Viewliner II Part 4: Sleeping Car Production, Delivery, Speculation

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neroden

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The real thing killing the Superliner-style bilevels is the manufacturing failure at Sumitomo/Nippon-Sharyo, which has some complex history which I heard something about at an RPA meeting. (Apparently the way they were made in the 1970s violates EPA regulations, and the replacement method... didn't give enough strength.) But the manufacturing failure, by a reputable company which thought it could do it, means no reputable manufacturer wants to touch a contract to build them. If nobody will take on the construction contract for bilevels, Amtrak should not tilt at windmills.

Here's where the ADA comes in: fully ADA-compliant intercity bilevels, while possible (as Alaska Railroad proved), eat up a LOT of the supposedly-more-efficient space use with wide, straight staircases and a wheelchair lift. Once you've installed all of that, the space advantage of bilevels over single-levels practically disappears.

So bilevels stop making sense, unless you're doing it for pure tourism reasons (which both Alaska Railroad and Rocky Mountaineer were). I honestly think the only route which really benefits significantly from the extra viewing height is the California Zephyr; the other routes would be just as scenic viewed from Viewliner height.
 

joelkfla

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But I really can't see how the single level cars are more "ADA friendly" than the Superliners, and that's coming from someone who struggles with mobility. The bi-level cars are more "efficient" with space being used though........
In the current fleet, anyone in a wheelchair, and anyone who has difficulty with steps, is restricted to the lower level of their own Superliner car. In the single level cars, one accessible sleeper room has wheelchair access to the dining car. Persons who have trouble with steps but are able to walk short to moderate distances can access any car in a single level consist that's within their walking capability.

Amtrak's loading gauge may make fully accessible roll-thru sleeper cars impractical because of the corridor width and the transition from door to corridor, but future single level coaches, diners, and lounges can be built with aisles wide enough to allow a wheelchair to roll through.
 

neroden

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Amtrak's loading gauge may make fully accessible roll-thru sleeper cars impractical because of the corridor width and the transition from door to corridor, but future single level coaches, diners, and lounges can be built with aisles wide enough to allow a wheelchair to roll through.
I know people who use narrow wheelchairs, and they can be available as a specialty item for situations like this; if the right-angle turns in the corridor can be eliminated (as they were in the Viewliner II dining cars where the corridor wraps around the kitchen, in favor of 45 degree turns) the sleepers could still be roll-thru for a lot of people, even with the narrow corridors.
 

JP1822

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In the current fleet, anyone in a wheelchair, and anyone who has difficulty with steps, is restricted to the lower level of their own Superliner car. In the single level cars, one accessible sleeper room has wheelchair access to the dining car. Persons who have trouble with steps but are able to walk short to moderate distances can access any car in a single level consist that's within their walking capability.

Amtrak's loading gauge may make fully accessible roll-thru sleeper cars impractical because of the corridor width and the transition from door to corridor, but future single level coaches, diners, and lounges can be built with aisles wide enough to allow a wheelchair to roll through.
First of all, you missed quoting my beginning sentence where I acknowledged the fact that I do believe that Amtrak will likely go ahead with single level cars in any new order of LD cars. So I think we share that common thinking. Secondly, I am perfectly aware of the limitations that MAY come with an ADA room on the lower level of a Superliner, and also the limitations that exist when trying to get between say a handicap room in the Viewliner Sleeper, to the Viewliner Diner. Even if in the ADA room closest to the Viewliner Diner, it is VERY difficult to impossible getting a wheel chair from ADA room through the vestibules and into the Viewliner Diner. And if one is booked "one sleeper away" from the Diner - forget it. So often, even a Viewliner ADA room - one is taking meals in their room and not getting to the Viewliner Diner. Been there tried that. So having a wheelchair and trying to get from ADA room to the Diner while still remaining in the wheel chair - I've never been able to master that one.

I had limited mobility for six years and thankfully was able to have improved mobility where I don't require a wheel chair on the train. But it is convenient to have the ADA room of a Viewliner sleeper NEXT to the Viewliner Diner. With a Superliner Sleeper, I prefer to take a bedroom on the upper deck (B or C) over the ADA room. I do the stairs on initial boarding and getting off the train only. Then while on the train, I just maneuver from bedroom to the Diner, and get the sleeper that is CLOSEST to the Diner. I can even get to the Sightseer Car on a good day, adjacent to the Diner.

This has been my experience. Each person with disabilities may have their own experience. But I do believe improvements will likely come - and this will also be best with single level cars of some sort. Not trying to be disrespectful in any way - just giving my perspective from my experience. And again, not to be disrespectful, but I've never seen a person in the Viewliner Diner with a wheel chair.
 

Gemuser

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If they go back to low-level out west, they could reinvent the dome car. Likely Alstom has Budd's patents, via Bombardier.
This brings up an interesting point: Are the Budd patents still in force. Internationally patents expire after a fixed number of years, what is the todays situation?
 

jis

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Agree about patents. However what about copy right items such as equipment drawings. Someone have an answer?
Copyrights on creations after 1978 for all practical purposes do not expire in ones lifetime + 70, 95 or 120 years depending on the nature of the authorship. But trying to protect implementation of designs based on copyrights of design documents or even lines of code is hard, as the UNIX folks at AT&T learned over many years.

