Please Mr. Anderson (sleeping suites in coach?)

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cocojacoby

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I'm having trouble parsing your diagram. If the blue color is the seat, how does one walk through the car?
The aisle runs straight down the center of the car as in the present Viewliner. In the enlarged drawing with the blue seats the aisle is the yellow stripe. That drawing shows only half of the car from the outer wall (upper thick black line) to the edge of the aisle (just below the "Bed Length 6.75 Feet" words).

That drawing is to show how the seats are staggered and work as beds when fully extended.
 

jebr

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The biggest problem with doing this is that you're not effectively using the space above the seat to maximize area people can use. Thus, you're not going to get much lower than a roomette cost for one, and it'd almost certainly be more economical for two people to share a roomette.

I personally think the best model would be a modified slumbercoach. Have bathrooms and a shower at the end of the car (if they weren't there in the initial design) and ensure that at least one in each car is fully ADA accesssible. The staggered design helps a lot to maximize space, while having wider beds and a truly private experience. The capacity would be equivalent or better than an airline suite design, while offering a better experience for most passengers (if given the choice, I'm guessing most passengers would prefer a fully private room over a semi-private suite.) Berths could also be a nice middle ground, but it removes a fair amount of privacy, and it doesn't allow for flexible sleep timing - some people may want to take a nap in the middle of the day, and berth accommodations are an all-or-nothing for sleep timing.
 

Qapla

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I'm not sure I understand the drawing either ....

When positioned for sleep:
  • Does a person's head go into a coffin-like space?
  • Does a person's feet go into a confined area that would not allow one to sleep on their side without hitting their knees?
  • Can you "recline" the seat without it having to lay flat?
  • How do you carry on a conversation with the person next to you when two of you are traveling together?
 

sttom

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The biggest problem with doing this is that you're not effectively using the space above the seat to maximize area people can use. Thus, you're not going to get much lower than a roomette cost for one, and it'd almost certainly be more economical for two people to share a roomette.
The slumber coaches that were built new by Budd had 40 beds, 16 of which were in double rooms which could be used by one person. So it's not like 34 seats would be a huge loss in capacity. Berths would increase capacity by 2.

As for pricing, it depends on what is being offered. If food is optional, that's one factor that is gone. Also, with a normal bedroom, you're also paying for privacy not just the space which is a factor no one seems to notice anytime this discussion comes up.

A second point is, how would we be getting these new cars? If we had a new car buy, yeah a slumber coach could be a better option than a berth or Delta One seat. But if we're retrofitting Amfleet 1s or Superliners, berths and Delta Ones would be easier to implement.
 

railiner

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Superliner sleepers have a sleeping capacity of 40 (13 revenue roomettes x 2, 5 bedrooms x 2, 1 handicapped room x 2, 1 family bedroom x 2 counting only the adult berths). Viewliners have a capacity of 30 (12 roomettes x 2, 2 bedrooms x 2, 1 handicapped room x 2).

The common 10-6 of the streamliner and heritage era has a capacity of only 22. Superliners and Viewliners already have nearly the approximate capacity of Slumbercoaches. The modern Amtrak roomette is essentially the same as a Slumbercoach double.

Budd slumbercoaches had a capacity 40, and most were subsequently reduced to a capacity of 36. The main reason Amtrak does not reach quite that capacity are the full bedrooms. All roomette cars would have Slumbercoach level capacities.

As far as the accommodations are concerned, modern Amtrak roomettes ARE Slumbercoach equivalents. And they were originally called and marketed as "economy bedrooms".

Get over the Slumbercoach thing folk
s, it is a phantom. There is only so much space, price is related.

Slumbercoaches were cheaper because of the higher capacity over then existing sleepers. Amtrak designs already incorporate that higher capacity.
Except that unlike Amtrak economy bedrooms, (or roomettes as Amtrak currently markets them), Slumbercoaches offered completely private rooms for one, by utilizing the "duplex" design feature, to have more rooms.
 

railpost

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Maybe a return to the Slumbercoaches concept would be the best way to go.

Having enjoyed such a "Delta One" concept on a few Delta flights and one Singapore Airlines flight, it is surely better than Economy or Premium Economy seating. Being able to "sleep" in such a restricted space when one is not used to such is another thing. Having a seat belt strapped around me during the night is something that I have never been able to get used to. While I have had some "decent" sleep, most of my flights in this type of seats have been cat-naps at best.

