Lower priced Sleeper for single travelers

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Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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IIRC the full line of sleeper designation's, they were: Single Slumbercoach rooms, in 'standard' 24-8 type Slumbercoaches, and Double Slumbercoach rooms. In the 16-10 type Slumbercoaches, the Singles's 1,2,3, and 4 were in the rooms designed for two, but only had one bunk. The rest of the singles were of the "duplex" design, staggered up or down alternately. All of the singles's regardless of design, were sold at the same rate.

"First Class" or Pullman accommodations, started with Upper Berth's, then Lower Berth's, than full Section's (Upper and Lower sold together), then Duplex Roomettes (simiar to Single duplex Slumbercoaches but slightly larger and more plush, then Roomettes, than Duplex Single Rooms (with beds cross-wise to the car, but staggered up or down, followed by Double Bedrooms, Compartments, Drawing Rooms, Master Rooms, Bedroom Suites (Two Double Bedrooms), or Double Bedroom/Compartment combinations.

The Slumbercoaches could be purchased with a coach fare, and the room charge. The "First Class" accommodations required a First Class fare, plus the room charge.

There were also other fare plans for "Tourist Sleepers", usually in older First Class equipment, sold at coach fare plus room charge, mainly by those roads that did not obtain any Slumbercoaches...
To compete with the NP Slumbercoaches the GN offered sleeper travel at Coach rail fares instead of First Class during off-seasons on the Western Star. In 1969 the Star carried one sleeper (16 roomettes, 4 dbl bedrooms).
 

jpakala

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Having had both single and double Slumbercoach rooms I can report that the double have greater square footage than Superliner roomettes if only because the ceilings were higher. The sink & toilet did not really take up much space and the beds were about the same width. The single rooms were considerably smaller than duplex roomettes, and indeed 16 duplex roomette 4 bedroom cars substituted at least when I went from Pittsburgh to Chicago in 1964 on the B & O RR.
 

chickpea

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I disagree. It's more suitable for a single rider, and much cheaper than a bedroom, which is more appropriate for 2.

I think the size and design are comparable to the original 1-person Roomette, as still seen on the VIA Canadian. Amtrak just added a 2nd bunk to allow for 2 riders.

Agree with @joelkfla - having crossed the country three times on 7 services in roomettes, I would ONLY want to share it with someone I was close to, and even then it would be a tight fit. Roomettes are ideal for a solo traveler. The cost may be a bit high, but I found it fairly reasonable in winter: factor in hotels and meals out and flights, the extra for the train (safer, more relaxing, amazing views) was TOTALLY worthwhile IMHO. That said, summer prices seem a fair bit higher, understandably as it is peak, so I couldn't use the train though I wanted to. I still think it is worthwhile and I hope there are more roomettes in my solo future!
 

chickpea

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I'm not sure how couchettes would be received here in the US, especially the aspect of being booked into a room shared with strangers.

I'd say that may be an age-related thing. For example: youth hostels... yes older people use them, but only if they are interested in a budget option with shared space. I traveled all over Europe with a friend in couchettes and they were the perfect option. That was many years ago and I wouldn't do it now unless the compartment was just me and family or friends. It was an EXCELLENT budget option though and actually I wish they had more like it in the UK & US, especially for younger folks. (I am guessing the average age of this forum isn't 18-22-ish ;-))
 
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But a roomette on via rails Canadian is $1826 USA for Toronto to Vancouver. A roomette on Amtrak from Washington DC to Seattle is (US) $1654.
Comparing apples to apples, Via Toronto to Vancouver takes four nights (about 86 hours or over 3-1/2 days on one train. Amtrak WAS to SEA takes three nights and a train change (CL a tad over 20 hours and EB 58 hours for a total of 78 hours or 3-1/4 days, longer if you factor in CHI transfer time). Taking into account VIA's single train experience, plus extra night meals and accommodation, plus (IMHO) significantly superior meals and onboard amenities, VIA is very competitive. Of course, it all depends on what prices you can snag for your desired travel dates. And we haven't even tried to factor in on-time performance.
 

