How are Amtrak train cars in Winter?

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Kbyrdleroydogg

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May 27, 2017
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I was gonna take an Amtrak to Washington in late January. I'm concerned about heat in the cars, especially the Bedrooms. Has anyone had a problem traveling in Amtrak during winter months?
 

sttom

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When I rode the Zephyr in the winter a few years back, they cars were a little chilly, but nothing swears (and sweats) can't solve.
 
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bratkinson

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Back in the steam heat days, I sometimes froze to death and had to sleep in my roomette fully dressed with overcoat on, too! When the Superliners were new, I don't think they had enough insulation in them for 30 below crossing Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota in the dead of winter. But that was cured long ago.

These days, there's never been a problem with heat on any of the trains. In fact, it's sometimes the exact opposite, mostly in coaches. They set the A/C to 'Arctic Winter Blast' in the summer and set the heat to 'Death Valley CA Summer' in the winter. I'm leaving for a trip in a couple hours and even though forecast temps outside are supposed to be in the 70s and 80s, I"m taking a long sleeve shirt along, just in case.
 

pennyk

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I wear layers in summer and winter. The heat can be too hot in the winter and the a/c can be too cold in the summer. I routinely find the Club Acela in Washington too warm in the winter. Layers help.
 

peteypablo

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I rode the Cardinal from Chicago to DC a few years ago during vey cold weather in the dead fo winter. We still call it the "Ice Train." All the water lines in the sleeper froze and the heat stopped working during the night. They finally got it working sometime the next day, but for a while they had a special section of a coach cordoned off for us.
 

SarahZ

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Every time I've taken a long-distance train during winter, it is often miserably hot in the sleepers. If the attendant turns the heat down a bit, a few people complain (because god forbid they put on a sweater). Meanwhile, the rest of us roast with no way to get relief.

I did notice that it's a bit more tolerable in a bedroom, likely because it's larger than a roomette and has better air movement.

Do keep in mind that I keep my apartment at 68 and start to feel overheated above 72. I have coworkers who use space heaters in their cubicles while I have a fan set up in mine year-round. So, as with anything, your mileage may vary.
 

Lonestar648

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I have never felt cold in the winter either the Roomette or the Bedroom. I have been on almost every route in the winter. The heat is adjustable in the room, but I am very cautious about getting the room too warm since getting cooled down takes a while. I prefer to have the room cooler and be wearing a sweater. You can always put clothes on, but you are limited on what you can take off.
 

oregon pioneer

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All of my train trips are in cold weather, usually November to February. Penny is correct that you should bring layers, as it can be either too warm or too cold, even both on the very same trip (see Sarah's comment above -- if they adjust the car heat, it can go too far)! I always dress in layers anyway. It's a good idea in winter to have some kind of layer that is warm and does not look or feel like you are bundled up in outerwear (i.e. a warm but lightweight layer or two between your shirt and your outerwear -- think flannel shirt and fleece vest, or cashmere sweater, depending on how dressy you like to be).

I have twice been on trains where the heat just flat failed in a car or some portion of the train. Accommodations were always made (i.e. pax were moved to other cars, and fed + reimbursed, especially if the move meant a downgraded accommodation). It was never my car, so I don't know the exact accommodation. It is a rare occurrence.

I must say, I absolutely love sitting in the Sightseer Lounge and watching the snowy landscape roll by while sipping a hot beverage. I've been through North Dakota at 30 below, and loved it. I hope you will, too. Let us know how your trip turns out with a trip report!
 

SarahZ

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The heat is adjustable in the room, but I am very cautious about getting the room too warm since getting cooled down takes a while.
I turn the knob to zero and close the vent the second I walk into the room, but the heat from the car itself is still too much.
 

zephyr17

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Usually fine. Often the "temperature" control that is supposed to control the electric floor heat does nothing.

However, on one trip on the Builder in December a few years ago the floor heater was heating uncontrollably in my roomette (and only my roomette) and the room was intolerably hot, not just warm. It also turned out that the handicapped room is same car wasn't heating at all. The individual in that room demanded to be moved and was moved to the (luckily) unoccupied handicapped room in the other sleeper. I was offered that room with extra blankets. So I had the choice between a room with Sahara like temperatures or no heat at all. On a train that went through North Dakota in December. I chose no heat and blankets and was damned happy I did.

BTW the billboard at Minot that shows the temp showed -5. I still preferred no heat to insufferable heat.
 

Lonestar648

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I enjoy seeing the snow from the SSL, because of the glass that car can be slightly cooler. A clear moon lit night after fresh snow has fallen creates some beautiful artistry. I have been known to sit up late viewing, then up early for breakfast. There is nothing like viewing winter with a hot beverage, a warm sweater, in the moving train with continuous changes.
 

chrsjrcj

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When I rode the Capitol Limited in March (single digit temperatures), my sleeping car started off HOT, but began to cool off to a more comfortable temperature, if not a little too cool.

The sleeper lounge was an ice box though!
 

anumberone

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I've been cold in the upper bunk while riding the LSL in the winter with the curtains open. I think it was a faulty heat system, no amount of knob twisting helped.
 

me_little_me

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I just use the fireplace in the corner of my room when I'm too cold! Great at Christmas when waiting for Santa. :)
 

railiner

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One thing I liked about the old Pullman's....they all had individual ceiling fans that did not depend on 'central air' being circulated into the rooms...so even if the car's A/C was weak, you could at least get a nice breeze blowing at you...
 

Devil's Advocate

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I'm concerned about heat in the cars, especially the Bedrooms. Has anyone had a problem traveling in Amtrak during winter months?
Yes, many times.

For some incomprehensible reason Amtrak staff always turn the winter heat up to a point where I cannot sleep or relax comfortably and most of the time they won't turn it down even if you try to bargain or beg. The most they will do is tell you open the in-room vent (which does nothing to cool your room) or set the in-room temperature to cold (which also does absolutely nothing to cool your room). I can tolerate up to 77F when sleeping but Amtrak sleeper cars are significantly hotter than that in the winter. For this reason I never ride Amtrak in winter anymore.

 
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Sauve850

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Jan 9, 2014
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Ive traveled on Amtrak a lot over the years and I dont recall my temperature control ever working. 90% of times I travel in a bedroom. This year (Sept) from west to southeast Florida the EB was very cold. The Cl was cool as was the Star. In the winter I have had mixed results but mostly a little warm but not terrible. Winter has mostly been on the Silvers and twice on the CZ. I pack many layers for such possibilities.
 

OlympianHiawatha

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If you have Amfleets on your train and are traveling through a snowstorm, those vestibules can pile up with snow and be slippery when passing through. Enough snow to have a good snowball fight!
 

Skyline

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Layering is the way to go at home, at work, on a train, and camping. It just gives you so much more flexibility. It expands the possibility of comfort.
 

Seaboard92

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If you have Amfleets on your train and are traveling through a snowstorm, those vestibules can pile up with snow and be slippery when passing through. Enough snow to have a good snowball fight!
I’ve seen snow also accumulate on the Superliners. And I have had a snowball fight on board once. All in good fun.
 
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