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Viewliner II - Part 1 - Initial Production and Delivery

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Slasharoo

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I'm not sure about the diner going on the Cardinal. I am not convinced that Amtrak wants to add any staff to that train.
 

William W.

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Two quickies:

1. The Cardinal must, must get, as was mentioned, a baggage dorm to allow for more sleeper space, as well as a full diner. That would make the train complete for the first time in over 15 years. But we still have the issue of CSX and the Buckingham Branch constraints. Hopefully some of the projects that are taking place will solve that a little.

2. Amtrak has to consider building a Viewliner facility in New York Sunnyside. It is simple inefficient and uneconomical to send these railcars a thousand + miles to Hialeah in Miami for maintenance and fixing, then perhaps another 1,000 mile deadhead. I know it's what we have now, but for the future, esp if a greater number of Viewliners start replacing the long distance fleet, this set up is just too time consuming.
There isn't a Viewliner facility in NYC? That city sees more Viewliners than any other.

I'm not sure about the diner going on the Cardinal. I am not convinced that Amtrak wants to add any staff to that train.
It would be silly for Amtrak not to add actual diners to that train, especially if they are available. If they add a bag dorm, or an additional sleeper, a diner-lite would have trouble handling the increase in customers. An actual diner is essential for the other improvements to the Cardinal to be effective. In terms of the need for additional crew, I would think that the cost would be made up for by the additional revenue sleeping space, and the increased ability for coach passengers to use the diner (very few are able to use it currently, due to the limited seating capacity, and the inadequate amount of food that the diner-lite is able to carry).
 
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afigg

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I'm not sure about the diner going on the Cardinal. I am not convinced that Amtrak wants to add any staff to that train.
The Cardinal has better ridership numbers per train than the CL or the CONO. The total numbers look low because of 3 days a week and the single Viewliner sleeper on it (not counting the recent 2 sleeper trains mixed with the single sleeper consist). The Cardinal benefits from serving multiple markets along its route. Amtrak ordered enough bag-dorms and diners to equip the Cardinal, so when the CAF order is completed, I expect that Cardinal will end up with a bag-dorm, 2 sleepers, and a new diner car. When or if it goes to daily service is another matter to be determined by Amtrak's annual funding and the status of the BBRR and CSX.
We probably have around 5-6 months left to speculate on what the deployment sequence will be of the initial Viewliner II equipment before we see what Amtrak actually does. Then another 15-18 months after that of adding in the rest of the 130 cars.
 

William W.

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I'm not sure about the diner going on the Cardinal. I am not convinced that Amtrak wants to add any staff to that train.
The Cardinal has better ridership numbers per train than the CL or the CONO. The total numbers look low because of 3 days a week and the single Viewliner sleeper on it (not counting the recent 2 sleeper trains mixed with the single sleeper consist). The Cardinal benefits from serving multiple markets along its route. Amtrak ordered enough bag-dorms and diners to equip the Cardinal, so when the CAF order is completed, I expect that Cardinal will end up with a bag-dorm, 2 sleepers, and a new diner car. When or if it goes to daily service is another matter to be determined by Amtrak's annual funding and the status of the BBRR and CSX.
We probably have around 5-6 months left to speculate on what the deployment sequence will be of the initial Viewliner II equipment before we see what Amtrak actually does. Then another 15-18 months after that of adding in the rest of the 130 cars.
I'm not sure what the status of BBRR's track work is, but last time I heard, it was proceeding well. Virginia has really stepped up to give them the funding they need. I think that the major obstacle to a daily Cardinal is the lack of equipment (daily service would require a third, or even fourth consist). I'd be willing to bet that the Cardinal won't go to daily service until the current CAF order has been completed.
 

William W.

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I think we'll see some complex reallocations of equipment as they are phased into service. There's going to be one set of assignments which is most appropriate when there are only two Viewliner IIs of each type -- and that's bag-dorms on the Cardinal, because it's the only train running with two sets. Then, when the additional bag-dorms start being commissioned, it's perfectly likely that the Cardinal could go back to having a full baggage car as the larger number of bag-dorms are assigned to other trains.

I'm betting on the first two dining cars going to the Lake Shore Limited; with #4800 that would provide the three needed, and the new cars are supposed to be more cold-resistant, which is most important on the LSL.
Would you think that they would retire the LSL's heritage diners outright, or move them to other routes (like the Cardinal), or just keep them as spares until all the new diners are delivered?
 

Ryan

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Depends on what condition they're in, when they're due for inspections, and how far along the new diners are in the pipeline. If they're in good shape, current on inspections and Amtrak expects to get some new VL2 Diners reasonably soon, that may be a smart course of action.
 

jis

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Also note that there are no specific Heritage Diners assigned to the LSL. It gets whatever is available at the time, and the actual cars change quite often. I believe cars will be withdrawn as their need disappears. I would be surprised if the Cardinal gets a Heritage Diner for a while, but that could happen. It all depends on many things.
 

neroden

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I think that the major obstacle to a daily Cardinal is the lack of equipment (daily service would require a third, or even fourth consist).
I've been told it would only need three consists, which looks right based on the timetable. On the current schedule it would have to meet the opposing Cardinal between Charlottesville and Staunton, and again between Cincinnati and Connersville.

