Long Distance (LD) fleet replacement discussion (2022-23)

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
2,908
Location
12 miles from Walt Disney World
This would be woefully insufficient. Those only work for people with partial mobility problems who can generally move themselves. Imagine a large, full adult with a battery-powered scooter. Both the scooter and the adult need to get upstairs, and they could weigh 200+ lbs each. Transfer is possible with two staff assisting (see what the airlines do), but it takes time that planes have during pre-boarding, and which trains generally do not at a short stop. Air travel also does involve moving around the plane other than to and from the bathroom as a part of the journey. Scooters are also often quite large, and would not necessarily be able to fit up the staircase pathway.
There are heavy-duty wheelchair lifts that climb stairs (really a heavy banister rail) and can navigate turns and fold away when not in use, but I think turns require a fairly large landing for the transition. I used one at the NY Transit Museum in Brooklyn. They can even fold and unfold automatically, and be operated by the occupant on the lift.

But they are very slow, and the stairway needs to be closed off to pedestrians while the lift is in use. At the Transit Museum, it was installed on a separate entrance that was only used by staff and lift users. I don't think one would be practical on a railcar.

Here is a web page for anyone who would like to know more:
 

Anderson

Engineer
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,935
Location
Virginia
The other related problem that also precludes them from being a third class of service is that there isn't the floor space to stuff enough of the things in a railcar, you can't herringbone or stagger them because you haven't got the width. At best you're pretty much matching the capacity of single occupancy roomettes and you come out behind as soon as some of those are fully occupied, so you might as well forget engineering a new type of interior and just add more sleepers to meet demand for lie-flat accommodations since the revenue potential is so much more.

Personally I don't really find any value in the cost of sleepers (for that kind of money I'll just fly) but an intermediate step between coach and sleeper would be attractive. Unfortunately I don't think there's a logistical way to get to an intermediate price.
So, Queensland Rail actually runs something in this vein on the Spirit of Queensland. A 2-1 configuration is used, and the bed is quite comfortable. The biggest issue is that on the two-bed side, the aisle bed is a bit short to let the person on the window side out. The pods also convert in an odd way (and stuff can fall where it cannot be easily retrieved), but it's overall a decent design.
 
Joined
Nov 24, 2005
Messages
1,263
Location
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Good point. This might be expecting a lot out of Amtrak, but since we're kind of just theorizing here--perhaps a passenger could place the order ahead of time on their phone and put their credit card in, and it would just put a hold for a specified amount. Then if they actually had the meal the charge would go through. Kind of like whenstation, but in the end you only get charged for the amount of gas you actually bought.
 
Joined
Aug 27, 2002
Messages
6,701
Location
Chicago
So, Queensland Rail actually runs something in this vein on the Spirit of Queensland. A 2-1 configuration is used, and the bed is quite comfortable. The biggest issue is that on the two-bed side, the aisle bed is a bit short to let the person on the window side out. The pods also convert in an odd way (and stuff can fall where it cannot be easily retrieved), but it's overall a decent design.
IIRC these trains are operating on a narrower gauge of track than what is used in the USA. So something similar would work on Amtrak.
 
Joined
Dec 18, 2007
Messages
1,033
Location
suburban Chicago (Deerfield)
no overhead luggage racks (I for one will not never my bags out of sight), and that is true of lots people, the lighting is very harsh, and the ceilings over the seat are too low. If I have to leave my bags out of sight, then forget Amtrak; I will take Greyhound or Megbus.
Not doubting that's your red line, but normally-very-wary Americans do seem to use car-end racks where they exist and more interestingly use the Superliner luggage racks right by the exit door while riding mostly on the upper level.
 

Crowbar_k

Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 23, 2020
Messages
113
Ok. So I admit that maybe my proposal wouldn't work for the long distance trains. However, where I think a train of only business class "delta pods" or slumber coaches would work is if there was a new, nonstop, overnight train between LA and San Francisco. It would be perfect. You leave at 9 pm, sleep the whole time, and arrive in the other city at 8. Coffee served at 7. I feel a train like that could be a hit. In fact, I believe there was a sleeper bus company that did exactly that, but covid killed it.

