Pacific Parlour Car Permanently Retired February 2018

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Blackwolf

Conductor
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Nov 12, 2011
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1,507
I've avoided commenting in this thread until now, but I'll weigh my $0.02.

I enjoyed the PPC, but the cars were so moribund they presented more of a liability on all accounts than they did any nature of benefit. To me, it was novel to have such a heritage piece of equipment still in revenue service on the only interstate passenger rail system left, but the real benefit was less the physical car and more the idea.

Lets face it, Amtrak's Long Distance sytem is fast becoming little more than a Air Koryo of American passenger rail service. Ancient and anachronistic equipment (when was the last time you traveled on an airliner or bus, operated by a major carrier, manufactured by a defunct company in the 1970's?!), surly and inconsistent service, generally unreliable and frustrating on time performance. Yes, they'll get you to your destination, usually, and it will come with the "experience" factor. But this is a downward trend that is not going to right itself, ever.

I can strongly support a conversion of SSL's and CCC's into modern and elegant replacements of the Hi-Level PPC's, especially since doing so would likely add revenue potential to existing equipment. But, if Amtrak cannot even find the funding to truly convert their Long Distance Business Class into a consistent product of seating style, pitch and amenities for lack of the money to even buy new off-the-shelf seating, then they will never ever spend the capital to make a single new PPC no matter how much the market potentially calls for such.

I really would love to be proved horribly wrong in my assessment.

Again, I loved the PPC's, but they should have been replaced and moved to a museum 20 years ago and newer equipment converted into the role.
 
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Green Eye

Train Attendant
Joined
Mar 16, 2013
Messages
39
I see the retirement of the Pacific Parlor Cars, along with the changes in discounts/passes and the elimination of the overnight Trails and Rails programs, as part of an overall strategy to reduce costs and increase revenues so that Amtrak can eliminate the operating subsidy. That subsidy was only 4% last I saw. If it was eliminated, then Amtrak could focus its subsidy requests on capital funding.
 

ChuckL

Train Attendant
Joined
Sep 26, 2017
Messages
98
I’m so glad that the PPC was on #14 when I rode in it last November on a trip to see my son in San Diego using the Wolverine from MI, SWC, PS to and from SAN, EB and back to DER on a Wolverine. I had made this same trip 4 years previously and would have done a different routing if the PPC were not present in the consist. I made acquaintances in the PPC over a longer time period than meeting someone in the dining car. It gave the opportunity to exchange many stories which I frankly don’t think the SSL seating lent itself too. Hopefully Amtrak will replace it with something similar, but for now, thanks for the memories. May the PPCs Rest In Peace [emoji23].

IMG_1516307903.679389.jpgIMG_1516307966.887314.jpgIMG_1516308051.647589.jpg

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum
 

rtabern

Conductor
Joined
Nov 15, 2006
Messages
1,585
There are some recent postings over on trainorders that say it is all a hoax, and that all PPcs will return to service on the CS sometime in late March.

But then again, the Saints were certain they’d won the Divisional Playoff...

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum
If it's a hoax.... it's one hell of a hoax. The notice I saw was uploaded on the internal Amtrak website accessed by station agents... memo signed by an Amtrak official who would have the title to announce such decisions. That's not saying it isn't a hoax I guess... because anything can be a hoax these days, I guess... but THREE station agents who know me well and know I enjoy the PPC screen-shotted the memo to me all independently when it popped up this morning. If it's a hoax then someone got into the internal website. Guess I'll keep my reservations on the last northbound run for now... I am sure all space is going to be booked on the last few runs I'd imagine.
You may want too keep those comments to yourself, about employees showing you confidential documents... It could cost someone their job.
Sent from my SM-G955U using Amtrak Forum mobile app
Seriously? And how is my post going to cost someone their job when I don't (and would NEVER) give out the names of said employees... doesn't make any sense. Get a life.
 
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Ryan

Conductor
Joined
Apr 14, 2008
Messages
17,017
Were someone in management to take in interest, it probably wouldn't be that hard to figure out.

