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

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jis

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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.
In other countries that is what they do. Have many many more Sleeper Cars.

Also since shared sleeping accommodation is not a bugaboo in most other places it is much easier and cheaper to figure out how to put 60+ people in a single car with sleeping accommodation for night time and sitting during daytime, which again makes it possible to charge lower fares. The whole problem in US has to do a bit with American exceptionalism, and well one has got to pay for things that one insists they must have :)
 
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jis

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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.
Bridging phase breaks is a non issue since the two locomotives are not electrically connected with each other. Only connections are control cables which are electrically isolated and HEP cables, which are also electrically isolated in the HEP circuit.
 

NES28

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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.

Yes, that's what buying the Viewliner 2 sleepers was supposed to do. But Amtrak seems to be doing everything possible to avoid having all of the single level sleepers in service at once.
 

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If the supply was increased enough I think the VII roomette would make the perfect budget sleeper option. Open sections could be even better suited, but other than being able to sell individual berths the only advantage they have over roomettes is it'd probably be easier to meet ADA requirements.
I do have to say, from my travels on VIA Rail, that the old standard section berth is without question the most comfortable train bed I've ever experienced. Partly that's because VIA has better mattresses and bedding than what Amtrak provides, but it's also because the bed is just luxuriously wide -- the entire width from the car's center aisle to the wall. The only downside is that the only luggage space is under the lower berth, which is too small a space for many of today's larger roller bags, or somewhere on the bed.

When I traveled in France years ago, I wasn't too keen on the European intermediate sleeper compartment with six open bunks occupied by strangers. But the individual section berth with heavy curtains, which was the standard in the U.S. through World War II, seems private enough to me. There were only a maximum of 28 berths in a single-level section car, though, so I don't think this would meet the goal of higher capacity that Amtrak probably would want from a budget sleeper space. By comparison, I believe some of the slumbercoach configurations had 40 beds per car -- and all in enclosed rooms.
 

jis

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I think 40 is about the most you can fit either staggered vertically, as in Slumbercoaches, or horizontally as in the hypothesized pods, after you take floor space away for restrooms, vestibule and crumple zone..

To go beyond that you have to go to three tier arrangements like in European Couchettes or Indian and Chinese 3 Tier Sleeping Cars, which I suspect won't be acceptable to the fine American taste ;) But with those arrangements you can go upto 60 or so.

Actually, most Sleepers, both AC and non-AC in India are the 3-Tier type and they are incredibly inexpensive in both AC and non-AC versions.
 
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There are 12 roomettes in a Viewliner sleeper. OK, make that 11 roomettes, because the SCA uses one as an office/sleeping space. And make that 10 roomettes for a Viewliner II, as the space of another roomette is used up for the restroom. If all the roomettes are fully occupied, they hold 20-22 passengers yielding revenue of 10a + 20r for the VL2s, where r is the rail fare per person and a is the accommodation charge for the roomette. If all of the roomettes are singly occupied, the revenue is 10a + 10r, so in terms of revenue yield, a single occupancy roomette leaves revenue on the table, despite the rather high fare.

This is what made the slumbercoach so attractive, because a car the size of a Viewliner held 24 single rooms, which would yield 24a + 24r, or over twice what a Viewliner with all single-occupancy roomettes would yield (10a + 10r). Plus, the slumbercoach had 8 double occupancy rooms, too, which could yield 8a +16r. The old slumbercoach design has problems because the diplex nature of the single rooms probably can't comply with ADA requirements, but maybe if one eliminated the double rooms (which were pretty much the same as a roomette) and used the space for ADA compliant budget single rooms, the resulting "budget" sleepingcar with 24, or maybe even 26 single slumbercoach-type rooms would have a significantly greater capacity than the Viewliner sleeper, and so tickets could be sold at significantly lower prices.
 

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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
If/when you fly, is there any business class seat that you’d prefer? DeltaOne is fairly standard and similar to many other products.
 
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I think 40 is about the most you can fit either staggered vertically, as in Slumbercoaches, or horizontally as in the hypothesized pods, after you take floor space away for restrooms, vestibule and crumple zone..

