The "Missing" Pacific Parlour Car in Illinois

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rtabern

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A couple of weeks ago I got to tour a rail facility outside of St. Louis that has a lot of old Amtrak equipment... including a lot of the old Santa Fe Hi-Level equipment parked out there... including the "missing" Pacific Parlour Car that was never refurbished (#39971)... Amtrak Buffet Cars... and even an Empire Builder car that was wrecked in the mid-80's at Fall River, WI... two ex-Amtrak slumber coaches... and the shell of the Mark Twain Zephyr that ran on the CB&Q between Burlington, IA and Hannibal, MO.

The facility is normally strictly off-limits... even to railfans... but the owner is a friend of a friend so I was able to get in there and get some pictures of everything.

Inside the un-refurbished PPC: http://rtabern.shutterfly.com/18207

All photos: http://rtabern.shutterfly.com/17974

Personally, I think it's a shame Amtrak didn't just refurbish a 6th PPC -- that way they could have had a "protect" PPC in LA and SEA. Now, if something happens to your PPC and its gets bad ordered... you'll get a Cross-Country Cafe replacement.
 
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printman2000

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Is this a company or an individual who owns this equipment? Why do they have it? To sell? or to collect?
 

WhoozOn1st

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Forget Amtrak, get a load of that Burlington Zephyr shell!!
 

GG-1

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Aloha

Shot 67 I like that table arrangement.

it looked like some of those cars could be back in service without to much work. Is any work being done, or is this storage until a buyer is found. Or worse are they waiting to be scraped.

I vaguely think I remember one of the PRR cars, the William Penn. If it ran from Philadelphia to Consohhocken, I think I rode it to visit my aunt when I was under 10. If not that I may have seen in in Penn Station NYC while I lived there 5 years later.

Mahalo for sharing.

Eric
 

Gratt

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These shots are amazing! :wub: They really should do paid tours (even if it is something like one weekend a month).

It would bring in a small amount of steady revenue, and more importantly tons of free advertising, I know the private rail market is kind of small and close group but this could still bring in potential outsiders and clients on the fence. Tell your "friend of a friend" they should do it :D
 

AlanB

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Personally, I think it's a shame Amtrak didn't just refurbish a 6th PPC -- that way they could have had a "protect" PPC in LA and SEA. Now, if something happens to your PPC and its gets bad ordered... you'll get a Cross-Country Cafe replacement.
While I agree that it's a shame that they didn't keep that PPC, Amtrak sold that car longer before the refurbishments.
 

Anderson

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So are those shots of the inside of the unrefurbished hi-level lounge what they looked like back in the 50s/60s?

Also...that company's presence explains the pristine Budd cars I passed on the Mule back in March outside of STL.
 

bretton88

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Illinois had the right idea for these hi-levels a few years back. They where going to have them refurbished and placed into service on the Illinois corridor routes (especially Chi-Stl) at less than a million a piece, supposedly there's over 50 Hi-levels that could have been put into service (Rtaburn can say whether there was that many there). But sadly, the funding never made it out of the statehouse. Now all that fed money is going into buying new bilevel cars, so these HI-levels will probably never run again. It would have been a cheap way to do massive capacity improvements on existing routes.
 

Anderson

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Ok, deadly serious question: Why the [bleep] is anyone buying Talgo trainsets at Lord-only-knows how much when we have 50 hi-levels sitting in a train yard in quite serviceable condition? For that matter...what would it cost to get a set of these refurbished for, oh, I don't know...the Coast Daylight? Or the Trans-Dominion Express that's been kicking around Richmond for a few years (the one entirely within Virginia...I think the plan is something like RVR-CVS-Roanoke)? Or maybe even as a "supplemental" to the Cardinal that gets slapped on in DC (since they're flat out of capacity for a number of intermediate cities)? All I will say is...good grief, this burns me up.
 

Ryan

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Serviceable condition? They look pretty rough to me. I'll bet that you can buy a new trainset for what it would take to buy these and get them into running condition.

Amtrak's fleet strategy is pretty emphatic about the fact that they're tired of dealing with 50+ year old mismatched equipment and are trying to get away from it as fast as they can.

Thanks for sharing the pictures, they were pretty incredible.
 

bretton88

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Ok, deadly serious question: Why the [bleep] is anyone buying Talgo trainsets at Lord-only-knows how much when we have 50 hi-levels sitting in a train yard in quite serviceable condition? For that matter...what would it cost to get a set of these refurbished for, oh, I don't know...the Coast Daylight? Or the Trans-Dominion Express that's been kicking around Richmond for a few years (the one entirely within Virginia...I think the plan is something like RVR-CVS-Roanoke)? Or maybe even as a "supplemental" to the Cardinal that gets slapped on in DC (since they're flat out of capacity for a number of intermediate cities)? All I will say is...good grief, this burns me up.
Amtrak has been asked about these before. Each time they have said that they DO NOT want another old set of cars. Even if they where completely refurbished, maintenance costs on these cars would still be high, as VIA rail has discovered. However, they also said that the states are welcome to buying and having Amtrak run these cars for their service if they want them, provided the state pays for the cost of getting the cars running again. Amtrak can conveniently charge them higher prices for use of their shops to cover the increased maintenance costs. Illinois did look into using these cars for their service a few years ago. But funding never materialized to make it happen. It would have been about a million per car to make them usable again.
 

Ryan

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Amtrak would much rather the states buy new cars.

From the Fleet Strategy Plan (page 45 where they discuss why they plan on scrapping the cars once retired):

It was noted that the fleet is already older than desirable and, by the time of retirement, this situation will only be worse. The value of the vehicles on the open market will be very low and the scrap value will probably be better. Moreover, Amtrak does not wish to operate these vehicles once they are retired. Should they be acquired by a third party that than requests Amtrak to operate them, the point of disposal would have been circumvented.
If Amtrak has no desire to operate their current cars once retired, you can imagine they'd be even less interested in operating even older cars brought back from the dead.
 

