Please Mr. Anderson (sleeping suites in coach?)

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jis

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I believe they still have three-high sleepers in places like India. Kind of like a half-open cot version of a capsule. :p
Those are by far the most popular sleeping accommodation, AC or non-AC in India. A 20 car train would typically have 16 of those 3-Tier Sleepers, 3 2-Tier Sleepers and one First AC with compartments. The 3 Tier Sleepers are actually roomier than any capsule hotel that I have come across, and way less claustrophobic. In my less financially endowed student days those were the things to travel by.

Europe also had 6 berth Couchettes. I don't know if they still have them with the general downfall of overight trains. I traveled on Eurocities in 6 berth Couchettes in the '90s..
 

crescent-zephyr

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So a cross country trip could still confine you to the coffin pod for most of the trip
That’s the downside to this model vs. the red coach / vonlane model. The bus only works for overnight trips.

But to your answer, no. This bus only operates on single overnight trips. The idea is you get on the bus, go to bed, wake up and you’re in San Francisco.
 

railiner

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The business model for the Cabin bus is for strictly overnite trips... not cross-country. So the small lounge space is probably very adequate for that purpose.
Most passengers will probably head right to bed, for the 8 hour trip, or perhaps just have a “nightcap”, before retiring...
 

Cho Cho Charlie

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I been reading thru the pages of ideas here. Unfortunately, IMHO, many of them require developing a rail car where the interior is wider than the exterior. :D

Or developing narrower Americans. Ones that can sleep comfortably in a 14" wide bed.

I wonder which breakthrough will happen first?
 

ehbowen

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I been reading thru the pages of ideas here. Unfortunately, IMHO, many of them require developing a rail car where the interior is wider than the exterior. :D

Or developing narrower Americans. Ones that can sleep comfortably in a 14" wide bed.

I wonder which breakthrough will happen first?
The first one. Have you been to Wal-Mart lately? 'Nuff said.
 

ScouseAndy

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Those are by far the most popular sleeping accommodation, AC or non-AC in India. A 20 car train would typically have 16 of those 3-Tier Sleepers, 3 2-Tier Sleepers and one First AC with compartments. The 3 Tier Sleepers are actually roomier than any capsule hotel that I have come across, and way less claustrophobic. In my less financially endowed student days those were the things to travel by.

Europe also had 6 berth Couchettes. I don't know if they still have them with the general downfall of overight trains. I traveled on Eurocities in 6 berth Couchettes in the '90s..
Yes on mainland europe there are still plenty of 6 berth couchettes plying the rails, well normally at the moment not so much!
 

IndyLions

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I used a 6 booth couchette from Paris to Amsterdam years ago. A little disconcerting compared to a private sleeper, but a less expensive option to be sure.

That was an interesting trip. I was in Europe on business in Luxembourg. My flight home was out of Amsterdam - and I was taking the train Luxembourg City - Paris Nord and then the overnight train in the couchette to Amsterdam.

Before boarding the train to Paris, I bought a new watch at the train station in Luxembourg City. Mine had broken while in Europe, and this was 10+ years before smart phones. All they had at the station were el cheapo digital watches - but I was just looking for something to tell the time. I knew with sleeping on the train I’d want to have some idea when to get up and dressed in preparation for the arrival in Amsterdam.

As we approached the first stop on the Lux-Paris train, I was shocked to see that we’d lost nearly 15 minutes against the timetable. This is pretty rare in Europe. By the next stop scheduled for an hour later, we’d lost another 20 minutes. Then it hit me. The problem wasn’t the train but the el cheapo watch. It gained 20 minutes every hour!

As the trip progressed, I tried to calculate in my head actual time based on the display on that blasted watch, but failed miserably. When the train arrived in Amsterdam, I hadn’t even started to get up and get ready. Luckily, it terminated there so I had plenty of time to get my self together and get off the train.
 

crescent-zephyr

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I used a 6 booth couchette from Paris to Amsterdam years ago. A little disconcerting compared to a private sleeper, but a less expensive option to be sure.

That was an interesting trip. I was in Europe on business in Luxembourg. My flight home was out of Amsterdam - and I was taking the train Luxembourg City - Paris Nord and then the overnight train in the couchette to Amsterdam.

