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Would a Slumbercoach work again?

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Philzy

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Jan 6, 2009
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Would the Slumbercoach work again?

I was just comparing the Viewliner Sleepers with the Slumbercoach Sleepers, and the capacity on the Slumbercoach is somewhat higher. Granted the Slumbercoach was before ADA, but even so would something like this work again, a more modernized version perhaps?

I’ve only traveled in a sleeper a half dozen times or so, but was thinking that a single sleeper might be a better use of space. I’d love to hear some thoughts on pros and cons of this. It would seem that since sleepers are a hirer premium fare that this would seem to be something that would be profitable.

Lastly, from what I’ve been able to read, there weren’t many Slumbercoaches produced, less than 20 IIRC. Amtrak held on to these for quite some time though, was there a reason more of them weren’t built afterwards?
 

Bill Haithcoat

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Well, let me make a suggested answer for why so few built. The slumbercoach was not invented until about 1955. Passenger business was beginning to struggle. The slumbercoach and also an entirely different piece of equipment-- the high level,Santa Fe--were both built to help stem the declining tide.And some other equipment ws built.

I would guess that they were too little too late to help things much with the pre-Amtrak passenger and freight railroads.Some railroads were beginning to actively disourage traffic. Meanwhile airlines and highways were getting better and better. Thus Amtrak did not have that many to inherit.

Slumbercoaches gave a broom closet space but charged broom closet prices. Really low. I, as a larger person,really felt at home in a double room slumbercoach.

True slumbercoaches were lightweight stainless steel streamlined cars. But some railroads self built some budget sleepers of their own, sometimes it just meant bringing an old heavyweight out of the mothballs, calling it a thrift-T sleeper or some such name.

Maybe if it had been invented about five years earlier it could have worked better for the railroads and thus Amtrak would have inherited still more. Or maybe the railroads would have stayed in the passenger business and the creation of Amtrak would never have been necessary as the means to save what little of the passenger trade was left.
 

the_traveler

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Whatever siding I'm sitting on!
My first sleeper trip was NYP-TPA in an Amtrak slumbercoach. I really loved the experience. Yes, it may have been smaller than a roomette, but how much room does 1 person really need? :huh:

I say bring back a slumbercoach as a choice between coach (where you don't get meals included) and a roomette (where you do get meals included). A slumbercoach could offer a person a step up from coach - where they have a horizontal bed, but not included meals. And (assuming the same number as a Superliner), you could sell 28 slumbercoaches per car instead of 14 roomettes per car!
 

had8ley

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The Superliner Trans-Dorms would be the perfect example of ride in style for a fair fare. All you do is take away the meals and SCA and I can see a sell out every trip. A warm bed and a hot shower and the trans-dorms would provide the revenue they were built for. Poor guy on #1's detour was the only pax in the trans-dorm! From what our SCA said on #2 the SA has to service the trans-dorm AND the two coaches. That's one end of the train to the other; not very practical. I'm sure the crews, as well as Amtrak, would like to eliminate this leg race situation.
 

AlanB

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From what our SCA said on #2 the SA has to service the trans-dorm AND the two coaches. That's one end of the train to the other; not very practical. I'm sure the crews, as well as Amtrak, would like to eliminate this leg race situation.
Actually that was why the CZ had flipped the coaches and sleepers a few years ago, so that the coach attendant would be next to the Trans/Dorm. However on most trains today the Trans/Dorm is the responsability of the sleeping car attendant who is closest to the Trans/Dorm. So I'm surprised to hear that the Sunset is doing it differently.

I could be wrong, but I thought when the OTOL gang went west on #1, that it was our attendant who was also working the dorm.
 
S

SunsetLimited01

Guest
How many Slumbercoaches Amtrak had before they were retired?
 
G

Guest

Guest
Why bother with slumbercoaches? The rest of the world has it figured out, its called a couchette car.
 

sunchaser

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Salt Lake City, Ut
Nice pics!

Unfortunately, if Amtrak cannot seem to get enough regular new cars ordered in a timely fashion, either Viewliners or Superliners, then it would be unlikely that any form of Slumbercoach or even Couchettes could be ordered in the near future.

Of course they would have to design them first, then get them made, but they would needs funds first.

Even if they did, they would have to price them real cheap, well under $90 for the Slumbercoach/Couchette, maybe $50 + rail fare?
 

pebbleworm

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Thanks for the link to the an interesting article! I always like the slumbercoaches when I was going to school, and they sold out months in advance. On some forum someone mentioned that the operating costs were high because they still had to provide and change the bedding. Labor costs were a lot lower in the 1950's, and labor costs can kill a lot of good ideas. If I were buying railcars, I'd think about about a duplex compartment car- no bedding, no bed- just a door to provide the privacy Americans have come to crave and a seat that reclines to the horizontal. Probably a little lumpy, but private and no linens to change. Buy a souvenir blanket and a pillow on-board if you want to. And I'd keep the bathroom down the hall. End result would be more of a deluxe business class than anything else, and less spartan than the slumbercoaches. Charge a premium for privacy and a reclining seat, but don't blow the bank on laundry and replacing linens. And don't worry about 40 toilets and sinks per car.

Probably fortunately for Amtrak and rail travel in general, I'm in no position to order any equipment!
 
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goodnightjohnwayne

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Why bother with slumbercoaches? The rest of the world has it figured out, its called a couchette car.
Couchettes aren't very popular in Europe anymore, and the idea of sharing a triple bunked compartment with 5 strangers has always been offensive to most Americans.

