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Sleepers on NE Regional #66 and #67

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Willbridge

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Years ago the wife of my boss used the WAS>NYP set-out sleeper. I was a bit concerned as I had suggested it. She liked the trip and it made it possible for her to get to a morning appointment without riding sitting up in the early morning hours.

Of course, there was once a plethora of set-out sleepers but I think (he said cautiously) that this was the only one that Amtrak has operated.
 

MARC Rider

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I think a more realistic option is to just upgrade/flesh out the track surrounding greater Boston to allow for trains like the Downeaster to come into south station, and just add a half hour or so more onto the trip.
The Downeaster between Portland and North Station already takes a half hour longer than the bus ride from Portland to South Station. Why would anyone want to add another half hour to the trip? How many people really transfer between the Downeaster and the NEC trains? I did it once, but the connections don't usually work for me. When I go to Maine, I usually just ride up to Boston and rent a car, because I'm going to need one in Portland, and beyond, anyway.
 

MARC Rider

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I rode 67 from Boston to Washington a few times in the early 2010s, then after a few interrupted rides, I said the heck with it and spent the night in Boston, riding home on an Acela with a FC upgrade. I usually rode Business class, which was OK, and even got some sleep. When I arrived in Washington, I'd go to the fitness center at work and take a shower before going to my office. I would have enjoyed riding the sleeper.

I had some pretty wild rides on 67. On one trip the HHP-8 conked out a little south of rt. 128 and we sat a couple of hours in 12 degree (F) weather as the train started cooling down until a northbound train rescued us, and took us back to Boston, where we hung out in the (closed up) South Station waiting area for a few hours until they pulled our train back to Boston and found a new locomotive for us. I think I go into Washington about 5-6 hours late. Then there was the time we conked out between Philadelphia and Wilmington and got rescued by a SEPTA train that took us to Wilmington where we waited for the next southbound Northeast Regional.
 
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west point

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To stay on topic. I kind of suspect there will be a sleeper(s) on the night owl probably all the way to New Port News (NPN). Mileage for those sleepers will be much lower than all other routes although we can expect they will rotate onto the LSL Otherwise a set out at NYP probably not. To really service the present LD trains with V-1 sleepers an additional V-2 sleeper on each train is needed . That will use up all the new V-2 sleepers . Already there is one additional V-2 sleeper on the Silver trains.

The math becomes Silvers 8, Crescent - 4, LSL - 3, OWL - 2 or 4, Cardinal - 2 or 3 if it goes daily . That = 19 or 22 of the new V-2s. Only 3 - 6 spares and 6 - 12 V-1 spares. Not much slack for any spare sleepers. Spares?? NYP 1, WASH - 1, MIA - 1, CHI - 1, Rest in major overhaul.

The closing of the new NYP from 1 - 5 am puts a real damper on a set out that would place 2 part of the time on a platform that as well. + you have the problem of where to park them? NYP is much busier before 0800 now.

One advantage of night owl sleeper to just WASH would give a much better spare sleeper inventory. However until the new VRE parking tracks are completed at WASH. Layover parking tracks are now very scarce at WASH. Then you will have new Acela-2s coming on line probably 3 or 2 additional train sets and maybe more during transition from -1s to -2s..

A better way to increase sleeper availability might be for the Crescent, both silvers, and Cardinal if more than one sleeper to have all of them to cut off 1 ( or maybe 2) at WASH. That would give 4 additional sleepers available for the longer routes based on present LD schedules. There still is the storage problem of the cut offs. If all the above proposals came into being that would mean 7 sleepers at WASH mid day when all the commuter trains terminate at WASH.
 
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PVD

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Keep in mind that full utilization of the Bag Dorms adds some sleeper capacity since the rooms in regular sleepers occupied by coach attendants and any food service persons (whatever is left) become available. Under current rules the extra roomettes in the B_D can't be sold, so we don't have to beat that thought to death again.
 

