Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak sleeping cars’

One Morning at Chicago Union Station

May 3, 2019

It is mid morning at Chicago Union Station. I’ve just stepped off the inbound Capitol Limited after boarding several hours earlier in Cleveland.

On an adjacent track is the inbound Broadway Limited. Nos. 40 and 41 are living on borrowed time and will be discontinued in just over a month.

It’s difficult to make good images of trains at CUS due to low lighting conditions not to mention the limited sight lines.

The sleepers on the rear of No. 41 caught my attention. Maybe there is just enough light to make a serviceable image on the slide film I was using.

The images turned out dark and a little blurry. But they remind me of something I can’t see anymore, which is Heritage Fleet sleepers on a train that has been gone more than a decade.

I also liked the mood of the subdued lighting, which seems well suited to portray a passenger car designed for nighttime travel.

No. 2432 in the top photograph was built by the Budd Company in 1950 as Union Pacific 1449, Pacific Waves.

Amtrak retained the name and rebuilt the car to HEP capability in June 1980. Its original Amtrak roster number was 2642.

No. 2051 in bottom image has had a more varied history. It was built by Budd in 1949 as New York Central 10360.

The Central rebuilt the all-roomette care in 1961 to a sleeper coach with a configuration of 16 single rooms and 10 double rooms.

Amtrak reapplied the name Fairport Harbor, which had been dropped by either NYC or Penn Central. At one time it carried Amtrak roster number 2001.

No. 2432 was sold in 2001 and according to the book Amtrak by the Numbers by David C. Warner and Elbert Simon No. 2051 at last report was for sale in 2011. It may have been sold or donated to a museum by now.

Amtrak Expects Delivery of 1st CAF Viewliner Sleeper

February 16, 2019

Amtrak expects to take delivery of the first of its new CAF-built Viewliner sleepers during the week of Feb. 17.

The carrier has ordered 25 Viewliner sleepers whose manufacturing and building have been delayed for several years.

The sleepers are the last cars from a 125-car order and will supplement 50 existing Viewliner sleepers that are used on long-distance trains in the East and South.

Delivery of one CAF-built baggage-dorm has been completed along with 70 baggage cars and 24 of the 25 dining cars that Amtrak ordered.

Amtrak will test the new sleepers before pressing them into revenue service, perhaps by the end of this year.

One significant different between the new Viewliner sleepers and the existing fleet is the absence of a toilet in the roomettes.

Upon delivery, the new Viewliner sleepers will be sent to Amtrak’s Hialeah yard in Miami for installation of a few items, including Wi-Fi capability.

Amtrak Offering 2 for 1 Roomette Fares

December 7, 2018

Inside a Viewliner roomette aboard the Lake Shore Limited.

Amtrak is offering a buy one get one free sale on sleeping car roomettes.

The deal is only available at Amtrak.com and runs through Dec. 11 for travel between Jan. 7 and May 23, 2019. There are no blackout dates.

In a news release, Amtrak said the sale allows one person in a group of two to travel for free.

Under normal circumstances, both occupants of a Viewliner or Superliner roomette must each pay for rail fare and share an accommodation charge.

The sale applies to travel aboard the California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, Cardinal, City of New Orleans, Coast Startlight, Crescent, Empire Builder, Lake Shore Limited, Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited and Texas Eagle.

The sale does not apply to the Auto Train.

The companion traveling with the customer must stay in the same roomette, and other terms and conditions apply.

To take advantage of the sale, a traveler should begin by clicking on the “Buy One Roomette and Bring a Companion for Free” page of the Amtrak website.

The sale does not show up on the normal reservations page, which is unable to calculate the discount.

Passengers will know they have booked the sale fare if they see a “promo applied” notation below the roomette fare.

Trains magazine reported that it found that the best cost savings are available for multi-night travel because rail fares are yield managed.

Amtrak to Impose Group Travel Booking Restrictions

August 1, 2018

Amtrak plans to impose restrictions on bookings for group tour travel, a change that will in particular affect tour companies.

Effective Jan. 1, 2019, Amtrak will no longer permit the blocking of space for group travel, will sharply curtail the number of sleeping car rooms that groups can book at one time and will require payment for travel further in advance of the date of departure.

During the peak travel season, tour companies and groups will be limited to booking no more than 10 roomettes and two bedrooms in Superliner sleepers, and eight roomettes and two bedrooms in Viewliner sleepers.

In the off peak season, those limits will be 12 roomettes and three bedrooms in Superliner sleepers, and 10 roomette and two bedrooms in Viewliner sleepers.

Amtrak will require full payment from a group sales agent 90 days before departure whereas it previously was 45 days.

Agents will be unable to hold space on multiple consecutive departures for the same city pair, and can no longer cancel and re-book reservations as a way of avoiding the payment schedule.

Two tour companies, America by Rail and Vacation by Rail are expected to be affected by the changes. Both companies account for a significant part of sleeping car revenue, particularly during the peak season of ‪June 15 to Aug. 20.

Amtrak will no longer operate a help desk for the benefit of tour operators, instead required them to contact the group sales department, which handles reservations for groups of 20 or more passengers.

The head of America by Rail, Tim Swartz told Trains magazine, “It sounds like they think group operators are holding space too long, thus not allowing [Amtrak] to sell that space to the public.”

America by Rail is one of Amtrak’s largest single customers.

Amtrak Offers Roommette BOGO Sale

June 21, 2018

Amtrak is offering a “Roomette for Two for the Price of One,” which allows one person in a group of two to travel for free in an Amtrak sleeping car.

The far is available only at Amtrak.com between June 20 and June 26 and valid for travel between Aug. 20 and Feb. 15.

The fares are available on every Amtrak train offering sleeping car service.

There is a blackout date on Nov. 25 and other terms and conditions apply.

Those Lost Little Touches

January 18, 2018

There was a time when Amtrak offered a number of small touches for passengers holding sleeping car tickets.

Notice this display inside my room in a Viewliner sleeper on the Lake Shore Limited out of Chicago in June 2010. The car attendant has left a printed greeting with his name.

Another touch was the artificial flowers and the chocolate mint. You could also expect to get a newspaper delivered to your room in the morning and a route schedule to be there as well. Back in the day, as they say, Amtrak even provided route guides.

Now all of these things are gone, victims of cost cutting and changes in service philosophies.