New Sleepers Being Planned!

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Miami Joe

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 22, 2002
Messages
420
New sleepers are in the design stage, but what kind is still undetermined.

Four months ago, a few foremen and maintenance folks were given a package asking for inputs about design and maintenance for a new sleeper. The impression I got is that they would be ViewLiners.

The package had about 25 pages and broke the car down in to subsystems(A/C, carbody,trucks,etc.). It had multiple choice questions asking to rate the design and maintenance of the old V/L's and asked that you detail the answers for negative answers. It also asked for suggestions for the new design. It took 3 days to finish the questionaire and I've had 5 calls from engineers in Chicago to discuss possible changes.

The engineers are very much aware of AmerRail's poor performance in construction and are aware of Amtrak's constant input and changes that made the cars a mechanic's nightmare! :(

It looked like Bombardier was the first choice, but it looks like the Acela project and Bombardier's downsizing has created second thoughts about who will build the cars. There are very few car manufacturers today and I hope they don't pick another company that builds one shot wonders, then goes out of business! :blink:

Miami Joe B)
 

amtrakmichigan

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Oct 5, 2003
Messages
444
That's good news to hear. I have always thought it may be a wise decision to bring back a more modern slumbercoach type sleeper. Another good idea maybe a car with 3/4 slumbercoach rooms and 1/4 club coach type seats.
 
G

Guest

Guest
I'd like to see a second class ticket offered for a 2/1 arrangement of those fully reclining seats then use on the International flights. Make the price point to be somewhere around halfway between coach and a standard sleeper, maybe slightly more to guranty a single side seat.
 
A

Amtrak OBS Employee

Guest
I would like to see Amtrak be in a better position to offer more of the deluxe bedrooms instead of the standard rooms. Currently in the Viewliners there are only three of the big rooms (two regular and one wheelchair accessible), and twelve of the smaller rooms. The biggest complaint I get from passengers (who are in the smaller rooms) is usually something in regard to the size. And on a train with only two Viewliners in the consist that means there are only six big rooms available. The big rooms usually sell first. So if it were me, I would want a larger room if I had myself and one other person. I think it would be nice if Amtrak could offer our sleeper passengers more of the big rooms which also means higher revenue. And those older Viewliners which are roughly fifteen years old or so, are in my opinion, worse shape than the old Heritage 10-6 sleepers (which are used as our crew car(s). And they are over fifty years old and ride the rails better than the Viewliners did when they were new.

Amtrakmichigan also makes another good point in regard to the need for lower priced slumbercoach style rooms. That would possibly reopen up a market which was there at one time!
 

amtrakmichigan

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Oct 5, 2003
Messages
444
amtrakmichigan said:
That's good news to hear. I have always thought it may be a wise decision to bring back a more modern slumbercoach type sleeper. Another good idea maybe a car with 3/4 slumbercoach rooms and 1/4 club coach type seats.
After reading my own post, let me explain myself a little further. The point I made about designing a car with part slumbercoach style rooms and part club style or business class type seating needs to be expanded here. The reason I think club seats would be a good idea on certain long distance trains would be an example of the following.

You want to ride from say Chicago to Cleveland. Using the Lake Shore as an example, it leaves Chicago at 7:20pm and arrives at 3:31am. A passenger may not want to spend the extra fare for a sleeper, but may want to have a nicer seat or atmosphere then a std. coach seat. Amtrak probably could easily charge an extra $50 for such a seat. A couple good examples of city pairs that currently are only served by lond distance trains that don't offer a upgraded coach seats would be..... Chicago - Minneapolis and Chicago - Kansas City via the S.W. Chief, which is much quicker then traveling through St. Louis. In my opinion, cars of this type could easily boost revenue. Amtrak needs to figure out how to get more money out of their exsisting customers by offering more choices then just coach or 1st class sleeper. I beleave they are missing out on a big market by not offering something more that's in between the two current classes.
 

battalion51

Conductor
Joined
Aug 23, 2002
Messages
7,193
I personally think a Custom Class type deal would do better on long distance trains if a few things are done. Make the car more luxurious than coach (not a glorified coach like it is on the Palmetto bug). Also have an attendant specifically for that car (right now the Palmetto doesn't, at least on the Miami side it doesn't). I'd include some kind of meal service, with Acela style meals to make those few extra bucks your spending worth it. Finally, if possible (this goes for sleepers too) try to get a Sattelite TV deal like JetBlue and Song have and offer live TV to passengers, that will really draw in the markets.
 

Miami Joe

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 22, 2002
Messages
420
I wasn't working for Amtrak when the V/L's first came out.

