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Viewliner II - Part 1 - Initial Production and Delivery

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jis

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Ok, give me one last shot at this and I'll drop it... Imagine a split level house applied to the Viewliner... staying within the shell of the Viewiner, the aisle would be raised to the midlevel, seats would be a step up or down from there over the length of the car. Admittedly, it would not be possible to stand at a seat, but people drive for hours on end in cars that are not possible to stand in. Moreover, comfort could be improved at the same time as capacity by installing flat bed like chairs much like the ones that exist in transatlantic first class flights. The double row of windows on the Viewliner would provide scenery for both levels, no need to depart from the Viewliner shell whatsoever.
Once upon a time LIRR tried that back in 1932. They were not particularly liked by the customers. Among other things they provided certain excellent opportunities for peeping Tom's to indulge in their fetish. They were quietly dropped and were never very widely deployed.





The first prototype example is today sitting at LI Railway Museum in Riverhead awaiting restoration:



Incidentally it was also the first all Aluminum passenger car ever built apparently.

So now that you have had your last shot.... :lol:
 
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RailRide

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I've been thinking about how to make a split-level viewliner "dome" car for quite some time now. A few months ago I was able to secure some decent drawings of a viewliner that had dimensions attached; including interior. While I believe it would be possible to make a viewliner split-level it would be a tight fit.
How decent are these drawings? I've been toying with the concept of scratchbuilding Vewliners in 'O' scale, since none of the manufacturers serving that market are likely to market any in the near future. I think it's within my capabilities (I've done a Material Handling Car before they were available in 'O')--it's just a matter of securing sufficient free time, a supply of grooved styrene, and the trucks (of the three, the first is actually the hardest).

---PCJ
 

William W.

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I think that it would be a bad idea to try to do things with the Viewliner design that it wasn't ever meant to do. If you want to try to do a slumbercoach type setup, design a new car. The Viewliner is meant to be a purely single-level design. I think that Viewliner coaches would be great; even if they didn't do two rows of windows, they could still have much larger windows than the tank-slits of the Amfleets.
 
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crescent2

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This.

I think that it would be a bad idea to try to do things with the Viewliner design that it wasn't ever meant to do. If you want to try to do a slumbercoach type setup, design a new car. The Viewliner is meant to be a purely single-level design. I think that Viewliner coaches would be great; even if they didn't do two rows of windows, they could still have much larger windows than the tank-slits of the Amfleets.
And this. Please don't mess with the new Viewliners.
 

SarahZ

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I don't mind not being able to stand up in a car because I don't need to. If I need to stretch and/or use the restroom, I pull over at a rest area and walk around.

Put me in a vehicle that requires walking to the restroom, cafe car, etc, and I'm going to want to stand up.
 

jis

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Amtrak has just modified its Viewliner II order according to Trains magazine:

Amtrak tells Trains News Wire that it has added 15 baggage cars and dropped 15 baggage-dormitory cars from its order of 130 Viewliner II single-level cars now being built by CAF USA in Elmira, N.Y., “to address business needs.” The company has declined to elaborate. That puts the new Viewliner totals at 70 baggage cars, 25 dining cars, 25 full sleepers, and 10 baggage-dormitory cars.
I surmise that the Cardinal, LSL Boston Section and perhaps the Crescent will get Bag-Dorms. The rest will get full baggage cars.

My speculation is each single level train will possibly get an additional Sleeper, and maybe the LSL will get one more (17+3, with 5 remaining for shop and protect of the new lot). Alternatively The Star could get one more, but that cuts the shop/protect to a level that is unheard of. Another possibility is that three are eaten up by the Pennsy through cars, instead of getting added as a second addition to the LSL.

Should be fun to see what happens.

This change will certainly make the Baggage Car situation become completely manageable with some room for growth, for the first time in decades, and will help all trains, not just single level ones.

I wonder if the next shoe to drop will be the exercise of some of the options balancing out things on the Sleeper side. I canot see them actually ordering too many more Diners frankly. But then again, at least theoretically a Diner could very well be used as a nice lounge with a slightly different seating arrangement. Who knows? One can dream, can't one?
 
