Viewliner Section and Slumbercoach Sleepers

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OlympianHiawatha

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I spent about 30 minutes catching up on this Forum just before going to sleep last night and sure enough dreamed Amtrak. It seems Amtrak got a massive budget increase and part of that money went to build a fleet of Viewliner Section Sleepers (Upper/Lower Berth or Touralux as Milwaukee called it) as well as Slumbercoach Viewliner Sleepers. The Section cars maintained the lower tier windows but the upper tier windows were replaced with smaller "slit" type windows and the Slumbercoach units picked up the staggered window configuration.

Then the cat woke me up! But I realized if Amtrak had the money, such cars may well be feasible and profitable as they would fill in that wide gap that currently exists between Coach and Sleeper. And they looked pretty neat too, especially the Slumbercoach units :)

Maybe tonight I'll envision the new Superliners :lol:
 

MikefromCrete

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Sections will never return, they're an outdated concept. Slumbercoaches were great, but I wonder if they are economically feasible. After all, Amtrak doesn't seem to have any trouble selling roomettes, why should they undercut themselves.
 

abcnews

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This post is very funny. It's like Joseph and his dreams, but with an Amtrak bent...

With the airlines pushing their sleeper seats on International flights, the slumber coach could get some of that traction. Especially on trains like the Lake Shore westbound, CONO Memphis to Chicago, and the CZ Chicago to Denver. In the CZ situation, you board at 2 PM in Chicago, have dinner in the diner, retire in your slumber coach and arrive in the Colorado Ski stops the following morning. That could be very popular, especially if you like skiing, and bringing along your own boots, poles, skis, etc.. The train is better for lots of gear.
 

OlympianHiawatha

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Sections will never return, they're an outdated concept. Slumbercoaches were great, but I wonder if they are economically feasible. After all, Amtrak doesn't seem to have any trouble selling roomettes, why should they undercut themselves.
The Canadian trains seem to do quite well with their old Section Sleepers from what I understand.
 

Palmetto

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Sections will never return, they're an outdated concept. Slumbercoaches were great, but I wonder if they are economically feasible. After all, Amtrak doesn't seem to have any trouble selling roomettes, why should they undercut themselves.
The Canadian trains seem to do quite well with their old Section Sleepers from what I understand.
Yes, I rode the train in June, had a lower berth, and most of the berths were occupied for a good portion of the trip across the country.
 

Eric S

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Sections will never return, they're an outdated concept. Slumbercoaches were great, but I wonder if they are economically feasible. After all, Amtrak doesn't seem to have any trouble selling roomettes, why should they undercut themselves.
The Canadian trains seem to do quite well with their old Section Sleepers from what I understand.
I thought I had read the opposite, that VIA Rail may not "struggle" to sell sections but that they do not sell as well as rooms.
 

A Voice

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But I realized if Amtrak had the money, such cars may well be feasible and profitable as they would fill in that wide gap that currently exists between Coach and Sleeper. And they looked pretty neat too, especially the Slumbercoach units
While I'll agree some type of economy sleeper or slumbercoach properly has a place on the modern passenger train, we need to omit the word "profitable". If premium priced accomodations still lose money, and of course they do, how is a lower-priced alternative supposed to produce a better financial result?

Certainly a Slumbercoach or section sleeper can get more "rooms" per car than an all (eleven) bedroom sleeper or similar, but then it still comes down to a question of how much you are charging per accommodation. A deluxe (even premium) sleeper might well produce greater revenue if you can fill the rooms.

Sections will never return, they're an outdated concept. .
That's what some (sadly misinformed) critics would have people believe about long-distance passenger trains in general.

What exactly is it about sections which simply wouldn't work today? The lack of privacy doesn't seem to stop people travelling overnight in coach.
 
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CoachSlumber

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Sections will never return, they're an outdated concept. Slumbercoaches were great, but I wonder if they are economically feasible. After all, Amtrak doesn't seem to have any trouble selling roomettes, why should they undercut themselves.
The Canadian trains seem to do quite well with their old Section Sleepers from what I understand.
Yes, but those are basically excursion trains where the sections are alternatives to extremely expensive private rooms. They would be a tough sell on many Amtrak trains.
 

jis

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I have grave doubts that a car full of Sections can provide more revenue than a car full of Amtrak style Roomettes. Actually even the max capacity would be more or less similar between roomettes and sections. The only difference being roomettes are sold as a unit assuming double occupancy for the accommodation charge, whereas sections are sold in units of one berth. Essentially a car full of Sections is no different than a car full of Roomettes with the doors of the Roometes removed.
 