To go beyond that you have to go to three tier arrangements like in European Couchettes or Indian and Chinese 3 Tier Sleeping Cars, which I suspect won't be acceptable to the fine American taste ;) But with hose arrangements you can go upto 60 or so.
40? A Viewliner2 only holds 26 (10 roomettes, 2 bedrooms, and an accessible bedroom). And considering that for some of those rooms, Amtrak leaves fare revenue on the table when one person books the room, I would think that some sort of 40-bed lie flat budget sleeper car could be a real moneymaker.
 
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. 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 😜

The only problem with the section layout (and the roomettes and bedrooms, to for that matter) is that someone is stuck in the upper berth. An all-pod layout might actually be more accessible.
 
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All roomette cars would lead to standardization, and accommodate more passengers. IMHO it would make sense to make the rooms single occupancy and maybe squeeze in a couple more rooms. Two people in a roomette are too crowded IMHO. And the bedrooms with their ensuite facilities take up more space and complicate the plumbing system in the car.
 
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Yes. I feel that a cheaper lay flat option would definitely work on routes like the City of New Orleans, Capital Limited, and of course, the Auto Train. These are routes that they've a major city in the evening, and arrive in another major city in morning or afternoon.l the next day. If they can get the price of a lie flat bed to be the same or cheaper as a plane ticket between the two cities, that could win over a lot of new passengers.

This is especially true for the Auto Train. I feel that it would work best as a sleeper only train. If Amtrak has a fleet of cars that were only roomettes, I wonder how many extra train cars they would have to use to have the same capacity they have now.
Amtrak runs 13 overnight trains (including 66/67). Of these, only 4 of them are two-night trains (The Empire Builder, California Zephyr, Southwest Chief and Sunset Limited.) I think that lie-flat pods or other budget sleeper accommodations would attract customers. Of course, they could also offer the traditional roomettes and bedrooms for those who need more privacy. And, remember, there are lots of passengers who are perfectly fine with coach.
 

Crowbar_k

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In other countries that is what they do. Have many many more Sleeper Cars.

Also since shared sleeping accommodation is not a bugaboo in most other places it is much easier and cheaper to figure out how to put 60+ people in a single car with sleeping accommodation for night time and sitting during daytime, which again makes it possible to charge lower fares. The whole problem in US has to do a bit with American exceptionalism, and well one has got to pay for things that one insists they must have :)
I rode Nightjet in Germany and it's possible you might be sleeping with up to 5 other people, but that's unlikely. However for only an extra 50 euros or so, you get the whole couchette to yourself (I booked two people. It might be more expensive travelling solo). If I'm travelling solo, I don't mind sleeping with other people if that means I get to lie flat.

I guess what I'm saying is, for people who don't mind sleeping with others, let them have this cheaper option.vyou can always upgrade if you want privacy.
 

Anderson

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Amtrak runs 13 overnight trains (including 66/67). Of these, only 4 of them are two-night trains (The Empire Builder, California Zephyr, Southwest Chief and Sunset Limited.) I think that lie-flat pods or other budget sleeper accommodations would attract customers. Of course, they could also offer the traditional roomettes and bedrooms for those who need more privacy. And, remember, there are lots of passengers who are perfectly fine with coach.
Technically it's 15 overnight trains including 66/67. You have 15 LD trains, but the Palmetto is LD (but doesn't run overnight) and 66/67 is overnight (but isn't LD). Two aren't daily (the Cardinal and the Sunset Limited), the rest are daily.
 

Touchdowntom9

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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.
Maybe, and you are probably right, but there's some 'ugly aesthetic' alarm that goes off in my head when I see 2 engines on the front and none in the back of a given train... but thats a me problem hahaha
 

GDRRiley

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If Amtrak had 600 - 800 sleeping cars all these great ideas might have a snowballs chance. However -------
They've got the budget for close to 1000 new LD cars assuming they are around 3m if my math between Charger orders and overall LD rolling stock budget is right
Amtrak runs 13 overnight trains (including 66/67). Of these, only 4 of them are two-night trains (The Empire Builder, California Zephyr, Southwest Chief and Sunset Limited.) I think that lie-flat pods or other budget sleeper accommodations would attract customers. Of course, they could also offer the traditional roomettes and bedrooms for those who need more privacy. And, remember, there are lots of passengers who are perfectly fine with coach.
I think the cheaper sleeper option would do well on the eastern single level routes.
 

rs9

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A few random thoughts as I catch up on this thread:

- I doubt Americans would trust 3-5 other bunkmates in a Euro style sleeping compartment. Amtrak's current system in coach of grouping passengers by destination is helpful - for example, on my recent CHI-ROC trip, the first group that would deboard in my car was Buffalo-bound passengers. So I could reasonably expect no one is going to disembark with my bag in the middle of the night. You would need organization like this for sleeping compartments, but even beyond that I don't think there's enough trust.