Basically, pack as many sleepers as possible to get the price down to about 100 bucks per person.
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
AU Supporting Member
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
35,205
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
I don't think Amtrak would permit long trains to be topped and tailed, which could bridge phase breaks. They don't let NJT do that.
This is a non issue if the two engines are not electrically connected in any way. The Acelas already do this every day.

As for what NJT does or does not do blaming Amtrak for it, one could write a whole book about it :D
I would also like to point out using something like Bombardier Multilevels is going to limit the size of overhead luggage racks on coaches and make upper berths in sleeping cars virtually impossible. Also Delta Pods aren't really suited for families or couples.
Beyond fantasizing about it in AU, I doubt that an NJT style multilevel car will ever be used by Amtrak for any service. You lose a lot of space for luggage racks since there is no viable luggage storage overhead. We saw how that goes in those cars that were specially furnished for the Casinos run luxury express to Atlantic City using these cars. It was not very practical.

OTOH Jetblue Mint or Delta One Pod style accommodation with a little tweaking is quite feasible in a single level car fitting about 36 or so per car after taking out space for ADA restroom and vestibule/tier 3 crumple zones. Then again you can fit that many berths in a section layout too. But apparently American have problem sleeping in fully curtain enclosed berths but they will be OK sleeping in Delta One pods 😜
 
Last edited:

fdaley

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 25, 2020
Messages
576
Location
upstate New York
Yeah, I actually think those lower-level luggage racks on the Superliners are something that works well. I'm fine with leaving the big suitcases full of clothes down there and just taking my backpack and camera bag upstairs.

Of course, when I've been in a lower-level room, the traffic of people coming downstairs to retrieve things from their bags --and to use the bathrooms and shower -- adds to the feeling that one is on the utility level and somehow in a lesser class of service. And the fact that people in the handicapped room are consigned to this level throughout their trip is something that does need to be fixed.
 

Crowbar_k

Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 23, 2020
Messages
113
Not doubting that's your red line, but normally-very-wary Americans do seem to use car-end racks where they exist and more interestingly use the Superliner luggage racks right by the exit door while riding mostly on the upper level.
The luggage racks on the superliners are already too small for anything other than a backpack. The only luggage racks are downstairs and full up quickly. Even if I can get a spot on the downstairs luggage rack, you have to hope that no one will steal your bags or takes them on accident. I know the chances of that is rare, but it still makes me nervous that I can't keep my eye on my stuff.
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
AU Supporting Member
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
35,205
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
The luggage racks on the superliners are already too small for anything other than a backpack. The only luggage racks are downstairs and full up quickly. Even if I can get a spot on the downstairs luggage rack, you have to hope that no one will steal your bags or takes them on accident. I know the chances of that is rare, but it still makes me nervous that I can't keep my eye on my stuff.
NJT MLVs do not have anything that could be called an overhead luggage rack in the bilevel portion. They do have a rack at one of the levels where you can fit in a very small piece or upto a large jacket. All the luggage storage would be in luggage racks eating up revenue floor space as was the case on the Atlantic City Casino Express service which ran using specially furnished MLVs for a while between New York Penn Station and Atlantic City.
 
Joined
Dec 18, 2007
Messages
1,033
Location
suburban Chicago (Deerfield)
I see the desire for multilevel cars to take advantage of views and keep trains from being too long is running smack into the fact that the levels of a multilevel car are too short to have bunk beds in the sleepers or overhead racks in coach.

How about both? Single-level coaches and sleepers, multilevel non-revenue cars:

*Baggage-dorm, with baggage below and crew dorm above. The fact that you can't do bunks isn't a bug when it gives each crewmember his/her own little single-bed room.

*Diner, with galley below and seating above.

*Cafe-lounge, with cafe below and lounge above. And with two in a trainset, they could do double duty, one cafe-lounge used as a business class car and one as the all-classes lounge.

