Viewliners and Superliners ... what would you change?

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Interior of a Viewliner Coach
View attachment 29428
View attachment 29429

I have read several posts about the age of these cars and how much they need to be replaced/changed/redesigned - but exactly what needs to be "changed"?

Adding USB power would be a good move as long as they don't remove the 110v

Updating things like the A/C to heat pump and the lighting to LED I consider an "upgrade" not an actual "change" or redesign.
That is not a Viewliner. There are no Viewliner coaches.
 

Qapla

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OK - maybe I used the wrong term for the coach car - still the question persists - exactly what needs to be "changed"

(doing a Google search for "Viewliner Coach" produced those images)
 

Siegmund

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One big thing that has changed since 1980 is the popularity of big freight cars. Double-stack containers and auto racks have become much more common on the major freight routes. Those routes are now prepared to handle 20-foot-tall cars.

Superliners were held to being only 16 feet tall, so they'd fit almost anywhere that old vista domes would fit, and that kept them from being two full decks end to end with walk-through doors on the lower level.
If you go up to about 18 feet, two full decks is doable (and that's ~25% more usable square feet per car than a Superliner). Not necessarily saying that Amtrak should commit to 18- or 19-foot-tall bilevels --- if they did, they'd run into limitations on some routes. But if they did, fulfilling the ADA requirements would be easy.

[Edited to add: the Ultra Domes running on the Alaska Railroad and Rocky Mountaineer manage two full decks at 17'5", with doors on the lower level. They also do an interesting thing where each car is "coach upstairs, dining car downstairs" -- and have one kitchen for every 2 dining rooms, and carry the food from the kitchen in one car to the dining area in the next.]

Actually, I think that fulfilling the ADA requirements in a 16-foot bilevel is quite doable, if someone put out a spec for it. One option is lifts to the top level and wider doors between cars; another is some cleverness with step-up and -down areas.

Imagine, for example, a 16-foot-tall bilevel sleeping car, with a walk-through walkway occupying the 4- to 11-foot level along the left side of the car, and another walkway at the 9-to-16 foot level along most of the right side of the car. On the lower level, you enter each non-handicapped bedroom by going down 3 steps. On the upper level, you have a sofa/bed 2 feet off the floor, above the lower level walkway. At one end of the car, you have a handicapped room downstairs, and a nice big 5-foot-tall linen closet / coffee pot storage area / crew bunk area above it.

It would look about as different from a Superliner as the old Slumbercoach and Duplex Roomette floor plans did from a standard roomette plan. But if they put an RFP out, the designs would come.
 
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zephyr17

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OK - maybe I used the wrong term for the coach car - still the question persists - exactly what needs to be "changed"

(doing a Google search for "Viewliner Coach" produced those images)
Upper picture is an Amfleet II (I am pretty sure though not positive. It's Amfleet anyway) coach.

Lower picture is the upper level of a Superliner coach.

As @PVD pointed out, there are no Viewliner coaches. There are Viewliner sleepers, diners, baggage cars, and bag/dorms.

Of course, if it's Google, it had to be right😉
 
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Electrical wiring, lighting, provision for data networking and wi-fi, aisles and vestibules need redesign for ADA compliance, toilet vaccuum and retention system, HVAC is totally obsolete, anything new will be room mounted package units with newer refrigerants and compressor design, trucks and suspension....thats a pretty good list. If you are looking at an Amfleet car, you would scrap the corrugated curved tube for something that doesn't waste space....That's a good start...
 

Qapla

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there are no Viewliner coaches. There are Viewliner sleepers, diners, baggage cars, and bag/dorms

Regardless of what they are called - what is the list of "redesign/changes" that are needed ... not just "upgrades, like USB power in addition to 110v - but actual "design" changes - like some sort of continuous windows down both side without posts/dividers that block the view from some seats, doors in the center of the coach - actual design changes that would require a new car to be constructed and not something that an update or refub could not achieve.
 

PaTrainFan

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The Viewliner II in-room controls and switches are out of the 1990s. Probably 1980s. Really old school. Goodness, even the refurbished Superliner I light controls are more up to date than the Viewliner IIs.
 

zephyr17

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Regardless of what they are called - what is the list of "redesign/changes" that are needed ... not just "upgrades, like USB power in addition to 110v - but actual "design" changes - like some sort of continuous windows down both side without posts/dividers that block the view from some seats, doors in the center of the coach - actual design changes that would require a new car to be constructed and not something that an update or refub could not achieve.
Electrical wiring, lighting, provision for data networking and wi-fi, aisles and vestibules need redesign for ADA compliance, toilet vaccuum and retention system, HVAC is totally obsolete, anything new will be room mounted package units with newer refrigerants and compressor design, trucks and suspension....thats a pretty good list. If you are looking at an Amfleet car, you would scrap the corrugated curved tube for something that doesn't waste space....That's a good start...
@PVD covered it pretty well.
 