Would you think that they would retire the LSL's heritage diners outright, or move them to other routes (like the Cardinal), or just keep them as spares until all the new diners are delivered?
Keep them as spares in the pool of diners -- because it's obvious there aren't enough spares in the pool right now, with Amfleet II cafes being substituted occasionally.
 

cpamtfan

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The main reason the Viewliners main maintienence base is in Miami is to thaw them out in the winter, plain and simple. I don't understand why they need a specific Viewliner shop in Sunnyside, as there is not hardly any space for one. Money needs not be wasted on a specific facility when that doesn't exactly solve any issues.
 

jis

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I think that the major obstacle to a daily Cardinal is the lack of equipment (daily service would require a third, or even fourth consist).
I've been told it would only need three consists, which looks right based on the timetable. On the current schedule it would have to meet the opposing Cardinal between Charlottesville and Staunton, and again between Cincinnati and Connersville.
Yes, it can be done with three, but with the current schedules it will tight and can be expected to be quite unreliable, given the quality of time keeping on the Cardinal route. I would expect occasional cancellation of a service to get things back on time. The occasions would likely be more frequent than is observed for most other trains.
The main reason the Viewliners main maintienence base is in Miami is to thaw them out in the winter, plain and simple. I don't understand why they need a specific Viewliner shop in Sunnyside, as there is not hardly any space for one. Money needs not be wasted on a specific facility when that doesn't exactly solve any issues.
I agree there is no need for a Viewliner shop in Sunnyside. The fewer hours they spend in Sunnyside the better it is for their health. :) Amfleet IIs are also not homed in Sunnyside, and that is fine too.
 
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VentureForth

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Looking at Google Maps around Sunnyside, I can't believe the businesses with the best view of The Yard are Self-Storage warehouses. I think (particularly on the Northern side) there would be opportunities for high end lofts with fantastic views of the Yard operations.

Now, this not being a railfan-tasy, generally people enjoy views of activities - whether natural or human activity. Provide ample sound proofing, and it could be a fascinating place to live. Of course, the surrounding area... Dunno...
 

edjbox

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I believe the Cardinal will get a full diner but only after all of the new diners have been delivered
 

William W.

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I think that the major obstacle to a daily Cardinal is the lack of equipment (daily service would require a third, or even fourth consist).
I've been told it would only need three consists, which looks right based on the timetable. On the current schedule it would have to meet the opposing Cardinal between Charlottesville and Staunton, and again between Cincinnati and Connersville.
Yes, it can be done with three, but with the current schedules it will tight and can be expected to be quite unreliable, given the quality of time keeping on the Cardinal route. I would expect occasional cancellation of a service to get things back on time. The occasions would likely be more frequent than is observed for most other trains.
The main reason the Viewliners main maintienence base is in Miami is to thaw them out in the winter, plain and simple. I don't understand why they need a specific Viewliner shop in Sunnyside, as there is not hardly any space for one. Money needs not be wasted on a specific facility when that doesn't exactly solve any issues.
I agree there is no need for a Viewliner shop in Sunnyside. The fewer hours they spend in Sunnyside the better it is for their health. :) Amfleet IIs are also not homed in Sunnyside, and that is fine too.
I really think that a daily Cardinal would need a fourth set. The Crescent runs with a fourth set, doesn't it? The Cardinal takes 28 hours, NYP-CHI, while the Crescent takes 30 hours, NYP-NOL. When one considers the Cardinal's OTP, only using three consists would definitely be very tight. Delays already can carry over on the tri-weekly schedule, especially in cases where a 51 is supposed to turn around in Chicago and become a 50 within 6-7 hours.

If a fourth set really is needed, I'd have to wonder whether Amtrak would be willing/able to assemble one. There's also a shortage of P42s and Amfleet IIs. I could see them trying daily service with only three consists, but it could very well turn into a huge mess, especially during winter.

I for one am not holding my breath for a daily Cardinal anytime soon. It will probably get a diner, and another sleeping car, but will remain tri-weekly for at least the next few years.
 

jis

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Looking at Google Maps around Sunnyside, I can't believe the businesses with the best view of The Yard are Self-Storage warehouses. I think (particularly on the Northern side) there would be opportunities for high end lofts with fantastic views of the Yard operations.

Now, this not being a railfan-tasy, generally people enjoy views of activities - whether natural or human activity. Provide ample sound proofing, and it could be a fascinating place to live. Of course, the surrounding area... Dunno...
Unfortunately Queens Plaza and Northern Boulevard are not considered to be hot residential locales, perhaps because of its proximity to a huge railroad yard, or maybe some other reason, I don;t know.
 

Bob Dylan

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That isn't stopping Austin,Portland Chicago, Denver etc developers from building High End Condos next to the tracks, rail Stations and yards! They're spreading like mosquitoes in a swamp!