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jis

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Trains News Wire has just reported that . . .

Also, Amtrak has changed its order of Viewliner II's from CAF. Amtrak now wants 15 more full baggage cars 15 less baggage dorms, leaving only 10 baggage-dorms. Since 17 sets of trains are needed to operate the Eastern long-distance fleet this means that not all trains will get baggage-dorms.
Not what optimists wanted to hear.
Probably full baggage cars are cheaper than bag-dorms,

so is this a way to save a little money on this order?

Also means non-revenue baggage cars will supplant

the bag-dorms that were about "half" revenue cars.

So we'll see much less sleeper space, roughly 7 or 8

sleepers equivalent, with reductions in future revenue.

Seems ever less likely that the order will be changed

to include the 70-car option to expand the fleet and be

ready and able to expand the number of trains.

Maybe hacking away at the budgets for sleeper service

including dining cars, made Amtrak less convinced

that the more expensive service actually makes much

of an operating profit after all.
Or maybe this helps keep the entire LD network healthier by providing good baggage service to all LD trains. Those of that had counted carefully had observed that Amtrak was going to be short some baggage cars with the previous mix. AFAICT, that is the problem that is getting fixed here, and also providing a bit of elbow room to add baggage service to a few medium distance or corridor trains.
 

The Davy Crockett

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This gives Amtrak more flexibilty to use these cars for non-LD service. Doing away with 15 bag-dorms leaves 9 bag-dorms, which as the article states, is not enough to run them 'consistently on every train. So which will get bag-dorms, which won't?

Some apologists will look for the good in this. The alledged 'good' is that this fits in better with the new 'nimble, customer oriented' Amtrak that is oozing out of 60 Mass. Ave. :blink:

:eek:hboy:
 

jis

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25 -15 = 10 not 9. I have surmised possible usage three postings back. My guess is that the baggage car situation is far worse than we had imagined, and there is real urgency. Considering how often we are seeing Amfleet Cafe cares pinch hit for baggage cars, I have no difficulty believing that.
 
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neroden

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Amtrak has just modified its Viewliner II order according to Trains magazine:

Amtrak tells Trains News Wire that it has added 15 baggage cars and dropped 15 baggage-dormitory cars from its order of 130 Viewliner II single-level cars now being built by CAF USA in Elmira, N.Y., “to address business needs.” The company has declined to elaborate. That puts the new Viewliner totals at 70 baggage cars, 25 dining cars, 25 full sleepers, and 10 baggage-dormitory cars.
Well, I was pretty sure the bag-dorms weren't going to be able to substitute for full baggage cars on most of the Eastern trains. And counting up the baggage cars they did seem to be about 15 short. And the baggage car situation is urgent.

The problem is, this still means not enough sleeper space.

There is another point to be made: many people have commented at the shortage of bedrooms on the Eastern trains, driving the bedroom prices sky-high. Rather than getting bag-dorms, it may make more sense for Amtrak to get additional full sleeping cars, put the crew in the roomettes, and sell the bedrooms (and excess roomettes).

Hopefully this is actually a rearrangement of the sequencing, and not an actual reduction in the amount of sleeper capacity being purchased by Amtrak. If so, we'll see that 70-car option exercised.

For one thing, a 10-car class is unreasonably small, and fails to have economies of scale. With desired levels of protect cars and shop count, the only real option with so small a class is to put the bag-dorms on the Cardinal and the NY section of the LSL, and that's it. This isn't a particularly desirable allocation (though it's not that bad).
 
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WoodyinNYC

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Trains News Wire has just reported that . . .

Also, Amtrak has changed its order of Viewliner II's from CAF. Amtrak now wants 15 more full baggage cars 15 less baggage dorms, leaving only 10 baggage-dorms. Since 17 sets of trains are needed to operate the Eastern long-distance fleet this means that not all trains will get baggage-dorms.
Not what optimists wanted to hear.
Probably full baggage cars are cheaper than bag-dorms,

so is this a way to save a little money on this order?