railiner

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Having had both single and double Slumbercoach rooms I can report that the double have greater square footage than Superliner roomettes if only because the ceilings were higher.
I think you might be comparing cubic feet, not square feet in this instance?
IIRC, the Amtrak Roomettes (formerly known as “Economy Bedrooms”, are fractionally longer than Double Slumbercoach Rooms.
In any case, I believe Viewliner Roomettes are certainly larger in square or cubic foot measure, than Double Slumbercoach Rooms…
 

crescent-zephyr

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Comparing apples to apples, Via Toronto to Vancouver takes four nights (about 86 hours or over 3-1/2 days on one train. Amtrak WAS to SEA takes three nights and a train change (CL a tad over 20 hours and EB 58 hours for a total of 78 hours or 3-1/4 days, longer if you factor in CHI transfer time). Taking into account VIA's single train experience, plus extra night meals and accommodation, plus (IMHO) significantly superior meals and onboard amenities, VIA is very competitive. Of course, it all depends on what prices you can snag for your desired travel dates. And we haven't even tried to factor in on-time performance.
If we are talking over all travel experience it’s a different conversation. The poster I was replying to was saying Amtrak should offer something like a “cabin for 1” - to which I was pointing out a cabin for 1 and an Amtrak roomette are the same thing and priced similarly (with via being a bit more expensive in this example).
 

TheCrescent

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Thinking further about this, if any extra sleeping cars are profitable enough to make the investment worthwhile, Amtrak should be able to borrow the money to pay to buy them. Unless Amtrak has already granted a lien to another lender on all of its assets.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Thinking further about this, if any extra sleeping cars are profitable enough to make the investment worthwhile, Amtrak should be able to borrow the money to pay to buy them. Unless Amtrak has already granted a lien to another lender on all of its assets.
That brings up another issue... the railroad industry is really a mess. Amtrak didn’t do anything wrong when they ordered new Viewliner cars and yet it took them forever to actually get delivered.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Revisiting this thread, I think I didn’t make something clear when I was suggesting “all roomette cars” as the answer.

If Amtrak wants to attract more passengers who are interested in a lower priced sleeper product, I feel like the answer is all-roomette sleepers as that would add to the number of roomettes and in theory lower the price.

The cost of designing a new car for slumbercoach service would be really high, and the number of rooms probably wouldn’t be any more than an all roomette car (maybe fit 2 extra?) with modern laws.

Of course, the viewliners already have mostly roomettes, so maybe we just need more sleepers in general on trains?
 

TheCrescent

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maybe we just need more sleepers in general on trains?
I think so:

1. Given railroads’ overhead, versus the relatively low marginal cost of transporting another person, simply filling more seats or beds would go a long way to help Amtrak become operationally profitable.

2. With some marketing, more affordable tickets and maybe some schedule adjustments, I believe that there is a much larger potential market for sleeping car rooms than Amtrak currently meets.

I would be curious to see what would happen if Amtrak ran a train that consisted of a typical Amtrak consist plus a budget coach (high-density commuter train seating), plus two more sleeping cars, including some couchettes, Slumbercoach rooms and a handful of premium-class rooms (like Via’s luxury rooms on the Canadian), and if Amtrak heavily marketed the train and offered frequent flyer miles from an airline as a benefit. I’m guessing that it would get plenty of business.
 

crescent-zephyr

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a handful of premium-class rooms (like Via’s luxury rooms on the Canadian),
This is something that could, in theory be attempted by using existing equipment. Take the most newly refurbished equipment and add truly luxurious bedding, etc. and pair that with a SSL or Viewliner Diner car and use it like a Parlour Car with a classy bar, good wine and cheese selections, espresso machine, etc.

Put it on one route (like the starlight?) and see if people are willing to pay extra for the extra experience.
 

west point

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IMO first Amtrak has to serve as many potential passengers as possible. All these one-off proposals take equipment that could be better served for any number of trains. If you want to provide any of these services being premium requires 1 car for each train set + one at each end of a route to make the service reliable.

None of us know what the demand for seats will be for the next 5 years.

First all cars are either operating on trains or being in maintenance for various required depot items. Second there are open space above say 10% every day on all trains. That means reasonable fares not the outrageous fares in sleepers.
Then some of these proposals can be tried.
 
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IMO first Amtrak has to serve as many potential passengers as possible. All these one-off proposals take equipment that could be better served for any number of trains. If you want to provide any of these services being premium requires 1 car for each train set + one at each end of a route to make the service reliable.

None of us know what the demand for seats will be for the next 5 years.