We get it, you're deeply hurt by Amtrak taking your toys away, but telling an employee to "get a life" when they express a concern about fellow employees should be beneath you.
 

Rail Freak

Conductor
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Apr 5, 2008
Messages
4,968
Come on fellas, we all have our own reactions from this!!! We all love Amtrak or we wouldn't be on this site so regularly! CHILL!!!

HAVE FUN
 

A Voice

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 6, 2004
Messages
814
Some people do, indeed, need to keep some perspective on this. It's not like we didn't already know the Hi-level Parlor Cars were facing retirement in the next few years, we just didn't know it would be this year or there may not be a replacement. Nor should anyone be surprised the Parlors would be examined for a cost cutting move, because that has been proposed before.

One of the greatest implications, though, in my opinion is getting overlooked: The Heritage car era at Amtrak is drawing to a close. Other types of equipment can fulfill a 'sleeper lounge' role - now or perhaps reinstated in the future - but the legacy from the private carriers in intercity rail is done after 47 years. That's deserving of recognition
 

Devil's Advocate

Conductor
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
11,356
Why would a broadly distributed memo about the retirement of a tiny fleet of parlor cars be the one thing Amtrak can't handle being leaked released indirectly corroborated in public? This thread may have been against Amtrak's wishes but all things considered it seems pretty harmless and probably made Amtrak a few thousand dollars as people who normally wouldn't bother with dead-of-winter travel started scrambling for available compartments on the last few PPC eligible trips. Lack of malicious intent or any measurable harm would probably make easy work for a union lawyer to prevent an otherwise productive and responsible employee from being fired over this.
 

Trogdor

Conductor
Joined
Aug 3, 2004
Messages
5,425
Some people do, indeed, need to keep some perspective on this. It's not like we didn't already know the Hi-level Parlor Cars were facing retirement in the next few years, we just didn't know it would be this year or there may not be a replacement. Nor should anyone be surprised the Parlors would be examined for a cost cutting move, because that has been proposed before.

One of the greatest implications, though, in my opinion is getting overlooked: The Heritage car era at Amtrak is drawing to a close. Other types of equipment can fulfill a 'sleeper lounge' role - now or perhaps reinstated in the future - but the legacy from the private carriers in intercity rail is done after 47 years. That's deserving of recognition
Well, technically, the dome is still around (for the time being, anyway). Not in regular service on a train, but it still makes it out for special occasions.

But in terms of regularly scheduled service with pre-Amtrak equipment, that is correct.

As for the actual retirement, I do think Amtrak missed an opportunity for some extra revenue and do a proper send-off. Given that they have at least a couple of good cars left, they could have done something akin to the UA 747 retirement, even if only announced a month or two in advance. Have a special "last train" celebration. Heck, maybe even run them on the SW Chief (as a nod to their ATSF) heritage, en route to Beech Grove (if that's where they're going to go in retirement). Given that it's the dead of winter, when equipment availability is high and bookings are otherwise typically low, they could have run a couple of extra sleepers and both good Parlours (I'm only guessing at two good ones since they run two trains per week in the winter, on consecutive days) in a consist to ensure extra capacity for the extra sleepers. It probably wouldn't be too hard to find a couple of extra LSAs to work, and even a bunch of management volunteers to work that last train.
 
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TylerP42

Conductor
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May 22, 2015
Messages
1,202
I am saddened to hear this - however I will wait for an official statement.

I am glad that I got to experience the PPC once for my 18th birthday, however I am sad that I may not be able to experience it again.
 