Before boarding the train to Paris, I bought a new watch at the train station in Luxembourg City. Mine had broken while in Europe, and this was 10+ years before smart phones. All they had at the station were el cheapo digital watches - but I was just looking for something to tell the time. I knew with sleeping on the train I’d want to have some idea when to get up and dressed in preparation for the arrival in Amsterdam.

As we approached the first stop on the Lux-Paris train, I was shocked to see that we’d lost nearly 15 minutes against the timetable. This is pretty rare in Europe. By the next stop scheduled for an hour later, we’d lost another 20 minutes. Then it hit me. The problem wasn’t the train but the el cheapo watch. It gained 20 minutes every hour!

As the trip progressed, I tried to calculate in my head actual time based on the display on that blasted watch, but failed miserably. When the train arrived in Amsterdam, I hadn’t even started to get up and get ready. Luckily, it terminated there so I had plenty of time to get my self together and get off the train.
If you had been on Amtrak or VIA you would have never known!
 

tgstubbs1

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I've been looking at the diagram and I think the cost comparison probably hinges on whether there are two occupants or one in the roomette.

Having something cheaper than a roomette is good for the single traveler.
 

ehbowen

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I've been looking at the diagram and I think the cost comparison probably hinges on whether there are two occupants or one in the roomette.

Having something cheaper than a roomette is good for the single traveler.
Agreed; for many years I wouldn't consider booking a roomette because I couldn't justify the cost as a single traveler. It wasn't so much the cost of the space, but the cost of the (mandatory!) included meals. That's why I'm in favor of "unbundling" meals from sleeper tickets, subsidizing the fixed costs of operating and staffing the diner from all classes of ticket revenue, and offering a "premium" meals-included option for those who so prefer.

Even today, if I'm taking a LD sleeper trip I'll scour family and acquaintances to see if I can find someone to share the space with. Fortunately, with two nephews and six nieces...someone's usually available!
 

tgstubbs1

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I agree with point of view that supports 'unbundling' the meal plan because although I think they do a good job with the meals they can't please everybody with such a limited menu.

I once rode on a Rock Island train (in the 60's) that had a real diner. It was just about like a JB Big Boys or Denny's. You could order almost anything and they would make it.
 

Devil's Advocate

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The argument for unbunding seems to be based on the theory that removal of included meals will come with a substantial discount. I personally find that outcome rather unlikely. The discount on the Silver Star was a rare and unique case of two similar trains on a similar route with daily schedules. Most of the LD network has nothing like that. The service reductions which have happened since the Star was downgraded came with no obvious discount.
 

tgstubbs1

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You are probably right. You probably are in a much better position to know and understand the pricing than I am. But it would be a good thing for me, and probably some other people as well.

I enjoyed eating in the dining car the few times I've traveled by train but these days it would not suit my diet very well because of digestive issues I have developed the last few years.

I think it would be great if they had more options. More dining opportunities in stations, maybe even just vending machines. Plus the dining car. But I think the economic climate and Amtrak policies are pushing the other way.

Just wishful thinking on my part, unfortunately.
 

crescent-zephyr

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I enjoyed eating in the dining car the few times I've traveled by train but these days it would not suit my diet very well because of digestive issues I have developed the last few years.
Same here. I can still do ok in the full service dining Cars, but the new contemporary dining is pretty difficult for me. The shrimp dish is the heslthiest for me to eat, but it’s pretty spicy. The beef is crazy salty and the other dishes I can’t eat because of gluten.

But on the flip side, you don’t save money on an airline in first class If you don’t eat a meal. Or if you only check one bag when 2 are included. You’re not paying for the checked bags and the meal when you buy 1st class on delta, you’re paying for 1st class and those are things they include.
 

mcropod

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I was hoping to depart for a trip to the pointy north bit of Queensland here in Oz next week, but covid put an end to that. My trip home from Cairns was to have its first leg on Queensland Rail's 1600km overnighter to Brisbane on the Spirit of Queensland which has a first class seat/bed capsule arrangement shown here on pages 5-10:


The 'Railbed' seat comes with included set-served meals and drinks compared to the economy fare, and has about a 50% price premium compared to the economy fare.