Bob Dylan

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I’ve just learned that in railroading, never say never.

I could see more viewliners being built in the future - there is nothing wrong with the design.

The USA needs a passenger rail car manufacturer like Colorado Railcar - a company that really gets it. Maybe I’ll start one in my free time! Haha.
Got a few Billion you want to throw away?😄
 

jis

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OK - maybe I used the wrong term for the coach car - still the question persists - exactly what needs to be "changed"

(doing a Google search for "Viewliner Coach" produced those images)
Don’t believe everything you see on the internet!

Those are photos of the interior of Amfleet Coaches. There are no Viewliner Coaches!

In the sense that a Coach needs to have rows of seats, that does not change. The details of what kind of seats from which manufacturer etc. changes, and of course the Coach shell changes. It is unlikely that anyone will custom manufacture new Amfleet (or for that matter even Viewliner) shells.
 

WWW

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It shouldn’t be an issue to have an east coast standard and a west coast standard.

I’m up here riding the Alaska Railroad and they have a large variety of equipment from different eras and they manage to keep them running and in great condition just fine. Perhaps Amtrak can take some lessons from them? ;)
I’m up here riding the Alaska Railroad and they have a large variety of equipment from different eras and they manage to keep them running and in great condition just fine. Perhaps Amtrak can take some lessons from them?

Point taken but Alaska RR only needs about 4-5 to train set consists to service their system 2 Denali Star 1 Coastal Classic 1 Glacier Discovery and
1 Hurricane Summer and then there are the charter cruise trains and cars towed at the end of the Denali Star.

Amtrak needs multiple consists i.e. EB needs 4 in daily operation and 2 being cleaned serviced total 6
The CZ and SWC 6 in daily sequence with 2 in servicing for the next day - SL guessing 4 with 2 in servicing cleaning
If you don't have the spares in servicing and you await one of the active trains to arrive and turn then something is going to get delayed.
With recent accidents Montana and Missouri 2 trains sets have been taken out of the picture diminishing the turn around pool.

The Superliner cars are a nice concept but having two different types of rail stock is just not practical - best to have all single level
to mix and match with any train east north south or west - yes the Superliners maybe people pleasing but not to everyone.
 
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crescent-zephyr

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I’m up here riding the Alaska Railroad and they have a large variety of equipment from different eras and they manage to keep them running and in great condition just fine. Perhaps Amtrak can take some lessons from them?

Point taken but Alaska RR only needs about 4-5 to train set consists to service their system 2 Denali Star 1 Coastal Classic 1 Glacier Discovery and
1 Hurricane Summer and then there are the charter cruise trains and cars towed at the end of the Denali Star.

Amtrak needs multiple consists i.e. EB needs 4 in daily operation and 2 being cleaned serviced total 6
The CZ and SWC 6 in daily sequence with 2 in servicing for the next day - SL guessing 4 with 2 in servicing cleaning
If you don't have the spares in servicing and you await one of the active trains to arrive and turn then something is going to get delayed.
With recent accidents Montana and Missouri 2 trains sets have been taken out of the picture diminishing the turn around pool.

The Superliner cars are a nice concept but having two different types of rail stock is just not practical - best to have all single level
to mix and match with any train east north south or west - yes the Superliners maybe people pleasing but not to everyone.
Honestly… you made no point. Yes obviously Amtrak needs more cars than Alaska railroad. You just do whatever Alaska railroad is doing and multiply it.

By your logic Amtrak shouldn’t be investing in new Acela since that equipment isn’t compatible.

I’m not trying to be argumentative. I just don’t see your logic at all and Amtrak has continued to order a variety of equipment from different manufacturers.
 

west point

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IMO the ability to buy cars taller than Superliners comes down to one big modification. That would be to somehow modify CHI union station to allow taller cars. How ?? have no idea. Of course there probably are stations that may need overhead clearances raised especially sheds or overhanging canopys but one route at a time. But getting clearances for taller cars thru CHI may be impossible.

Do any of our posters know of stations that might need raising overhead clearances?

EDIT: Just remembered that if HSR is ever to go thru CHI US clearances will need to be raised as Superliners cannot clear the CAT.
 
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Cal

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IMO the ability to buy cars taller than Superliners comes down to one big modification. That would be to somehow modify CHI union station to allow taller cars. How ?? have no idea. Of course there probably are stations that may need overhead clearances raised especially sheds or overhanging canopys but one route at a time. But getting clearances for taller cars thru CHI may be impossible.

Do any of our posters know of stations that might need raising overhead clearances?
I'm sure some tunnels would need raised clearance, I know the rocky mountaineer bi-levels can't make it through some tunnels in Colorado.
 