Anyway, the rules get complicated if the original creation was prior to 1978. See https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ15a.pdf

Just for the kicks here is a pointer to the original 1953 Budd patent on the full length dome car:


As noted, it expired in 1970.

Just for kicks, here is the original sill-less bi-level car patent:


expired in 1977.

Here is the what one could call Roomette patent.


expired in 1972

And the Slumbercoach patent...


expired in 1976.

There are literally dozens of other relevant patents, but they all expired in the 70s.

The set of laws related to trade secrets is the one that is most effective in protecting well ... trade secrets. For example, all the design documents won't help you build something if it involves a special welding technique that you keep as a trade secret.

Anyway, this is getting perilously close to being off topic for this thread. ;)

If there is further interest in exploring Patents, Copyrights and Trade Secrets related laws and such, I suggest that we move this to a new thread in the Lounge.
 
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DSS&A

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Yes, the Nippon Sharyo had a bi-level that failed the crush test, but it is important to remember that the contract specifications a new car with less weight.

Remember that the states had to change their car spacification to allow a heavier weight single-level car so that they could buy the Seimens Venture cars as a substitute for the NS bi-levels.
If it is decided to buy more bilevels, Amtrak will need to allow the cars to be a little heavier to strengthen the car frame to meet the crush load requirement.

Single-level cars will lengthen trains and require trains to make more double and some triple train-spots at more stations. This will add running time to some of the train schedules.
 

DCAKen

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Trains News Wire is reporting that Amtrak will begin assigning Viewliner II sleepers to New York section of Lake Shore Limited.
I have a ticket on the LSL in March and wanted to change my roomette to the VII sleeper, which is supposed to be car 12. However, the agent reported that there is no car 4812 on the train on that date.
 

AmtrakBlue

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I have a ticket on the LSL in March and wanted to change my roomette to the VII sleeper, which is supposed to be car 12. However, the agent reported that there is no car 4812 on the train on that date.
:( I rode 4812 in October. It was the new car.
 

joelkfla

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Single-level cars will lengthen trains and require trains to make more double and some triple train-spots at more stations. This will add running time to some of the train schedules.
Since there is not the issue of lower-level baggage racks and dragging bags up the stairs, couldn't they board all the coach passengers at whatever cars fit on the platform, and have them walk thru the train? Especially if the cars have accessible-width aisles like the Brightline Ventures.
 

Cal

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Since there is not the issue of lower-level baggage racks and dragging bags up the stairs, couldn't they board all the coach passengers at whatever cars fit on the platform, and have them walk thru the train? Especially if the cars have accessible-width aisles like the Brightline Ventures.
Of course they could, but that'd be very painful. What about a stop late at night or early in the morning while many are asleep? And in sleeper cars where the aisle is very tight? I wouldn't want to hear people trying to get luggage through there.
 
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Yes, the Nippon Sharyo had a bi-level that failed the crush test, but it is important to remember that the contract specifications a new car with less weight.
If I recall the cars failed at 798,000 lbs pressure. So they were at 99.75% of the requirement. Hard to believe NS couldn't resolve the issue or maybe even received an exemption since the test was so very close, but we all know what happened. I can't find any information on the NS car test but here is a really detailed report on the test itself for anyone interested.

 

Ziv

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Conductors already put people in cars that the conductors want them to be in, so why not spot the passengers and then the train accordingly?

Of course they could, but that'd be very painful. What about a stop late at night or early in the morning while many are asleep? And in sleeper cars where the aisle is very tight? I wouldn't want to hear people trying to get luggage through there.
 
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Why would you waive along standing requirement? It's not like it was an unknown. Once you start making exceptions for no good reason all you do is open the door for the lawyers, whether it is in accidents or from companies asking for the same consideration. There is no doubt the issues could be resolved, but the cost of doing it may have been high enough to make it cheaper to cut and run.
 
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Amtrak can't or won't consistently put cars in the same place on the train.

Amtrak won't put metal signs (A,, B, C...) indicating positions on the platform and electronic signs at most stations that tell people which metal sign to wait by based on where Amtrak wants them to stand even at many manned stations much less unmanned ones.

Amtrak won't send text messages to passengers to tell them which metal sign to stand by.

Amtrak is still living in the 19th century.
 
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Amtrak can't or won't consistently put cars in the same place on the train.

Amtrak won't put metal signs (A,, B, C...) indicating positions on the platform and electronic signs at most stations that tell people which metal sign to wait by based on where Amtrak wants them to stand even at many manned stations much less unmanned ones.

Amtrak won't send text messages to passengers to tell them which metal sign to stand by.

Amtrak is still living in the 19th century.
I recall traveling on the NEC there were "location" signs e.g. location A, B, etc. Back when they would split the train for Boston and Springfield location A for Springfield line passengers, other locations for Boston, the last one for club car / business class. So it has been done.
 

Cal

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I recall traveling on the NEC there were "location" signs e.g. location A, B, etc. Back when they would split the train for Boston and Springfield location A for Springfield line passengers, other locations for Boston, the last one for club car / business class. So it has been done.
I recall seeing markers on the ground got Acela cars too…
 

AmtrakBlue

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I recall seeing markers on the ground got Acela cars too…
Those showed up when they started assigning seats on the Acelas. I wouldn't be surprised if most passengers don't pay attention to them.
 
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