QR runs a more traditional sleeper service in cabins, on its overnight service Longreach/Brisbane, so the truly introverted are still properly catered for :)

I was so looking forward to my Railbed experience!
 

railiner

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I was hoping to depart for a trip to the pointy north bit of Queensland here in Oz next week, but covid put an end to that. My trip home from Cairns was to have its first leg on Queensland Rail's 1600km overnighter to Brisbane on the Spirit of Queensland which has a first class seat/bed capsule arrangement shown here on pages 5-10:


The 'Railbed' seat comes with included set-served meals and drinks compared to the economy fare, and has about a 50% price premium compared to the economy fare.

QR runs a more traditional sleeper service in cabins, on its overnight service Longreach/Brisbane, so the truly introverted are still properly catered for :)

I was so looking forward to my Railbed experience!
Interesting concept...I would also like to try it...but it's certainly not as efficient as private rooms with upper and lower bunks...
 

MARC Rider

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Interesting concept...I would also like to try it...but it's certainly not as efficient as private rooms with upper and lower bunks...
I don't know. A Viewliner sleeper has 12 roomettes, 2 bedrooms and a handicap room, with a capacity of 30, but that's only if all of the rooms are occupied by 2 people. The Railbed car "C" has a capacity of 39 seats, which actually makes it more efficient. But also consider that many rooms on the Viewliner are occupied by only one passenger. A Viewliner could have every room full, but only be carrying 15 passengers. There's a reason why Amtrak sleeper fares (at least for single travelers) are so high -- there are no sleeper accommodations designed for only one passenger.

I'm not sure how many Railbeds you could fit in a standard Amtrak passenger car, as I don't know the difference between carriage sizes in Australia and those in the US, but if you could fit 40 Railbeds in a car, that would compare with 60 coach seats in an Amfleet II. You wouldn't have single passengers tying up space in private rooms, and thus you could price the Railbed seats at 50% above coach and still earn the same revenue for the same passenger load. In reality, you might want to price it a little higher to cover the additional costs of bedding and meals, if you're going to use the Queensland service as a template.
 

sttom

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Considering that airlines budget at most $9 per passenger per meal on long haul flights, the amount you'd save unbundling meals would depend on how long your trip is. So a cross country trip, unbundling meals might save you $54 at most. But why would you want to pay for each meal individually if you're going from Chicago to the West Coast? As I have said, a budget sleeper option is likely going to appeal to people on overnight trips who can pack a meal ourselves or can live without it.
 

railiner

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I don't know. A Viewliner sleeper has 12 roomettes, 2 bedrooms and a handicap room, with a capacity of 30, but that's only if all of the rooms are occupied by 2 people. The Railbed car "C" has a capacity of 39 seats, which actually makes it more efficient. But also consider that many rooms on the Viewliner are occupied by only one passenger. A Viewliner could have every room full, but only be carrying 15 passengers. There's a reason why Amtrak sleeper fares (at least for single travelers) are so high -- there are no sleeper accommodations designed for only one passenger.

I'm not sure how many Railbeds you could fit in a standard Amtrak passenger car, as I don't know the difference between carriage sizes in Australia and those in the US, but if you could fit 40 Railbeds in a car, that would compare with 60 coach seats in an Amfleet II. You wouldn't have single passengers tying up space in private rooms, and thus you could price the Railbed seats at 50% above coach and still earn the same revenue for the same passenger load. In reality, you might want to price it a little higher to cover the additional costs of bedding and meals, if you're going to use the Queensland service as a template.
Are we looking at the same diagram? I see "Railbed Car 'C'" as only having 19 seats. "Car B", which would be ADA compliant, only 16 seats...

And to make the comparison more even, An economy Viewliner would have 16 roomettes plus the H room for a total of 34 beds, or 19 all single occupancy. And in private accommodations.
 