It's the service, before boarding and inflight, and the additional "space" that makes such a booking worth it to me.
There is no question that we should go back using Slumbercoaches which in my opinion it was a very big mistake to take them out of service and get rid of them. They were great cars when they were around and they made traveling by sleeper much more afordable for people who were on a tight budget,

From what I understand Amtrak took them and some of the other "Heritage Fleet " Cars out of service because they were equipped with on board septic tanks so that the toilets would have to be flushed out on the "right of way" when the trains were moving. Supposedly some new "Environmental regulations" had made it illegal to have cars like that so they had to get rid of them. They had run with railroad cars with flush toilets for years and I really don't think that they damaged the environment.

They should either rescind that stupid political regulation banning flush toilets on trains or else the could perhaps build or retrofit Slumbercoaches with septic tanks.

The Slumbercoaches were one of the best ideas that the Old Budd company had come up with for the passenger railroads in the late 1950s and it is too bad that more railroads did order them however they did run originally on the 1956 Denver Zephyr, the North Coast Limited., the Missouri Pacific Eagle, the Baltimore and Ohio National Limited and the Capital Limited plus the New York Central's 20th Century Limited, New England States , Wolverine, Ohio State Limited ,Cleveland Limited. Those were before there was an Amtrak and after there was an Amtrak they ran on some of those routes and also on some New York to Florida runs as well as the Empire Builder , the Amtrak Denver Zephyr in the early years as well as the Lake Shore and Broadway Limiteds and at times other services.
 

railpost

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Absolutely. I really don't see why they got rid of them. They were popular and even the New York Central converted a bunch of 22 roomette sleepers into Slumbercoaches which the New York Central called "Sleepercoaches". Had the private railroads been in the passenger business a little longer perhaps more of the slumbercoaches would have been built.
 

crescent-zephyr

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As for the pricing, you can fit 34 of them in the seating space of an Amfleet coach. A Viewliner can seat 30, assuming a maximum of 2 people per room. So there would be a higher potential number of riders.
A viewliner is a mix of roomettes, bedrooms, and an ADA room. An all roomette and 1 Ada car would have similar capacity.
 

cocojacoby

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I'm not sure I understand the drawing either ....

When positioned for sleep:
  • Does a person's head go into a coffin-like space?
  • Does a person's feet go into a confined area that would not allow one to sleep on their side without hitting their knees?
  • Can you "recline" the seat without it having to lay flat?
  • How do you carry on a conversation with the person next to you when two of you are traveling together?
Here, this will help: The ultimate guide to Delta One Suites

This is primarily for a single person. Two people could probably sit across the aisle from each other and converse. Interestingly the airlines had to fight for this type of accommodation. The FRA won't allow full height walls, although Amtrak could to provide better privacy, and the FRA did not want to allow doors.
 

Bob Dylan

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There is no question that we should go back using Slumbercoaches which in my opinion it was a very big mistake to take them out of service and get rid of them. They were great cars when they were around and they made traveling by sleeper much more afordable for people who were on a tight budget,

From what I understand Amtrak took them and some of the other "Heritage Fleet " Cars out of service because they were equipped with on board septic tanks so that the toilets would have to be flushed out on the "right of way" when the trains were moving. Supposedly some new "Environmental regulations" had made it illegal to have cars like that so they had to get rid of them. They had run with railroad cars with flush toilets for years and I really don't think that they damaged the environment.

They should either rescind that stupid political regulation banning flush toilets on trains or else the could perhaps build or retrofit Slumbercoaches with septic tanks.

The Slumbercoaches were one of the best ideas that the Old Budd company had come up with for the passenger railroads in the late 1950s and it is too bad that more railroads did order them however they did run originally on the 1956 Denver Zephyr, the North Coast Limited., the Missouri Pacific Eagle, the Baltimore and Ohio National Limited and the Capital Limited plus the New York Central's 20th Century Limited, New England States , Wolverine, Ohio State Limited ,Cleveland Limited. Those were before there was an Amtrak and after there was an Amtrak they ran on some of those routes and also on some New York to Florida runs as well as the Empire Builder , the Amtrak Denver Zephyr in the early years as well as the Lake Shore and Broadway Limiteds and at times other services.
They were on the Crescent also, both Southern and Amtrak. I rode many times between WAS and Atlanta! Loved them, and Paid to eat Real Food in the Diner!!!

