You love taking the train (we're looking at you, our 31.6 million riders!) and we love working to improve your travel experience. That’s why we’re bringing 130 new single-level long distance cars to the rails by 2014.
Manufactured by CAF USA in Elmira, N.Y., these new passenger cars have a little bit of everything and a whole lot of improvements. We could talk about how cool these new cars are forever, but to keep it short and sweet, here are the 5 facts you need to know about our new long distance cars.
1. How Many Cars?
The new cars include 25 sleeper cars, 25 dining cars, 25 baggage/dormitory cars and 55 baggage cars. Yes, that's a lot of new equipment, and we can't wait!
2. Can You Say Upgrade?
We know it’s been awhile since we've added new equipment, that’s why we’re modernizing the look and feel of our interiors (All together now, "ooohh, aaahh").
3. Hot and Cold or Somewhere In Between
We ride our trains, too. So we know the temp can be, shall we say, fickle. That’s why our new cars have more efficient air conditioning and heating systems to keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Did we mention more outlets? Yup, that's right! Now you'll be able to plug in ALL of your electronic devices.
4. A Place to Hang Your ... Bike
Our new baggage cars even have bike racks, which means no more bike boxes!
With the new design features, the cars traveling on the Northeast Corridor will have the ability to increase their top speeds to 125 mph.
Check back here soon for more information about the future of our new cars. We can't wait to have you experience them first-hand.
Got questions about the new cars? Let us know in the comments, and we will do our best to answer all of your questions in upcoming posts.
Read More All Aboard!: Roomette with a View (or Two)
How about designing the upstairs windows so that if someone becomes ill and needs a stretcher to be used-make the windows so EMTs can slide the stretcher out the window-currently they have to try to get an unconscious or severely injured patient down those skinny narrow stairs and of course the kids will get in the way and make things harder. The cars are not designed for most people to walk up and down the stairs-elderly and disabled have a major problem and most cannot get to the dining or observer cars because of it. 3rd-please please please fix the alarm buttons-I have taken 15 round trips on TX Eagle and the buttons have never worked!. I watched some boys commit a felony by tearing up Amtrak fed law and other posters and tried the buttons-nothing. Even managed to get to the stairs-no employee in sight because they are too overworked with too many duties-those kids had no adult supervision from when they got on -they said FL but TX Eagle does not go there. all the way to NM and were totally undisciplined. They did get away with no penalties because of the alarms. Next-try a deal of allowing certain passengers such as EMTs, Paramedics etc with a deal of free or reducec fares in exchange for responding to emergencies so the time period between being sick and getting the ambulance is covered-train crew are not medics and have enough to do. Get us back to 3-4pm departures so kids will settle down and have time to settle in and not be so obnoxious and let all start boarding as soon as train arrives-the cattle car system usually used results in injuries and bad tempers. Waiting till 8 to get a seat assigned is stupid-my metrolink gets me to LA by 12:30 and sit around till 8 just to assign a seat is poor planning. Once I had my ticket I used to check out which track it would be on-head out there and get a seat so I was not part of the mixed up crowd holding everyone up-then tell the crew where I was settled-they reduced their concerns about seating others and my stuff was out of the way so it was easier to board. One trip the crew issuing the seats actually took part of our tickets-when we got to the train-the greeting crew took the other part which was weird. Once we got started the conductors came around to check tickets and all of us had to tell them what had happened and have no tickets to verify our right to be on the train-but they accepted our story and just tried to deal with it. I always keep several copies of my tickets to avoid problems like that. Give only the travelers in the disabled car keys to gain entry-the nasty kids on the train think it is hysterical to move the trash bins into the disabled bathroom and make it impossible for wheelchair bound to get in and despite being told by the conductors-all passengers kept using that restroom defeating the purpose and that includes poorly raised adults. There are no newspapers available at stations or on the train-would love that-and also not being FORCED to sit with others in the dining car-some of us like to read or just sit alone to eat rather than converse or watch the runny noses on the kids across from us who no one tells to wipe their nose-it was disgusting. That is a start-by the way the best employees are Andre, John, Lorna and Albert who left after a particularly witchy little female tormented and we wanted to stick In the dumpster-he was a total gentleman but thanks to her we lost the nicest and hardest worker ever.
