used as a first class lounge on present Superliner and VIA routes. As demand dictates, only one car can operate for both coach and first class in off peak.
• For Amtrak single level routes, a single level lounge with Superliner lounge style windows replaces full length dome lounge.
• 48 seat dining car (Note from Carl Fowler: Should be open to all passengers).
• Sleeping car containing Viewliner Roomettes and Prestige Bedrooms. Mix of rooms to be determined.
• Single sleeping car containing all Viewliner Roomettes for peak season and lighter demand trains.
• Park Car dome lounge for Superliner and VIA trains. Also contains prestige rooms as current car and serves as sleeper lounge
• For Amtrak single level routes an identical car without a dome
The picture that everyone is drooling about, is from a Russian Design Company. So no will not be see this exact copy of this sleeping style. The wide gauge of the Russian Railroad will be the factor.Thanks, but I meant the setup from the Amtrak survey. Though if they're the same think then somebody at Amtrak is really thinking outside the box.
Indeed, it is the loading gauge standard where the equipment is to be used that matters most as far as car size goes. Usually no one will change a loading gauge standard just for someones fanciful new equipment. It just costs too much to modify the entire civil infrastructure.Apparently, Sweden uses a wider loading gauge, with some passenger trains being 3.45m (11ft 4in) wide, while 3.4m (11ft 2in) being more common there. This is on standard track gauge.
Concerning track gauge and loading gauge, I am wondering what is the practical engineering limitation of overhang on standard gauge tracks, if say, distance between track centers on parallel tracks was not a clearance concern?
Standard gauge is 4’ 8.5”, and passenger cars are up to 10’ 6” wide. I believe some narrow gauge lines had proportionally much more overhang, not sure.
What I am getting at is, could they widen the loading gauge a few more inches, if otherwise clearances would allow it? Even say 2”, might solve the seat vs aisle width to satisfy ADA requirements…
I wonder if that extra side overhang affects ride quality… more swaying?Apparently, Sweden uses a wider loading gauge, with some passenger trains being 3.45m (11ft 4in) wide, while 3.4m (11ft 2in) being more common there. This is on standard track gauge.
Amazing! 12’ 4” ! What is that track gauge?Indeed, it is the loading gauge standard where the equipment is to be used that matters most as far as car size goes. Usually no one will change a loading gauge standard just for someones fanciful new equipment. It just costs too much to modify the entire civil infrastructure.
There are many countries that use larger loading gauge internally than the UIC standard gauge in Europe. The UIC standard is a standard for equipment interchange among systems. Equipment that needs to cross borders universally in Europe must fit one of the UIC specified profiles. Individual countries can do whatever they like internally.
The most common Russian loading gauge for passenger cars is 12'4" wide and 17'5" tall (the so called 1-T profile). But most common Russian rail cars are shorter than 17'4". The width is 1'10" more than the US standard 10'6". As for whether the diagonal Russian design configuration will work or not in the US, all that the narrower cabin causes is for the diagonal angle to be slightly different with possibly the loss of one row. No reason that the Russian design would not work as a concept.
I don't think swaying is a big issue. Suspensions can be built to take care of that.I wonder if that extra side overhang affects ride quality… more swaying?
1520mm. A smidge under 5'.Amazing! 12’ 4” ! What is that track gauge?
Theoretically yes. Practically unlikely, because changing the structure clearance standards is way harder and more expensive than just making a few train sets wider. The standard in US is pretty much 10'8" for all the profiles. We can barely even get any new service started without requiring any change whatsoever for any structural clearances and track center distances.So the loading gauge on US trains could be expanded quite a bit, without altering the track gauge, if clearances allowed it. Interesting on how much that would be…
10’ 8” would allow new orders to gain 2”.Theoretically yes. Practically unlikely, because changing the structure clearance standards is way harder and more expensive than just making a few train sets wider. The standard in US is pretty much 10'8" for all the profiles. We can barely even get any new service started without requiring any change whatsoever for any structural clearances and track center distances.
I do believe 40 inch aisle is the requested width for ADA requirements.10’ 8” would allow new orders to gain 2”.
I know that isn’t much, but would that be enough to allow keeping current (Amfleet) seat widths, and would the extra 2” in the aisle satisfy ADA requirements?
AFAICT, the ADA requirement in rail transport is 32" for straight passages and 40" where there are twists and turns and corners.Well some quick checking shows Brightline aisles are 32 inches wide and wheelchair assessable.
AFAICT, the ADA requirement in rail transport is 32" for straight passages and 40" where there are twists and turns and corners.
Here is an interesting letter from the National Disability Rights Network to CEO Gardner justifying Amtrak's current choice of 24" aisle. The illustration of Amtrak's false advertizing about its accessibility features is something I was not aware of. Apparently our man who claims vast experience in passenger rail does not do well in arithmetic or knowing how wide his cars are.
Letter from National Disability Rights Network to Stephen Gardner
One thing this illustrates is how much we owe to Brightline for indirectly lighting the fire under Amtrak, and why Amtrak does need legitimate competition that is economically sound to get it to move forward with the times. Ironically, the people at Brightline who specified this stuff and worked with Siemens to come up with the Brightline interior layout, some of them came from the Amtrak Acela team.
However, admittedly Sleepers present some additional challenges. But there are ways to lay out the cars so that the corridors do not have sharp changes of direction. If it is considered important a way can be found, But if one spends all their time in justifying 1980s designs then that is unlikely to happen.
I wonder if they're looking at numbers of all PWD's and not just the ones with mobility disabilities. I id as a PWD but do not need a wide aisle for access. What I need, which they don't currently have, is visual announcements viewable from all seats.supported by current ridership levels of people with disabilities