Of course, there still are "hard sleepers" in places like China and India, but very few Westerners would tolerate such conditions.
 

Bob Dylan

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...t may have been smaller than a roomette...
I traveled slumbercoaches on the Northern Pacific's North Coast Limited in the early 60s between Seattle and Chicago. They were definitely as big or bigger than the current roomettes (on the western LD trains).
I find this interesting, being fairly tall I found the old slumbercoaches that I rode/tried to sleep in :lol: on the crescent from WAS to ATL were very small and confining, I find the Superliner roomettes roomier and more comfortable! ( I have never ridden in a Viewliner roomette, will get my first on the Crescent next month, everyone seems to think they are much roomier!( I do think a bed without meals would be very popular, how about taking regular sleepers that are in rehab, or when the new cars arrive, and convert them to all roomettes, sort of like the transdorms on the superliners, I think they would sell out on most LD routes, especially the western trains and the Sunset in San Antonio Ltd.! :lol:
 

sunchaser

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...t may have been smaller than a roomette...
I traveled slumbercoaches on the Northern Pacific's North Coast Limited in the early 60s between Seattle and Chicago. They were definitely as big or bigger than the current roomettes (on the western LD trains).
I find this interesting, being fairly tall I found the old slumbercoaches that I rode/tried to sleep in :lol: on the crescent from WAS to ATL were very small and confining, I find the Superliner roomettes roomier and more comfortable! ( I have never ridden in a Viewliner roomette, will get my first on the Crescent next month, everyone seems to think they are much roomier!( I do think a bed without meals would be very popular, how about taking regular sleepers that are in rehab, or when the new cars arrive, and convert them to all roomettes, sort of like the transdorms on the superliners, I think they would sell out on most LD routes, especially the western trains and the Sunset in San Antonio Ltd.! :lol:
I hope they don't get rid of the Superliner Bedrooms-there is so much more space & pretty comfy IMHO. We got bedrooms on our first trip & did enjoy them, & are hooked on traveling with sleepers.

We will be taking a 'short run' from SLC-GSC in October, getting roomettes both ways. Too much $ for the bedrooms, but wanted the amenities. Hopefully it won't feel too cramped for us on the short run! It's about 9 hours both ways.
 

pebbleworm

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The slumbercoach rooms were tiny, and much smaller than Superliner roomettes. Legroom was minimal, and the rooms were staggered so with the bed lowered your legs could extend into a pocket in the adjoining room- take a look at the promo pictures in the article Jachoochoo linked to above. The hallways were very claustrophobic- here's a picture I found:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/briancm/3834893415/

and the rooms weren't much better. Charmless, sterile and spartan are all terms that come to mind BUT at the price it was much better than a night in coach, but a little weird because you were so isolated and surrounded by linoleum and steel.
 

nferr

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The slumbercoach singles were definitely smaller than roomettes. There was little legroom, and the seat wasn't very comfortable. The bed was very narrow too. But they did have a sink and toilet and you didn't have to lift the bed at night to use it. The window was a lot smaller too. Still for a one night run they were fine and the prices were very reasonable.

Like most of the Heritage cars the Slumbercoaches were pretty run down near the end of their use.
 

Ispolkom

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and the rooms weren't much better. Charmless, sterile and spartan are all terms that come to mind BUT at the price it was much better than a night in coach, but a little weird because you were so isolated and surrounded by linoleum and steel.
It was also weird sitting facing the toilet. But my goodness the price was right. Given the prices that Amtrak is able to get for sleepers, though, I think that it would make more sense to have an all-bedroom Superliner than a slumbercoach. I know that there are three times as many roomettes, but they always sell out first on western trains.
 
R

Reverend Dave

Guest
I travelled in a Slumbercoach many years ago from Chicago to New York on the Lake Shore Limited. I found it very hospitable and reasonably priced for one person.
 

GG-1

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Aloha

With all this discussion, I wonder if a sleeper from the real old days, like in the movie "Cat Ballou" would work. During the day sit in a regular coach, at night a flat bed.
 

cpamtfan

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All roomette cars would not work. Say if they overhauled 10 Amfleets (they did put roomette modules in some Amfleet cars back in '70s to see if a tiletless room would work, it did, and it has proven successful. Also, they're are going to be almost 400 Amfleet I coaches, with some easily convertable with modules), if one car was bad-ordered from a train, and no other cars were avalible, then they would have a problem. I don't think Slumbercoaches or all roomette cars will ever be built or rebuilt.
 

cpamtfan

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I find this interesting, being fairly tall I found the old slumbercoaches that I rode/tried to sleep in :lol: on the crescent from WAS to ATL were very small and confining, I find the Superliner roomettes roomier and more comfortable! ( I have never ridden in a Viewliner roomette, will get my first on the Crescent next month, everyone seems to think they are much roomier!( I do think a bed without meals would be very popular, how about taking regular sleepers that are in rehab, or when the new cars arrive, and convert them to all roomettes, sort of like the transdorms on the superliners, I think they would sell out on most LD routes, especially the western trains and the Sunset in San Antonio Ltd.! :lol:
Viewliner roomettes definately bigger than the Superliner roomette. Just think, a Superliner has rooms on both levels, while a Viewliner only has one level(and double the windows). The Superl is only a few feet taller than the Viewl, so the Viewl roomette definately has mor head room, even with both beds down!
 

ALC Rail Writer

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As a frequent solo traveller I find that the slumbercoach is enticing.

As a man with a decent belly I find the idea disagreeable.
 
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