Ispolkom

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On my most recent Amtrak trips, a bedroom often cost more than twice as much as a roomette, and occupancy rates seemed higher for bedrooms vs. roomettes. If Amtrak wanted to maximize sleeper revenue from new rolling stock, wouldn't all-bedroom sleeping cars be the way to go?

ETA bolded text.
 
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jis

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There is an optimal mix of bedrooms and roomettes that would maximize revenue overall. I suspect the mix specially for the single level trains would gravitate a bit towards more bedrooms. Specially on the Auto Train Amtrak already recognized that and created the dedicated all bedroom Superliners for it. I am not sure what the optimum mix is for the western LDs would be. Also removing the confounding effect of the zone based AGR thing would give a better idea on actual fare paying usage and demand for sleepers both of the roomette and bedroom kind.
 

dlagrua

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The only time that I was in something like a slumber coach was at the lliinois railway museum. It believe that it was called a duplex sleeper where single rooms were arranged on both sides in a high/low configuration. The result was a clever engineering design that created over and under sets of small 1 person rooms on both sides of the car each with with a sink and toilet. At the end were two bedrooms.The amazing part was that the duplex sleeper had a capacity of something like 42 passengers. Todays single lever Viewliner sleepers only fit 26 and this is if all roomettes and bedrooms are occupied by 2 persons. I have found that some single travelers are often found in rommettes.

I have often wondered why the increased capacity duplex sleeper concept was not carried forward?
 

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I think it probably had to do with (1) the fact that the Duplex option didn't gel well with bilevel cars (you lose enough vertical space on a given level of a Superliner vis-a-vis a Viewliner or Heritage sleeper that I'm not sure the Duplex sleeper would be feasible and (2) Amtrak really only got enough money for one set of single-level sleepers the first time around. If Amtrak had enough money to splash out for 250 single-level sleeping cars they could afford some variety that could be mixed-and-matched, but with only 50 cars in the Viewliner I order and 25 in the Viewliner II order you have trouble competently handling spare operations if the cars have 3-4 designs rather than just one standard design.
 

neroden

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Certainly a Slumbercoach or section sleeper can get more "rooms" per car than an all (eleven) bedroom sleeper or similar
...but the kicker is that it has the same number of beds per car as a car made up entirely of Viewliner roomettes. That means there's absolutely no sense in doing it. The roomettes are going to be more popular and they take up the same amount of space.

What exactly is it about sections which simply wouldn't work today? The lack of privacy doesn't seem to stop people travelling overnight in coach.
Sections take up the same amount of space per bed as Viewliner roomettes. That's the problem. Amtrak can consistently charge more for Viewliner roomettes than for sections. Therefore sections have no market function.

Essentially a car full of Sections is no different than a car full of Roomettes with the doors of the Roometes removed.
Yep. That's the problem with sections.
 

Ziv

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I just wish there was a type of seat that was more like lie flat at an angle and less expensive than a roomette. I end up cutting my EB and SL trips into two sections because I don't like being in a coach seat that long and don't like paying what a roomette costs. I don't get a lot of sleep in a coach seat and even camping out in the sightseer lounge from 11 to 5 it isn't all that comfortable. Maybe I should splurge and get a roomette but when I can rent a car for a week for less than the cost of a roomette...

In a perfect world that intermediate cost sleep option would be like a duplex with a room even smaller than a roomette but with a real bed, but I doubt I will be lucky enough to see it here in the States.
 

neroden

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I just wish there was a type of seat that was more like lie flat at an angle and less expensive than a roomette.
Well, if there were more sleeper cars, the roomettes could be cheaper. :)

The incremental cost of adding a sleeper to a train is relatively low. If Amtrak can fill that sleeper up, Amtrak is making money -- even if they drop the prices a bit. In the East, I think Amtrak *can* fill some more sleepers up. Probably also from Denver to Chicago. (I'm not so optimistic about the trains which cross the Continental Divide.)
 