I love the train especially because I do not fly but the tracks are very scary. You are saying that the trains are going to be faster on the long trains but it seems like they are ready to tip over at the speeds that they go now especially as you get down to the south. Will they be fixing the tracks. I think that is needed before anything else
My wife and I are looking forward to retirement and travelling by Amtrak. Want to try a long distance train with a sleeper.
Just like anything else, it is a Holiday, so it is more.
We are traveling from Montreal to Orlando in February, and it is almost half price than what we would have paid to fly. We already have our tickets.
Your best bet would be to purchase your tickets ahead of time and you may see a cheaper fare.
If only Amtrak were affordable! I just checked to see how much it would cost to go NYC to Boston round-trip for Thanksgiving and it was almost $400. I don't know how anyone ever affords to take it.
Yes, and yes. And if they ever do replace the passenger coach cars, also, just more comfy seats, especially when they're reclined. Individual car temperature controls would be great, so we don't freeze and/or swelter. And not sure it's possible, but some kind of noise/bump insulation over the wheels. That's my wish list, anyway.And maybe automatic flush toilets or something to improve the bathrooms on the long distance trains (because they get really disgusting).
Just throwing it out there....
Great news! The new cars look great and I'm excited to see them in use.
Do you know if and when we'll see the new bike rack baggage cars on the Northeast Regional?
As a final note, I'm very impressed by your quick and informative responses to commenters. Amtrak PR is getting it right here.
So how long before we can expect the Philadelphia - New York section of the Capitol Ltd to be instituted?
I've given up using Amtrak to travel from St. Paul to Harrisburg to visit my daughter's family and grandkids due to the ungodly arrival hour at Pittsburgh and the wait for the Pennsylvanian.
I suggested at the Trains Magazine / Amtrak Townhall Meeting that a separate section of the Lake Shore drop the Philadelphia / New York cars at Cleveland, with crew deadheading on it from the Toledo crew base. That section would avoid the Cleveland Buffalo snow belt in winter and might prove to be a more reliable New York arrival.
White Bear Lake, MN
How long will it be, before the Oklahoma City to Ft.Worth section gets one of those nice new cars with bike racks?
I miss the old cars with the bike racks that were taken away!
Could someone please respond to my question? How soon will the baggage cars with bike racks be added to the west coast Coastal Starlight and Empire Builder trains? Thank you.
@ahblid - what's a protect car? It sounds like an extra car of sorts!
Her'e"s what I'd like to know.. Including the present Viewliner prototype diner Amtrak presently has 16 single-level diners. When all the new diners are inservice and the all the Heritage diners sre retired Amtrak will have 26 inccluding that prototype. With each present single-level overnight train having a new diner, where will the 10 extra diners go. Perhaps 2 or 3 might be spares but I'm wondering if there just might be a day train getting diner service.
I really don't like the fact that Amtrak is thinking about repainting equipment and painting the new equipment in Phase III. I love the current Phase IVb and Phase V. I think Amtrak should spend more money on improving the interiors of trains then to spend it on repainting trains back to an old paint scheme.
The last Bedroom we took was on the Silver Star from NYP (Boston) to Tampa. The attendant had to stuff towels into the suite connecting door to stop the rattling so we could sleep. The cabinets next to the mirror had shelves that had a rounded DOWN edge so things (like coins) fell out, and you couldn't easily access the sink when the bed was down (like after using the bathroom at night).
It looks like that more rounded sink cabinet may make it a little easier to get to the sink when the bed is down and that's a nice change.
I have ridden in every Amtrak sleeper accommodation (except for HP) and I think the Viewliner has the best designed rooms in an overall very pleasant car. I look forward to experiencing these new versions.
Looks like the BAG doors will easily be sprung... Already appears to have stress marks on the floor corner nearest the bike rack... :( The Phase IVb scheme is clean & classy -- much preferred!
@MaryStephens 1 Much of the older equipment is hopeless. Diners are over 50 years old, and it's like each one came from a different railroad, making maintenance costs ridiculous. Some baggage cars are even older. So they got to go. Maybe railroad museums will grab a few of these antiques, but their time has passed.
The crew dorms/baggage combo cars will be additions to the fleet, flexibly allowing half a baggage car, and half a car worth of added roomettes (by moving the crew out of the sleepers), to be attached to current trains..
