Posts Tagged ‘Superliners’

The Way They Began Service

May 25, 2021

Amtrak’s Superline fleet lounge cars are today known as Sightseer Lounges, but when those cars began revenue in the early 1980s they were named “lounge cafe” cars.

Note also the broad red and blue strips with white accents that ran the length of the car.

When this image was made in Albuquerque in early November 1981, Superliner equipment was still relatively new. The car shown is in the consist of the eastbound Southwest Limited, which later would be renamed the Southwest Chief.

Looking Down on a Sightseer Lounge

April 9, 2021

On Amtrak trains that are assigned Superliner equipment, the Sightseer lounge is a popular place to hang out and view the passing scenery.

It doesn’t offer the same perspective as a dome car but with its large windows that extend into the ceiling you can still see quite a bit.

Shown is the Sightseer lounge on the westbound Capitol Limited as it sits in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, making its station stop.

I wondered if anyone in the lounge noticed me photographing their train.

Since Nos. 29 and 30 went to tri-weekly operation in October 2020, the Capitol has been running without a Sightseer lounge. Will it be restored for summer operation?

Cooling Their Heels

May 10, 2020

A gaggle of American Superliners sit in the coach yard outside Chicago Union Station awaiting service, repairs or the call to return to the road.

This image was made from aboard the outbound Illini as it was backing out of the station en route to Carbondale, Illinois, on June 2, 2012.

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.

 

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.

Service Stop in Albuquerque

April 7, 2019

Superliner equipment had been assigned to Amtrak’s Southwest Limited for less than two years when I rode the No. 4 from Los Angeles to Kansas City.

The train is shown here making a service stop in Albuquerque.

On the rear is sleeper George M. Pullman, car No. 32009. It was the last passenger car made by the Pullman-Standard, a predecessor company of the Pullman Car Company founded by George Pullman.

Amtrak initially ordered 235 Superliners from Pullman-Standard in April 1975 but soon upped that to 284 cars.

No. 32009 was one of two sleepers on No. 4 on this day, but I had accommodations in the car ahead of it.

Nos. 3 and 4 have since been renamed the Southwest Chief.

 

Amtrak Eyeing Superliner Replacement or Rebuilding

December 10, 2018

Amtrak has given a hint that it is considering a plan for replacement or rebuilding of its Superliner fleet.

In a letter to Rail Passengers Association Jim Mathews, Amtrak Chairman Anthony Coscia said the carrier is evaluating what he termed an “appropriate strategy” for the Superliner fleet, which is primarily assigned to long-distance trains.

Coscia noted that several of Amtrak’s equipment fleets are nearing the end of their useful lives.

“We are eager to grow and expand service to currently underserved cities, corridors and communities across the country,” Coscia wrote. “We are hopeful there will be opportunities for expansion onto new routes in places like Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois.”

He also indicated that Amtrak’s PRIIA-required Route Improvement Plans are providing an opportunity to examine options for daily service for the Cardinal and Sunset Limited.

“Of course, to do so will require reasonable cooperation from our host railroads and available equipment,” Coscia wrote.

It is not yet what steps Amtrak might take to address the wearing out Superliner fleet.

Getting a Better View

October 19, 2018

An Amtrak car attendant perches on the step box as he looks down the platform at Jackson, Mississippi, during a station stop for the northbound City of New Orleans.

Jackson is one of the busiest stops for Nos. 58 and 59, but most of the passengers in the distance are boarding one of the coaches and not holding sleeping car tickets.