Still the Best Deal in Rail Travel I've experienced in over 70 years of riding the Rails!
 
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Dakota 400

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Here, this will help: The ultimate guide to Delta One Suites

This is primarily for a single person. Two people could probably sit across the aisle from each other and converse.
It is such a set up. Not too easy, given the background noise, to converse at times. A small seat is provided for a couple to dine together in one of the Suites. But, it's not ideal.
Or, they could build a modern slumbercoach without individual plumbing...just public restrooms. Cheaper yet, simpler to build and maintain...
No disagreement with your statement. People like having their own individual facilities, I think.

As some previous posters have said, a return to a Slumberchoach era on Amtrak is as likely as the return of Amtrak service to Dayton, Ohio in the near future.
 

ehbowen

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Perhaps actually allowing passengers to buy two adjacent seats, at double the price, on long-distance trains would "fill the niche" for single passengers who don't want to sleep next to a stranger but find roomette prices too high. It's hard for me to see how this wouldn't be a win for Amtrak--same revenue for the number of seats, fewer passengers for staff to deal with.

There'd still be quite a gap between the cost of two coach seats and the cost of one person in a roomette.
Okay. Then, what do you do when you board a westbound California Zephyr in Denver on a busy day in June and find out that your two purchased seats are one seat on the aisle in car 0510, and one seat by the window in car 0512. And, no, the passengers in the adjacent seats don't feel like moving, and the conductor isn't inclined to either order one of them to move or to process a refund. "You wanted two seats; you got 'em...take your pick!"
 

ehbowen

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I'm not sure I understand the drawing either ....

When positioned for sleep:
  • Does a person's head go into a coffin-like space?
  • Does a person's feet go into a confined area that would not allow one to sleep on their side without hitting their knees?
  • Can you "recline" the seat without it having to lay flat?
  • How do you carry on a conversation with the person next to you when two of you are traveling together?
I only had one trip on a Slumbercoach (1984), but...
  • No, there's a cubbyhole which holds the bedding (rolled up). When the room is made up for sleeping the chair is folded down, the door of the cubby becomes a "bridge leaf" which folds down to fill up the gap, the bedding is unrolled and laid out, and you lay down with your head on the seat and your feet in the cubby.
  • It is a confined area, but it's not so tight that you can't roll over or sleep on your side (I almost always slept on my side in those days, and I slept fine). It's about 4-6 inches narrower than a current Superliner roomette lower...or maybe a tad wider than the "foot end" of a Viewliner roomette lower.
  • Yes, the chair did have some recline available. Not much.
  • If you're in a single? You don't; solid walls on all sides. If you're in a double Slumbercoach room, it's essentially the same as a present day Amtrak roomette.
Big problem with returning Slumbercoaches to service these days is both retention toilets (fixable, but expensive) and ADA requirements. If you install a room which meets ADA standards, you might as well include a couple of premium Bedrooms with it to maximize revenue, and then...whoops, you've got a Viewliner!

Edit To Add: If your traveling companion doesn't mind sitting on the toilet (there's a cover with a cushion), you can carry out a conversation with him/her in a Slumbercoach single...
 
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IndyLions

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Nothing gets a thread going faster than discussions regarding food or slumbercoaches! It was one of the Heritage accommodations I never got to try out.

As much as I would love a Delta One scenario on LD Business Class, I think an upgraded version of the current BC 2+1 would have a better chance of being implemented, or at least prototyped.
 

jiml

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My most recent view of a Slumbercoach was on the short-lived overnight train Amtrak ran to Toronto on weekends.

While the sentimental thoughts of refurbishing some for current-day use is interesting, are there any still around (not scrapped) that would make this possible?
 

ehbowen

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I believe that there is a company which bought out the intellectual property of the Budd company, but it would take some time to find out who holds it now and whether they have any interest (or ability!) to return to the rail car-building business.
 

Ryan

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The aisle runs straight down the center of the car as in the present Viewliner. In the enlarged drawing with the blue seats the aisle is the yellow stripe. That drawing shows only half of the car from the outer wall (upper thick black line) to the edge of the aisle (just below the "Bed Length 6.75 Feet" words).