The 25 new sleepers will be additions to the fleet as well. And the plan is to give all the old Viewliner I sleepers a complete make-over, using modules, so they will be like-new.
We all see the need for more equipment. We hope Amtrak will be able to exercise an option it has for 70 more cars at the same price as those in this order, or less. That option order would allow some added service, like taking the Cardinal daily for sure.
But Amtrak needs much more than another 70 cars. And states can't add corridor services due to the shortage of affordable used equipment.
@Traingirl The new cars will let the long distance trains go faster on the electrified NorthEast Corridor, in most cases that's NYC-D.C. There the LD trains change locomotives to diesels, as they do now. So your further south problem will not get worse.
I don't like a scary experience either -- haven't been on a roller coaster twice in my life. LOL. But I can't recall when a train tipped over in the U.S.. We're in much greater danger just trying to walk across a street, alas.
I have always found the Viewliners to feel safe and ride comfortably even in the south. The only time I was scared on a train was leaving Chicago on the California Zephyr. We rocked and rolled and alarmingly slammed through switches violently with a loud bang. It was horrible. But even with the double-decker cars and the rough track we didn't tip over.
We were however in the Superliner Family Room which is located in the lower level close to the tracks and next to the wheels which probably heightened the sensations.
The Viewliners have their rooms located much higher and further away from the track and wheels. I would think these new versions will be much better insulated and isolated and should provide a quieter more comfortable ride.
Over the years most of the host railroads have improved their ROW and you hopefully should find the ride much improved. Our last trip hit 127 mph through Massachusetts and it was smooth as glass. I feel safer in a train going 100mph than in a plane going 500mph.
@BigUglyMike1 In February, my husband and I are traveling from Ottawa to Montreal on VIA Rail, then from Montreal to NYC by Amtrak, then from NYC to Orlando by Amtrak in a sleeper. This will be our first time in a sleeper, but have traveled with Amtrak in the past. If either one of you is handicap, make sure to tell them when you order your sleeper. Also, you get a 15% discount as a companion for a handicap person.
@BigUglyMike1 It's worth EVERY NICKEL!
@AlineAlarieCarley The airfare could be even higher if Amtrak weren't competing in that market.
When the state of Virginia subsidized new trains from D.C. to Lynchburg and Norfolk, the fares were lower than the air fares, and the airlines had to cut their prices.
@LoudintheHouse The pricing varies greatly depending on how early you get your tickets, and also on the demand. I just checked for a roundtrip in mid-January and total is $98.
@LoudintheHouse I am going from Los Angeles to Mineola, TX on 22 Nov and return on 18 Dec and it will only cost me 247.00 round trip up from 239.00. I buy early and use my VeteransAdvantage discount and find it very easy to get the reservation-I totally ignore Juli-she has to much trouble understanding complicated words like Yes from no, numbers, words etc-if you need help-as soon as phone is picked up either hit 0 or keep yelling agent till you get one-they are very pleasant and helpful-Juli is a lost cause. Senior citizens get a 15% discount too and current military gets 10%. The chicken meal is the best but the price keeps going up-not too badly but 17.95 is high for me on soc sec. Love NY-that is home no matter where I an-BROOKLYN RULES!!!
@LoudintheHouse I just went from Providence, RI to Kissimmee, Fl for about $268.00 in October. It must be because of Thanksgiving.
@LoudintheHouseHow much is an Amtrak ticket with advanced purchase? Amtrak sells out on peak dates, around holidays, spring break, sometimes Friday or Sunday evening.
You are right to see that Amtrak doesn't have enuff equipment to run enuff trains to meet peak demand. So pricing becomes 'what the traffic will bear'. As it should, so Amtrak can make hay while the sun is shining to offset its loses other times and places.
Amtrak has been talking about ordering new Acelas, to allow two trips per hour D.C.-NYC and double capacity.
It's also talking about running two Regional trains per hour. But until it can spend billions for new equipment, it can't add much capacity anywhere.
And upgrades to the route are needed: new tunnels, new bridges, new overhead catenary, etc. Amtrak needs billions to do it.
So tell your Congresscritter to invest in a better Northeast Corridor, and to support Amtrak with an order for new traincars by appropriate a few billions or more to get that job done.