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JayPea

Conductor
Joined
Sep 9, 2006
Messages
3,809
I am sorry to see the PPC go and wonder why the notice was so short. Definitely not a deal-breaker, though. Since I live just across the state from Seattle it's not like I have to make a special effort to have access to the Starlight. And to be honest I never used it all that much all the times I've ridden the CS. I think my best experience was my first time riding the CS when there was no PPC and a CCC was substituted. Now that I've got everyone's attention and everyone is saying SMH (or worse)
I can explain by saying I've always been one who went at a 45 degree angle to the rest of the world and found it very relaxing. Very few passengers used it and I had plenty of space to view out of both sides of the train, particularly in descending the Cuesta Grade into San Luis Obispo. In later trips in the PPC, more often than not, groups of loud, obnoxious people would dominate. I'm not at all a people person and don't do loud and obnoxious well. Plus the first attendant in that CCC was Veronica, simply one of the best employees I have ever had on Amtrak. So that made it pleasurable as well.

Sorry to see them go but it's not going to change my travel plans one iota.
 

amtrakpass

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 21, 2016
Messages
119
I think the main concern for me is not so much the loss of the pacific parlor per se, but if it portends to the loss of the regular lounge cars or otherwise reduced consists in general to play some accounting game; that is not good.
 

sechs

Conductor
Joined
Aug 18, 2005
Messages
2,146
Just got the e-mail and robo-call for my trip in February.

It's gone.
 
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TylerP42

Conductor
Joined
May 22, 2015
Messages
1,202
Well, I will miss it. However it was something extra, and it wasn't something that was guaranteed. It made the trip cool and was an awesome experience.

The one time I was able to experience it was awesome, and I wish I could of experienced it again.

I wonder if they will still offer some amenities like the wine and cheese tasting.
 

Devil's Advocate

Conductor
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
11,356
Come on fellas, we all have our own reactions from this!!! We all love Amtrak or we wouldn't be on this site so regularly! CHILL!!!
Well, not all of us love Amtrak, but I think we can agree that sometimes things get needlessly testy and confrontational.


One of the greatest implications, though, in my opinion is getting overlooked: The Heritage car era at Amtrak is drawing to a close.
Makes me wonder how long Amtrak can keep the second generation fleet going. Will people eventually long for the good old days of Superliners and Amfleets?


I do think Amtrak missed an opportunity for some extra revenue and do a proper send-off.
Good point. Airlines have learned how to turn fleet retirements into worldwide spectacles. What was once seen as little more than a neglected older aircraft with outdated amenities and tired interior is suddenly transformed into several months of nostalgic fanfare and last chance bookings. It honestly kind of surprises me that Amtrak didn't try to do more with this. Whether placing the remaining cars on a nationwide tour or leaving them where they are and simply giving more advance warning of their impending demise. Stock them full of snacks and cocktail fixings and celebrate their contribution to Amtrak's history.

I think the main concern for me is not so much the loss of the pacific parlor per se, but if it portends to the loss of the regular lounge cars...
Followed by another round of members proudly stating they never enjoyed the lounge car anyway so it's no big loss.
 
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MikeM

OBS Chief
Joined
Jun 2, 2009
Messages
508
Amtrakpass nails it for me in his comment - I understand that these few cars are probably past their prime and a money pit to maintain. But it also does feel like Amtrak is getting closer and closer to Greyhound in their service philosophy. One menu for the whole country, sleepers that haven't been truly refurbished in how many years? Inconsistent service standards, no real capital spending on new cars to replace cars that date to my college years (and I'm getting close to retirement).

In my latest trip on the Texas Eagle, I am taking the train one way, and flying back the other. The trip up in a economy sleeper is costing me around $300. I'll get three meals, some nice scenery, but will trade off 24 hours for the experience. It's worth it once in a while. On the return, I am able to fly in coach plus seating on a new AA plane for $100, or if I splurged for $220 could have flown in first class with lay flat seating. (this flight is a 787 repositioning flight in the morning). And it's 3 hours. There's easily available parking at the airport, while the Ft Worth station parking situation is a joke (I park at the airport and take the commuter rail to the station).

Not to begrudge train travel, because I think it is relaxing and a nice time to decompress, but having something special about the train, like good food, ambience, route guides, consistent service -- those are the things that ensure repeat business from higher dollar travelers. The folks paying $45 in coach may not care, but someone paying $680 for one night in a superliner bedroom sure does. Who's going to take the place of all the seniors who currently fill the sleepers in the future? There's only so many railfans out there who'll see spending more on a train as a good idea.

