Posts Tagged ‘Viewliners’

Amtrak Tests Viewliners on Western Route

July 21, 2019

Amtrak took delivery last week of more new Viewliner equipment and operated a test train of Viewliner equipment on the route of the Southwest Chief in a move that may signal the carrier’s intent to assign the equipment to Western long-distance routes.

The test train had two new Charger locomotives, two Viewliner II diners, a Viewliner II baggage-dorm and three Viewliner II baggage cars and went west on the route of the Chicago-Los Angeles Chief.

The test train might return to Chicago over the route of the California Zephyr.

Amtrak management in the past has hinted that it might assign new Viewliner equipment to a Western train as a way of upgrading it with all-new equipment.

In the meantime, Amtrak took possession of two new Viewliner baggage-dormitory cars built at the CAF USA plant in Elmira Heights, New York, and sent them to Amtrak’s Hialeah, Florida, maintenance facility for final acceptance inspections.

Amtrak has ordered 10 baggage-dorm cars from CAF but has not said when they will enter revenue service.

Generally, Amtrak wants to accept and test one complete train before pressing the new cars into revenue service.

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.

Amtrak CEO Moorman Talks About His Vision for the Future of the U.S. Rail Passenger Carrrier

January 30, 2017

Since taking over last fall as the CEO of Amtrak, Charles “Wick” Moorman has given hints here and there about his vision of America’s national intercity rail passenger carrier.

Wick Moorman

Wick Moorman

Columnists and editors of Trains magazine sat down with Moorman in December to discuss that vision.

Columnist Don Phillips was there and wrote about it for the March issue of the magazine that will be in subscriber mailboxes soon.

Phillips recently sent advance copies of his columns to those on an email list that he maintains. Presumably, there will be another report in the March issue written by the magazine’s passenger rail correspondent.

Moorman told the Trains representatives that he sees a future for long-distance passenger trains, but it is less clear if he sees any expansion of them.

He does see potential growth in medium-distance service, which is paid for by the states.

The proposed restoration of service along the Gulf Coast east of New Orleans has been gaining political support and may end up becoming an extension of the Chicago-New Orleans City of New Orleans.

But that hinges upon the federal government making a financial commitment to the service.

Moorman said during the interview that the new Viewliner equipment for eastern long-distance trains that is being built by CAF USA will be finished according to a new production schedule that the company and Amtrak have agreed upon.

Other items of interest include Moorman’s view that something needs to be done about the quality of food service aboard Amtrak trains, and the aging diesel locomotives and passenger cars used by trains outside the Northeast Corridor.

In regards to food service, Moorman said the pressure that has come from Congress in recent years to cut the cost of food service is lessening and what Amtrak needs to do is sell more food.

Another high priority on Moorman’s list is the institution of a training program for on-board employees, including conductors.

But the top priority on Moorman’s list is rebuilding infrastructure in the Northeast Corridor. That includes replacing bridges, tunnels and catenary, as well as building a replacement for New York Penn Station.

The takeaway from the Phillips column: Look for a better on-board experience but with little to no expansion of the existing routes and levels of train frequency.