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Viewliner II Prototype

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rickycourtney

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I got a chance to tour the Amtrak Exhibit Train this weekend when it was on display at Fullerton Train Days.

It's essentially an updated version of the museum train that Amtrak put together for its 40th anniversary celebration with some new displays focusing on the future of Amtrak.

But the biggest addition is a display with a prototype Viewliner II roomette module. They are being built by RailPlan (who also created the bathroom and shower modules for the Superliner I refurbishment project.) A few notes: the seating appears to be much more plush and the fabric is nicer, the toilet is gone but a sink remains, reading lights are LED and the table between the seats is larger. A sign posted outside said that there will also be extra luggage storage space.

Overall I was very impressed... the prototype looks very modern, comfortable and well built.







For those of you who are interested... RailPlan has posted images of the Viewliner II prototypes (including images of the diner and other room types) online: http://www.railplan.com/caf---amtrak-viewliner-ii.html
 

D T Nelson

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I notice in the photos on the linked page that the accessible room has the toilet and sink out in the room. The one time I got booked into a Viewliner accessible room (long story I will not recount here) it had a large separate bathroom. I wonder if the space that was the accessible room's bathroom will still be part of the accessible room, or if it will be reallocated to some other purpose.
 

Cho Cho Charlie

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It almost looks like there is still a lid one could lift up (under the folded out sink in the pic), and there would be simply an empty space where the toilet use to go. Maybe that space is the "extra luggage storage space"?

There is no place for the screw-in soft soap dispenser? :p
 

Ryan

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Very nice!

Although it looks like there is a lot less knee room between the two seats...
 

rickycourtney

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I notice in the photos on the linked page that the accessible room has the toilet and sink out in the room. The one time I got booked into a Viewliner accessible room (long story I will not recount here) it had a large separate bathroom. I wonder if the space that was the accessible room's bathroom will still be part of the accessible room, or if it will be reallocated to some other purpose.
In this blog post (http://www.railplan.com/2/post/2013/04/ada-community-viewliner-ii.html) it appears that at least some part of that space will be used as a stand-alone shower area.

It almost looks like there is still a lid one could lift up (under the folded out sink in the pic), and there would be simply an empty space where the toilet use to go. Maybe that space is the "extra luggage storage space"?
There is no place for the screw-in soft soap dispenser? :p
This is still a prototype and they may add the soap dispensers later.

Sorry I didn't have enough time to shoot every possible angle. But trust me... the toilet is gone. There is still a step in the same location (along with a small cubby hole.) I didn't notice if there was a cabinet or anything underneath that step.

The side closer to the big seat had some sort of cabinet door (it wasn't working) but the images on RailPlan's website show it being for trash.
 

rickycourtney

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Very nice!
Although it looks like there is a lot less knee room between the two seats...
The width of the room appeared to be about the same... but in this picture the two seats are reclined toward each other. It also may have something to do with the seats being a bit more plush.
 

Ryan

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I think that it's the recline - looking at the pictures on the website you linked (thanks for that too!), it looks a lot more like what I'm used to.
 

Linda T

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I'm just envisioning AGR upping the number of points now they have new equipment. Any idea when this equipment will begin to appear? Will it be additional equipment on trains like the Cardinal, or will the old sleepers be immediately retired? I'll miss the toilet and the Amtrak blue, but they didn't ask me. :(
 

SarahZ

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I love that wine color in the roomettes.

And oh god oh god oh god I'm LOVING that all-white diner. It's so sleek and modern. It reminds me of a Kubrick movie or Andy Warhol or something. I wish they would have left it like that instead of covering it with the dark fabrics. Booooooooo.

I suppose the dark fabrics make it harder to see stains, though. Having an all-white diner would be a nightmare.

Still. :( Bleh.
 

rickycourtney

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Any idea when this equipment will begin to appear?
The sign at the exhibit said the first Viewliner II cars are expected to go into service in "late spring 2014."

will the old sleepers be immediately retired?
No. From what I've heard, the plan is to have RailPlan build enough of these modules to completely refurbish the Viewliner I sleeping cars. That means that despite being almost 20 years old... on the inside they should look brand new.

The other benefit is that unlike the Superliner I & Superliner II (which have a number of differences) the Viewliner cars will be nearly identical from the passengers perspective (which is important when you consider the in-room toilet situation.)
 
