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Update on Viewliner 8400

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cpamtfan

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I've heard wispers that Viewliner 8400, or the prototype diner, should be out of Beech Grove by September. So just watch out for it if you're traveling on an eastern LD train. Hopefully some pictures will surface soon, I can't wait to see it!
 

Ryan

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I think that it was mentioned around here in the last week or so - definitely looking forward to it!
 

AlanB

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Yup, the most recent update on cars in for rehab/refurbs mentioned a possible September date for the release of the only Viewliner Diner ever built; to date.
 
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busboy

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Sorry for being ignorant, but what is "viewliner 8400"???
The prototype single level dining car, which will be the prototype car for the Viewliner order.
So is it a brand new car, or did they take an old one and rework it?

How much different from current diners will it be? I mean, what revolutionary improvements can be made with a diner, isn't there just so many ways you can place dining tables in a rail car?
 

PRR 60

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Considering it took two and half years to rebuild this car, the diner should look like the Capital Grille inside. That assumes it actually rolls out the door this fall.
 

PerRock

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Sorry for being ignorant, but what is "viewliner 8400"???
The prototype single level dining car, which will be the prototype car for the Viewliner order.
So is it a brand new car, or did they take an old one and rework it?

How much different from current diners will it be? I mean, what revolutionary improvements can be made with a diner, isn't there just so many ways you can place dining tables in a rail car?
the viewliner diner #8400 was a dining car built off from the viewliner specs back when Amtrak 1st ordered the original viewliners. The intent was to buy more like it. However it failed pretty miserably, It traveled around for a while (saw phase IV) until it was put into cold storage at BG. With the new order coming Amtrak pulled it out to use as a "mock-up" for the new Viewliner II Diners coming. Come September it should be fully functioning & out on the lines.

Amtrak Dining cars are more then just tables on the rails, they have a kitchen, wait-staff area & tables. Most improvements from it's old design are going to be in the kitchen & wait-staff area.

peter

Edit:

Here is #8400 in 1999:

http://www.hebners.net/amtrak/amtDINER/amt8400.jpg

in 1996:

http://www.hebners.net/amtrak/amtDINER/amt8400b.jpg

and some more pics of it in it's original form (the exterior should still be about the same):

http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/rsPicture.aspx?id=442392
 
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AlanB

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However it failed pretty miserably, It traveled around for a while (saw phase IV) until it was put into cold storage at BG. With the new order coming Amtrak pulled it out to use as a "mock-up" for the new Viewliner II Diners coming. Come September it should be fully functioning & out on the lines.
Actually it was put into mothballs in Bear, Delaware. It was then used as a mock up while still at Bear to provide some ideas about how the new cars should look.

Then it was fixed up just enough to make it safe for travel, whereupon it was sent to Beech Grove (BG). A Beech Grove it will receive AFAIK, all new trucks, new AC, new plumbing, etc. I believe that they will even go so far as to cut the new safety/emergency doors in the center of the car that the new Viewliner II diners will have, but I'm not certain of that. I think, but again I'm not sure, that all the above work was done a while ago.

Then the car sat waiting for things to start gearing up on the actual order. The reason for this is that they want to build one set of dining car modules and slide those modules into the 8400 car to ensure that things actually fit properly, prior to rolling the new cars off the production line.

For those who don't know, Viewliner's are modular cars. The existing cars were built as nothing more than empty shells. Each room was manufactured else where and then simply slid into the shell, bolted down, and hooked up to power & plumbing.
 

Anderson

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Alan,

Just to clarify, does being "modular" mean that if Amtrak so desired, they could switch (for example) a diner to a sleeper or a coach to a baggage car?

As to the diner itself...it'll be bittersweet riding in it. Very bittersweet indeed.
 
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AlanB

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Yes, they could do exactly that if they really wanted to. Of course one would have to question throwing away the existing modules in favor of the new ones. And in the case of the dining cars, with the special emergency doors, it would be hard to covert them into a sleeping car. You'd have to put some metal plates over the doorways first. And baggage cars also pose a problem, with the loading doors. The easiest switch would be coach to sleeper or sleeper to coach. But again, yes, the theory is correct.

