Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak Superliners’

Did Amtrak Ever Use This Serving Area

January 28, 2020

I made this image of the upper level of an Amtrak Superliner Sightseer lounge while riding aboard the Capitol Limited from Cleveland to Chicago on May 31, 2012.

It got me to wondering if Amtrak has ever used the upper serving area of a Sightseer lounge.

I’ve never seen anyone working this area in a Sightseer lounge car. It appears that the purpose of this serving station is to provide beverages.

I asked a friend who once worked as a lounge car attendant for Amtrak if he knew whether this serving station had ever been used.

He primarily worked Amfleet cars in the Northeast Corridor, but had made a few runs aboard Nos. 29 and 30 between Chicago and Washington.

He could not recall this serving area being used and suggested that was  because that would mean paying two attendants to work the lounge car.

Perhaps in the early years of the use of Superliners aboard Amtrak this area was used. Yet the Superliner equipment began arriving at a time when Amtrak was being squeezed financially.

Perhaps its a case of it seemed like a good idea at the time the car was designed but in practice the carrier decided it didn’t need to use this area.

Yet the fact that a modern soap dispenser is present suggests that maybe, yes, this area is used at times. I’ve just never seen it done.

Pennsylvanian, Capitol Limited Consists Shuffled

January 15, 2020

An online report indicates that Amfleet II coaches have been removed from the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian and replaced with Amfleet I cars.

The equipment change may have been motivated by a bid to increase capacity because Amfleet I coaches have 12 additional seats per car.

At times the Pennsylvanian has experienced standing room only conditions between Harrisburg and Philadelphia on weekends.

The typical Pennsylvanian consist until this week had been a business class car, Amfleet cafe car and lounge, three Amfleet II coaches and one Amfleet I coach. The train also has a Viewliner baggage car.

Reports also indicate that the Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited is operating with its winter consist of one crew car, one sleeper, Cross Country Cafe for sleeper class passengers, Sightseer Lounge, two coaches and a Viewliner baggage car.

The crew cars has sleeping accommodations available for sale to the public.

Motive power can be one P42DC, but some recent sightings have shown two locomotives assigned to Nos. 29 and 30.

One online report from a passenger who rode on No. 30 earlier this month said the train was oversold leaving Chicago.

The report quoted two Amtrak onboard employees as saying that overselling had happened before and that the train is often sold out between Chicago and Pittsburgh.

The normal consist for the Capitol includes another sleeper and coach.

The online reports indicated that a computer glitch had allowed some passengers to buy sleeper space in the car that was dropped for the winter.

Amtrak typically reduces the consist of Nos. 29 and 30 in January as well as those of other long-distance Superliner-equipped trains.

Peaking Out From Beneath an Old Bridge

December 28, 2019

Amtrak’s northbound City of New Orleans is arriving in the station at Mattoon, Illinois, on May 29, 1997.

The track was still owned by the Illinois Central then and the standard practice was for Amtrak trains to serve the station on what used to be the southbound main. The former northbound main shown at left was now a siding.

Operating practices have since changed so that Amtrak uses the siding in Mattoon because it is closer to the station.

The bridge that train is passing beneath carries Broadway Avenue and was opened in 1916. It was replaced in 2002 by a modern structure.

Boarding in Waterloo

October 19, 2019

Their train was late and it had to make two stops at the station in Waterloo, Indiana.

That’s because when Amtrak operates on Track 2 on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern it doesn’t halt next to the platform.

Instead, passengers board and disembark from a much smaller platform between the two tracks.

Such is life on a busy freight line and on this morning the NS was very busy with faster trains relegated to Track 2 and slower unit trains to Track 1.

So the westbound Capitol Limited made two stops in Waterloo, one for sleeping car passengers and the other for coach passengers as shown above.

Sunny Side Up or From the Dark Side?

October 10, 2019

Amtrak’s westbound Capitol Limited was about an hour and a half late when it arrived in Waterloo, Indiana, on a Friday morning.

The sun has just climbed over some low clouds in the eastern sky, creating  nice warm light.

The rear of No. 29 cleared North Center Street, which afforded me an opportunity to photograph the train from both sides.

The top image was made from the south side of the tracks at the grade crossing. It had more direct sunlight on the side of the eight-car train.

The bottom image was made from the platform on the north side of the Norfolk Southern tracks and the side of the train is in shadows although quite a bit of direct light illuminated the platform.

No. 29 was on Track 2 following a double stack train. About a half hour behind the Capitol was the Lake Shore Limited on the same track.

All of the NS traffic was going west on this morning around the time that both Amtrak trains showed up with Track 1 devoted to slow unit trains hauling coal and tank cars.

What An Extra 2 Hours Can Do

August 11, 2019

Amtrak’s City of New Orleans is a challenge to photograph in east central Illinois because of its schedule.

The southbound train passes through in darkness no matter the time of year and the northbound train arrives just before or at dawn.

During the summer the latter might be possible to photograph in early summer, particularly if it is running late.

For one week in late July and early August No. 58 operated two hours later than its normal schedule to accommodate track work being performed by host railroad Canadian National.