. . .

Seems ever less likely that the order will be changed

to include the 70-car option to expand the fleet and be

ready and able to expand the number of trains.

. . .
Or maybe this helps keep the entire LD network healthier by providing good baggage service to all LD trains. Those of that had counted carefully had observed that Amtrak was going to be short some baggage cars with the previous mix. AFAICT, that is the problem that is getting fixed here, and also providing a bit of elbow room to add baggage service to a few medium distance or corridor trains.
Thanks. When I tried to say that I'd read that

the 55 baggage cars in the 130 order weren't

enough for a full replacement of the current fleet,

I got jumped on. But if you did a count, that's

better than my fatigued memory.

And I guess an option order remains possible.

One rumored breakdown of the optional 70 cars

was 15 each diners, bag-dorms, and sleepers,

with 25 more baggage cars. By that account,

they're still short 10 baggage cars and short

25 bag-dorms without an option order somewhere

down the line.

Even tacking an order for more bag-dorms onto

the end of the sleepers run shouldn't be too bad.

Build half a sleeper instead of a whole one and

fill the empty space with baggage car stuff, not

so much could go wrong. LOL.

Putting the bag dorms second in the build order

seemed to suggest that Amtrak wanted to add

less capacity at first -- half a sleeper, half a bag

car -- before throwing whole sleepers and whole

baggage cars onto the tracks. But Amtrak has seen

a lot of growth in the five years or so since this order

was placed. Maybe they need whole sleepers and

whole baggage cars sooner than they'd figured

back then.

But what if this whittling down is done to offset the

suspected cost overruns? I wonder how much cheaper

a bag-dorm is than a full baggage car? Is it $100,000

they save on each one downsized? Or $300,000?

If the budget for these cars is really short $2 or $3 million,

then $200,000 x 15 cars means $3 million less to

​outlay in FY 2015. Then if FY 2016 looks better, maybe

place an option order for more bag-dorms and sleepers

to get back to where they were with this order, or better.
 

William W.

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The Cardinal doesn't really need a full baggage car. There are few staffed stations along the route, and I've never seen the baggage car ever be close to full. Here's how I would see bag-dorm allocation: Cardinal (2), 448/449 (3), 66/67 (2), with three leftover. I'm not sure where those three would go. If the Cardinal becomes daily, that would mean that only one or two would be left over. The remaining cars could be used during holidays, or perhaps on a future new route (Pennsylvanian through car maybe?).
 

afigg

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Hopefully this is actually a rearrangement of the sequencing, and not an actual reduction in the amount of sleeper capacity being purchased by Amtrak. If so, we'll see that 70-car option exercised.

For one thing, a 10-car class is unreasonably small, and fails to have economies of scale. With desired levels of protect cars and shop count, the only real option with so small a class is to put the bag-dorms on the Cardinal and the NY section of the LSL, and that's it. This isn't a particularly desirable allocation (though it's not that bad).
My initial take on this news is that this is to control contract costs. The dropping of 15 bag-dorms is a reduction in revenue capacity. Figure 11 of those 15 would have been in rotation service in consists, so this is a loss of 88 potential roomette sales (assuming a typical 8 crew members per train). The production has been delayed and while CAF is under contract to deliver 130 cars for $298 million, if Amtrak has submitted change orders for design changes or deliverables, then Amtrak is on the hook for some or all of the cost of the change orders. The details of how the costs are handled and split between the parties are in the contract and subject to negotiation and haggling, so it is not an either one or the other pays situation.
If there were cost increases to Amtrak in the CAF contract and the LD division was told that they were not going to get additional capital or enough to cover the overrun, they may have made the decision to drop 15 bag-dorms for less expensive baggage cars to protect the order for 25 diners and 25 sleepers. But it may be a while, years even, before there is a straight answer on the reason for the contract change.