In fact, were funding to be found, Amtrak could even use this modular nature as an easy way to refurbish the existing 50 Viewliner cars. When Amtrak was busy with the program to rebuild/refurbish the Superliner I sleepers, it took an average of 3 months per car to do. This was due to the intense nature of the work needed.

If I had to hazard a guess, Beech Grove could probably refurbish a Viewliner (at least the rooms) in 3 to 4 weeks. Simply open up the side panel, unbolt/unhook the current rooms and slid them out, then slid in new rooms bolt them down and hook up the utilities and you're basically done. If they want to redo the AC or the trucks, it might take a bit longer, but still in a month to a month and a half you'd have a fully refurbished car.

And it would cost considerably less than the traditional method and see the car out of service for far less time.
 

Anderson

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Alan,

Good point on the bags and the diners. Why are they putting the door in the middle of the diners, though, may I ask (as opposed to being at the end(s) of the cars)? As to the others...well, demand shifts being what they are (and dumb luck with accidents being what it is), there might be a reason to switch a few Viewliners one way or another...either if they got another order of coaches that were suitable for LD service or if demand on the sleepers spiked heavily enough to make a switch make sense.
 

AlanB

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Alan,

Good point on the bags and the diners. Why are they putting the door in the middle of the diners, though, may I ask (as opposed to being at the end(s) of the cars)?
Gives the car more usable space and it provides an easy way to load supplies onto the car and take garbage off. If they put them at one end or the other, either they lose tables or have to shift the entire kitchen a bit and shorten it.

By putting them in the middle they are utilizing what is essentially useless space. On one side you have the area where the LSA would stand to process credit cards and a line for coach pax would form running down the long hall on the side of the kitchen. On the opposite side, they sacrafice a bit maybe, but not much. And I think some of that is made up for by not having the other short service door in the old cars.
 

Devil's Advocate

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I find Superliners rather impressive because they look big and imposing next to almost every other type. I find Amfleet cars to have a timeless simplicity about them that's also appealing in its own way. But the Viewliner aesthetic doesn't really have anything about it that appeals to me. I was actually rather disappointed to hear they were forming the basis for the next car order. I understand on the inside they're updated and improved in many ways, but for some reason I just can't get all that excited about them. Frankly I wish the Amfleet design was getting a revisit instead. -_-
 

Ryan

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Have you been inside one of them? The differences in shape are really striking from the inside, it really gives the feel of a LOT more room with the vertical walls and windows at the ceiling, especially when you compare it to the cave like feeling of a Amfleet Cafe car. Hopefully they'll get around to getting some Viewliner Cafe and Coach cars where the design will really shine (the diner will be very nice as well - I can't imagine an Amfleet diner feeling very inviting at all).
 

VentureForth

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I guess I just don't understand the benefit of having a super tall, single level car. It makes sense for the current sleepers, but I don't see an advantage to having a Viewliner Diner or Coach. Extra windows, great, but you can't see out them. They are hardly vista domes. The baggage car, with the windows removed, however is brilliant. Good racks for bags, good hooks for bikes, and it is a tremendous use of available space.

I suppose in the kitchen portion of the Diner, a split floor plan would offer a huge increase in space (for my Waffle House team) for storage and cooking.

In coach, I suppose the upper windows could be plated and then there would be a huge amount of room for baggage, eliminating the need for a baggage car. Then, those cars slated to become baggage could be converted to..... sectionals. :D
 

Ryan

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They're not going to be vista domes, but it's going to be very much like the difference between standing in an Amfleet Cafe (YUCK!) and the upper level of a SSL. The windows don't wrap around to the roof, but it's going to let a lot more natural light in, as opposed to the cave-like feel of the Amfleets.
 

Tracktwentynine

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They are some of the tallest single leveled passenger cars on the road to day. I would think the only taller cars are bi-levels.
Your statement is true, but they're not really that much taller than the heritage fleet or the Amfleets. They are less cave-like than the Amfleets because of their shape, not their actual height. Take a look at this picture, notice the roofline of the train from Heritage bag, Viewliner, followed by Amfleets:



Viewliners are 14 feet tall. That makes them 6 inches taller than the heritage fleet (at 13'6") and a little less than a foot-and-a-half taller than the Amfleet (at 12'8").
 
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