Viewliner Sleeper Bathroom Question

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Ferroequinologist

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I actually have stayed in a hotel (Pod 51 in NYC) as recently as this January that had shared bathrooms in the hall. Everything was clean, the room was small (even by Manhattan standards), but I paid less than $80 a night. I've stayed in any kind of accommodation that came with a private unenclosed toilet in the room. Other than Viewliners the only other modern accommodations set up like that are prison cells. I've stayed in other micro hotels that bathrooms, but the toilet & shower were still in an enclosed cubical.

Sleeping cars are an extremely tight squeeze and shared facilities make more sense when trying to fit as many revenue spaces in as you can and still give everyone a bed. And the Viewliner II's still have options for passengers who want en-suite facilities. Even on airlines with First Class "suites" passengers still share bathrooms.
No airplane trip lasts three days. Can you imagine a cruise ship with cabins without private bathrooms? The whole concept of the long distance train needs rethinking. Australia and Canada have transcontinental trains that function as cruises on rails. Canada seems to do the best they can with very old equipment. Australia has better rolling stock. I think all accommodations on the Indian-Pacific have private bathrooms. Under the former Amtrak administration the goal seemed to be to get out of long distance service. That may not have changed. Unfortunately the only major directive Congress has given Amtrak is to cut costs. No-one seems to have any philosophy regarding the purpose of long distance trains which could be a national asset. even an international tourist attraction, if they were competently developed if allocated enough funding. With the current health crisis and the economic fallout, Amtrak will be a very low priority.
 

Mailliw

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No Viewliners are used on routes lasting a single night and a train is not a cruise ship. It's primarily a means of transportation. That doesn't mean it shouldn't be reasonably comfortable and for overnight travel that includes sleeping accommodations. But trying to cram too many amenities that most travelers can do without into too small a space leads to bad design choices. There just isn't enough space in a roomette for a toilet be practicalordesirableformost people. . If a luxury tourist experience is the goal than contract it out to a private company and let them charge accordingly.
 

IndyLions

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I assume you always stay in a hotel, where there is a common shared bathroom down the hall. For me, I think my grandparents did.

Yea, I suspect that Hilton or Marriott would save a lot of money, if they could get away with building hotels without private bathrooms in their rooms.
So all Superliners should be taken out of service because of the lack of private restrooms in the roomettes and family bedroom?

And while we’re at it, the the National Park Service should start ripping up Public Rest Rooms and installing private ones?

Amtrak long distance (which I love) is just as close to being a National Park as it is to being a hotel.
 

Ferroequinologist

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No Viewliners are used on routes lasting a single night and a train is not a cruise ship. It's primarily a means of transportation. That doesn't mean it shouldn't be reasonably comfortable and for overnight travel that includes sleeping accommodations. But trying to cram too many amenities that most travelers can do without into too small a space leads to bad design choices. There just isn't enough space in a roomette for a toilet be practicalordesirableformost people. . If a luxury tourist experience is the goal than contract it out to a private company and let them charge accordingly.
I think they are like cruise ships. Three nights on a train is not a practical way to travel in the 21st century. It costs several times more than an air ticket. The train provides an experience like the cruise ship.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Incredible that at a time when public toilets are a MAJOR health risk Amtrak is downgrading service so that toilets are eliminated from private rooms. Even before Covid-19 this was a foolish move.
To the best of my understanding the primary risk with restrooms involves enclosed aerosolized transmission rather than shared surface contact. Since trains are not pressurized this risk could be addressed with proper venting. Improved fresh air intake could also help dissipate the unique mixture of retention tank odors, industrial detergents, and commercial soap fragrance I call Amfunk. 🤢

I assume you always stay in a hotel, where there is a common shared bathroom down the hall. For me, I think my grandparents did. Yea, I suspect that Hilton or Marriott would save a lot of money, if they could get away with building hotels without private bathrooms in their rooms.
Which Marriott or Hilton features a toilet installed next to your bed? 🤔
 
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me_little_me

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The train provides an experience like the cruise ship.
Yeah! Food at all hours of the day. Big buffets plus sit-down meals where they serve you excellently on table cloths with real china and cutlery and have customizable meals. Stops every day or couple of days where you can get off and pay them or someone else for a tour or just wander about for the day while they wait patiently for a set number of hours. Room attendants who fall over backwards to please you.
So you haven't taken an LD train since the '30s?
 