That drawing is to show how the seats are staggered and work as beds when fully extended.

Thanks, I'm tracking now.

I'm curious about what the actual dimensions are and what kind of an aisle that would leave. I suspect that you may have to go 2x1 to have a sufficient aisle space, which would kill revenue.
 

MARC Rider

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Here’s a thought. On long haul trips (LSL, CS) sell an enhanced BC designed for better sleeping - maybe a extra foot of room with a better seat. Keep it at 2+1, but make the seats reserved & priced like bedrooms are - selling singles & doubles. The extra foot would cause Amtrak to lose a couple of rows - so pricing would need to go up. I’d guess a single would need to be up about 25% over existing BC. A double logically would cost twice as much. There would be no restriction on an individual purchasing a double if no singles are available.

A nicer seat designed for better sleeping, a guaranteed seating situation you are comfortable with, along with the already quieter environment of BC would be a pretty good option, in my opinion. Could you get a roomette for the same price? Maybe at low bucket, but as the lower roomette buckets fill up, this BC would look very attractive.
Actually, the current 2+1 business class isn't so bad. I've used it for overnight runs on 67, and I was able to sleep OK. The seat pitch is more than adequate. (The biggest benefit, compared to the alternative Amfleet 1 coach is the window curtain, though.) When I rode the Cardinal last fall, it seemed that Business Class was pretty popular.

All they would need to do is get some full length business class cars to increase capacity and implement advance seat assignment so that single travelers, especially, can have a better chance of getting single seats. I'm not sure what the full capacity of a 2+1 business class car is compared to a sleeper, but it must surely be larger enough to allow for significantly lower fares than a roomette.
 

MARC Rider

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Actually, the current 2+1 business class isn't so bad. I've used it for overnight runs on 67, and I was able to sleep OK. The seat pitch is more than adequate. (The biggest benefit, compared to the alternative Amfleet 1 coach is the window curtain, though.) When I rode the Cardinal last fall, it seemed that Business Class was pretty popular.

All they would need to do is get some full length business class cars to increase capacity and implement advance seat assignment so that single travelers, especially, can have a better chance of getting single seats. I'm not sure what the full capacity of a 2+1 business class car is compared to a sleeper, but it must surely be larger enough to allow for significantly lower fares than a roomette.
Also, when you look at the RPA numbers, it appears that long-distance business class yields about as much revenue per mile as the sleepers do, and that both yield much more than coach. It is clearly in Amtrak's financial benefit to increase the premium service offerings.
 

cocojacoby

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Thanks, I'm tracking now.

I'm curious about what the actual dimensions are and what kind of an aisle that would leave. I suspect that you may have to go 2x1 to have a sufficient aisle space, which would kill revenue.
This will give you an idea. The Airbus 350 is a favorite for this type of seating. Here is a pic:
Airbus 350.jpg

Now the interior width of an Airbus 350 is about 18.5 feet. As you can see the layout here is eight seats across. Simply split the plane down the middle (which would be about 9.25 feet) and you will get a good idea of how they would fit in an Amfleet coach which is 10.5 feet wide on the exterior. It would seem there would be no problem going with 4 across seating.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Not everyone has hundreds of dollars to buy a sleeper room.
I agree that Amtrak should provide a better mid-range product on long haul routes, but true lie-flat business class tickets will never come cheap.

Okay. Then, what do you do when you board a westbound California Zephyr in Denver on a busy day in June and find out that your two purchased seats are one seat on the aisle in car 0510, and one seat by the window in car 0512.
I'd probably ask to sit in one of the "gotta big group coming" rows that never seem to have anyone. But even if this may not work in every possible situation that doesn't mean it's not a good suggestion for the other 99% of the time Amtrak risks throwing away extra revenue.
 

crescent-zephyr

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This will give you an idea. The Airbus 350 is a favorite for this type of seating. Here is a pic:
View attachment 17149

Now the interior width of an Airbus 350 is about 18.5 feet. As you can see the layout here is eight seats across. Simply split the plane down the middle (which would be about 9.25 feet) and you will get a good idea of how they would fit in an Amfleet coach which is 10.5 feet wide on the exterior. It would seem there would be no problem going with 4 across seating.
The photo shows 4 seats across.
 
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