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Aaron

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I'm just envisioning AGR upping the number of points now they have new equipment. Any idea when this equipment will begin to appear? Will it be additional equipment on trains like the Cardinal, or will the old sleepers be immediately retired? I'll miss the toilet and the Amtrak blue, but they didn't ask me. :(
Whether AGR raises points requirement would have little to do with this new equipment being brought online. First off, it doesn't replace anything (as already mentioned above). The addition of new sleepers increases overall capacity, allowing Amtrak to moderate the upward climb of fares (or point requirements) some. There's a good argument that the new sleepers allows AGR to hold off on raising point requirements for a while.

Second of all, if you're suggesting using the newness of the equipment as any justification, that wouldn't fly since these cars when fully rolled out are still a relatively small percentage of total sleeper cars in the system. Even after all the Viewliner I cars are refurbed (10-15 years?), you'd still have a bunch of really old (especially by that time) Superliner cars floating around. If you had a major replacement for the Superliner at that time, you'd have the same scenario with some new cars out west mixing in with a bunch of old cars out west and some cars that are starting to look old by that time in the east. My point is that unless the entire fleet is scrapped and replaced all at once (never going to happen), most passengers will be riding in "old" train cars at any given time. Nobody at Amtrak or AGR can suggest with a straight face that anyone pay more (in cash or points) just for the lottery ticket to possibly ride in a new car.
 

afigg

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The sign at the exhibit said the first Viewliner II cars are expected to go into service in "late spring 2014."
If the production line is ramped up and running by early next year, there could be enough new Viewliners to display at multiple locations for National Train Day 2014: WAS, PHL, CHI?

will the old sleepers be immediately retired?
No. From what I've heard, the plan is to have RailPlan build enough of these modules to completely refurbish the Viewliner I sleeping cars. That means that despite being almost 20 years old... on the inside they should look brand new.
Hopefully the cuts in capital grant funding won't stall the refurbishment of the Viewliner I sleepers with new modules.

Those photos on the RailPlan website should reassure those who have wondered if CAF is actually building anything.
 

Blackwolf

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Man, am I excited to see these photos! A classy, refined appearance for Amtrak. Sorry Linda, I have to counter your opinion on the Amtrak blue and say I'm glad to see it hit the road. That blue is out of date, cold and cheap-feeling to me and others I've talked with. The wine color and plusher cushioning, along with the (as seen on the RailPlan website slideshow) contoured design elements to things like the bottom side of the upper bunk instead of the straight-line blockiness of the current rooms just seems more luxurious. Inviting, even!

Having the sink remain is a nice touch, but man do I have to celebrate the head! It is rightfully being put in its place, down the hall and away from my sleeping space (in the roomette.) I'm quite sure that most of Amtrak's traveling public will agree. In fact, I would even suggest that when Superliner III sleeping cars finally begin to be designed they are also done with a modular interior configuration and have sinks in the roomettes!

And lastly, to the luxury touch and refined feel, the dark leather (pleather?) seats in the diner are very welcomed. The current vinyl blue seats being used just scream fast food cheapness. Still have a booth, but make it seem like you're in a fine Chicago steak house that happens to be rolling along at 79mph. Toned down mood lighting instead of shrill florescent brightness, wood accents and cream-white walls with hints of brass. Add in some light music of the classy Jazz or Blues genre and you've got yourself a bar being raised for ambiance!

Now they only need to name the individual sleepers and diners again!
 

battalion51

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Well don't forget the "Buy American" rules apply more to where the product is being manufactured and who is making it, not where the profits are going. Bombardier, Talgo, CAF, and Nippon Sharyo are all major suppliers of American railroads, but the profits are going outside our borders.
 
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Nathanael

Guest
Thanks for linking to these. I've been very curious to see them.

I don't like the jet black seats in the diner, but apart from that, it's all lovely.

Although it looks like there is a lot less knee room between the two seats...
Both seats are in "slump" or leaned-back mode. It probably looks better when they're in fully-upright mode.
 
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Nathanael

Guest
From what I've heard, the plan is to have RailPlan build enough of these modules to completely refurbish the Viewliner I sleeping cars. That means that despite being almost 20 years old... on the inside they should look brand new.
The other benefit is that unlike the Superliner I & Superliner II (which have a number of differences) the Viewliner cars will be nearly identical from the passengers perspective (which is important when you consider the in-room toilet situation.)
I worry that this may be delayed depending on capital funding availability.

