Pacific Parlour Car Permanently Retired February 2018

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OlympianHiawatha

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"Amtrak is reviewing what amenities offered in the Parlour Car will be available in the future."

I fear this means Amtrak has absolutely no idea and there will be years of studies to follow.
 

Sactobob

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"As has been mentioned, there is the possibility for Amtrak to turn an SSL into a sort of 'PPC II'. Put in the Hi-Level's sofas/booths, movie theater, glass, dining. But given Amtrak's recent priorities, I don't see that is very likely."

The Amtrak FY 17-21 Five Year Service Lines Plan states as follows:

"Pacific Parlour Car Replacement FY 20-21

Modify five Cross-Country Café cars to replace 60-year old Pacific Parlour Cars on the Coast Starlight. Alternative of overhaul existing cars will be evaluated."

Well, the "evaluation" has apparently been completed, and we now know the result of the evaluation. There is no indication that the primary alternative of ​modifying ​five Cross-Country Cafes is not still in the five year plan.
 

Palmetto

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The last thing I would want to do while traveling by train is to watch a movie. On an airplane, yes. On the train, no. It's like going to the lounge to enjoy the scenery, and wind up reading a book. What's the point?
 

VT Hokie

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Well, the "evaluation" has apparently been completed, and we now know the result of the evaluation. There is no indication that the primary alternative of ​modifying ​five Cross-Country Cafes is not still in the five year plan.
Like how the space shuttle was retired with the plan of maybe someday replacing it with something? I guess sending sleeper passengers into the overcrowded Sightseer Lounge is sort of akin to hitching rides on the Russian Soyuz!
 

akbrian

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The last thing I would want to do while traveling by train is to watch a movie. On an airplane, yes. On the train, no. It's like going to the lounge to enjoy the scenery, and wind up reading a book. What's the point?
I agree here. Get rid of the theater seating and make it just more social setting with comfortable chairs and tables would be fine. Another area to gather, talk, play cards, etc.
 

bretton88

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There is also no indication that something, like frame issues occuring, didn't force Amtrak's hand on this. It seems really abrupt, especially since Amtrak had indicated it had a replacement plan for these cars, which is why I think there was something more drastic that forced Amtrak to retire the cars earlier than planned. In the generic email responses that Anderson has given, he has indicated that a bi-level replacement fleet has become high priority at Amtrak HQ. What you definitely won't see is Amtrak publicly admitting if the cars had developed an unsafe defect.
 
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ParanoidAndroid

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I'm hoping the crew of 11(3) next month will let me take pictures of the inside of the PPC at the end of its run at LAX. It's the second to last run, so they might be nice. What do you all think?
 
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FrensicPic

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I'm hoping the crew of 11(3) next month will let me take pictures of the inside of the PPC at the end of its run at LAX. It's the second to last run, so they might be nice. What do you all think?
If they don't want to be in the photos, take them when they are not there!
 

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Usually when I'm on an Amtrak train entering LAUS the staff are in a hurry to get all passengers off the train and get everything ready for the yard. You'll be swimming against the stream and if they approve your request someone will have to stop whatever they're doing and keep an eye on things while you're aboard. I'm not saying don't ask but I would suggest preparing yourself to be told no.
 

MikeM

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"As has been mentioned, there is the possibility for Amtrak to turn an SSL into a sort of 'PPC II'. Put in the Hi-Level's sofas/booths, movie theater, glass, dining. But given Amtrak's recent priorities, I don't see that is very likely."

The Amtrak FY 17-21 Five Year Service Lines Plan states as follows:

"Pacific Parlour Car Replacement FY 20-21

Modify five Cross-Country Café cars to replace 60-year old Pacific Parlour Cars on the Coast Starlight. Alternative of overhaul existing cars will be evaluated."

Well, the "evaluation" has apparently been completed, and we now know the result of the evaluation. There is no indication that the primary alternative of ​modifying ​five Cross-Country Cafes is not still in the five year plan.
Does anyone at Amtrak actually remember the five year service plan any longer? It seems with the mess that the viewliner order turned into, not much else is happening with new equipment procurement. Meanwhile, the fleet isn't getting any younger...
 

A Voice

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"As has been mentioned, there is the possibility for Amtrak to turn an SSL into a sort of 'PPC II'. Put in the Hi-Level's sofas/booths, movie theater, glass, dining. But given Amtrak's recent priorities, I don't see that is very likely."

