Sunset Limited Pre Amtrak With Automat Lunch Counter

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seat38a

Conductor
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Has anyone here taken the SL pre Amtrak when it had no dining car and just a automat lunch counter? From what I read, during the automat period, there were no sleepers as well. Any pictures of these automat cars?
 

Bob Dylan

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I rode one of these "Run 'em off!" Specials that SP ran! The cars were dirty, hot and the crews were hostile because they were " just following orders!" It was a long way from the Glory days of the Sunset Ltd. And the Sunset Route!

What I remember most was the attendant that was there to make change for the machines expected a tip for this! ( Sort of like Vegas without th fun and a slim chance to win!)
 

seat38a

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Jan 26, 2014
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I rode one of these "Run 'em off!" Specials that SP ran! The cars were dirty, hot and the crews were hostile because they were " just following orders!" It was a long way from the Glory days of the Sunset Ltd. And the Sunset Route!

What I remember most was the attendant that was there to make change for the machines expected a tip for this! ( Sort of like Vegas without th fun and a slim chance to win!)
So in this case, Amtrak was a 1000% improvement over what SP towards the end. Amazing that since 1971, the SL has not been increased to daily. The three times a week was an Southern Pacific thing and Amtrak never increased it to daily.
 

wmk

Train Attendant
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Oct 5, 2010
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35
I rode it in 1968 and 1969.My first time to see a microwave .The automat was one of SPs steel smooth sided cars. The train was a mixture of them and the Sunset/Golden state fluted side coaches.The train was clean and attendants were helpful;The automat attendant groused that he wished he had taken severence pay and could be working in a resturant,in stead of riding a train and sleeping in a coach seat........Amtrak bought the flute side coaches and last I checked they are still rolling as baggage cars.The automats never made it to Amtrak.
 

Devil's Advocate

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The automats never made it to Amtrak.
How is today's Amtrak cafe substantially different from the automat era? They're still selling frozen food heated in a microwave with drinks that require no refrigeration. I've seen vending machines with the same products Amtrak sells from their cafe menu.
 
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seat38a

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Jan 26, 2014
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2,025
The automats never made it to Amtrak.
How is today's Amtrak cafe substantially different from the automat era? They're still selling frozen food heated in a microwave with drinks that require no refrigeration. I've seen vending machines with the same products Amtrak sells from their cafe menu.
For one thing, I'm guessing the "heated" is a big difference. Not sure when microwaves became affordable and common place but I don't think those were common on the trains back then.
 

seat38a

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Jan 26, 2014
Messages
2,025
The automats never made it to Amtrak.
How is today's Amtrak cafe substantially different from the automat era? They're still selling frozen food heated in a microwave with drinks that require no refrigeration. I've seen vending machines with the same products Amtrak sells from their cafe menu.
For one thing, I'm guessing the "heated" is a big difference. Not sure when microwaves became affordable and common place but I don't think those were common on the trains back then.
Never mind. I should have read up higher. :)
 

Bob Dylan

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Also Keep in mind that SP pulled the Sleepers and Diner off the Sunset Ltd. Which back in the day was a Premium Train! What was left was some ratty old Coaches with, as has been said, heat and eat crap and bad attitude OBS that had to live on these rolling cattle cars during their turns!!
 

zephyr17

Conductor
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Jul 22, 2009
Messages
4,016
I rode one of these "Run 'em off!" Specials that SP ran! The cars were dirty, hot and the crews were hostile because they were " just following orders!" It was a long way from the Glory days of the Sunset Ltd. And the Sunset Route!

What I remember most was the attendant that was there to make change for the machines expected a tip for this! ( Sort of like Vegas without th fun and a slim chance to win!)
So in this case, Amtrak was a 1000% improvement over what SP towards the end. Amazing that since 1971, the SL has not been increased to daily. The three times a week was an Southern Pacific thing and Amtrak never increased it to daily.
The Sunset got its sleepers and dining (coffee shop) service back just before the end as part of a deal with the ICC in 1970. The ICC agreed to approve reducing the train to 3 days a week in exchange for SP reinstating sleeping car and dining service. The reinstated sleeping car actually ran through to New York in conjunction with the Southern. The ICC had been trying to force the SP to reinstate sleepers and diners, but its authority to regulate the onboard services was doubtful (the "Adequacies" case).

It is conceivable that had the daily gutted version of SP's Sunset ran a few more months until Amtrak, the train would have started off daily on Amtrak and remained daily. Amtrak would have restored the amenities, as they did with other formerly SP trains such as the Coast Daylight/Starlight getting its dining car back on the 4 days of the week it ran as the "Daylight" LAX-OAK only. The 3 times a week through train to/from Seattle had a diner from Day One, since the through train basically inherited the Cascade's (OAK-PDX) DNA, not the Daylight's, and the Cascade was one of the two SP trains that never lost dining service. The other one that SP had kept dining service on was the City of San Francisco.
 