Ferroequinologist

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To the best of my understanding the primary risk with restrooms involves enclosed aerosolized transmission rather than shared surface contact. Since trains are not pressurized this risk could be addressed with proper venting. Improved fresh air intake could also help dissipate the unique mixture of retention tank odors, industrial detergents, and commercial soap fragrance I call Amfunk. 🤢


Which Marriott or Hilton features a toilet installed next to your bed? 🤔
As I said earlier, the best solution would have been to have toilets in the rooms with a couple of toilets down the hall. Those who don't care to use in room toilets would have a public toilet option. The two berth Roomette is far too small for two people and should be designed for one person. I believe the transcontinental Indian-Pacific in Australia has private bathrooms attached to each compartment. When I rode it I definitely did have my own bathroom. In response to another post here, I remember that the train did give us a bus tour when we stopped in the town of Kalgoorlie, similar to a cruise ship.
 

Ferroequinologist

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Yeah! Food at all hours of the day. Big buffets plus sit-down meals where they serve you excellently on table cloths with real china and cutlery and have customizable meals. Stops every day or couple of days where you can get off and pay them or someone else for a tour or just wander about for the day while they wait patiently for a set number of hours. Room attendants who fall over backwards to please you.
So you haven't taken an LD train since the '30s?
Many travel writers have likened a transcontinental train trip to a cruise ship. You don't have to go back to the 1930s to recall long distance rail travel when it was a luxurious way to travel. Even in the 1960s there were still trains with lots of amenities - the Super Chief with its private dining room and elegant dining-car was one. I remember the Florida trains in the late 1950s with their observation cars and stewardesses. A few years ago Amtrak had tour guides (I believe National Park Service) on board trains giving historic and geographical descriptions of the areas the train was traveling through. There were wine and cheese parties - and there were cloth table cloths and real china in the dining-car. That wasn't very long ago. There was (and still is) room service. Room attendants who "fall over backwards to please you"? Some Amtrak employees make an effort to please; many are indifferent. Obviously times have changed and rail travel is going to adapt to changing tastes. The formality of previous eras is probably not suitable today but the general public does have expectations regarding hygiene, especially bathrooms, that Amtrak does not fulfill. And to attract more passengers to its sleeping cars there needs to be much better food service. We all know about Amtrak's funding issues but Amtrak management must have the WILL to improve as well as the money.
 

joelkfla

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I believe the transcontinental Indian-Pacific in Australia has private bathrooms attached to each compartment. When I rode it I definitely did have my own bathroom.
But from what I've seen on YouTube, the Indian Pacific truly is a cruise on rails, taking into account the gourmet food, activities and excursions, and onboard service.

Amtrak simply is not viewed that way, either by management or by Congress. Sure, a lot, if not a majority, of sleeper passengers take it for the experience, but it's really intended as point-to-point transportation, and that's how and why it's funded.

I certainly agree that at least decent and hopefully memorable food is in order, and I also happen to agree on having in-room facilities, but comparing Amtrak to the Indian Pacific is like comparing a Prius to a Rolls Royce.
 

Ferroequinologist

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But from what I've seen on YouTube, the Indian Pacific truly is a cruise on rails, taking into account the gourmet food, activities and excursions, and onboard service.

Amtrak simply is not viewed that way, either by management or by Congress. Sure, a lot, if not a majority, of sleeper passengers take it for the experience, but it's really intended as point-to-point transportation, and that's how and why it's funded.