The Amtrak FY 17-21 Five Year Service Lines Plan states as follows:

"Pacific Parlour Car Replacement FY 20-21

Modify five Cross-Country Café cars to replace 60-year old Pacific Parlour Cars on the Coast Starlight. Alternative of overhaul existing cars will be evaluated."

Well, the "evaluation" has apparently been completed, and we now know the result of the evaluation. There is no indication that the primary alternative of ​modifying ​five Cross-Country Cafes is not still in the five year plan.
Does anyone at Amtrak actually remember the five year service plan any longer? It seems with the mess that the viewliner order turned into, not much else is happening with new equipment procurement. Meanwhile, the fleet isn't getting any younger...
Did the plan actually call for anything else the past few years anyway, though? Next up was to be the Amfleet II lounges and coaches, but from fuzzy memory I'm wanting to say that was slated for around FY2019 or so.

The Viewliner II order hasn't gone to plan, but is hardly the first Amtrak order for rolling stock to be delivered late.
 

Big Green Chauvanist

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I take Amtrak--if time allows--and if it meets my travel endpoint because 1) do not like flying and 2) I have a perhaps irrational love of simply traveling by train. I was young when the last crack trains of so many independent railroads ran. Though I never did ride an overnight luxe streamliner led by one of those beautiful F-units, I saw some and could just imagine what it would be like. And while I still can (and there are still mid- and long-distance trains actually running), I prefer to vicariously relive those long lost days, albeit at a much reduced actual experience--you have all seen pictures of those dining cars, with everyone dressed to the t's. The current rather pedestrian train experience is simply what we have in this day and age and I'm thankful for that. So I am planning a trip on the Coast Starlight for the spring to attend a wedding in the Santa Barbara area. I was looking forward to the parlour car, but then again, it wasn't along for the ride on ALL Coast Starlight runs, correct? If so, then it would have been be a crap shoot at best. These days now that I'm older and have enough funds to do so, I always go first class--I like sleeping in a bed. So the fact that I won't have a parlour car to visit doesn't make or break the decision to go by train. I find that I simply like to spend time in the roomette (or once in a while even a bedroom), looking out the window, and enjoying the ride. Because I am a prolific user of Amtrak Guest Rewards, I sometimes get a free ride, roomette and all. Now, if Amtrak were to do away with that program, then even for me, that would be "all she wrote".
 

calwatch

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Well AGR has been downgraded substantially for the long distance trips. I generally use them on corridor leisure trips and have stopped earning them entirely, content to burn off my stash obtained from signing up for the Bank of America credit card and what was transferred via Chase prior to Amtrak changing credit card partners. Overall Amtrak is becoming more and more utilitarian and less of a special experience - consistent with the CEO's background turning Delta into an operationally superb but unglamorous airline. (If he can get Amtrak to have as few cancellations and mechanical issues as Delta I will be happy.)
 

rtabern

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The thing that gets me that no one else has mentioned yet on this thread --- and I guess it really shouldn't be surprising --- is that Amtrak is NOT going to return any of the savings of not having the Parlour Cars on anymore back to the customer/traveler!

For example, #14 from PDX to SEA will have the Parlour Car on for the last time on Saturday, February 3rd. The following week, Saturday, February 10th, there will be no Parlour Car on per the press releases -- but the sleeping car fares are at the exact SAME bucket level.

You think since such a huge amenity of having a private first class lounge not be available anymore --- SOME of that savings should be passed along the consumer. I wouldn't expect the entire cost to be returned to the traveler -- but jeesh -- maybe 10% or 20% of whatever the cost was to have the staffed Parlour Car on.

Again -- doesn't surprise me though. Amtrak did the same thing (atleast for awhile) when the Hoosier State transitioned from Iowa Pacific back to Amtrak. Fares were the same for Business Class under Iowa Pacific that they were for Amtrak. Not sure if this is still the case --- but it certainly was during the transition period in February & March 2017. You are not getting a dome seat and full meal with your business ticket -- you're just getting a juice bottle and regular business class seating in an Amfleet. Prices should have been reduced -- even a few bucks -- because that was a major downgrade in service.
 

PVD

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Hoosier State was a deal with the State for a subsidized train. Fare terms were not strictly up to Amtrak. The prior operator was losing money at the agreed on fares and terms, why would someone agree to lower them?
 