I thought the V/L's were about 8 years old. I agree that the ride is not as good as an older car, but they were designed for easy maintenance. They turned out to be over-engineered in some areas and poorly designed in other areas.

I still think that the V/L is a pretty good car. The biggest problem is the lack of maintenance over the years, lack of parts and inexperienced labor. The reason I say this, only 1 person was sent for 3 days to AmerRail for training and we have to work with bad schematics and incomplete manuals.

Miami Joe B)
 

haolerider

Conductor
Joined
Apr 21, 2004
Messages
1,437
Miami Joe: Who initiated the surveys about the sleepers and plans for the future? Which department at Amtrak.

The reason I ask, is that the Savannah College of Art and Design does these kinds of things as projects for their senior design engineers - not just the actual design, but the entire engineering structure. They have designed and build cars, boats and several small airplanes as part of their yearly projects and they have worked with most of the major automobile companies on design projects for cars of the future.

If you can refer me to someone at Amtrak, I can make the connection happen.

Thanks,
 

Miami Joe

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 22, 2002
Messages
420
Amtrak is doing the study, but I don't have the info at home. Will get it tomorrow.

I had a satellite system on the FFT and it was a technical nightmare! :blink: The unit was designed for boats and the tech was always there to fix it. The tracking unit was the main problem and always lost the feed. THe rough ride and dust was hell on the unit and it was replaced 3 times in 1 year! :(

Miami Joe B)
 
Joined
Sep 13, 2004
Messages
6
Miami Joe,

Did you ever find anything else out about the above program? I have been trying to pull together a proposal for a single level sleeper room that is a cross between a Standard and a Deluxe. Take a look at the Adobe Acrobat format drawing below. I would also be interested in you describing the typical day to day work that must be performed on a Viewliner, and perhaps even contrast it with a Heritage 10-6 sleeper. I have also worked up a cost spreadsheet and all I have to go off of is an average hour of work per day, calander inspections, at $105 (total labor rate with equipment) and the four year overhaul at about $250,000.

http://pages.prodigy.net/virgilp/_uimages/...SingleLevel.pdf

Group Members,

I put together an Adobe PDF sketch of a proposed 32 Berth (16 Room) single level sleeper and thought it might be of interest to some of you. Each room would enclude a shower/toilet annex along with 38"x 80" berths. The central feature is the enclosure that is hinged where I have indicated on the sketch. The enclosure would be connected by a link to the chair nearest the annex so that as the chair is slid forward on a wall track the enclosure would hinge open to create the annex. The annex could be used while both beds are down.

The point of the idea is to approximately keep the current Viewliner capacity but increase the ammenity level for each room. Of course funding for Amtrak is an issue and I can discuss further why I think this idea would produce an increased Net Income for Amtrak if the discussion goes there. For know I just wanted to see if anyone could think of any improvements and/or deal killers with the design of the space.

The ADA room would be 1'-0" longer than the standard one shown and would of course be at the vestibule end of the car. The configuration would be similar to the ADA roomettes in the Heritage fleet. The door would have to be different in that about 10" of the wall that faces the vestibule would also be part of the door giving a wheelchair user a straight shot into the room.

I guess my chief aim in this proposal design is a room that is a cross between a Viewliner Standard and the Delux, whose names will soon to be changed if I understand an earlier thread. Since on room would be taken by an attendant the capacity of the above design would be equal to a Viewliner, but I would suggest be much more marketable for the following reasons:

- In room toilet, sink, and shower in every room of course

- Day seats that are further apart allowing a bit more recline and leg room

- Larger upper berth

- The annex is large enough to put your arms out and hence could be used for changing clothes as well.

- The creation of a space that is a little bit wider than the old roomette which then tapers off, giving the room a focus area near the sink during the day

- The potential for almost 8'-6" of window length, which would provide for better viewing of scenery at speed.

In terms of revenue generation since all the rooms could command a price closer to that of Delux Amtrak could take in perhaps 30% per mile while offering more people the opportunity to enjoy a sleeper with an in-room shower. The attendant work might be cut down as there would be no need to clean communal showers but then again the cleaning between occupants would increase. In my day job I engineer the external cladding for buildings, I have a PE license, which gives me a lot of exposure to the newer materials and panels that are possible today. The Superliner I rebuild seems to be a good example of what can be done with better surface materials to make a room easier to clean. Perhaps, the cleaning could be made easier with good joint design.