I certainly agree that at least decent and hopefully memorable food is in order, and I also happen to agree on having in-room facilities, but comparing Amtrak to the Indian Pacific is like comparing a Prius to a Rolls Royce.
Even the Canadian does much better than Amtrak with far older equipment. Just what is Amtrak's congressional mandate? It's not clear to me that the law required a downgrading of the service that existed before Amtrak (a downgrade that forced Amtrak to drop the name Super Chief because the lowered standard of the train under Amtrak was damaging the AT&SF image). I think this idea that Amtrak is supposed to be a kind of Greyhound bus on rails is the result of decades of conditioning by hostile members of Congress. If Amtrak is going to continue long haul service west of Chicago new trains are going to be a necessity before too long. Instead of dropping standards as they are doing with the new Viewliners, a better design needs to be considered. Making Amtrak a desirable way to cross the country would attract more passengers and contribute to the economy of the regions the trains serve. Unfortunately Amtrak management has had limited vision in this respect. Maybe Congress needs to see the tourist potential of long distance trains. Given the current political and economic climate, however, the future of long distance trains looks bleak.
 

me_little_me

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But from what I've seen on YouTube, the Indian Pacific truly is a cruise on rails, taking into account the gourmet food, activities and excursions, and onboard service.

Amtrak simply is not viewed that way, either by management or by Congress. Sure, a lot, if not a majority, of sleeper passengers take it for the experience, but it's really intended as point-to-point transportation, and that's how and why it's funded.

I certainly agree that at least decent and hopefully memorable food is in order, and I also happen to agree on having in-room facilities, but comparing Amtrak to the Indian Pacific is like comparing a Prius to a Rolls Royce.
Since more amenities mean higher costs, Amtrak could do a lot to provide both. Having a luxury high-priced car on board (ala the Canadian with its premium service), encouraging private cars which they have DISCOURAGED to provide premium service, dining and amenities would help as would allowing those private cars to be dropped off at intermediate locations (where it would be supplied with electricity/food/water/servicing) and then picked up on the following (or later) day to allow its customers to have optionally included tours would separate those willing to pay the price for luxury (with Amtrak making more $$$) from the standard service. That service would have to be separated to show it made a profit but encouraged by Amtrak working with vendors for a positive outcome for both Amtrak and the vendors and to satisfy Amtrak's critics that it is not a "subsidy to the rich".

Just think if you could, say, take a special luxury car from Chicago just to Denver with optional tours ala cruises or to Reno or Sacramento with stops in Denver, near Dinosaur Monument, and Reno with overnight onboard the train or in hotels with optional tours in each city. One price would get you a room in an Amtrak sleeper w/o Amtrak meals but with sitting and dining rights in the private diner/lounge or a higher price to get more luxury accommodations (double/queen room with private facilities) in a private car with same dining/sitting facilities. You could do your own thing or pay for tours or own overnight hotel in Denver then have reservations to the next city or return to Chicago.

Amtrak Tours (an unsubsidized division of Amtrak) could run it, Amtrak could provide requirements and ask private car owners to bid for rights or pay a percentage of gross to Amtrak to offer that service or simply contract with one vendor ala National Parks contractors where specifications for service and profit are given with Amtrak owning (or leasing) the equipment.
 

railiner

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American European Express, Pullman Rail Journey's,....tried and failed...just not enough interest in this type of service to sustain it....
 

me_little_me

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American European Express, Pullman Rail Journey's,....tried and failed...just not enough interest in this type of service to sustain it....
But didn't they do it independently of Amtrak i.e. they were not "supported" by Amtrak but just paid Amtrak what it demanded to pull their cars? No Amtrak selling those tickets or promoting them on its site. No special "in" with Amtrak with Amtrak promoting their success. No Amtrak "branding". Not part of "Arrow". To be successful, it has to be "part" of Amtrak or appear that way to the public.
 

basketmaker

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Apr 19, 2018
Messages
100
Yes and no. As mentioned earlier in this thread, the utilization of Superliner bedrooms is far from uniform. The upstairs bathroom sees much more use than the downstairs bathrooms.