Of course once they buy or rent these places they start complaining about the noise from the trains!!!
 
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NE933

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Looking at Google Maps around Sunnyside, I can't believe the businesses with the best view of The Yard are Self-Storage warehouses. I think (particularly on the Northern side) there would be opportunities for high end lofts with fantastic views of the Yard operations.

Now, this not being a railfan-tasy, generally people enjoy views of activities - whether natural or human activity. Provide ample sound proofing, and it could be a fascinating place to live. Of course, the surrounding area... Dunno...
Unfortunately Queens Plaza and Northern Boulevard are not considered to be hot residential locales, perhaps because of its proximity to a huge railroad yard, or maybe some other reason, I don;t know.
I never understood real estate.

If the snob nobs don't want to live near a railyard because it intrudes on their social media texting while installing designer mirrors on their 4 nozzle showers while the rest of the world has to worry about where their water will come from, then why not use these for low to middle income folks? We'd be more than happy to live there than out on the street. I know the area well: it' s near schools, transit, grocery stores, and houses of worship. And watching the very train I'll be using the next morning will be, well, cute. Right?
 

afigg

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I believe the Cardinal will get a full diner but only after all of the new diners have been delivered
For the Cardinal to get a full diner, it will also need additional rooms for the dining car staff. Which means it will need either a bag-dorm or second sleeper car to be added at the same time. So an upgrade to a full diner will likely have to wait until at least after a number of bag-dorm cars have been delivered and approved for revenue service.
 

neroden

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I really think that a daily Cardinal would need a fourth set. The Crescent runs with a fourth set, doesn't it? The Cardinal takes 28 hours, NYP-CHI, while the Crescent takes 30 hours, NYP-NOL. When one considers the Cardinal's OTP, only using three consists would definitely be very tight. Delays already can carry over on the tri-weekly schedule, especially in cases where a 51 is supposed to turn around in Chicago and become a 50 within 6-7 hours.
The Hoosier State proposals from Corridor Capital involve knocking 2 hours off the schedule west of Indianapolis; there's padding of at least 2 hours between Indianapolis and Cincinnati; scheduled upgrades to the Buckingham Branch should reduce delays there....

In short, by the time the track has been upgraded enough to actually accommodate daily service, I suspect it will be fast enough to manage with three trainsets. This will take a while though.
 

William W.

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I think that the majority of delays that occur these days happen on the single track segment between CHI and IND. Yesterday's 50 was 8 hours late by the time it reached IND. I haven't noticed, just from watching the tracking map occasionally, too many large delays occurring on or around BBRR.
 

Steve4031

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I think that the majority of delays that occur these days happen on the single track segment between CHI and IND. Yesterday's 50 was 8 hours late by the time it reached IND. I haven't noticed, just from watching the tracking map occasionally, too many large delays occurring on or around BBRR.
50 was not delayed between Chicago and Indianapolis. It was delayed between Indianapolis and Cincinnati. Csx equipment blocked the right of way for 6 or 7 hours. Then a wait fir a crew in Cincinnati.
 

afigg

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I really think that a daily Cardinal would need a fourth set. The Crescent runs with a fourth set, doesn't it? The Cardinal takes 28 hours, NYP-CHI, while the Crescent takes 30 hours, NYP-NOL. When one considers the Cardinal's OTP, only using three consists would definitely be very tight. Delays already can carry over on the tri-weekly schedule, especially in cases where a 51 is supposed to turn around in Chicago and become a 50 within 6-7 hours.

If a fourth set really is needed, I'd have to wonder whether Amtrak would be willing/able to assemble one. There's also a shortage of P42s and Amfleet IIs. I could see them trying daily service with only three consists, but it could very well turn into a huge mess, especially during winter.

I for one am not holding my breath for a daily Cardinal anytime soon. It will probably get a diner, and another sleeping car, but will remain tri-weekly for at least the next few years.
Don't want to turn the Viewliner II thread into too much of a (yet another) Cardinal thread, but the current Cardinal schedule would allow 3 consists for daily service: daytime layover in CHI, overnight at NYP. Would help for turn-around and a larger recovery buffer for delays to trim an hour or so off of the trip time. Which may be possible in several years with improvements in VA not only on the BBRR, but also from double tracking and other VA funded upgrades for the NS tracks from ALX to Orange for the Lynchburg and Roanoke service and VRE.
When all the new Viewliner IIs are delivered, Amtrak will have more spare cars on hand. With more uniformity among the eastern LD trains, they could keep a spare LD train on standby at Sunnyside - if they do not do so already - with a bag-dorm, 2 or 3 sleepers, a diner, an Amfleet II diner, and a pool of 3 to 5 Amfleet II coach cars. The spare set can be configured with the necessary number of Am II coach cars and sent out when needed to cover for a very delayed inbound Crescent, Star, Meteor, or Cardinal.
 

hastybob

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Looks like another Viewliner 2 move early next week. I am hearing that the baggage car is returning to the CAF plant...
 

Ryan

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Wonder what it's got to go back for. That doesn't sound promising.
 
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