As an afterthought the two room spaces at the end of the car away from the vestibule could be configured as Duplex Roomettes with the addition of another 1'-0" to the standard on center spacing. The capacity then would be 31 with an attendant and the single budget travelers could have a room for say 60% of the current Viewliner rates, assuming the car costs the same as a Viewliner.

Virgil Payne, Dallas, TX
 

Firebert

Train Attendant
Joined
Sep 6, 2004
Messages
60
On a similar note, I read once some years ago that there was a prototype Viewliner version of a sightseer lounge that had an all glass ceiling. Hopefully they'll continue with that design when working on new lounges too. For the new sleepers, get the toilets out of the bedrooms. Yuck! I don't want to sleep in the same room I go to the bathroom in. That's just gross.

-Firebert
 

Amfleet

Conductor
Joined
Aug 24, 2002
Messages
3,390
The toilet in the bedroom is not that bad and in no way disgusting. Any odor is immediately wisked away when you activate the 'vacum' flush. You can actually feel the air sucked out from under the door to the hall and into your room.

However, the most common problem with the toilet in the room is when traveling with a companion you must stand out in the hall until s/he is done.
 
Joined
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If you take a look at the proposal drawing the toilet is in an annex, whiose walls hinge on two points to create a enclosure for the shower and toilet. yet withdraw to expose a sink area above which a mirror would be mounted. The floor in the shower toilet area would be below the room floor by 1/2" so that the annex walls would have a surface to seal aganist. Where the partition that covers the toilet and the door meet a mitered stricker would be fabricated into the partition panel and a locking mechansim that engage indents in the ceiling and floor would keep the partition closed. The partition would be a composite panel formed by two 0.06" thick stainless steel sheets bonded to each other with a balsa wood or pine core for a total panel thickness of 3/8".
 
Joined
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The annex could be fairly large, around 3' by 4', when opened but be able to fold up aganist the walls when not needed. One of my questions is how the passengers would view such an annex? Would they consider it a true bathroom like space, or just one step above the toilet by the side of the seat arrangement. I think a lot of the perception would center around the solidness of the partiitions and there ability to muffle sound and odor. The edges of the partitions would have gaskets to ensure a tight fit but the very fact that this annex was created by panels that folded out might make people have a different view of it.
 

Viewliner

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Firebert said:
On a similar note, I read once some years ago that there was a prototype Viewliner version of a sightseer lounge that had an all glass ceiling. Hopefully they'll continue with that design when working on new lounges too. For the new sleepers, get the toilets out of the bedrooms. Yuck! I don't want to sleep in the same room I go to the bathroom in. That's just gross.-Firebert
I've read that too, but I've looked at a lot of magazine articles about the prototypes, all of which mention 3 shells/cars, 2 sleepers (2300/62090 and 2301/62091) and Diner 8400 being ordered and built. It would be great to have that car in the fleet, but it may take a while.
 

jccollins

Conductor
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Nov 2, 2002
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Firebert said:
On a similar note, I read once some years ago that there was a prototype Viewliner version of a sightseer lounge that had an all glass ceiling. Hopefully they'll continue with that design when working on new lounges too. For the new sleepers, get the toilets out of the bedrooms. Yuck! I don't want to sleep in the same room I go to the bathroom in. That's just gross.-Firebert
Agreed! The Superliners did it right. No bathrooms in the standard rooms, but the deluxe rooms have a separate, enclosed bathroom/shower.
 

F59 PHI

Service Attendant
Joined
May 17, 2003
Messages
109
I think that the sightseer lounge WAS built, as amtrak has in its capital plan to refurbish 54 Viewliners.

52 sleepers, 1 diner, whats the other?

The sightseer lounge might be the missing viewliner.
 

Viewliner

Conductor
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Aug 23, 2002
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The fact that it says that is very interesting, as its either a typo, or there's something funny going on. But as the old addage goes, I'll believe it when I see it.

Maybe Battalion51, Miami Joe, or someone else with sources can explain the supposed 54th Viewliner may be (If somehow it exists).
 

Amfleet

Conductor
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I'm not sure where you got the number 54 from? The Stragegic plan for FY2005-FY2009 shows there as being 53 Viewliners currently (50 sleepers, 2 prototype sleepers, 1 prototype diner). That number will decrease to 50 by FY2009 with the retirement of the 3 prototypes. Below this it states that 50 new cars will be built with the Viewliner shell.
 

Miami Joe

Lead Service Attendant
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Aug 22, 2002
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It's been a couple of years since we did the research on the prototypes and I'm a little foggy on the car numbers.

Here's the latest info on the cars. This was a yr ago, I was looking for parts for the fleet. I don't think anything has changed.