Palmetto

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Certainly a Slumbercoach or section sleeper can get more "rooms" per car than an all (eleven) bedroom sleeper or similar
...but the kicker is that it has the same number of beds per car as a car made up entirely of Viewliner roomettes. That means there's absolutely no sense in doing it. The roomettes are going to be more popular and they take up the same amount of space.
What exactly is it about sections which simply wouldn't work today? The lack of privacy doesn't seem to stop people travelling overnight in coach.
Sections take up the same amount of space per bed as Viewliner roomettes. That's the problem. Amtrak can consistently charge more for Viewliner roomettes than for sections. Therefore sections have no market function.
Essentially a car full of Sections is no different than a car full of Roomettes with the doors of the Roometes removed.
Yep. That's the problem with sections.
It's more than just that. There is no toilet nor is there an electrical outlet in a section. For the folks who like their scanners, no available electric outlet means a hoard of batteries. However, since a section occupant is in the sleeping car, the shower is available.

I don't think anyone is suggesting a car full of sections. But given the popularity of the sleepercoach option in the past, a couple per car might sell, but as was pointed out earlier, they probably don't maximize revenue in small numbers like that.
 

Anderson

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I went through some musings, and I cannot help but wonder if (particularly on a Viewliner train) a "shared roomette" ticket option might not be worth an attempt: Basically, for a given price (say, 60% of the prevailing price at a given moment) you would get a space in a roomette but with the knowledge that you might end up sharing with someone else (and with an altered luggage allowance...presume one full carry-on and one personal item with an extra checked baggage allowance to balance that out). Considering the clear market for a low(-er) cost sleeper arrangement, I do have to wonder how many folks would be willing to risk sharing their space to whack $300-400 off of a round-trip from New York to Florida.
 

jis

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One has to wait for the Viewliner IIs to come on line since the common toilet facilities would be essential for doing any Section experiment. Then say you decide to have 4 section berths (2 upper, 2 lower) just take two Roomettes and remove the sliding door from those two and sell those berths individually as Sections. Price them roughly as half of what it would cost two people to use a roomette between their designated origin and destination. Price the Section buckets separately from Roomette buckets but using the same base Roomette price buckets to compute the Section berth prices, and have a go at it.

The whole business about whether a Section has power plugs or not etc., is automatically taken care of. They will have exactly the same thing that a Roomette berth hs except the exclusive privacy. For a single traveler they will be advantageous. For a pair of travelers they will be a wash vs. a Roomette price-wise. Amtrak might get a few more passengers, but otherwise it will be revenue neutral.

Hey, one time on the CZ I almost had a Section experience since the door on my Roomette fell of its track and was sitting leaned across the vestibule. Fortunately there was another Roomette available for me to move to. The door was placed in the Roomette and it was taken out of service.
 
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Palmetto

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Anderson:

Your notion of shared space with a stranger in a roomette harkens to the European style of sleeping accomodations, as you probably already know.

Second class sleeper was interesting for me Rome to Nice: 3 beds, no toilet, all occupants male [their wives were next door]. I didn't mind, but in this

particular instance, all three of us spoke French, so it made the trip interesting. I am not sure the Americans would buy into such a model.
 

Anderson

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Anderson:

Your notion of shared space with a stranger in a roomette harkens to the European style of sleeping accomodations, as you probably already know.

Second class sleeper was interesting for me Rome to Nice: 3 beds, no toilet, all occupants male [their wives were next door]. I didn't mind, but in this

particular instance, all three of us spoke French, so it made the trip interesting. I am not sure the Americans would buy into such a model.
I'm not sure that Americans would buy into it, but I'm not convinced that Amtrak couldn't make those sell in limited (but not-insusbstantial) quantities. As to the door, what I'd do is leave the door in place but make it openable from both sides. The psychology of a door, even one that can be opened, would be something to leave in place.
 

neroden

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I went through some musings, and I cannot help but wonder if (particularly on a Viewliner train) a "shared roomette" ticket option might not be worth an attempt:
Yes, it probably would be worth trying. This requires no physical changes to the Viewliner IIs at least; it's just a service experiment.
 
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