Posts Tagged ‘Viewliner sleeping cars’

Sleepers to Return to Boston-Washington Route

March 14, 2021

Sleeping car service is returning between Boston and Washington on the Northeast Corridor starting April 5.

The Viewliner sleepers will operate on Trains 66 and 67 with a scheduled running time of nine to 10 hours depending on the direction and the day of the week of travel.

No. 67 operates as Train 65 on Friday and Saturday nights.

Passengers will receive a complimentary continental breakfast box in the evening and may either go to the train’s cafe car for coffee and juice in the morning or have the car’s attendant deliver it to their rooms.

Amtrak also will offer passengers one complimentary alcoholic beverage.

Passengers will be able to make use of first-class lounges in Boston and Washington.

However, the lounge in Philadelphia will be unavailable and New York passengers will need to board through Penn Station because the Moynihan Train Hall and its Metropolitan Lounge are closed overnight.

The Northeast Corridor has always had sleeping cars operating on long distance trains that continue beyond Washington.

But sleeping car service between Boston and Washington has been absent since 2003.

For many years Amtrak offered an overnight train between the two terminals named the Night Owl. That train had a New York-Washington “Executive Sleeper” that was dropped off or picked up at Penn Station.

That service ended when Amtrak ceased using Heritage Fleet sleepers.

Starting in 1997, the Boston-Washington sleepers operated south to Newport News, Virginia, when he train was renamed the Twilight Shoreliner.

Amtrak officials have said the resumption of sleeping car service between Boston and Washington is being made possible by the assignment of Viewliner II sleepers to the Silver Star and Silver Meteor between New York and Miami.

Sleepers that had been operating in Silver Service have been reassigned to the Northeast Corridor.

The intercity carrier said it has enough Viewliner II sleepers to cover the resumption of daily service on the New York-Miami run in late spring.

Viewliner II sleepers have already been introduced on the New York Miami route and will be maintained at the Hialeah Maintenance Facility in Miami.

Currently the Silver Service trains are running with just one Viewliner II sleeper, Amtrak plans to soon increase that to two of every three sleepers on each train.

Train 66 is scheduled to depart Washington nightly at 10 p.m., arriving in New York at 1:55 a.m. and Boston’s South Station at 7:58 a.m.

No.  67 leaves Boston Sunday through Thursday at 9:30 p.m. It arrives in New York at 2:30 a.m. and Washington at 7 a.m.

On Fridays and Saturdays No. 65 runs on a slightly different schedule.

Amtrak said fares between Boston and Washington for one person in a roomette could be as low as $288.

Travel Downturn Keeping Some Amtrak Fares Lower

March 17, 2020

Aside from fewer people traveling, the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on Amtrak has meant greater availability of fares at lower levels, an analysis by Trains magazine has found.

The analysis found that coach and sleeping car fares are at their lowest price level on most routes.

Amtrak fares vary depending on demand on a given day. The higher the demand the more likely that fares are to be higher.

Trains reported that passengers who believe they will be able to travel during historic busy travel periods will find sleeping car fares higher than what can be had now but still lower than what those fares would be under normal circumstances when sleeping car rooms are often sold out.

A roomette this summer on the Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited can be had for $310, which matches the current adult roomette fare.

On the Chicago-New York Cardinal, roomettes are selling for $595 whereas last year during the summer they sold for $900.

The Cardinal has long had less sleeping car space than other eastern long-distance trains and thus its sleeping car fares have tended to be higher and space is harder to get.

Nos. 50 and 51 typically operate with one Viewliner sleeper although in recent weeks sleeping car space on the route has increased slightly with the assignment of a Viewliner baggage-dormitory car to the train.

The Trains analysis spot check found that a sleeping car accommodation on the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief can be had this summer for $740 whereas it current is priced at $604.

The respective fares for the California Zephyr (Chicago-Emeryville, California) are $685 for the summer versus $547 now and for the Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder they are $900 versus $513 now.

The COVID-19 has resulted in sleeping car accommodations being sold out northbound on the Auto Train through March 23 whereas southbound plenty of space is available.

When demand for the Auto Train is strong Amtrak has the option of expanding sleeping car consists from seven cars to eight.

The Auto Train equipment pool includes Amtrak’s only two Superliner sleepers that have only bedrooms on the upper level.

Amtrak Previews Coming On-Board Service Changes

January 9, 2020

A service advisory posted on the Amtrak website on Wednesday formally announced the return of dining service for sleeping car passengers on the Silver Star as well as briefly described other coming changes including the inauguration of Viewliner II sleeping car service on eastern long-distance trains.

Amtrak did not give a date for when the Viewliner II sleepers will begin revenue service other than it would be “in the coming months.” Nor did it say which trains would get the new sleepers.

The announcement merely said they would be assigned to “trains on the East Coast” and would be the first addition to the Amtrak sleeping car fleet in more than 25 years.

