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Sleepers on NE Regional #66 and #67

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John Bredin

OBS Chief
Joined
Dec 18, 2007
Messages
786
Location
suburban Chicago (Buffalo Grove)
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.
Back in the late '90s, my job involved an annual conference in Washington and I used the Capitol Limited that way from Chicago to DC and back. The conference began on Saturday afternoon, late enough for the other Chicago attendees to fly out that morning. But I didn't have to get up at 6am to shuffle off to Midway for a flight, I walked from my Loop office to Union Station after work on Friday and arrived at the conference about the same time as the fliers into BWI by merely getting off at Washington Union and riding the Red Line a few stops.

It worked out the same way at the end of the conference: breaking in time for the fliers to get to BWI for a same-day homeward flight also got me onto the Cap Ltd., and I arrived the next morning at Chicago Union and walked to my office with the other commuters.

It was perfect, except I could expense only the rail fare portion of the ticket, but I considered "eating" the accommodation charge a small price to pay for traveling in a more civilized way.
 

MARC Rider

Conductor
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
2,598
Location
Baltimore. MD
Back in the late '90s, my job involved an annual conference in Washington and I used the Capitol Limited that way from Chicago to DC and back. The conference began on Saturday afternoon, late enough for the other Chicago attendees to fly out that morning. But I didn't have to get up at 6am to shuffle off to Midway for a flight, I walked from my Loop office to Union Station after work on Friday and arrived at the conference about the same time as the fliers into BWI by merely getting off at Washington Union and riding the Red Line a few stops.

It worked out the same way at the end of the conference: breaking in time for the fliers to get to BWI for a same-day homeward flight also got me onto the Cap Ltd., and I arrived the next morning at Chicago Union and walked to my office with the other commuters.

It was perfect, except I could expense only the rail fare portion of the ticket, but I considered "eating" the accommodation charge a small price to pay for traveling in a more civilized way.
There were a few overnight train trips I could justify for work trips:

Washington - Ann Arbor/Detroit -- I'd take the Capitol Ltd. to/from Toledo and either take the Ambus to the Michigan destination or take a cab to the airport and rent a car.
Washington - Chicago -- It worked about the way described above. I'd leave the office earlier than I would to catch a flight aand arrive in Chicago the next morning. I could work a full day in Chicago and leave that evening, and get into DC in the middle of the day and go to the office, although if the train was late (which wasn't uncommon), I'd just go right home to Baltimore when I got to Washington.
Washington - Florida -- I presented a couple of times at a conference in Tampa. I rode the Silver Star down to arrive the day before the conference. This involved weekend travel. The northbound departure left late enough so I could over the last day of the conference and make my train that day.
Washington - Savannah -- For some years I presented at a conference in Hilton Head. I'd take the Silver Meteor down, arrive in Savannah before 7, take a cab to the airport, rent a car, and drive to Hilton Head. After the conference, I could have just driven back in time to return the car and take the northbound Meteor, but I usually liked to spend the night in Savannah and ride home the next day on the Palmetto.
Baltimore -- Atlanta -- I did this once for a meeting in Atlanta. I took a cab from the station to the meeting. My boss had driven down earlier, so I drove home with him.
 

bms

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 29, 2018
Messages
331
Location
Cleveland
I think Sleepers should be marketed as simply private rooms.

For example, the train from Cleveland to Boston leaves at 5:50 a.m. and arrives after 8 p.m. Not during nighttime hours, but definitely long enough to justify buying a sleeper/private room if one can afford it.
 

IndyLions

OBS Chief
Joined
Nov 6, 2016
Messages
543
Location
Brownsburg IN
I think Sleepers should be marketed as simply private rooms.

For example, the train from Cleveland to Boston leaves at 5:50 a.m. and arrives after 8 p.m. Not during nighttime hours, but definitely long enough to justify buying a sleeper/private room if one can afford it.
I use them that way all the time. Examples are Chicago to Minneapolis, LA to Oakland, even Indianapolis to Chicago on occasion. It’s especially productive if I have work to do on a business trip.
 

Mailliw

Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 14, 2020
Messages
237
Location
Scranton, PA
It's a shame Amtrak has so few sleeping cars; they could really come in handy on alot more routes. I think cars with all roomettes (+ ADA room) would be a great idea; market them as First Class day rooms that just happen to convert to private sleeping berths.
 

IndyLions

OBS Chief
Joined
Nov 6, 2016
Messages
543
Location
Brownsburg IN
It's a shame Amtrak has so few sleeping cars; they could really come in handy on alot more routes. I think cars with all roomettes (+ ADA room) would be a great idea; market them as First Class day rooms that just happen to convert to private sleeping berths.
There’s your answer for more available economical sleeper space and appeal to young people. There have to be like a gazillion “tiny home” shows on TV/YouTube these days - and it seems like all the buyers are 25-35 years old. What is a roomette if not a “tiny home” on rails?
 

bms

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 29, 2018
Messages
331
Location
Cleveland
There’s your answer for more available economical sleeper space and appeal to young people. There have to be like a gazillion “tiny home” shows on TV/YouTube these days - and it seems like all the buyers are 25-35 years old. What is a roomette if not a “tiny home” on rails?
Marketing to Millennials could certainly be improved... Among the 25-35 age group, the most common reaction I get when mentioning anything about a train trip is that the person didn't know there is intercity passenger train service in Ohio.
 