As to accessibility, passengers could pass through the coaches to the end or middle level of the cafe-lounge on one end of the coach set and the diner on the other. Provide a couple* of accessible tables on the middle level, each with a call button to summon the cafe or diner attendant so the passenger doesn't have to go down to the cafe counter or up to the general seating.

Ditto for the sleepers: the diner would be at one end of the sleeper car set and the cafe-lounge being used as a business car would be at the other end, with the same arrangement of accessible tables on the middle level.

*Not sure off the top of my head how big the middle level of a multilevel car is. I say a couple because I suspect you could fit one on each side, but it would be nice to have more than two if feasible. Conversely, if you can't fit two, my accessibility idea fails. :(
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
AU Supporting Member
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
35,205
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
*Not sure off the top of my head how big the middle level of a multilevel car is. I say a couple because I suspect you could fit one on each side, but it would be nice to have more than two if feasible. Conversely, if you can't fit two, my accessibility idea fails. :(
An arrangement like on Short Dome cars could be feasible where the upper floor section is shorter than in a full length Dome. Such arrangements have existed for a long time in various types of Dome cars.
 
Last edited:

jimdex

Train Attendant
Joined
Feb 19, 2020
Messages
90
Wouldn't work when meals are missed since LD trains are routinely 3 - 10 hours late.
Amtrak could always offer meal refunds when trains are running too late to serve dinner. They already do this for sleeping car passengers. Another possibility is just adding an optional ticket surcharge that would cover all food items available on the train. Amtrak could also offer this option to sleeper passengers, too, This would lower the price of sleeper accommodations for those forgoing the meal option, effectively offering something close to a "slumbercoach" option to sleeper passengers.
 
Joined
Dec 18, 2007
Messages
1,033
Location
suburban Chicago (Deerfield)
I just realized a possible flaw in my suggestion of mixed single-level and multilevel cars: while the Venture cars show coaches can be accessible for car-to-car pass-through, I don't know that sleepers can be.

The accessible bedroom in Viewliners is on the end for a reason, and the Viewliner corridor is narrow. Unless there's a layout for sleeper cars that allows an accessible corridor -- and I don't see any significant room to shave off the roomette or bedroom as presently designed -- then my plan would have dining accessibility for only two sleeper compartments: the accessible bedroom right next to the diner, and the one right next to the cafe-lounge.

And no, the answer isn't open-topped pods any reasonably tall-ish person can see into. ;) They seem private on an airplane where passengers move around between takeoff and landing pretty much only to use the washroom, and nobody takes off their clothes except to remove their shoes and jacket. They won't seem private on a train with passengers trooping past as they board, exit, or go to eat or sit in the lounge, and where passengers want to be able to change into nightclothes. As an additional "business night"* class, maybe. As actual first/sleeper class? Nope!


*My first instinct was "night business" but that sounds like a euphemism for the world's oldest profession.
 
Joined
May 13, 2014
Messages
685
Location
Boston & Florida
And no, the answer isn't open-topped pods any reasonably tall-ish person can see into. ;) They seem private on an airplane where passengers move around between takeoff and landing pretty much only to use the washroom, and nobody takes off their clothes except to remove their shoes and jacket. They won't seem private on a train with passengers trooping past as they board, exit, or go to eat or sit in the lounge, and where passengers want to be able to change into nightclothes. As an additional "business night"* class, maybe. As actual first/sleeper class? Nope!.
Delta fought hard for the Delta One Mini-Suites because the FAA didn't want doors on them. That was not allowed up to that point. I believe the ability to see in was a compromise. Amtrak would have no problem extending the walls and doors up to the ceiling.
 