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zephyr17

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Jul 22, 2009
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One other historical note is the original NRPC route plan did not have either the Sunset, nor what became the Starlight north/south service along the West Coast. The only SP train on the original plan was the Chicago-San Francisco train west of Ogden.

SP President Biaggini was very close to Richard Nixon and there was a lot of speculation that the near-exclusion of SP lines from NRPC operating responsibilities was a result of that influence.

The proposal caused an uproar and the route plan was changed to include north/south West Coast service as well as the Sunset before A-Day.
 
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railiner

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Mar 20, 2009
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7,690
I rode one of these "Run 'em off!" Specials that SP ran! The cars were dirty, hot and the crews were hostile because they were " just following orders!" It was a long way from the Glory days of the Sunset Ltd. And the Sunset Route!

What I remember most was the attendant that was there to make change for the machines expected a tip for this! ( Sort of like Vegas without th fun and a slim chance to win!)
So in this case, Amtrak was a 1000% improvement over what SP towards the end. Amazing that since 1971, the SL has not been increased to daily. The three times a week was an Southern Pacific thing and Amtrak never increased it to daily.
The Sunset got its sleepers and dining (coffee shop) service back just before the end as part of a deal with the ICC in 1970. The ICC agreed to approve reducing the train to 3 days a week in exchange for SP reinstating sleeping car and dining service. The reinstated sleeping car actually ran through to New York in conjunction with the Southern. The ICC had been trying to force the SP to reinstate sleepers and diners, but its authority to regulate the onboard services was doubtful (the "Adequacies" case).

It is conceivable that had the daily gutted version of SP's Sunset ran a few more months until Amtrak, the train would have started off daily on Amtrak and remained daily. Amtrak would have restored the amenities, as they did with other formerly SP trains such as the Coast Daylight/Starlight getting its dining car back on the 4 days of the week it ran as the "Daylight" LAX-OAK only. The 3 times a week through train to/from Seattle had a diner from Day One, since the through train basically inherited the Cascade's (OAK-PDX) DNA, not the Daylight's, and the Cascade was one of the two SP trains that never lost dining service. The other one that SP had kept dining service on was the City of San Francisco.
Another example in that era, of a railroad enhancing services on a train, in exchange for permission from the ICC to discontinue other's on its route, was that of Norfolk and Western's "Pocahontas", which even gained a dome car for its Norfolk to Cincinnati run. They dropped the "Powhattan Arrow" and I believe one other along a part of that route.

I still have a nice souvenir welome aboard packet of goodies given to its passenger's in my "archives".... :)
 

Anderson

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Nov 16, 2010
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One other historical note is the original NRPC route plan did not have either the Sunset, nor what became the Starlight north/south service along the West Coast. The only SP train on the original plan was the Chicago-San Francisco train west of Ogden.

SP President Biaggini was very close to Richard Nixon and there was a lot of speculation that the near-exclusion of SP lines from NRPC operating responsibilities was a result of that influence.

The proposal caused an uproar and the route plan was changed to include north/south West Coast service as well as the Sunset before A-Day.
Is this the same guy who tried the vanpool stunt later on?
 

zephyr17

Conductor
Joined
Jul 22, 2009
Messages
4,016
One other historical note is the original NRPC route plan did not have either the Sunset, nor what became the Starlight north/south service along the West Coast. The only SP train on the original plan was the Chicago-San Francisco train west of Ogden.

SP President Biaggini was very close to Richard Nixon and there was a lot of speculation that the near-exclusion of SP lines from NRPC operating responsibilities was a result of that influence.

The proposal caused an uproar and the route plan was changed to include north/south West Coast service as well as the Sunset before A-Day.
Is this the same guy who tried the vanpool stunt later on?
Yep
 

railiner

Conductor
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Mar 20, 2009
Messages
7,690
They should have contracted with Horn and Hardart to operate the Automat cars..... :p
 

toddinde

Train Attendant
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Apr 23, 2015
Messages
97
For one thing, I'm guessing the "heated" is a big difference. Not sure when microwaves became affordable and common place but I don't think those were common on the trains back then.
The Automat cars had microwaves.
 

peteypablo

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 17, 2015
Messages
21
I'm living in Italy presently and ride the FrecciaRossa and Italo every chance I get. They have vending machines on these high speed trains and the Freccias running during mealtimes also have a small dining car.
 

jis

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Boy! A thread brought back from zombieland after 5 years! It was disconcerting to see Bill Haithcoat's, may his soul rest in peace, post suddenly pop up!
 

Bob Dylan

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May 31, 2009
Messages
19,425
Boy! A thread brought back from zombieland after 5 years! It was disconcerting to see Bill Haithcoat's, may his soul rest in peace, post suddenly pop up!
And look @ those prices!!( as one who actually rode the SP Trains with the Automat Car, Trust me it was NOT Good!!)
 
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