Regardless, the argument that there Viewliners would have queues for brushing teeth seems to be a bit overstated. At most you might need to wait a couple of minutes. Some people see that as a fair tradeoff compared to having a combination sink/urinal in the roomette.

I don't think that there is a right or wrong answer here. Just as with the toilet located in the roomette there will always be a split opinion.
Only time I ever saw a queue for the restroom was my first SL trip in '81-'82 on the Desert Wind (CZ/Pioneer). That was before there was even an upstairs restroom installed in the sleepers. That was after my FTN-CHI roomette (Heritage) on the CONO. As a solo traveler the in-room facility was not too much of an issue. I connected to a lower-level roomette up to SEA on the CS which I actually enjoyed the view from. Then a bedroom from SEA east to CHI. Now again, being solo that was uptown! Since it was just an 8-hour leg on the CONO back to Fulton, KY (closest to Nashville) I decided on coach. Something I haven't done since. If overnight it is at least a roomette.
 

basketmaker

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As I said earlier, the best solution would have been to have toilets in the rooms with a couple of toilets down the hall. Those who don't care to use in room toilets would have a public toilet option. The two berth Roomette is far too small for two people and should be designed for one person. I believe the transcontinental Indian-Pacific in Australia has private bathrooms attached to each compartment. When I rode it I definitely did have my own bathroom. In response to another post here, I remember that the train did give us a bus tour when we stopped in the town of Kalgoorlie, similar to a cruise ship.
The Ghan is a spectacular train. Even with late night catered BBQ in the middle of the desert for the whole train is great. But the fare of $5999/person is right up there with the "Captain's Suite" on a luxury cruise ship. Not a family cabin on a Disney ship. Way beyond my budget.
 

RichieRich

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But didn't they do it independently of Amtrak...
Wow...that brings back memories! Yes, I believe they just paid Amtrak to pull them, much like private cars. I used to take the American European Express on trips back & forth from DC-to-Chicago. Very nice, mahogany, brass, even a baby grand in the lounge. And you had to "dress" (suit & tie) for dinner.
 

PVD

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My first plane trip as a child, an Eastern Airlines DC-8 from Idlewild to Miami. My parents dressed me in a shirt and tie. Times have changed. More recently, cruises have become much less formal, dress codes for most meals very relaxed. Formal night is now jacket and tie, not formal attire. The number of people who like it the old way is not considered large enough to support that as the standard, it still exists, but is more of a niche market now.
 

railiner

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But didn't they do it independently of Amtrak i.e. they were not "supported" by Amtrak but just paid Amtrak what it demanded to pull their cars? No Amtrak selling those tickets or promoting them on its site. No special "in" with Amtrak with Amtrak promoting their success. No Amtrak "branding". Not part of "Arrow". To be successful, it has to be "part" of Amtrak or appear that way to the public.
Wow...that brings back memories! Yes, I believe they just paid Amtrak to pull them, much like private cars. I used to take the American European Express on trips back & forth from DC-to-Chicago. Very nice, mahogany, brass, even a baby grand in the lounge. And you had to "dress" (suit & tie) for dinner.
I wouldn't quite say they ran "independently of Amtrak"....in the years they ran Washington/Chicago, and New York/Chicago, they were run pretty much like any other private cars...on the back of a scheduled Amtrak train...not as a separate movement. And of course, their passenger's used Amtrak's station facilities. While they did rent a small office in New York's Penn Station, that was mainly for sales and for their train crew's use. Their passenger's were seated in the special needs area of the Station Services office, until they were ushered down to the train. IIRC, Amtrak also provided red cap services to them, and maybe even commissary services at Sunnyside....not sure of that, though. I would imagine they also received mechanical services from Amtrak.
 