Palmetto

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You could be right, but something tells me it was to use the Vermonter or Adirondack route as far as the LSL east-west tracks, then into South Station via that route. It's hard to find details on that proposal to verify. The way that guy kept changing plans and "dance partners" it was tough to keep track.
The proposal is/was Boston to Montreal via Springfield MA and St. Albans, VT.
 

jloewen

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You could be right, but something tells me it was to use the Vermonter or Adirondack route as far as the LSL east-west tracks, then into South Station via that route. It's hard to find details on that proposal to verify. The way that guy kept changing plans and "dance partners" it was tough to keep track.
My wife and I rode the next-to-last sleeper from WAS to BOS and the first train from BOS to WAS without a sleeper, back. What happened was, I had a speaking engagement in the Boston area and a friend (Ezra Vogel, who died last week Ezra F. Vogel, Eminent Scholar of China and Japan, Dies at 90 ) to stay with overnight, so we arrived happily on time at about 7:30AM in S Station. We had to pay $50 more for a room with a shower because the sleeper did not have a common shower for the little roomettes. Then I gave my talk and workshop (in Salem, I think), returned to Cambridge, and spent the night near Harvard with Ezra and his wife Charlotte. Next day we walked around my old stomping grounds, had nice meals, and got on the train, only to learn that "the sleeper had broken." Instead of telling us, which would have led to a refund and we would have taken the USAir shuttle to DC, Amtrak rebooked us at coach rate and gave us business class. A poor substitute. I don't sleep well sitting up.
Both ways, we were allowed to eat what we wanted from the cafe car, as I recall, there being no diner on the train.
They never fixed the sleeper. That ended the service.
 

jiml

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The proposal is/was Boston to Montreal via Springfield MA and St. Albans, VT.
Just confirming that we're talking about the private train proposal as opposed to the restored Montrealer, but if so I agree with you. I was surprised you included "is", since I thought this thing died some time ago when Amtrak started re-examining the Montrealer and ran a couple of test trains. That would go directly to New York without involving Boston at all.

If I recall correctly, Rebello had a lot of problems finding a host railroad for parts of the trip, so multiple routes were considered.
 

railiner

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To stay on topic. I kind of suspect there will be a sleeper(s) on the night owl probably all the way to New Port News (NPN). Mileage for those sleepers will be much lower than all other routes although we can expect they will rotate onto the LSL Otherwise a set out at NYP probably not.

The closing of the new NYP from 1 - 5 am puts a real damper on a set out that would place 2 part of the time on a platform that as well. + you have the problem of where to park them? NYP is much busier before 0800 now.
Since the new train hall at Penn Station has opened...I am wondering if the west end of it might be able to access the Diagonal Platform, which was formerly used to load bulk mail containers into Amtrak baggage and MHC cars at one time. There was a freight elevator from the former mail sorting facility, down to that platform. Not sure of what remains are still there, but that would be a nifty spot for setout sleepers to park at, if it hasn't been repurposed for other uses...

 
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AFS1970

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I am late to the party, but I thought the issue with sleepers on the NEC, at least north of NYC was a height restriction. I had heard tunnel height once, but I have also heard it has to do with the catenary wires on the New Haven line.
 

OBS

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There actually used to be two sleepers from Washington - one continued all the way to Boston and the other (Executive Sleeper) was dropped in Penn Station in the middle of the night, with passengers remaining on-board until continental breakfast arrived at 6:30.
Actually, to be more specific, there were 3 sleepers. Two cars ran Bos to Was and the third was the Was to NYP car. Always well patronized!
 

OBS

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I am late to the party, but I thought the issue with sleepers on the NEC, at least north of NYC was a height restriction. I had heard tunnel height once, but I have also heard it has to do with the catenary wires on the New Haven line.
No, none of that is true...
 
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Mailliw

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I am late to the party, but I thought the issue with sleepers on the NEC, at least north of NYC was a height restriction. I had heard tunnel height once, but I have also heard it has to do with the catenary wires on the New Haven line.
It sounds like you're thinking of the restrictions in Superliners, which are bilevel.
 

jiml

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Actually, to be more specific, there were 3 sleepers. Two cars ran Bos to Was and the third was the Was to NYP car. Always well patronized!
I didn't realize that; thanks for the update. The Exec wasn't well-patronized the one night I was on it. The attendant told me to take a bedroom in the 10-6 and I'd only paid for a roomette. I think there were two other passengers on that trip, also in bedrooms. I didn't venture to the other sleeper or sleepers. Mine was the last car on the train, which of course makes sense. The drop was so seamless I slept through even the swap to platform power.
 