Touchdowntom9

Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 15, 2022
Messages
125
Location
NYC
There is no absolutely no way NJT MLV type cars will work. You cannot restrict ADA passengers to the outer ends of the car like on a commuter railroad, stair-gliders are one more thing to break and get in the way, the stairways are too narrow for that, there woud be no food service, no bathroom access (there are very few tip-up seats outside the bathroom), more than one bathroom is needed per coach, no overhead luggage racks (I for one will not never my bags out of sight), and that is true of lots people, the lighting is very harsh, and the ceilings over the seat are too low. If I have to leave my bags out of sight, then forget Amtrak; I will take Greyhound or Megbus.

I don't think Amtrak would permit long trains to be topped and tailed, which could bridge phase breaks. They don't let NJT do that.
Ok there are a few things here I want to reply to but rather than that, I think what’s clear to me is that I always thought of LD trains as essentially long haul flights for around 12 hours, rather than people actually spending 16-72 hours on board a single train. Regarding the fold up seat, my post suggested having no seats there and instead having just luggage racks and bathrooms, which give you 2 per car. Albeit this doesn’t really matter.

Regarding your comment regarding Amtrak not being permitted to top and tail, if you are referring to a train having 2 active traction locos in electric territory, I included a photo of an NJT train set appearing to be doing exactly that, so I don’t believe it’s a rule that’s in place. Although maybe it just recently changed.

I’m looking up Delta Pod?
The Delta One Suite as it appears in the a350 airplane is what most have been referring to here
 

Attachments

  • 1674526178058.png
    1674526178058.png
    1.1 MB · Views: 0

JermyZP

Train Attendant
Joined
Mar 18, 2021
Messages
53
Location
Anaheim
On the subject of the possibility of a top and tail train, wouldn't it be easier to have one or two engines at front and a cab car in the back? It would pervent bridging phase breaks on the NEC and they could do a combined dorm/cab car.
 

UserNameRequired

Service Attendant
Joined
Sep 10, 2021
Messages
173
Location
USA
… the Atlantic City Casino Express service which ran using specially furnished MLVs for a while between New York Penn Station and Atlantic City.
Did this head down the Northeast Corridor, next to the Delaware River, Camden area, then to Atlantic City. Or did there used to be a way down the North Jersey Coast line down the coast most of the way?
 

Amtrak25

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2021
Messages
499
Location
New Jersey
Did this head down the Northeast Corridor, next to the Delaware River, Camden area, then to Atlantic City. Or did there used to be a way down the North Jersey Coast line down the coast most of the way?

It took the NEC down to where the NJT Atlantic City rail line splits off, changed ends and went down to AC.

The North Jersey Coast Line doesn't exist south of Bay Head, and no operation via Red Bank and Windlow Jct would be possible, not since the 1960's or 70's.

If a NEC train were to be so long as to require two locos, it would not be able to platform at most stations. That would mean more dwell time, and people shlepping thorugh the train to the extending cars. During the Claytor era, the Florida trains were 16 cars. They could not make it between New York and DC in 3-1/2 hours. Regiolnal trains could be 12 - 16 cars before reservations, but the excess consist was generally closed off outside of the New York - Philly segment. It was not efficient use of car miles.
 
Joined
May 13, 2014
Messages
685
Location
Boston & Florida
I would be totally claustrophobic with doors and walls on the delta pod- being in the roomette with another person is too close contact for me- which is why I book bedrooms. Delta pod just looks like coach seats with a wall
It's all in the design. Put a big window on the outer wall and have glass panels and doors on the aisle like on a roomette and it would make it feel very open. Darkening glass for night privacy and ambient lighting would make it downright cozy at night.

My most recent Amtrak trip was on the AutoTrain and running solo I would have loved this option. My wife's most recent trip was Orlando to Boston solo and she would have loved this option. She went coach ($300) because a sleeper was ridiculously priced at $1400.
 

fdaley

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 25, 2020
Messages
576
Location
upstate New York
She went coach ($300) because a sleeper was ridiculously priced at $1400.
It does seem like there'd be a market for an intermediate accommodation between these two. Alternatively, if we could simply triple the number of sleeper cars, the price per room would come down, and if the price were lower, more people would spring for them.
 
Top