Ferroequinologist

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The Ghan is a spectacular train. Even with late night catered BBQ in the middle of the desert for the whole train is great. But the fare of $5999/person is right up there with the "Captain's Suite" on a luxury cruise ship. Not a family cabin on a Disney ship. Way beyond my budget.
I rode it in the 1980s. They had a barber on board. Had my hair cut. It was not at all expensive then. Like so many things, they've apparently jacked the price up. I assume the price you quote is in Australian dollars.
 
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Ferroequinologist

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Since more amenities mean higher costs, Amtrak could do a lot to provide both. Having a luxury high-priced car on board (ala the Canadian with its premium service), encouraging private cars which they have DISCOURAGED to provide premium service, dining and amenities would help as would allowing those private cars to be dropped off at intermediate locations (where it would be supplied with electricity/food/water/servicing) and then picked up on the following (or later) day to allow its customers to have optionally included tours would separate those willing to pay the price for luxury (with Amtrak making more $$$) from the standard service. That service would have to be separated to show it made a profit but encouraged by Amtrak working with vendors for a positive outcome for both Amtrak and the vendors and to satisfy Amtrak's critics that it is not a "subsidy to the rich".

Just think if you could, say, take a special luxury car from Chicago just to Denver with optional tours ala cruises or to Reno or Sacramento with stops in Denver, near Dinosaur Monument, and Reno with overnight onboard the train or in hotels with optional tours in each city. One price would get you a room in an Amtrak sleeper w/o Amtrak meals but with sitting and dining rights in the private diner/lounge or a higher price to get more luxury accommodations (double/queen room with private facilities) in a private car with same dining/sitting facilities. You could do your own thing or pay for tours or own overnight hotel in Denver then have reservations to the next city or return to Chicago.

Amtrak Tours (an unsubsidized division of Amtrak) could run it, Amtrak could provide requirements and ask private car owners to bid for rights or pay a percentage of gross to Amtrak to offer that service or simply contract with one vendor ala National Parks contractors where specifications for service and profit are given with Amtrak owning (or leasing) the equipment.
Yes, there is a lot of potential for creativity but Amtrak doesn't have the vision to do it. It would take someone with imagination and DETERMINATION to develop long haul trains for an upscale tourist market.
 

Ferroequinologist

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But didn't they do it independently of Amtrak i.e. they were not "supported" by Amtrak but just paid Amtrak what it demanded to pull their cars? No Amtrak selling those tickets or promoting them on its site. No special "in" with Amtrak with Amtrak promoting their success. No Amtrak "branding". Not part of "Arrow". To be successful, it has to be "part" of Amtrak or appear that way to the public.
It has to be developed and promoted by Amtrak, not an outside company running an occasional service behind Amtrak, trying to get Amtrak to cooperate. It must be a stable, regularly scheduled service with full support by Amtrak management.
 

Palmland

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...One price would get you a room in an Amtrak sleeper w/o Amtrak meals but with sitting and dining rights in the private diner/lounge...
Amtrak should try this. Have budget sleeper fare where you buy your food in the cafe or premium sleeper fare that includes meal in the VII diner—lounge serving quality food prepared by a chef with half the seating area In the car with swivel lounge chairs (like the PPC) for ‘refreshments‘.
 

Devil's Advocate

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As I said earlier, the best solution would have been to have toilets in the rooms with a couple of toilets down the hall. Those who don't care to use in room toilets would have a public toilet option. The two berth Roomette is far too small for two people and should be designed for one person. I believe the transcontinental Indian-Pacific in Australia has private bathrooms attached to each compartment. When I rode it I definitely did have my own bathroom. In response to another post here, I remember that the train did give us a bus tour when we stopped in the town of Kalgoorlie, similar to a cruise ship.
I don't want a toilet installed next to my bed and find that design just as disgusting as you find using a public restroom. Having roomettes without toilets and bedrooms with toilets gives both sides an option for their specific situation. Shoving toilets into the tiniest of compartments while ignoring Amtrak's inexplicable difficulty with cleaning public restrooms provides no meaningful compromise IMO.
 
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