The earlier comment about the cruise train market is a valid issue - I think Amtrak would lose political support if it became a "tourist" train. But if there's a change to earn enough extra money to make the train better for the lower classes presents itself, without shutting out the lower classes, why not? Money is money.

It'll be interesting to see what happens with the Coast Starlight over the next year. Not real convinced outside of railfans how much the lounge departure will affect things, but am certain many will notice the experience is not as good as it "should" be for the cost, without knowing specifically what is missing.
 

rtabern

Conductor
Joined
Nov 15, 2006
Messages
1,585
Were someone in management to take in interest, it probably wouldn't be that hard to figure out.

We get it, you're deeply hurt by Amtrak taking your toys away, but telling an employee to "get a life" when they express a concern about fellow employees should be beneath you.
Yep, "management" is going to be able to figure out which out of thousands of ticket agents called me on my personal cell phone from their personal cell phone to tell me the news... Seriously?

Maybe Whooz' favorite secret agent Patrick Lynch will be put on this one... (anyone remember those posts!)
 

rtabern

Conductor
Joined
Nov 15, 2006
Messages
1,585
I am saddened to hear this - however I will wait for an official statement.

I am glad that I got to experience the PPC once for my 18th birthday, however I am sad that I may not be able to experience it again.
Well, 5 pages into this thread since no one believed me... is this official enough for you? (Glad I got my trip booked for early February to ride while others doubted!)

To
Message bodyDear Robert:

Thank you for writing to me earlier today, to express concern about the removal of the Pacific Parlour Car equipment from the Coast Starlight. I can confirm that we will remove the equipment from service in the first week of February.

Under federal law, Amtrak has a responsibility to act on ways to maximize productivity and efficiency. There are just five of the Pacific Parlour Cars in the Amtrak fleet. They were built in 1956 and are over 60 years old. These cars generate little revenue and are expensive to operate. It has become too difficult to maintain such an old and relatively distinct type of equipment, or to obtain necessary parts. Although we recognize that the cars are appreciated by some Coast Starlight passengers, the cars’ age, cost, and lack of revenue make their retirement necessary.

Amtrak recognizes a need to renew the entire fleet, including the bi-level equipment used on many of our long-distance services. We must focus our attention and capital resources on that effort.

Sincerely,

Richard Anderson
 

Ryan

Conductor
Joined
Apr 14, 2008
Messages
17,017
Why would a broadly distributed memo about the retirement of a tiny fleet of parlor cars be the one thing Amtrak can't handle being leaked released indirectly corroborated in public? This thread may have been against Amtrak's wishes but all things considered it seems pretty harmless and probably made Amtrak a few thousand dollars as people who normally wouldn't bother with dead-of-winter travel started scrambling for available compartments on the last few PPC eligible trips. Lack of malicious intent or any measurable harm would probably make easy work for a union lawyer to prevent an otherwise productive and responsible employee from being fired over this.
You're not wrong from a logical point of view.

That said, the world is full of illogical people, and many of them find their way into middle management. Maybe some manager in Chicago doesn't like one of his people and does a little bit of digging to see if this can't be used to write someone up. Maybe a firing wouldn't stick, but maybe someone just got themselves selected to be the next station that loses checked baggage and reverts to "unstaffed". Maybe some manager somewhere is bent out of shape over the Great Refund Policy Leak Debacle and wants to even the score. Given Robert's description of the politics behind the various "ride in the lounge and talk at people" programs, they exhibit the maturity of an elementary school playground. Maybe one of those people has an ax to grind and wants to get back at him by causing trouble for his sources.

Is any of this likely? Nope. Is it something worth thinking about and posting? Sure. Is it worth getting bent out of shape and getting snippy with someone over? Absolutely not.
 

Tennessee Traveler

Conductor
Joined
Apr 11, 2010
Messages
1,230
Just got the e-mail and robo-call for my trip in February.