- Regarding lie flat beds: I don't think that a business class seat (or coach for that matter) needs to get to fully lie flat, though I would appreciate it. I think - and hopefully this will be the case - that more modern seat designs allow for ergonomic positioning that fosters a better sleeping position. The seat bottom slides forward with you as you recline back and perhaps even adjusts up a bit so that you are kind of tipped back into a reclined position. This seat-forward motion theoretically can save some space - in my head at least.

- Would lie-flat seats cannibalize sleeper sales? Perhaps. Not saying this is right, but I wouldn't be surprised if Amtrak would be OK with that. However, I think there are distinct markets for both. I don't think Amtrak is planning on lowering sleeper prices when supply increases - just a hunch.
 

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The only problem with the section layout (and the roomettes and bedrooms, to for that matter) is that someone is stuck in the upper berth. An all-pod layout might actually be more accessible.
The Viewliner upper berths are pretty spacious and have windows; I actually prefer them to the lower berth. There's no reason why a modernized section sleeper couldn't give upper berths windows and outlets.

Making roomettes single-occupancy would be a mistake. Many travelers seem fine with sharing them with their companion; it would be silly to take away that option and make them pay for a bedroom.
 

fdaley

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All roomette cars would lead to standardization, and accommodate more passengers. IMHO it would make sense to make the rooms single occupancy and maybe squeeze in a couple more rooms. Two people in a roomette are too crowded IMHO. And the bedrooms with their ensuite facilities take up more space and complicate the plumbing system in the car.
To me, two adults in a roomette works a lot better in the Viewliner than in the Superliner. But in either case, the second bunk is really nice for people traveling with children/teenagers/young adults. If the basic rooms are standardized to single-occupancy, there's going to need to be some provision for families that's more than a couple of family bedrooms per train.
 
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I do have to say, from my travels on VIA Rail, that the old standard section berth is without question the most comfortable train bed I've ever experienced. Partly that's because VIA has better mattresses and bedding than what Amtrak provides, but it's also because the bed is just luxuriously wide -- the entire width from the car's center aisle to the wall. The only downside is that the only luggage space is under the lower berth, which is too small a space for many of today's larger roller bags, or somewhere on the bed.

Yes my experience was on the CP Atlantic a long time ago overnight across Maine. If I remember correctly you could buy the entire section for complete privacy. That way you could set it up with the bed above and seats below or a couple could each sleep individually on two beds.

You could also buy just the upper or just the lower berth. The lower was more expensive. So if you (as a single or couple) only bought the lower berth you sat across from up to two strangers during the day but had the entire bottom (very wide) bed for the night. By having only heavy curtains on the aisle for privacy you could stand in the aisle when getting ready for bed. That is why section beds were so wide as they had no hard walls. I do remember it being a rather comfortable night.
 

fdaley

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There's no reason why a modernized section sleeper couldn't give upper berths windows and outlets
Actually, when we discussed this topic in another thread a couple of years ago, someone produced a photo of a Union Pacific sleeper that had windows, albeit very small ones, for its upper section berths.

And I agree regarding the Viewliner upper, with its great window: When I'm traveling alone in a roomette, I sleep in the upper and leave the seats and table set up as my traveling office below.
 
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Actually, when we discussed this topic in another thread a couple of years ago, someone produced a photo of a Union Pacific sleeper that had windows, albeit very small ones, for its upper section berths.

And I agree regarding the Viewliner upper, with its great window: When I'm traveling alone in a roomette, I sleep in the upper and leave the seats and table set up as my traveling office below.
I do the same. When traveling with my wife I give her the "more desirable" lower bed of course :)

I made a very wishful proposal a while ago when I suggested that if the Superliners were rehabbed it would be really cool to put Sightseer Lounge upper windows in the sleepers so that the rather unpleasant and very catastrophic upper bunk could become a highly desirable unique "Starlight Dome Bunk".
 
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