Viewliner II Part 3: Bag/Dorm Car Production, Delivery, Speculation

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juanee

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So the constraints are gangways, climate control and speed restrictions, but...

1. Gangways could be added, but I figure the box car would have to go through additional design and testing because of the requirement of humans being in the car when the train is moving, correct? Of course, to eliminate this requirement (and also save time and money), no gangways.

2. Climate control... we have all see freight box cars that have climate control (refrigeration) (and Amtrak's own Express Trak Refrigerated Box Cars).

3. Speed restriction? I don't recall the train going slower (on Sunset Limited / Texas Eagle, my home train) when the Mail and Express cars were being used.

Just curious why Amtrak just didn't go with something similar to the old Mail and Express cars. I don't remember there being any huge delay concerning deliver of the old Mail and Express cars, or even the current version of the Amtrak Auto Carriers.
 

west point

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Empty cars MAS slower. SWC never carried empty cars. Amtrak would gather up a bunch and run a slower 2nd section of #4
 

Amtrak706

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There were several different types of mail and express cars. All were put into service with an MAS of 90. The original Material Handling Cars, or MHCs, were the only ones with HEP pass-through. They had a speed restriction of 60 plopped onto them around 2003 because of some issues with their trucks, and this was the beginning of the end of the program. The issue was never resolved, so if Amtrak was to gather up the handful they still own for conversion to baggage cars, the costs would include (but not be limited to) conversion back from MOW service, climate control, vestibules, new or re-engineered trucks, and probably a general rebuilding since they are all about 30 years old. The result would be a small fleet of dated, oddball cars that couldn’t run on the NEC, Empire Corridor, or Keystone Corridor without impacting schedules, and would have far less baggage capacity than what they would be replacing since they are only something like 60’ long. All of this not even mentioning the fact that Amtrak already has a surplus of brand new purpose built baggage cars. Does that sound worth it?

The other express cars have long since been sold, and the ExpressTrak reefers are also a very small fleet and would require everything the MHCs would plus HEP pass through. And they would be restricted to Superliner routes only due to their height.
 

Thirdrail7

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A few things before thsi thread spirals entirely off topic:

I thought that was the main reason and a serious possibility after it was recommended by the USPS Attorney General if I remember right, but I never heard that anything came of it. Did Amtrak actually secure any mail contracts?
Despite the naysayers, I fully stand by my statement:

It also had to do with mail contracts, some of which came to fruition, some didn't.
Not every mail contract needs to be centered in a city or have a facility in specific area. There are plenty of things that are capable of being delivered, particularly between certain remote city pairs, where trucking isn't cost effective. You can take it for what it is worth.

Also no climate control.
The new cars do not have really climate control. They only have a roof vents to help in hot temperatures.

So the constraints are gangways, climate control and speed restrictions, but...

1. Gangways could be added, but I figure the box car would have to go through additional design and testing because of the requirement of humans being in the car when the train is moving, correct? Of course, to eliminate this requirement (and also save time and money), no gangways.

2. Climate control... we have all see freight box cars that have climate control (refrigeration) (and Amtrak's own Express Trak Refrigerated Box Cars).

3. Speed restriction? I don't recall the train going slower (on Sunset Limited / Texas Eagle, my home train) when the Mail and Express cars were being used.

Just curious why Amtrak just didn't go with something similar to the old Mail and Express cars. I don't remember there being any huge delay concerning deliver of the old Mail and Express cars, or even the current version of the Amtrak Auto Carriers.
The modified mail cars were good for 110 the NEC but as Amt706 mentioned, most railroads placed a 60mph restriction on them. You may not recall it or maybe the track speed was already low on your route so you didn't notice it. However, it existed. As part of the CAF order, you received a car that is capable of 125mph operation and is new.

Seems like a no brainer.
 

juanee

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Ok, I was curious about mail handling cars and the reasons why something similar to them were not chosen instead of opting for the Viewliner II type baggage car build. My questions were answered, thank you for those that chimed in with your thoughts and with the facts.
 

Siegmund

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Nov 19, 2018
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Several times the need for vestibules has been mentioned in this thread... this makes me ask: why bother? How often do onboard crew actually need to access the baggage car in that way?

The Alaska Railroad actually had a need for access to the baggage car - stopping to unload canoes and such at flag stops - but Amtrak has never offered checked baggage service at stations that didn't have ground crew. I had always assumed the loading and unloading was done entirely by the ground crew at each station.
 

StriderGDM

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I can't say how often the crew really needs access, but on my last trip on the Crescent, the sleeping car attendant definitely took advantage of the access to store an oversized suitcase a couple had brought with them not realizing how small the roomettes were.