Palmetto

Conductor
AU Supporter
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May 12, 2014
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2,166
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Miami
Marketing to Millennials could certainly be improved... Among the 25-35 age group, the most common reaction I get when mentioning anything about a train trip is that the person didn't know there is intercity passenger train service in Ohio.
Given the train times in most of the state, for all intents and purposes there isn't any.
 

jpakala

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 13, 2014
Messages
29
We had a bedroom on the Capitol from Chicago to DC and a friend was in a roomette in the same car. When a mother and her late teen or early 30s daughter boarded and found their roomette the daughter was shocked at its tiny size. I think she was a bit claustrophobic because she was lying across suitcases with her head on one of the seats and her feet on the area next to her mother's seat opposite hers, thereby staring up at the ceiling (which on Superliners isn't as high as on Viewliners (thereby the roomettes & bedrooms seem a tad roomier on Viewliners). The roomettes are like the low-priced double rooms on Slumbercoaches of years back on the B&O and a few other RRs and Amtrak for a while.
 

bms

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 29, 2018
Messages
331
Location
Cleveland
66/67 is a short run, so a Roomette should be fine for two people for one night.
 

west point

Conductor
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
2,349
Wouldn't the 9-1/2 hours BOS <> WASH be a more important metric ? Short distance only matters for car mileage costs.
 
Joined
Feb 2, 2021
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Low Earth Orbit
Isn't Boston the only Amtrak city left with two distinct stations serving different routes?
Stockton has two stations, one for the western route of San Joaquins, and one for the northern route. The northern station also services ACE. There is no direct connection between the two stations. However the two San Joaquins routes do share stations (far) to the south from Modesto onwards, so it's not quite the same as with the completely separate Downeaster route.
 

cocojacoby

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
May 13, 2014
Messages
404
Marketing to Millennials could certainly be improved... Among the 25-35 age group, the most common reaction I get when mentioning anything about a train trip is that the person didn't know there is intercity passenger train service in Ohio.
Don't think age has much to do with it. After we returned from our annual winter vacations (Amtrak Boston to Florida) and told people what we did, just about everyone would comment, "You can do that?". So I say most of the public do not know these trains even exist.
 

jiml

Conductor
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
2,572
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Somewhere in Southern Ontario
Don't think age has much to do with it. After we returned from our annual winter vacations (Amtrak Boston to Florida) and told people what we did, just about everyone would comment, "You can do that?". So I say most of the public do not know these trains even exist.
That was a fact 10, 20 and 30 years ago.
 

Barciur

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 13, 2012
Messages
562
Location
Lancaster, PA
Lots of talk about European service comparison, but one thing many people are missing is the cost. The cost of a sleeper ride here is exorbitant compared to European service. Partly of course because there is no shared compartments. But this could also be taken care of. OBB, the pioneer of the return of European sleepers, has some interesting ideas to lower the cost and keep the same amount of people in a "shared" compartment yet with privacy. Check these out: Nightjet of the future

Nevertheless, a big part of the reason why people often will not take the sleeper train in America is that it is really for well off people or those who love them and will save up large amounts of money for them. This is not so in Europe. Sure, the Paris - Moscow train costs a lot by European standards, but that price is still super small compared to an Amtrak experience.
 
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Mailliw

Service Attendant
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Jun 14, 2020
Messages
237
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Scranton, PA
Nightjet's compartments look pretty cool, but I think North American operators would be reluctant to buy rolling stock that doesn't have a day mode. If couchettes are off the table then Pullman style berths (with modern touches like outlets galore and Upper windows) could work as a budget sleeper.
 
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Tlcooper93

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 9, 2021
Messages
22
Location
Boston
Lots of talk about European service comparison, but one thing many people are missing is the cost. The cost of a sleeper ride here is exorbitant compared to European service. Partly of course because there is no shared compartments. But this could also be taken care of. OBB, the pioneer of the return of European sleepers, has some interesting ideas to lower the cost and keep the same amount of people in a "shared" compartment yet with privacy. Check these out: Nightjet of the future

Nevertheless, a big part of the reason why people often will not take the sleeper train in America is that it is really for well off people or those who love them and will save up large amounts of money for them. This is not so in Europe. Sure, the Paris - Moscow train costs a lot by European standards, but that price is still super small compared to an Amtrak experience.
Agreed in principal.
I'm not sure it would work in America. Overall, one of the reasons I think that cars prevail (despite opinions and outlooks on trains finally turning tide), is because America retains a very individualistic culture, and if we have to travel by train, we sure as hell are not going to share a room with anyone else. People in America (even to their detriment) pride their freedom, even in places where is doesn't make any sense. Its quite fascinating actually.

Work brings me to Europe approximately once a summer, and there is a very different approach there to travel. The collectivist culture (much like China, and other train boasting countries), caters well to trains, and sleeper cars with strangers. It is much more like a hostel (just on wheels), which is unthinkable in America on a large scale.

Therefore, it would be hard to market a budget sleeper, unless you market exclusively towards the younger generation, which has seen how travel works in other countries, and would certainly consider this if they knew about it. I know I would!


Nightjet's compartments look pretty cool, but I think North American operators would be reluctant to buy rolling stock that doesn't have a day mode. If couchettes are off the table then Pullman style berths (with modern touches like outlets galore and Upper windows) could work as a budget sleeper.
This is very true as well.
I personally never grasped why the first class airline approach (with lie flat seats) was never adopted for trains like they were on HSR routes in China and Japan. I think it would be perfect for routes like BOS-DC at night where it may be hard to run a sleeper, but no one really wants to take 66 and 67 when there are other modes of travel that are cheaper and faster. I'm about as close as it gets to a train fanatic, and I'd avoid taking coach/business on that train.
 

Tlcooper93

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 9, 2021
Messages
22
Location
Boston
The thing is Americans are perfectly willing to sleep in a room with strangers, even sitting upright, if the price is right.
We probably have different experiences. I haven't seen this ever, especially where there are alternate modes of transit at an equal price.

I have a feeling the "right price" is so low it would be out of the question.
 
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