I took advantage of that to get the northbound CONO at Pesotum, Illinois, on the last day of the later schedule.

For some reason, it was operating on this day as Train 1158.

 

Meeting in Jackson

July 19, 2019

Amtrak’s City of New Orleans uses tracks of Canadian National (nee Illinois Central) for most of its 934-mile trip between the Windy City and the Crescent City.

So passengers aboard Nos. 58 and 59 who are inclined to watch such things are going to see a lot of CN trains along the way.

In the image above a southbound CN train passes the station in Jackson, Mississippi, while No. 59 does its station work in March 2012.

Just Starting Their Journey

July 6, 2019

Amtrak’s westbound California Zephyr is only about a half-hour into into its trek to the San Francisco Bay as it blasts through Hinsdale, Illinois, on the BNSF Chicago-Aurora, Illinois, raceway.

It’s early to mid afternoon so the passengers and crew are just getting settled in.

The conductors are scanning tickets, the sleeping car attendants are greeting their passengers, the cafe car attendant is getting ready to open and the chefs in the dining car are getting things ready for the first dinner seating later this afternoon.

Not everyone about Train No. 5 will see the Colorado Rockies the next day or the crossing of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California two days from now.

Many will get off at stations large and small in Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska before the train reaches Denver tomorrow morning.

But for those staying on past the mile high city, there is some spectacular scenery waiting for them outside their coach, sleeping car, dining car or Sightseer lounge windows.

Superliner, Amfleet Equipment for Sale

May 8, 2019

Amtrak is offering for sale Superliner and Amfleet cars that have long been out of service.

The cars are now being stored at maintenance facilities in Beech Grove, Indiana; and Bear and Wilmington, Delaware. Bids are due by May 31.

Up for sale are 22 Superliner cars and 19 Amfleet or former Metroliner coaches. Many of the cars on the block have been sidelined due being damaged in derailments and crashes.

Late last year Amtrak sold single-level Heritage Fleet dining cars, sleepers, and baggage cars. It also sold four former Santa Fe Hi-Level coaches and five Hi-Level lounges with the latter once having served as Pacific Parlour cars on the Coast Starlight.

Some locomotives are also for sale, including two P40s and one AEM-7. Also up for sale are 11 gondolas being stored at Niles, Michigan.

Some of the cars for sale have been cannibalized for parts after Amtrak concluded that rebuilding or repairing them would be too costly.

The Superliners for sale are being stored at Beech Grove and were involved in such incidents as the 1995 Sunset Limited sabotage wreck in Arizona (one dining car) and a March 2016 derailment of the Southwest Chief (three coaches and a coach-baggage car) in Kansas.

The inventory being sold includes seven Superliner I coaches, one Superliner I coach-smoking lounge, two Superliner I coach-baggage: five Superliner I and II Sightseer lounges, three Superliner I sleepers; one Superliner II transition sleepers, two Superliner I diner-lounges and one Superliner I dining car.

Momentous Month

April 26, 2019

There have been times during the nearly 48 years of Amtrak’s existence when significant changes occurred. October 1979 was one of them.

The tenor of those times is shown by the covers of two timetables Amtrak issued that month.

Early in the month Amtrak discontinued several trains and routes, including the National Limited, Floridian, North Coast Hiawatha, Lone Star, Hilltopper, and Champion.

Discontinuance of those six trains had been in the works for some time.

Although the trains in question were to begin their last trips on Sept. 30 a few trains continued to operate for several days in early October under court orders before being discontinued.

Later that month, Amtrak assigned new Superliner equipment to the Empire Builder and instituted a new train between Los Angeles and Ogden, Utah, known as the Desert Wind; and created a Houston leg of the Inter-American.

The timetables featured muted colors printed on newsprint. No four-color glossy covers and slick paper as had been the practice for much of the 1970s.

This subdued style had been the practice in the previous couple of years, probably a reflection of the period of austerity that Amtrak was in.

As massive as the train discontinuances of 1979 were, they could have been worse. A U.S. Department of Transportation report issued in January 1979 called for ending even more trains, but they were saved due to political wrangling in Congress.

The late 1970s were also a time of transition between the streamliner era equipment that Amtrak inherited when it was formed in 1971 and new equipment that began service in the middle of the decade.

That transition is reflected on the cover of the Oct. 28 timetable in which Amtrak tries to establish a continuous onward march of progress dating back to the introduction of the Metroliners by Penn Central.

By contrast, the cover of the timetable issued on Oct. 1 took a more pragmatic approach of announcing changes without giving much, if any, indication of how widespread they were.

Amtrak was using a traditional public relations strategy of seeking to put a positive face on a situation many viewed as adverse.

The bottom text refers to the fact that some routes or portions of routes were being saved through state funding. This affected the San Joquin in California and a portion of the National Limited route in Missouri.

Contrary to the impression created by the late October timetable, Superliner equipment was not being introduced that month.

Superliner coaches had gone into service early in the year on some Midwest corridor trains on a temporary basis.

The Empire Builder would be the first train to permanently get the equipment.