First all cars are either operating on trains or being in maintenance for various required depot items. Second there are open space above say 10% every day on all trains. That means reasonable fares not the outrageous fares in sleepers.
Then some of these proposals can be tried.
Frankly, I'd be happy if they could just restore pre-Covid, Pre Flex meal service levels, increase the supply of current types of accommodations, and charge less (like what they were pre Covid, adjusting for inflation, of course), which I suppose would happen if they could get all the current rolling stock operating. Well, maybe get service levels back to where they were circa 2010.
 

TheCrescent

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IMO first Amtrak has to serve as many potential passengers as possible. All these one-off proposals take equipment that could be better served for any number of trains. If you want to provide any of these services being premium requires 1 car for each train set + one at each end of a route to make the service reliable.

None of us know what the demand for seats will be for the next 5 years.

First all cars are either operating on trains or being in maintenance for various required depot items. Second there are open space above say 10% every day on all trains. That means reasonable fares not the outrageous fares in sleepers.
Then some of these proposals can be tried.
The new service types I mention ought to be done with additional equipment. They would not displace any current cars.

We can look at airline numbers to see how travel has mostly bounced back from its pandemic lows. And in any event, Amtrak runs much shorter trains than it did in the past on long-distance routes, even though many areas of the US (such as the Carolinas and Atlanta) have far higher populations than they did 20-30 years ago.

There is ample demand for additional seats and rooms on long-distance trains.
 

Larry H.

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I think so:

1. Given railroads’ overhead, versus the relatively low marginal cost of transporting another person, simply filling more seats or beds would go a long way to help Amtrak become operationally profitable.

2. With some marketing, more affordable tickets and maybe some schedule adjustments, I believe that there is a much larger potential market for sleeping car rooms than Amtrak currently meets.

I would be curious to see what would happen if Amtrak ran a train that consisted of a typical Amtrak consist plus a budget coach (high-density commuter train seating), plus two more sleeping cars, including some couchettes, Slumbercoach rooms and a handful of premium-class rooms (like Via’s luxury rooms on the Canadian), and if Amtrak heavily marketed the train and offered frequent flyer miles from an airline as a benefit. I’m guessing that it would get plenty of business.
I have never understood the idea of Amtrak to turn away sleeper customers for years and years and make no effort to do anything about it. But as someone a few pages back said when does Amtrak management ever seem to consider passenger loads and meet the needs. The old railroads always had back up cars so that when a holiday, or summer or winter demands, depending on where they are going, could haul more passengers. I would love to know what the amount of unfilled request for sleeper space comes to on each route. I would bet is significant. Another problem there is that turning away passengers simply makes them jaded against rail travel. In Canada its not unusual at all to see consist of 20 cars or more, and the trains reflect it by having more paying customers. Something we don't see anymore either are all sleeper trains and all coach trains, each running seperately. An all sleeper train with decent food and lounges should be a real draw for some customers.
 

joelkfla

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Something we don't see anymore either are all sleeper trains and all coach trains, each running seperately. An all sleeper train with decent food and lounges should be a real draw for some customers.
Why would an all-sleeper train be more of a draw than a mixed train with decent food, and maybe a sleeper-only lounge?
 

TheCrescent

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We haven't seen this since the 1960s. Hard to imagine such a thing could be revived successfully.
Agreed in that an all-sleeping car train would mean at least 6 sleeping cars (given typical 8-car Amtrak consists).

The only reason I can think of to have an all-sleeper train is because the railroad gets so much sleeping car business that there’s not enough space in the consist for a coach.

If Amtrak could generate enough business to fill that many sleeping cars, that would be great.
 

TheCrescent

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I would love to know what the amount of unfilled request for sleeper space comes to on each route. I would bet is significant.
I agree. Wouldn’t the number of Viewliner II sleepers indicate the amount of additional sleeping car business that Amtrak expected to get pre-Covid on Eastern trains? And if Slumbercoaches and couchettes were added, that would be a lot more.
 

CCC1007

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I agree. Wouldn’t the number of Viewliner II sleepers indicate the amount of additional sleeping car business that Amtrak expected to get pre-Covid on Eastern trains? And if Slumbercoaches and couchettes were added, that would be a lot more.
I think it was more likely what Amtrak could prove to their creditors, since they borrowed money to purchase them.
 
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