Diner Car 8400, was the first prototype to be removed from service. The HVAC was the car's demise. It was a "one-of-a-kind" prototype and poorly designed. The price for parts was outragious and the amount of labor was excessive.

The kitchen must have been built around the equipment, instead of using measurements. A defective convection oven was a major job and the car would be cut. With no access panels, narrow doors and no specs during construction, walls needed to be removed and sometimes a window to R&R a component.

The HVAC was a continous defect and the refrigeration was starting to be the same way.

The car was sent to BG for COT&S and a major rebuild. ARROW showed the car scheduled for a few maintenance projects, but was put into storage instead.

I loved the feel of the car and the big windows. It felt very intimate with the cloth interior and the seating arraingement gave the car a spacious feeling. That was probably the best of the designs and should be used as an example for the new design. If the car was proven reliable, I would suggest that diners be the first cars on order. Probably to expensive to build an A/C unit and update car.

Crew Car 62091, was being used as a crew car on the SS, and wasn't too bad when I worked on it. The interior had was a mix of AMF I and Heritage parts. The electrical was AMF components and the interior had Heritage carpeting on the walls. The HVAC was similar in design, but used analog controls to simplify repairs and increase reliability.

The car had a problem with the trucks during a run and had to be cut-out in D.C. The car was shopped for a few months and returned to revenue. It made a few more trips and developed another problem with the trucks. It was shopped again and noticed that it was put in storage a few months later. Probably to expensive to fix.

The missing car was another proyotype sleeper that I didn't know existed.

Don't remember the car #, but we had alot of fun finding the car. Arrow didn't show the car as inventory, but people verified the car at Bear DPF.

Other members found an article showing the car at the re-opening of Bear in the 90's. The car is mentioned in the column as being "recently overhauled" but no one at Hialeah recalls ever seeing it in service. It pops up on ARROW every now and then, as being in storage at Bear.

I like the design of the V/L. I would like to see a "plusher" interior, like a Heritage car. It was more wear resistant, made the car feel "warm" and made you feel "special".

Simplify the design of the sub-systems, keeping access panels,repair times and parts costs in mind during design stage. Design a lighting system that allows the dark, exotic feel of the past and flourescent lighting for personal needs and emergencies.

If it was possible, I would wish for a car designed by a team of old style designers for the carbody and interior. Bring in electrical engineers with new technology, but reliable systems with costs and labor in mind.

I think passengers would pay a little extra for the experience. Young and old are still mesmerized by trains! It's a luxury to have the time to travel by train and an experience that few have the time to afford.

MJ B)
 

Trogdor

Conductor
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Aug 3, 2004
Messages
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The 54 number was in the FY04-08 plan. I remember seeing that one too, and puzzling over it, as there was no 54th Viewliner.
 
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So would everyone want to keep the current configuration in the standard bedrooms, aka the toilet by the seat, or do they see the need for a toilet annnex in the standard room? Does the strategy of creating a room that is a mix between the Deluxe and Standard seem reasonable? Can everyone open the Adobe *.PDF file that I posted above? Any thoughts on the workability of the folding annex. I remember seeing a patent for a folding annex, using one solid wall and two walls made of hinged panels, that Pullman-Standard had put out around the time of the first Superliner order so the idea has been thought of before. The chief difference with the design above is that the annex is made of two simple panels that are hinged in only one place. The simplicity should keep the folding annex from becoming a maintenance headache.
 

Firebert

Train Attendant
Joined
Sep 6, 2004
Messages
60
I finally had a chance to look at the diagram for the sleeper that was posted. It looks like quite a classy design, but with the added length of each compartment there there would be 1 or 2 fewer compartemnts in either side of the car. Thet could mean both lower revenues for Amtrak as well as higher fares for the passengers. It would be nice to see that design used as a mid range sleeper between the standard and deluxe room. ANd yes, it does solve the problem of sleeping with your head next to the toilet. That idea has never sat too well with me. Who knows how bad the guy's aim was who had that compartment before you did.

-Firebert
 

Amfleet

Conductor
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In the Viewliner Standard Room your head is one the opposite end of the toilet, with your feet on the end next to the toilet. There's a small partition between the toilet and the seat next help those with, well, bad aim. I've rode in Viewliner Standard Room 5 times and I've never found the seat cushion next to the toliet to smell or have urine stains.

At first I too was little hesitent about having open facilities in the room, but once you're in one it really is not bad at all.

A few changes I would make to the room in the future is make that partition next to the toilet a little bit higher. I would also have a plastic type flooring right below the toliet instead of carpeting.
 
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