I suspect access ends up being very useful more often than many of us realize.
 

Siegmund

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@StriderGDM: Yeah, I can see that happening, on single-level trains. Must be my Western bias: on a Superliner the suitcase would just go on the luggage rack downstairs; I've never seen a Superliner attendant take luggage to the baggage car. In fact not heard one offer to. That sort of made me assume he couldn't. I will have to ask my attendant next time I'm on the Seattle section of the Builder.
 

jis

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The Conductor very often accesses the baggage car from the train to open the door. This is so specially at stations with low level platforms. For this s/he uses the gangway.

And specially now that the possibility of trainside checked baggage the need for such access may become even more of a necessity going forward what with station unstaffing and such. It would bee foolhardy to remove this facility in a rapidly changing world of baggage service.

In Superliner trains, because there is so much storage at the lower level in each car, there should seldom be any need to take anything to the baggage car, if the train has one at all. Some Superliner trains simply use a Coach-Baggage car as their baggage car.
 

Seaboard92

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Conductors can and sometimes do use the ladders on the sides of the baggage car body as well. The old vestibules on the 17xx series I’ve never seen used. Not saying they weren’t but I’ve never witnessed.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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Yes it’s nice the radar is working, but what employment will these cars have?
 

Thirdrail7

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Yes it’s nice the radar is working, but what employment will these cars have?



The first one has made a few training runs but hasn't really been seen since....let alone in revenue service.

At any rate, two more will join it.
 

zephyr17

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But the Empire Builder has only one baggage car for its two sections. So????
Not really true. The Portland section has a Coach-Bag, but not a full baggage car.

Amtrak never had an equivalent Viewliner or Amfleet equivalent to the Superliner Coach-Bag, which would have been what used to be called a combine.
 

neroden

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Glad to hear something's on the radar. If they can stop violently screwing with the LSL (maybe, keep it running to NYC for a full year, don't make the food worse for a whole year, stop damaging it) that they can sell more roomette space than they have right now. They really should restore Boston & Springfield baggage.
 

Seaboard92

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Well I wouldn’t say Amtrak never had a combine in single level service. As I seam to recall seeing a few ex Amtrak combines over the years. I looked at purchasing one that was still in Phase III a couple years back.
 

zephyr17

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Well I wouldn’t say Amtrak never had a combine in single level service. As I seam to recall seeing a few ex Amtrak combines over the years. I looked at purchasing one that was still in Phase III a couple years back.
Did not say Amtrak never had a combine in single level service. They "inherited" many from the railroads and ran many, especially in the early years. I do not know how many were HEP'd when they created the HEP Heritage fleet. What I said was that Amtrak never had an Amfleet or Viewliner version of a combine. Which is true. They did not see fit to order any new ones in the Amfleet or Viewliner I orders.
 

RebelRider

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Yes it’s nice the radar is working, but what employment will these cars have?
69002 is back in Hialeah sitting there looking all shiny and new. Earlier this year I was speaking with someone about the dorms and they said, "Marketing still has no idea what they're going to do with those once they're ready for service."

Tick, tock...
 

JoeBas

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69002 is back in Hialeah sitting there looking all shiny and new. Earlier this year I was speaking with someone about the dorms and they said, "Marketing still has no idea what they're going to do with those once they're ready for service."

Tick, tock...
This makes little to no sense to me.

Hey Marketing, here's an idea - put the crew in them, and sell the extra rooms at some profit!!!

That'll be $250,000 for my fee as a marketing consultant... ... ...
 

Just-Thinking-51

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The problem was and is the people who place the order have since moved on. Then new people cut the order to 10 combine cars, which is a very odd number. Those who cut the order have also moved on. Now those in charge have no clue what to do, again such a small number (10) of cars to find work for.

The other issue is the price bucket system need to be managed. Just add sleeper capacity will cause the price per room to drop as there is a higher level of inventory that has not been sold. One get the impression that this is a manual process.

Now I want my consultant fee too..
 

jis

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There was a time when people jokingly said that Air India would use a Dakota to fly from Bombay to Lagos if they could so that they could charge higher fares due to limited seat inventory.

If that is what Amtrak's approach is to make their numbers short term maybe they should bench a bunch of Viewliners so that they could charge higher fares on the rest. Seems like that may be their going forward strategy for the entire LD network, not only for Sleeper but also for Coach

Afterall, unlike at Delta, you don't even have to worry about American, Southwest and United under cutting you... but WAIT!:rolleyes:
 
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