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railiner

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Considering that airlines budget at most $9 per passenger per meal on long haul flights, the amount you'd save unbundling meals would depend on how long your trip is. So a cross country trip, unbundling meals might save you $54 at most. But why would you want to pay for each meal individually if you're going from Chicago to the West Coast? As I have said, a budget sleeper option is likely going to appeal to people on overnight trips who can pack a meal ourselves or can live without it.
I'm for 'unbundling' meals. But offer a meal "package" for transcon traveler's. And a further choice of 2 or 3 daily meals...sold to coach or sleeper passenger's.
 

MARC Rider

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Are we looking at the same diagram? I see "Railbed Car 'C'" as only having 19 seats. "Car B", which would be ADA compliant, only 16 seats...

And to make the comparison more even, An economy Viewliner would have 16 roomettes plus the H room for a total of 34 beds, or 19 all single occupancy. And in private accommodations.
My apologies, you are correct about the seating capacity of the Railbed cars.

However,
The economy (coach) cars on this train only hold 51 seats, as compared to a V-2 that holds 60 seats. I suspect that the cars are smaller than Amtrak cars, as the Queensland service is 3'6" narrow gauge. Thus, a V-2 sleeper shell would fit more than 19 Railbed seats. The problem with 2-bed private rooms is that beds are taken out of sale if you don't have enough couples to fill the rooms. Open-plan lie-flat seating allows the operator to keep every bed available for sale right up until departure.
 

MARC Rider

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Considering that airlines budget at most $9 per passenger per meal on long haul flights,
Is that coach or business/first class? The meal I was served in coach on United was so bad, it makes Amtrak contemporary flex dining look good. :)

Also, how do airlines allocate labor costs for food service? The flight attendants, in addition to being OBS, are also considered operating crew. Even if they served no food, the airlines would have to have flight attendants on board. Amtrak saves costs with contemporary flex dining by actually eliminating jobs. So even with honest accounting, Amtrak meals probably cost more than $9 per passenger, including labor costs.
 

sttom

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Is that coach or business/first class? The meal I was served in coach on United was so bad, it makes Amtrak contemporary flex dining look good. :)

Also, how do airlines allocate labor costs for food service? The flight attendants, in addition to being OBS, are also considered operating crew. Even if they served no food, the airlines would have to have flight attendants on board. Amtrak saves costs with contemporary flex dining by actually eliminating jobs. So even with honest accounting, Amtrak meals probably cost more than $9 per passenger, including labor costs.
I'm not sure how the labor costs are allocated, but the cost of the food is $9 per passenger for a long haul business flight, at most. The average is closer to $7 which explains why some meals suck. If we're only talking snacks, its more like $2.

Note this Wikipedia article about prototype roomettes for Amfleet cars that were tried in the 1970s.

"Two prototype Superliner roomette modules were installed, displacing twelve seats."

Four spaces displacing 12 spaces. Hmmm..., and we wonder why sleeper fares are 3 times that of coach. :)
Airlines do calculate their revenue based on revenue per square foot, which includes things such as the level of food service, the staff and other bonuses that come with whatever class you are in. Meaning, different classes have different revenue per square foot figures. The interesting thing is that in a 4 class configuration, business class generally generate as much revenue as coach, despite taking up a fraction of the space. The same is true (mostly, first class is an exception which is why its disappearing from airlines with business class) for the other classes.

So in the context of Amtrak and a budget sleeper, it would need to generate more revenue per square foot than coach. It doesn't need to be equal to a sleeper, which it wouldn't if you have less privacy, food isn't included and possibly not having as nice of bedding. For example, OBB Nightjet 4 Bed Couchettes start at $59 and Single Sleepers start at $129. So its not out of the question for an all open section car to have a lesser surcharge than a full sleeper.
 
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I've been in favor of unbundling sleeper fares and meals for a long time. Including meals in the sleeper fare essentially forces sleeping car passengers to pay for meals whether they want them or not. I live in Atlanta, and when the northbound Crescent is running several hours late, questions arise about whether the diner will still be serving dinner as the train departs. I'd like the option of getting dinner at a restaurant before I get on the train. There's also another issue. The bundled meals essentially transfer dining car losses to the sleeping cars. Unbunding would presumably make it easier for sleepers to show a profit, which ultimately could make it easier to justify sleeper service.
 
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