Ryan

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You can’t possibly be serious.

Amtrak doesn’t have the money to give back. Every dollar they take in is needed to support current operations.

They should charge as much as the market will bear for tickets, which is what they’re doing.

They’re a business, not a charity, and the tens of people that care about this aren’t going to make a bit of different to the bottom line.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Then why did they lower the cost of sleepers on the Star?

Was the Parlour car an amenity in order to sell the sleeper on the Starlight? Or was the Starlight sleepers at a higher bucket to cover the cost of the parlour car?

These are questions we don't have the answer to so we can't really make make such a judgment.
 

chakk

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I thought fares were lowered on the SS because Amtrak removed the dining car and its free meals for sleeping car passengers?

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum
 

Ryan

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Yes, fares were lowered on the Star, since the meals have menu prices right next to them. There were also allocations of Sleeping Passenger revenue allocated to the F&B account to account for those meals.

Amtrak will refund everyone exactly what they would have paid to sit in the PPC. $0.
 

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They should charge as much as the market will bear for tickets, which is what they’re doing.
Well, this rider values the PPC substantially over $0. I’d say it was closer to $100+ per trip to me. Amtrak is free to leave the prices as-is or even raise them, but unlike the bored baby boomer bunch who will apparently ride almost anything and will happily pay almost any price I have to see value in the transaction before I pony up.

Amtrak will refund everyone exactly what they would have paid to sit in the PPC. $0.
Nobody is expecting a refund. That's just straw man nonsense.

They’re a business, not a charity, and the tens of people that care about this aren’t going to make a bit of different to the bottom line.
And yet we made enough of a difference to keep these cars going for decades. That’s not my opinion, that’s what I was told by an Amtrak customer service manager.
 

Tennessee Traveler

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In Amtrak's defense, in my experience purchasing tickets, the Coast Starlight Roomette costs have always been much less than equal distance trips on California Zephyr and Empire Builder and much, much less than Via Rail's CANADIAN.
 

jis

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One relevant question to ask of those that feel slighted for not getting a lower priced ticket is - did the fares go up specifically when the PPC was added to the CS or the Dome BC was added to the Hoosier State. If they did then there may be an argument for a fare reduction. If not then there is no cogent argument at all.
 

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In Amtrak's defense, in my experience purchasing tickets, the Coast Starlight Roomette costs have always been much less than equal distance trips on California Zephyr and Empire Builder and much, much less than Via Rail's CANADIAN.
Very true. The Coast Starlight has long been a relative bargain compared to other routes, although I haven't seen as many discounts lately as I did in the past. The CS also benefits from having a route that is continuously interesting (to me anyway) while I find that trains like the Zephyr and Canadian tend to have portions of extreme natural beauty combined with lengthy areas of far less interesting scenery.

One relevant question to ask of those that feel slighted for not getting a lower priced ticket is - did the fares go up specifically when the PPC was added to the CS or the Dome BC was added to the Hoosier State. If they did then there may be an argument for a fare reduction. If not then there is no cogent argument at all.
When I discovered how much I enjoyed the PPC my perceived value of the Coast Starlight increased, as did my willingness to spend time and money to experience it. Now that the PPC is being removed my interest in the CS is falling. Amtrak can attempt to counter this loss of enthusiasm with cheaper fares. Or they might choose to remove more amenities and raise fares further in an effort to attract more proudly indifferent and fiercely loyal Baby Boomers. Or perhaps they'll focus their energy on trying to find a way to fund a new batch of extremely slow but highly modern rolling stock. Finding out what happens next is half the fun, and under the current regime virtually any service or amenity could be as little as two weeks away from the next improvement.
 

Thirdrail7

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When I discovered how much I enjoyed the PPC my perceived value of the Coast Starlight increased, as did my willingness to spend time and money to experience it. Now that the PPC is being removed my interest in the CS is falling. Amtrak can attempt to counter this loss of enthusiasm with cheaper fares. Or they might choose to remove more amenities and raise fares further in an effort to attract more proudly indifferent and fiercely loyal Baby Boomers. Or perhaps they'll focus their energy on trying to find a way to fund a new batch of extremely slow but highly modern rolling stock. Finding out what happens next is half the fun, and under the current regime virtually any service or amenity could be as little as two weeks away from the next improvement.
Speaking of removing more amenities, is this still available?

"At-seat service" on CS
 
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