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As noted by Markbeardsley, the bulk of these new cars are to replace 50 to 60 year old dining cars and baggage cars. The Superliners that are used in the west are much newer than that.
That said, the west will actually see the new baggage cars on its trains. The new dining cars and extra sleeping cars will only be found in the east.
Get Congress to provide some more funding and Amtrak will be happy to buy more Superliners for the west. They've had a plan ready to do just that for the last 4 years now, as directed by Congress. But in typical fashion, Congress seems to take those plans that they asked for and do nothing but order a new plan the next year.
1 month, 1 week ago on Coming Soon: New Long Distance Cars
It's not the cars, but rather the tracks. Yes, the new cars might ride a tiny bit better than the older ones, but it won't be a big difference. And one shouldn't worry about the cars tipping over. While the ride may feel a bit rough to you, the simple reality is that the tracks would be downgraded in terms of maximum speed long before things got bad enough to cause problems.
What feels rough to those of us on the train is still well within safety limits.
3 months, 3 weeks ago on Coming Soon: New Long Distance Cars
Except that the State of Virginia didn't end up subsidizing that service. Yes, they contracted with Amtrak to provide that service and set aside enough funding to subsidize a 3 year test. However, the service was so successful that Virginia ended up making a profit off of the train.
Virginia estimated a first year ridership of just under 60K. By the end of the first 6 months of service, they had already bested that. They ended the first year with more than 126,000 rides taken and the train turned a $2.1 Million operating profit. VA used its portion of the profit to help pay the bill owed for some of the other Amtrak services in the state. And the train continues to do well since that first year with both ridership and the operating profits increasing.
By the way, both flying & driving are subsidized too. In fact, it was Governments decision to intefere in the Free Market by subsidizing flying & driving that led to the freight RR's wanting out of the passenger business and Amtrak's creation.
3 months, 4 weeks ago on Coming Soon: New Long Distance Cars
You only see half & half arrangements in cars that run on routes where the train isn't turned around. For example, the Keystones. They have an engine on one end and a cab car on the other end.
So when the train arrives in Harrisburg, it's not turned around, they just change ends and go the other way. There is no time to turn all the seats manually, so they just leave the car in half & half mode as it were.
But on Regionals, because the entire train is turned around at the end of the run, all seats face forward except the end row.
4 months ago on Coming Soon: New Long Distance Cars
I can confirm that as of a year ago the original proto-type sleeper was sitting in the Wilmington Shops being used as a mock-up to look at a coach version of the Viewliner car.
Everything is modular. Even the full bags are modular. It's not as dramatic as the sleepers, but each shelving unit is a module that is slid into the car and bolted down.
And actually it wouldn't surprise me at all if Beech Grove does the rebuilding of the I's.
4 months, 1 week ago on Coming Soon: New Long Distance Cars
Sorry, I can' t offer any insight into the production rate; I've heard differing numbers too.
But please do keep in mind that the big issue here really is the shells. Everything else is modular, so it can be completed long before the shells are even done. Heck, they can even send the empty shells someplace else to have the modules installed if they need to.
As I mentioned in another post, and I'll repeat here just to give some idea of this; when Amtrak was rebuilding the Superliner I sleepers it was taking about 3 months per car. They hope that refurbing the existing 50 sleepers will take about 1 month per car. And I think that time frame is determined more by needed HVAC work, truck work, etc. Sliding out the old modules and sliding in the new ones is the easy part by comparison.
That date has already been adjusted to compensate for the delays that have been encountered to date. And AFAIK, that's the date provided by CAF; not Amtrak.
Last I heard Amtrak was mainly waiting on Norfolk Southern to install a switch or two at Pittsburgh to allow for the needed switching of the cars. Once that is done, they could actually start the run through service with a coach & cafe car. The sleeper will have to wait until enough of the new sleepers are received.
And there is no crew base in Toledo; at least none for the On Board Service personnel.
Well since that train doesn't currently have checked baggage at all; if it does get a new car with the bike racks at all, it will be one of the last to get the cars. Amtrak wants to retire the current baggage cars ASAP, so at least initially the new cars will go to trains that already have baggage currently.
Unless a major problem is encountered during the testing phase, all 130 cars are to be delivered by early 2016. Unless options are exercised, the production line will be shut down or building something else in 2017.
I don't have a link handy, but I too recall Mr. Boardman making a statement just around the time that he approved the order of these new Viewliners that he wouldn't buy any more long distance cars until Congress gave him some clear direction & support on whether or not Amtrak should continue to run the long distance trains.
Of course expecting to get clear direction from the current Congress would seem to be impossible.
I'm not sure that any really knows, as it is dependent on just how fast the cars are approved and roll off the production line. It wouldn't surprise me either if Amtrak initially elects to keep all the new one's on the east coast where less are needed.
Were I to hazard a guess, I'd say that you probably won't see them until the fall out there. But again, that's just a guess on my part.
Exactly! It's an extra car that sits in the yard to "protect" the service should a train come in with a car that needs to be taken out of service for work. So for example during a run of the Silver Meteor to NY, the air conditioning fails and stops working in a car, when the train reaches NY crews in the yard will take out the bad car so that they can fix it and they'll put in the protect car so that the train is ready to go back south on schedule.
Amtrak currently has 20 Heritage dining cars on its active roster, plus the lone Viewliner Prototype Dining car 8400. I believe that 1 car listed as active is presently out of service and unavailable for use. Then there are currently 15 out on the road at any given moment; with a few in the shop and a few others as protection cars.
But regardless; the net gain in dining cars, assuming no contract options are exercised, would be 5. In theory, 2 of those will end up the Cardinal. And if the Card goes daily, that will require 3.
The other 2 I'm sure Amtrak will want to hold onto as protect cars.
And now the NARP Blog at the following link confirms that the sinks will remain.
4 months, 2 weeks ago on Coming Soon: New Long Distance Cars
AFAIK the sinks remain, and based upon the picture above it indeed looks like the sink is there.
No. And only the tables closest to the end of the car provide for wheelchairs. Therefore only the occupant of the H room closest to the diner will be able to roll out of their room, across the threshold, and into the dining car. All other H room occupants will remain dependent on their attendant if they cannot get out of the wheelchair.
Correct, the new cars are supposed to have an undercarriage to help hold in the residual heat and give Amtrak more time for switching and other things in the cold weather.
And I also have to assume that should the refurbishment program happen on the I's, that the existing 50 will be retrofitted with that same protection.
I think it was a combination of the complaints, the extra costs of cleaning, and the freeze issues that came with all the pipes that led to the removal.