Superliner II Sleeping Cars

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Superliner II Sleeping Cars

Postby SwingMan » Sun Aug 20, 2017 8:52 am

Having now traveled in one too many Superliner II sleeping cars over the past decade, is there any known plan to overhaul these cars up to the standards of their fellow Superliner I sleeping cars?

The Superliner II cars are not in horrendous condition by any means. However, they are clearly behind when it comes to interior design and functionality for today's standards. More importantly, it would be a good look to make all of their trains seem a little nicer. Nothing worse than getting stuck in a SII sleeper when there are one or two SI cars on the same train.

Also, one of the flagship trains, the Auto Train, is pretty much stuck with these cars due to the nature of that train. It was great when they were newer back two decades ago, but now they are just worn and tired looking.

It is just a pet peeve. Having been in both SI and SII sleeping cars, I always feel a little ripped off getting an older car. You don't want that to end up being the difference between selling someone on your product and not.
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Re: Superliner II Sleeping Cars

Postby ngotwalt » Sun Aug 20, 2017 9:18 am

They should have at least installed the SI bathroom modules, so much better than the ones in the SIIs. For me that would be enough.
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Re: Superliner II Sleeping Cars

Postby oamundsen » Sun Aug 20, 2017 10:10 am

The Superliner has quite a few basic design problems in either I or II versions, but these are, for now, insurmountable given the nature of Amtrak. I do wonder at the design of the upper level bathrooms with the door which easily can whack someone attempting to get a cup of coffee or just coming up the stairs: why not an airplane restroom door which does not swing out into the corridor? The newer showers are a great improvement over the old but almost all the many, many Superliners I have spend days aboard are poorly maintained/cleaned/patched with silicon cement or clumsily done patches. When these cars rotate through major servicing I would think there would be a kit of upgrades which would be installed automatically, such as fixing the high pressure blast of water from the sink faucets, or the none functioning air grills which many attendants helpfully tape over when the cold blast has frozen the person in the upper berth. Wishful thinking, I suppose.
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Re: Superliner II Sleeping Cars

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sun Aug 20, 2017 10:27 am

From Crowne Plaza Piitter Salzburg---

Mr. Amundsen, you are less than a walking advertisement for Amtrak's premium service. :P :P

Sounds if both Superliner varietals are the "cars that duct tape built".

The only occasion of late I'very had is Auto-Train. There they seem to "keep 'em up".

And off topic, the Austrian railroad has gone on a kick to promote sleepers when every other Western Europe system is bailing out. I've now seen their NightJet cars "up close and personal". Ask me, it's just lipstick on the pig. They will continue to have a market with the Econocrowd, but if they have visions of having the business traveler return, forget it.
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Re: Superliner II Sleeping Cars

Postby oamundsen » Sun Aug 20, 2017 3:06 pm

Mr.Norman, I love premium Amtrak service, I just dislike poor design, sloppy workmanship, undisciplined systems, lazy management and preventable failure. I hope there is an ATSF expert out there who can verify or correct my impression that the Superliner was designed only as a couch car/dining car/lounge car for the El Capitan and not a sleeping car version. To me, the laws of mechanical forces make the upper berth of any Superliner a perilous feature to have constructed: an object (me!) 15 feet above the rail/wheel below will experience considerable more motion than if said object was 8 feet above the rail/wheel. To compound this physics fact is the impossible headroom which prohibits a person in the upper berth from either rolling over or reaching down to even arrange bedding once inserted into this "shelf." Add the death trap sliding door which will in all likelihood jam in any serious emergency event, the uncontrollable HVAC and the death defying narrow stairway and you have an ultimate answer to "how can we squeeze more paying bodies into a space without paying more labor." On the other hand, I really love, after at least a dozen cross country trips on VIA's Canadian, the 60 year old Budd built cars with sections where I can sleep parallel to the train direction, have twice the berth width, convenient/well designed storage shelf for overnight luggage, have 3+ feet of headroom while in either berth and have a simple/effective curtain giving complete privacy while making for easy/quiet exit from my duvet covered bed! Amtrak's Viewliners are a reasonable compromise with lots of adjustment available for HVAC, some storage space for luggage, reasonable upper berth headroom and convenient in room facilities (removed apparently in the still unseen new version).
I extoll all available virtues of Amtrak travel and have singlehandedly "sold" many, many friends to try Amtrak as a wonderful alternative to stress laden airline travel but, I always include in my "pitch" the downsides of the various Amtrak features as I must do as an honest Norwegian from the Nutmeg state. Because Amtrak management always ignores input from paying customers, the only vehicle for expression of constructive criticism is via this type of forum, hopefully, other readers will understand.
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Re: Superliner II Sleeping Cars

Postby bratkinson » Sun Aug 20, 2017 6:27 pm

These days, I spend perhaps 5-8 nights per year in a Superliner sleeper. I was a regular Amtrak customer in the late 70s and early 80s (and still am) and was overjoyed when the new Superliner equipped trains were in service. Over time, my impressions of them went from 'Wow, this is great!' to 'they should have...'. When originally delivered, the S Is had no upstairs toilet and 5 downstairs...no shower. And when they installed the upper toilets, the attendant was still assigned roomette #10 at the end of the hall and roomette #1 got to listen to the door banging closed all night long by its frequent visitors. I endured that more than a couple of times.