It's gone.
I got the same email and robo-call today for my trip in February which was already scheduled to not have the Parlour Car. Here is the exact wording of the notice:

"Our records indicate that you are scheduled to depart on Amtrak train number 14 from Emeryville, California at 10:04PM on Saturday February 10

We want to inform you that Amtrak will retire the renowned Pacific Parlour car. The last day of service will be on the Coast Starlight Train 14 on Feb. 2, and on the Coast Starlight Train 11 on Feb. 4. Retiring the Parlour Car is part of Amtrak’s ongoing work to modernize its fleet of equipment.

The Coast Starlight will continue to provide daily service from Seattle to Los Angeles. Amtrak is reviewing what amenities offered in the Parlour Car will be available in the future. Customers will continue to enjoy the trip and spectacular views from other areas of the train, including the Dining and Sightseer Lounge cars.

We appreciate your patronage and look forward to welcoming you onboard. Thank you for traveling with Amtrak.

The most up to date arrival and departure times are available on Amtrak.com, our free mobile apps or by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245). "
 

Ryan

Conductor
Joined
Apr 14, 2008
Messages
17,017
Yep, "management" is going to be able to figure out which out of thousands of ticket agents called me on my personal cell phone from their personal cell phone to tell me the news... Seriously?
There aren't thousands of station agents living in your neck of the woods. It isn't out of the question for someone to comb through your posting history, ask around the water cooler, and make some educated guesses. Like I said, it isn't likely, but to blow it off as completely impossible is to be ignorant of the realm of possibilities.

Maybe Whooz' favorite secret agent Patrick Lynch will be put on this one... (anyone remember those posts!)
God, those were great. Wonder what happened to that Super Special Agent Lynch.
 

seat38a

Conductor
Joined
Jan 26, 2014
Messages
2,025
I am saddened to hear this - however I will wait for an official statement.

I am glad that I got to experience the PPC once for my 18th birthday, however I am sad that I may not be able to experience it again.
Well, 5 pages into this thread since no one believed me... is this official enough for you? (Glad I got my trip booked for early February to ride while others doubted!)


To
Message bodyDear Robert:

Thank you for writing to me earlier today, to express concern about the removal of the Pacific Parlour Car equipment from the Coast Starlight. I can confirm that we will remove the equipment from service in the first week of February.

Under federal law, Amtrak has a responsibility to act on ways to maximize productivity and efficiency. There are just five of the Pacific Parlour Cars in the Amtrak fleet. They were built in 1956 and are over 60 years old. These cars generate little revenue and are expensive to operate. It has become too difficult to maintain such an old and relatively distinct type of equipment, or to obtain necessary parts. Although we recognize that the cars are appreciated by some Coast Starlight passengers, the cars’ age, cost, and lack of revenue make their retirement necessary.

Amtrak recognizes a need to renew the entire fleet, including the bi-level equipment used on many of our long-distance services. We must focus our attention and capital resources on that effort.

Sincerely,

Richard Anderson
Looks like buying two orders of the overpriced Moscow Mules and a bottle of the overpriced wine did not help the profit margin. Oh well at least I tried.



 

CHvision

Train Attendant
Joined
Mar 29, 2017
Messages
59
Here's my thought to this: If (when) the Pacific Parlor car is gone, will it be replaced with another Sightseer lounge?
 
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cpotisch

Conductor
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Sep 2, 2017
Messages
7,510
Here's my thought to this: If (when) the Pacific Parlor car is gone, will it be replaced with another Sightseer lounge?
I imagine that if there are sufficient SSLs, yes. Another possibility is a CCC. They've already get staff allocated for the PPC, so a mere change of equipment (from Hi-Level to Superliner) is an easy transition.
 

Hotblack Desiato

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 16, 2012
Messages
186
Regarding replacing the Parlour with another lounge, I think that if such was really considered, then there wouldnt be a need to reduce it to just twice a week during the winter. They could have cycled the cars through maintenance and used those as a replacement on an as-needed basis.
 
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