Interestingly, it appears that RailPlan was hired to do the same thing with the Superliner Is, replacing their interiors with new interiors which are modular just like Viewliner interiors:

http://www.railplan.com/amtrak-superliner-i-remanufacture.html

But that project seems to have been running slowly. I haven't seen one of the remanufactured Superliner Is -- though I have read some reports of people seeing them -- and I know there are a bunch of unrefurbished Superliner Is out there. Has anyone kept track of how many of the "new interior" Superliner Is are in service?

Anyway, if both of these projects are completed successfully, Amtrak could end up with a very uniform fleet of sleepers.
 

NE933

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Nice! Love the wine colors too, and it seems that heavy table is more semsibly lighter. I'd like to see how the hall curtain issue is resolved.
 

AlanB

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Interestingly, it appears that RailPlan was hired to do the same thing with the Superliner Is, replacing their interiors with new interiors which are modular just like Viewliner interiors:http://www.railplan.com/amtrak-superliner-i-remanufacture.html

But that project seems to have been running slowly. I haven't seen one of the remanufactured Superliner Is -- though I have read some reports of people seeing them -- and I know there are a bunch of unrefurbished Superliner Is out there. Has anyone kept track of how many of the "new interior" Superliner Is are in service?

Anyway, if both of these projects are completed successfully, Amtrak could end up with a very uniform fleet of sleepers.
The project was terminated a few years back with the last car rolling out of the shop in June of 2006; and AFAIK, it has not been restarted. Out of 44 Superliner I sleepers, 41 went through the program. It should be noted that there are varying degrees of just what was done to each of the cars. The earlier cars saw less work done by comparison to the one's that went through the process in the middle and end.
 

crescent2

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Nice pictures, thanks for posting!

I'm surprised they went to the extra cost of adding the little sink, but I guess it's handy.

Too bad about the H room losing its separate bathroom, though. :( It was the nicest room of all!
 
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Blackwolf

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Now they only need to name the individual sleepers and diners again!
They are.
Are they?

At last check, the remnants of the sleeper names were found in various states of peeling off on the car-end doors of some Viewliners and the Superliner I sleepers; all signs of names on the exterior of the cars were taken off some time ago (over a half-decade ago for the Supers and within the last few years for the Views.)

The only cars with their names displayed prominently that I'm aware of are the George M. Pullman sleeper and the Indianapolis diner. If this is changing again to encompass all the cars (all the existing sleepers already do, labeled or not,) then I fully support it!
 
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Nathanael

Guest
The project was terminated a few years back with the last car rolling out of the shop in June of 2006; and AFAIK, it has not been restarted. Out of 44 Superliner I sleepers, 41 went through the program. It should be noted that there are varying degrees of just what was done to each of the cars. The earlier cars saw less work done by comparison to the one's that went through the process in the middle and end.
Ah. Thanks for the explanation; looking into this, I've probably seen the "early rebuilds", but never seen the "late rebuilds".
 

TimSpencer

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Sep 29, 2008
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Now they only need to name the individual sleepers and diners again!
They are.
Are they?

At last check, the remnants of the sleeper names were found in various states of peeling off on the car-end doors of some Viewliners and the Superliner I sleepers; all signs of names on the exterior of the cars were taken off some time ago (over a half-decade ago for the Supers and within the last few years for the Views.)

The only cars with their names displayed prominently that I'm aware of are the George M. Pullman sleeper and the Indianapolis diner. If this is changing again to encompass all the cars (all the existing sleepers already do, labeled or not,) then I fully support it!
I was in Zurich last year. It was really amusing to be on a train named "Albert Einstein" on the side! :)

Unfortunately, I don't feel any smarter after the ride. :(

 
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SubwayNut

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I went to an exhibit in Grand Central on the Brunel Awards in March 2012 and they had an exhibit board on the Superliner Renovation project I really liked the images of the door into the H-Restroom with the curved sliding door. Were any cars actually retrofitted?
 

daveyb99

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Although it looks like there is a lot less knee room between the two seats...
It does. But are these seats reclined like the Superliner seats? Or in the 'normal' position. Otherwise, love the look, love No Toilet, and now looking forward to the Superliner 4 ....
 
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