This change does not represent an increase in total number of baggage cars. Each of the eastern LD trains that does not get a bag-dorm, will get a baggage car. As for baggage car capacity issues, we have no data on how full the current baggage cars get. From what I have observed, the space inside the current baggage cars is very inefficiently used with the bags lumped on the floor in clusters. And there is usually a lot of extra room.

If Amtrak wanted to get more baggage cars, they would go ahead and exercise some of the options, not change the current production run. I could be wrong, but I doubt that we will see any of the options exercised on the CAF contract. The LD division is being told to keep costs down, both operating and capital.

This news is not good news, no matter how some may want to spin it. But we have to keep some perspective that Amtrak is still getting 25 diners, 25 sleepers and a bunch of new baggage & bag-dorm cars which will be a boost to the eastern LD trains.
 

Ryan

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The Cardinal doesn't really need a full baggage car. There are few staffed stations along the route, and I've never seen the baggage car ever be close to full. Here's how I would see bag-dorm allocation: Cardinal (2), 448/449 (3), 66/67 (2), with three leftover. I'm not sure where those three would go. If the Cardinal becomes daily, that would mean that only one or two would be left over. The remaining cars could be used during holidays, or perhaps on a future new route (Pennsylvanian through car maybe?).
Need to build shop/spares in there. Card, 448/449, 66/67 would use them all up.
 

cpamtfan

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Could be many reasons why they decided to change the order.

They may have realized that there just wouldn't be sufficient space in the Baggage/Dorms on some of the routes they would probably be placed on (such as a summer/winter Silver train). I know they used Baggage-Dorms on trains in the past, but having little space to work might leave crews flustered more that they are with the current cars.

Another idea I'll throw out is a weight distribution issue. The cars have to be balanced good or else they will ride rough, and with bike racks and all, it might just end up being an issue of having bags weigh down one side too much.

And I think they just looked at the fact they are adding enough sleepers where losing a few rooms isn't as bad as losing space for baggage.

It could have also been a cost issue, though.
 

Bob Dylan

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Very interesting, probably not the last of the revisions either, the Heritage cars, both Diners and Bags are really on their last legs, I wouldn't be surprised if they went into service before the Sleepers and the Bag- Dorms!!!
 
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afigg

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The Cardinal doesn't really need a full baggage car. There are few staffed stations along the route, and I've never seen the baggage car ever be close to full. Here's how I would see bag-dorm allocation: Cardinal (2), 448/449 (3), 66/67 (2), with three leftover. I'm not sure where those three would go. If the Cardinal becomes daily, that would mean that only one or two would be left over. The remaining cars could be used during holidays, or perhaps on a future new route (Pennsylvanian through car maybe?).
Why would the bag-dorm go on the Boston section of the LSL? The diner crew operates out of NYP, so they would not have a room until the BOS section of the LSL showed up. And they would have to vacate their rooms at Albany going eastbound. If the LSL gets a bag-dorm, it goes with the diner car.
As for #66/#67, why would it get a bag-dorm? It does not have a diner car. If sleeper rooms and roomettes are to be restored to #66/#67, it would be with a full sleeper car.

The Silvers with 4 consists each could fit the allocation of 10 bag-dorm cars. Oh well, more equipment allocation and deployment sequence stuff to speculate on for the next 6 to 12 months.
 
D

DennisInGA

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One observation on the bag cars. When we rode the Chief CHI-LAX in July, we had to stop on Raton Pass because the cable through the bag car had fried and cut off head-end power to the rest of the train. They spent over an hour changing over to an alternate power cable down the other side of the bag car, duct-taping it in place (heard it happening on my scanner) so we could continue over the pass. Returning 2 weeks later, we got the same ratty-looking bag car, per our SCA. Sure enough, this time the alternate cable also fried and we were dark from the Raton stop on up to Trinidad where they were able to put the bag on the rear of the train to restore power. So when I hear the bags are in deplorable shape, I fully believe it. It's time to write Congresscritters and anyone else who could help and let them know how desperately Amtrak needs newer equipment. I know from first-hand experience.
 
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