No, and no new lounge cars either. At least not yet for either one althoughthere has been onestory of Amtrak taking one of the prototype sleepers and making a protoype coach out of it.
top speed on the Heritage cars is 90 miles per hour at best. Even the
current crop of Viewliners tops out at 110 mph. But the new ones will go
to 125 mph, and the old ones will get a rmake-over to let them go 125
With the faster cars, these trains will not get in the
way of faster Acelas and even Regionals and Keystones. So the long
distance trains on the NEC -- the Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Crescent,
Cardinal -- will get faster, but most of the passengers are on the other
trains that will benefit.
All the East Coast Heritage equipment will go: every antique diner and baggage car will be replaced.
The aging locomotives will be replaced soon, well, according to rumor, the first ACS-64 electric locomotives will go into service this month!
The new equipment will go faster, but also will be more reliable, rarely breaking down out on the tracks, and saving huge maintenance costs, especially for the vintage diners. Best of all, the new engines will be such an improvement that the expectation is that they will pay for themselves in about six years.
Perhaps there'll be a few minutes shaved from the schedules NYC-D.C. But that is not really the point of buying these new cars and locomotives.
Sorry, my editing period expired! So I'm posting the better edited version.
@edjackardThe top speed on the Heritage cars is 90 miles per hour at best, maybe 80 mph.
A great nenefit from the new cars will be to speed up the long distance trains on the NEC --The Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Crescent, Cardinal -- so they will not get in the way of faster Acelas and even Regionals and Keystones.
All the East Coast Heritage equipment will go: every antique diner and baggage cars will be replaced. And they'll be replaced starting, well, according to rumor, the first Next Gen electric locomotives will go into service this month!
The new equipment will go faster, but also will be more reliable, rarely breaking down out on the tracks, and saving huge maintenance costs, especially for the diners. Best of all, the new engines will be such an improvement that the expectation is that they will pay for themselves in about six years.
Perhaps there will be a few minutes saved from the schedules NYC-D.C. But that is not really the point of buying these new cars and locomotives.
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.
@mujozen The information suggests that testing will go on until summer, when the first cars can join the fleet. Then two or possibly three baggage cars a month off the assembly line.
The new cars will go first to the East Coast trains because the rattletrap antique baggage cars slow down the Long Distance trains on the Northeast Corridor, and make problems for the faster Acelas and Regionals. So the Silver Star and Silver Meteor to Florida, the Crescent to Atlanta and New Orleans, the Cardinal to Cincinnati and Chicago, perhaps the Palmetto to Savannah, and the Lake Shore Limited to Buffalo and Chicago will all come first. That's almost 20 right there. At 2 per month it's almost 10 months from July 2014, at 3 per month it could be 6 or 7 months from then.
Then the new baggage cars will be assigned to long distance trains out west. Again I'd expect the first trains to get new ones will be those where the Heritage cars are slowing down the trains, and replacing them will improve On Time Performance. I have no idea which ones that would be.
I know the Empire Builder badly needs more cars, but I doubt if it's baggage cars that it needs the most. On the other hand, there could be a train very popular with Sleeper passengers, who tend to carry more baggage, that does need another bag car quick, fast, and in a hurry. Maybe the Coast Starlight? Your guess is as good as mine.
Anyway, 55 baggage cars in the order, about 20 go to Eastern trains first, then 35 to the Western trains. At 2 per month off the assembly line, it will be about 28 months to finish the baggage car part of the order, more than 2 years from July 2014, or September 2016 more or less. At 3 per month it could be only 18 months, or roughly end of 2015.
In short, the earliest West Coast trains could see new baggage cars would be spring of 2015.
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.
@RAAndre I've ridden the various types of cars as well, and the wheelchair-accessible Viewliner bedroom is tops, and the regular bedrooms a close second, owing to spaciousness from higher ceilings (which also make upper berth travel nicer than in Superliners), private bathroom with good sink arrangement (we didn't use the shower), more windows, ability to see out both sides of the train (with a window toward the aisle and an outside window across from that), full-size ladder, long sofa, etc.
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.
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.
Interesting . . . If this happens, Amtrak, please pay attention to placement of the seats so that none are placed without windows as in some Amfleet cars.
Also make the luggage racks see-through "glass" like on the new Talgos to take full advantage of those great upper windows.
And lastly, but above all, please avoid the trend to make half the car seats face backwards. Oh do I hate that!
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.
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.