The passenger carrier said sleeping car passengers will begin using upgraded bedding, towels and linens at an unspecified date.

This change will initially be made on the Auto Train that operates between the Washington area and Florida.

Also coming is the completion of renovations to Amfleet II coaches with new seating cushions, carpets, curtains and LED reading lights.

Since 2015 sleeping car passengers on the Silver Star have not received meals as part of their fare as is the case on all other Amtrak overnight trains with sleeper service.

The dining service being inaugurated on the Silver Star on May 1 will be the same as that provided on the Capitol Limited, Cardinal, City of New Orleans, Crescent, Lake Shore Limited and Silver Meteor.

Nos. 91 and 92 will receive a dining car reserved for the exclusive use of sleeping car passengers.

Amtrak said traditional dining service will continue to be offered on the California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited, Texas Eagle and for sleeping car customers aboard the Auto Train.

In Its Customary Position

May 21, 2019

An Amtrak Viewliner baggage car brings up the rear of the westbound Lake Shore Limited as it cruises through Olmsted Fall, Ohio, en route to Chicago.

The next stop for Train 49 will be Elyria, Ohio.

The typical operation of Nos. 48 and 49 has the Boston section at the front of the train. Only the New York section still has a baggage car and it is always on the rear.

And that’s for good reason, too. You would not want passengers walking through a baggage going to and from the Boston and New York sections.

Ahead of the baggage cars are a pair of Viewliner sleepers and Viewliner dining car Dover.

Seeing the Sunrise in Ohio

March 4, 2019

Your train didn’t get out of Chicago Union Station until 12:33 a.m., making it just over three hours late when its wheels finally began to turn.

So maybe you wanted to sleep in a little the next morning.

By the time you pulled back the curtains from the windows in your Viewliner sleeping accommodations on Train No. 48 it was just after 8 a.m.

The skies were mostly cloudy, but a bit of sunlight was peaking through as the Lake Shore Limited roared through Olmsted Falls in suburban Cleveland.

No. 48 has made some of the time lost leaving Chicago, but not much.

By the time it halted at the Amtrak station next to Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland No. 48 was 2 hours and 51 minutes late.

It would not get much better the rest of the way, reaching New York City at 8:09 p.m. The scheduled arrival time at Penn Station is 6:23 p.m.

Around Utica, New York, No. 48 had dropped down to 3 hours, 15 minutes off the published time card.

As it the practice these days, a continental breakfast is available in the dining car just ahead of the two New York sleepers.

Today’s train has one of those new Viewliner dining cars that are named for state capital cities.

This one is named after the capital of Ohio, Columbus, a city that has not seen a scheduled Amtrak train since the last National Limited snuck out of town on May 1, 1979, on its last day of operation.

Lake Shore Limited Summer Consist

June 2, 2018

As soon as the eastbound Lake Shore Limited rounded a curve in North East, Pennsylvania, I had the answer to a question I had come here to have answered.

The Chicago-Boston only edition of the train is much shorter than the usual order.

A summer track and bridge project on the route that Nos. 48 and 49 use to access New York Penn Station prompted Amtrak to suspend the New York Section of the train through early September.

Passengers boarding the Lake Shore Limited bound for New York City must make an across the platform transfer in Albany-Rensselaer, New York, to reach the Big Apple and all other points served buy No. 48 south of Albany.

I expected a shortened consist for the Lake Shore, but was a little surprised at how short it was.

What I saw on Thursday was one P42DC locomotive, a Viewliner baggage car, four Amfleet II coaches, two cafe cars and two Viewliner sleepers.

This is just three cars longer than the normal consist of the Boston section of a Viewliner baggage car, cafe car, Viewliner sleeper and two coaches.

Also different is that the train is operating as Nos. 448/449. Those numbers have long been used by Amtrak to denote cars assigned to the Boston section.

But it was the first time I’ve heard the train use those numbers for operational purposes west of Albany.

Frigid Outside, Warm Inside

January 25, 2018

Outside the temperature was in the low teens and the wind chill was below zero. A friend and I were waiting to photograph Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited roaring through Geneva, Ohio. No. 48 was running two hours late. It also was running a few minutes behind a CSX stack train.

The usual consist of the eastbound Lake Shore Limited has the Boston cars toward the front and the New York cars on the rear. Typically, No. 48 has two Viewliner sleepers for New York.

This day was no exception. Shown above is the first of the two New York sleepers. Some passengers in those rooms might just now be getting up and about while others might be watching the wintry countryside of Northeast Ohio fly by. Still others might be having breakfast in the “dining car” just ahead of the first New York sleeper.

I placed the phrase “dining car” in quotations because it is not the same as the dining cars that used to run on this train. With Viewliner diners, presumably, being readied for revenue service, the Lake Shore Limited might get a full dining car some day.

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.