MisterUptempo

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IMO the ability to buy cars taller than Superliners comes down to one big modification. That would be to somehow modify CHI union station to allow taller cars. How ?? have no idea. Of course there probably are stations that may need overhead clearances raised especially sheds or overhanging canopys but one route at a time. But getting clearances for taller cars thru CHI may be impossible.

Do any of our posters know of stations that might need raising overhead clearances?

EDIT: Just remembered that if HSR is ever to go thru CHI US clearances will need to be raised as Superliners cannot clear the CAT.
Regarding HSR through Chicago Union Station, there is a long-term plan to build four tracks, served by two island platforms, in a deep tunnel under Canal Street for HSR. The HSR trains would diverge from the CUS lead tracks around Taylor St., under Canal, through CUS, turning west near Kinzie St. and emerging from the tunnel somewhere near Racine St.

There had been an idea to locate HSR tracks under Clinton, as part of the proposed West Loop Transportation Center. The WLTC was supposed to be four subterranean levels; one for pedestrians to walk between Ogilvie Station and CUS, one for CTA and intercity bus, one for a 2-track CTA L station, and one for a 2-track HSR station. Thankfully the idea was dumped; it was too expensive and Amtrak was unhappy with only two tracks as well as the grading required for trains to get down to that level.

It was then decided that Amtrak would take Canal if they chose (it's wider than Clinton and would allow four tracks) for HSR, and the CTA would get Clinton if they wanted to run a subway into the West Loop.

I personally haven't seen any proposals on how to accommodate catenary in the train sheds at CUS. Lowering the rails could be a problem, especially if Amtrak uses the basement-level steam tunnels to access the converted mail platforms in the future. Also, considering that the tracks are right along the river, I'm not sure having lowered tracks below water level is a great idea.

Superliners are 16 feet 2 inches. Gallery cars are 15 feet 10 & 13/32 inches.

The application by Amtrak, Metra, CDOT, IDOT, and MDOT for a MEGA grant includes money to perform NEPA and engineering/design work for a new ventilation system in both train sheds. Performing this work would finally address the issue of concrete falling from the train shed ceilings. Whether a redesign would allow for even slightly higher ceiling heights (which might allow catenary and Superliners/Gallery cars), I don't know.

Edit - to shift a line of text elsewhere
 
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WWW

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Overall consider taking 1 Superliner car and reducing the size to a single level - what you are creating is almost 2 cars of space albeit
closer maybe to 1 and a half. Take 8 Superliners making something like a 12 car consist of single level.
Fine well and good but that lengthens the train requiring more platform space and more cars need more personnel increasing the
labor pool. The answer is not aways this simple.
A Fleet of single level cars would be easier to maintain no matter the route west east north south (so call one size fits all).
Doubling the size (length) of a passenger train may present station platform problems but certainly would not be a factor in pulling
over or switching around a freight train on a siding. We don't run mile long passenger trains in this country !
Just some thoughts on the margin to consider - while I like the SSL on the Superliners one could still be constructed as a single level
i.e. like the RockyMountaineer equipment used in the USA Colorado-Utah.
 

Mailliw

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If ADA requirements could be adjusted to count a married pair of sleeping cars as one car you could could have an all-roomette floorplan in one with shared bathrooms and an all bedroom layout in the other. The H-room would be in the bedroom car and the SCA would occupy a roomette. Assuming 10 bedrooms and 20 roomettes this gives each pair 59 revenue births. Also I'd either replace all the curtains with blackout blinds, or use thicker curtains.
 

Bob Dylan

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Let’s not forget that the passenger have to walk further on a single level railcar to access services. The Portland sleeper is know for its request for in room meals. Something about the amount of walking to get to the food service cars.
Same for the Boston Sleeper on the LSL ( when it Runs!!) and the #421/#422 Sleeper on the Sunset between LAX and SAS.
 
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WWW

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Let’s not forget that the passenger have to walk further on a single level railcar to access services. The Portland sleeper is know for its request for in room meals. Something about the amount of walking to get to the food service cars.
You are of course referencing the EB which has 4 cars to Seattle (one of which is that diner) and 4 cars to Portland (one of which is the SSL) -
The split occurs at Spokane and I believe that there is limited dining services between Spokane and Portland or Seattle.

As for the other l-o-n-g distance trains the CZ and SWC put the dining car in the middle ***
*** there still is the problem with the diner ONLY being available to sleepers presently an issue that needs to be addressed -
Another thing to be addressed if the single level coach cars are going to have observation abilities the overhead bins for small luggage items
is going to be a problem.

This is going to be a real serious design issue with the replacement equipment as well as the ADC handicap accessibility
 
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