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Old May 19, 12, 12:33 pm   #1
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: CMH/CVG
Programs: Marriott, Southwest, American, Delta, Amtrak,Multiple others
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Lake Shore Limited and Viewliner Sleeper

We just completed an enjoyable trip from Boston to KC on the Lake Shore Limited and Southwest Chief. We enjoyed the train and our service was excellent on both trains (diner crews and sleeper attendants were outstanding. This was my first trip on the Viewliner sleeper. I find the roomettes to be more comfortable than superliner roomettes. The rooms feel bigger, the top bunk is definitely longer and the window for the top is a major improvement. Although the toilet and sink in the roomette were convenient, I would prefer also having a rest room in the car and there are none.

I was very surprised that there is no place to store large suitcases in the viewliner sleeper. Superliner sleepers and the Lakeshore coach cars all had storage areas in the car, but this is a major design flaw. Since many stations don't offer checked baggage, this is a major deterrent. Our car attendent was able to find a place for our larger suitcase, and showed us a compartment above the door (impossible to see with standing on seat) for our other items. We found the ride to be much smoother than our superliner experiences, probably due to being closer to ground.

Since the Lakeshore from Boston is combined with the train from New York, the location of our sleeper car made no sense. We were the first car on the Boston train, followed by 3 coaches and club car. Whent the other cars were added, we had to walk through 8 cars to get to the diner. On all of our previous trips, the sleepers were always adjacent to the diner. I don't understand why the sleeper wasn't the last car on the train from Boston, and the diner and sleeper cars should be the first cars. That seems to make a lot more sense.

Overall, we had a very enjoyable trip and will do it again. We travelled on national train day, but we didn't encounter any activities associated with it on our trip until we arrived in Chicago the next morning.
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Old May 19, 12, 3:03 pm   #2
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Armani,

Glad you had an enjoyable trip!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Armani View Post
This was my first trip on the Viewliner sleeper. I find the roomettes to be more comfortable than superliner roomettes. The rooms feel bigger, the top bunk is definitely longer and the window for the top is a major improvement.
The room is taller than the comparable room on the Superliner, but otherwise pretty much the same size. However, that height, combined with the upper level window makes it appear roomier. And the person in the upper bunk actually has enough clearance to sit upright when in the bed, unlike on a Superliner.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Armani View Post
Although the toilet and sink in the roomette were convenient, I would prefer also having a rest room in the car and there are none.
The new Viewliner sleepers coming in the next couple of years will actually see the removal of the toilet from the roomette and the installation of 2 public restrooms in the car.

Word has it that once the new sleepers are all in service, that the old ones will gradually be refurbished and that they will have the in-room toilets removed in favor of the 2 public ones at the end of the car.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Armani View Post
I was very surprised that there is no place to store large suitcases in the viewliner sleeper. Superliner sleepers and the Lakeshore coach cars all had storage areas in the car, but this is a major design flaw. Since many stations don't offer checked baggage, this is a major deterrent. Our car attendent was able to find a place for our larger suitcase, and showed us a compartment above the door (impossible to see with standing on seat) for our other items. We found the ride to be much smoother than our superliner experiences, probably due to being closer to ground.
Sadly there simply isn't room for a luggage rack, or at least one large enough to be of any help.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Armani View Post
Since the Lakeshore from Boston is combined with the train from New York, the location of our sleeper car made no sense. We were the first car on the Boston train, followed by 3 coaches and club car. Whent the other cars were added, we had to walk through 8 cars to get to the diner. On all of our previous trips, the sleepers were always adjacent to the diner. I don't understand why the sleeper wasn't the last car on the train from Boston, and the diner and sleeper cars should be the first cars. That seems to make a lot more sense.
This is done to simplify switching in Albany. If they put the Boston sleeper in the rear with the NY bound sleepers, then upon arrival in Albany, they would have to perform the following dance.

Cut off the two engines, Boston baggage car, Boston coaches, and the cafe car. Next, cut off the NY baggage car and the Boston sleeper. Separate the Boston sleeper from the NY baggage car and move it out of the way. Reattach the NY baggage car to the NY sleepers. Attach new engine to the NY section of the train. Attach the Boston sleeper to the cafe car on the Boston section.

With the Boston sleeper up front, even though it makes for a long walk to the diner, all they have to do in Albany is cut the train at the cafe car and pull the Boston section forward to the station. Add new engine to the NY section and pull into the station. As you can see, that is far more simple and it involves far fewer movements of cars full of passengers.

Amtrak does a similar thing on the Empire Builder, where the sleeper headed to Portland is the very last car on the train, while the sleepers headed to Seattle are up front on the train. When they get to Spokane, they just cut the train more or less in half at the cafe car and the Seattle section leaves for Seattle. The Portland section gets a new engine and heads for Portland.
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Old May 27, 12, 9:08 am   #3
 
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AlanB,
Thanks for the information. I was traveling on the Westbound Boston train. It had the baggage car, sleeper, 3 coaches, followed by the club car. The NY train had 4 coaches, dining car, followed by the sleeper (s).

Why couldn't the Boston train be configured with the 3 coaches, followed by club and sleeper; and the NY train: diner, sleepers, followed by coach. When the NY train is coupled, the train would be 3 coach, club, BOS sleeper, diner, NY sleepers, 4 coach. This would require only the baggage car to be moved and would place the sleepers close to the diners, similar to all of the trains I have taken out west. This would be a lot better for the higher paying sleeper passengers and would eliminate the 8 car walk to the diner.
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Old May 27, 12, 10:13 am   #4
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Armani,

Well aside from the fact that it would still include extra switching movements to move that baggage car around, Amtrak, when it can, prefers not putting sleeping cars next to coach cars. They do this in an effort to keep coach passengers from entering the sleeping cars where they don't belong. In fact, I'm actually surprised that they don't move the cafe car next to the Boston sleeper.

Arranging things as you've suggested would not only eliminate the buffer on the NY section, but it would require every coach passenger in the NY section to walk through the sleepers every time they wanted food. And any coach passenger in the Boston sleeper wanting to eat in the diner would also have to walk through the Boston sleeper.

This would not be a ideal thing, first because of course the sleeper pax get perks that aren't provided to coach pax, like free coffee, water, juice, etc. And on the Empire Builder during the peak periods when they add an extra coach between Chicago & Minneapolis, those items do disappear very fast if the attendant puts them out.

Second, the halls of the sleepers don't provide adequate room to pass others. With the amount of traffic generated by all those coach passengers trying to get to the cafe and/or diner, it would become a big problem.
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