Chris I

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I've hear those rumors too. I think it's a great idea. Maybe it could even pave the way for more evening departure/morning arrival Euro-style night trains on other routes.
Agreed. The Cascades route takes a little over 8 hours from Portland to Vancouver BC, and I've always wished for a night train on the route. Unfortunately, it's not really viable for Seattle travelers (would go through SEA in the middle of the night), so I doubt the ridership is there.
 

nferr

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I used the Twilight Shoreliner sleeper quite a few times when we had an office just outside DC. Used to get on at New Haven around 12:30 am if I recall correctly. Would arrive in DC early morning and go to the office. Was way better than trying to get to a NY airport in early morning.
 

IndyLions

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Night trains are practical. And if you can reduce flight, hotel and rental car expenses while you are at it - they can be cost saving. I use the existing system like that where I can for business. Off the top of my head, I’ve used these city pairs:
  • South Bend IN to Buffalo NY
  • South Bend IN to Syracuse NY
  • Bloomington IL to Marshall TX
  • Chicago IL to Fargo ND
  • Emeryville CA to Portland OR
I’ve always wanted to do Chicago to Denver that way, but for whatever reason never had any business in Denver.

And being fully back on topic, I would have used the Night Owl DC to Boston last year had a sleeper been available. Instead I made other arrangements with an itinerary that wasn’t as good in my estimation.
 

Mailliw

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Last year when I was looking at a trip to Chicago I noticed the westbound Capitol Limited leaves Pittsburgh about 11:45pm and arrives in Chicago at 8:45am. At least in that direction it's perfect for a night train.
 
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Wow, glad there is so much information here.

A couple of takeaways from the conversation:
Seems that I am not the only one to have heard the rumors of sleepers returning to the NE corridor. And even if it’s just a rumor, there seems to be some practical reasons why it would be good to have them. Especially now that there are 25 new Viewliner sleepers in the fleet, there could be sufficient equipment to make this happen.

The north south station issue in Boston is a huge conundrum, and a reasonable and cost-efficient solution doesn't exist at the moment. Any future northbound intercity routes will simply have to have North Station as their southern terminus. In my mind, this doesn’t seem too bad, as North Station is not at capacity currently (especially pending the renovation of the Charles River drawbridge), and it’s actually quite convenient to get to otherwise. Two subway lines run through north station as opposed to South Station’s one (further showing the value of Back Bay).

A night train from Boston to Montreal would be awesome.
 

Palmetto

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From what I heard along the way, when the Big Dig in Boston was under construction, they built the infrastructure to allow a two-track train tunnel as well to connect North and South stations.
 

jiml

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From what I heard along the way, when the Big Dig in Boston was under construction, they built the infrastructure to allow a two-track train tunnel as well to connect North and South stations.
From Wikipedia: The original Big Dig plan also included the North-South Rail Link, which would have connected North and South Stations (the major passenger train stations in Boston), but this aspect of the project was ultimately dropped by the state transportation administration early in the Dukakis administration. Negotiations with the federal government had led to an agreement to widen some of the lanes in the new harbor tunnel, and accommodating these would require the tunnel to be deeper and mechanically-vented; this left no room for the rail lines, and having diesel trains (then in use) passing through the tunnel would have substantially increased the cost of the ventilation system.
 
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From what I heard along the way, when the Big Dig in Boston was under construction, they built the infrastructure to allow a two-track train tunnel as well to connect North and South stations.
Essentially, this was the original plan, but it was abandoned in favor of wider roads and cheaper costs.
The big dig was back in a time when America still subscribed to the "more lanes=less traffic" falacy.
 

Willbridge

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I didn't realize that; thanks for the update. The Exec wasn't well-patronized the one night I was on it. The attendant told me to take a bedroom in the 10-6 and I'd only paid for a roomette. I think there were two other passengers on that trip, also in bedrooms. I didn't venture to the other sleeper or sleepers. Mine was the last car on the train, which of course makes sense. The drop was so seamless I slept through even the swap to platform power.
I wonder if the demand varied sharply by day of the week? It was marketed for business travel, but how did it do on the weekends? The text does mention the theater but was there ever any tour package or focused advertising in theater programs, etc.?
1985 Exec Slpr  001.jpg

1985 Exec Slpr  002.jpg
 
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