Anderson

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Well, in both cases which I'm mentioning, you've generally got the state buying the cars...it's a matter of the source. To offer an example, switching these in for the Hiawatha service would be a cheap enough way to get your more frequent CHI-MKE service...and depending on the costs of maintenance, it may make sense in a 10-20 year rail plan to refurbish these and pay an extra X in upkeep rather than buy new cars outright.
 

Gratt

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Amtrak would much rather the states buy new cars.

From the Fleet Strategy Plan (page 45 where they discuss why they plan on scrapping the cars once retired):

It was noted that the fleet is already older than desirable and, by the time of retirement, this situation will only be worse. The value of the vehicles on the open market will be very low and the scrap value will probably be better. Moreover, Amtrak does not wish to operate these vehicles once they are retired. Should they be acquired by a third party that than requests Amtrak to operate them, the point of disposal would have been circumvented.
If Amtrak has no desire to operate their current cars once retired, you can imagine they'd be even less interested in operating even older cars brought back from the dead.
I could understand if that is their view for the baggage cars (god only knows why they did not replace them with an old mail or box car) but I hope they do not scrap the diners. I could see a private groups wanting them, first as fixed restaurant, and also in private hands for excursions, in the latter case I doubt they would be used more than a few times a year, even at their age if a 1920's pullman car can handle a few trips so can these dinners, Amtrak would be short sighted to scrap them.
 

Larry H.

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I wonder what the motive is for hoarding these cars is if there is no hope of anyone running privately owned passenger trains again?
 

OlympianHiawatha

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I would be curious to what the place is asking, especially for the more Exotic cars such as the Hi Level Lounge. Of course for a resto, the base price is only a tiny portion of what an overall rebuild may cost. For example, on Ozark Mountain, I have seen some cars that are pretty worse for the wear priced well under $10,000.

Not all the Hi Levels live here as a few are parked in plain view just kitty-korner to Fair Park in Dallas. I venture to guess they came from the Heartland Flyer which until a few years ago had 2 in consist along with the Superliner Snack Coach. That place also has a couple Slumbercoaches in early Amtrak livery. Next time I'm down there, I'll have to swing by.
 

boxcar817

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Those probably belong to the Dallas RR museum.They are in the process of moving that museum to Frisco Tx. They had an old Pulman car on display and information about the move in Dallas on NTD
 

OlympianHiawatha

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Those probably belong to the Dallas RR museum.They are in the process of moving that museum to Frisco Tx. They had an old Pulman car on display and information about the move in Dallas on NTD
I don't think these belong to the RR Museum as they are on the opposite end of the Park (over by McDonalds for those who know the area). Someone told me that property belongs to a railway equipment broker.
 

rtabern

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Serviceable condition? They look pretty rough to me. I'll bet that you can buy a new trainset for what it would take to buy these and get them into running condition.

Amtrak's fleet strategy is pretty emphatic about the fact that they're tired of dealing with 50+ year old mismatched equipment and are trying to get away from it as fast as they can.

Thanks for sharing the pictures, they were pretty incredible.
I cant really speak for the running condition of the cars, but from the inside... most looked in pretty good shape. A couple of coaches look like they could still be in service if you didnt know any better (or see the April 1997 Amtrak magazines sticking out of them). Before the trip down there last month, I had no idea that Amtrak had buffet-style dining cars... I sorta like that concept because you could choose what you wanted to have. Then again, I'm a sucker for Ponderosa and those Buffet places... haha.

But yes, that was the point, the owner(s) were planning on IL buying them for return to service.

It was sad to see the PPC just sitting there... :(
 

rtabern

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Personally, I think it's a shame Amtrak didn't just refurbish a 6th PPC -- that way they could have had a "protect" PPC in LA and SEA. Now, if something happens to your PPC and its gets bad ordered... you'll get a Cross-Country Cafe replacement.
While I agree that it's a shame that they didn't keep that PPC, Amtrak sold that car longer before the refurbishments.
Do you know the timetable? I'm curious...

A friend who works for Amtrak told me that he thought #39971 was never a Pacific Parlour Car officially... however... it had the PPC logo on the side of the car by the door.

I, too, thought the PPC name came with the refurbished cars... but obviously I was wrong... since this car was called a PPC, but was un-refurbished.
 

rtabern

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Illinois had the right idea for these hi-levels a few years back. They where going to have them refurbished and placed into service on the Illinois corridor routes (especially Chi-Stl) at less than a million a piece, supposedly there's over 50 Hi-levels that could have been put into service (Rtaburn can say whether there was that many there). But sadly, the funding never made it out of the statehouse. Now all that fed money is going into buying new bilevel cars, so these HI-levels will probably never run again. It would have been a cheap way to do massive capacity improvements on existing routes.
I'd say maybe 30-35 Hi-levels... but 50+ cars in Amtrak colors if you throw the slumber coaches, domes, etc. cars they have out there.
 

railiner

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Thanks so much for sharing those wonderful photos of those wonderful old cars. I remember riding in several of them thru the years....

Would love to see them fully restored back to their original ATSF/CB&Q/PRR et al. condition, but as the song says "Only in my dreams"...

Too bad Amtrak had replaced the wonderful Karpen seats in the Hi-Level's with those newer (and less comfortable) ASI seats.

That facility has a collection that would be the envy of many museums. Because of the various cost issue's discussed in this thread, I seriously doubt any of that equipment will ever be used again, and will eventually be scrapped. Hopefully, I will be proven wrong.
 
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