By far, the biggest improvement I like is the remodeled toilets to put them in the corner rather than perpendicular to the hallway. There are so much more roomy! I happened to ride in an S II in May that still had the old toilet arrangements. What a nightmare! Being 40-50 pounds overweight doesn't help, either. My biggest Superliner complaint these days? The totally useless air vents with zero temperature control and the insane room light controls in the headrests! And yes, I travel with a roll of duct tape just to get some control over those vents. Why oh why can't they move them to the door jam like the Viewliners have? Too many times the on/off switch panel is at my feet and impossible to locate in the dark!

For what it's worth, Amtrak seems to be addressing the 'splatter special' sinks in the Viewliners these days by reducing water pressure, so hopefully, those updates will eventually make their way over to the Superliners.

If it were up to me, I'd configure the Superliner roomettes to match that of the Viewliners, but no toilets & sinks. The location of the controls and multiple, controllable air flow outlets make them a much more pleasant experience for me than Superliners. If one were to watch the 'evolution' of the roomette layout since Amtrak, the Superliner I's were the first version, then the II's. Doing away with the enclosed closet in the II's and Viewliners was a very welcome change! The Viewliner I's, being built in the '90s, corrected other design problems of the Superliners, namely lighting and vent control placement. I would expect that the layout of the controls in the new Viewliner II's (if they EVER arrive) will be an improvement from the V I's. The problem that Amtrak has is that with the large number of Superliner sleepers, making across-the-board improvements and modifications takes years and years for the cars to cycle through heavy-overhaul and, of course, is significantly impacted by how much money they have to spend on overhauls & wreck repair.
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Re: Superliner II Sleeping Cars

Postby gokeefe » Sun Aug 20, 2017 6:39 pm

oamundsen wrote:Mr.Norman, I love premium Amtrak service, I just dislike poor design, sloppy workmanship, undisciplined systems, lazy management and preventable failure.
...
Because Amtrak management always ignores input from paying customers, the only vehicle for expression of constructive criticism is via this type of forum, hopefully, other readers will understand.


While imperfect in many ways I think it's worth noting that Amtrak runs the railroad that they have the money for. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that if funds permitted they would indeed make things better.

In my experience they are also very responsive to matters which I have brought to their attention.
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Re: Superliner II Sleeping Cars

Postby Backshophoss » Sun Aug 20, 2017 6:58 pm

If and when the 3rd gen Superliners are designed and built,some of the design "missteps" of the 1st and 2nd generations will be tended to.
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Re: Superliner II Sleeping Cars

Postby Tadman » Sun Aug 20, 2017 8:39 pm

The ATSF did have a Hi-level sleeper designed but was never made. It was a flop because it didn't sleep anymore than the standard 10/6 because the bedrooms were two-level or something crazy like that. Ergo they never put it in production.

The superliners are mildly frustrating, a bit more maintenance money would go a long way, but then so would better attendant training. I do my own bed flipping as I can't count on those guys to be anywhere near when I need them. There are some really good attendants and some really crummy ones.
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Re: Superliner II Sleeping Cars

Postby mtuandrew » Sun Aug 20, 2017 11:46 pm

Backshophoss wrote:If and when the 3rd gen Superliners are designed and built,some of the design "missteps" of the 1st and 2nd generations will be tended to.

Re: fit and finish, how adaptable are the V-II modules to a new build S-III or a heavy rebuild of S-I/II stock?
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Re: Superliner II Sleeping Cars

Postby Backshophoss » Mon Aug 21, 2017 12:40 am

Believe modules are totally different between the Super I/II's and the View II's.
CAF is still debugging Diners right now.
Beech Grove might have some ideas of the fixes needed by now,should pass them on to Nippon-Sharyo when they finish
with Surfliner III's/Midwest fleet orders.
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Re: Superliner II Sleeping Cars

Postby Allouette » Mon Aug 21, 2017 6:44 am

It's important to remember that the Superliner I entered service almost 40 years ago. In 1972, when Amtrak started buying used equipment, the oldest in the first batch was around 24 years old. By the time the heritage buys had finished, a few cars from as far back as 1937 were in the fleet, but even by then (1974) they were only 37 years old...
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Re: Superliner II Sleeping Cars

Postby Tadman » Mon Aug 21, 2017 9:04 am

I like that point, we never think of Amtrak as "older than the streamliners". On the other hand, half of the streamliners were in awful shape due to maintenance issues on bankrupt or anti-passenger railroads. PC's fleet was atrocious and, while not operated by Amtrak, the ex-New Haven 4400's were pretty much junk after 20 years on account of PC and New Haven maintenance (or lack thereof).
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Re: Superliner II Sleeping Cars

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Aug 21, 2017 10:51 am

Tadman wrote:I like that point, we never think of Amtrak as "older than the streamliners". On the other hand, half of the streamliners were in awful shape due to maintenance issues on bankrupt or anti-passenger railroads. PC's fleet was atrocious and, while not operated by Amtrak, the ex-New Haven 4400's were pretty much junk after 20 years on account of PC and New Haven maintenance (or lack thereof).

I'm not surprised that the Heritage cars we still have tend to come from the western (CBQ, ATSF, etc) and southern (SCL, SOU?, etc) lines that had the cash to better maintain them and put fewer start-stop Corridor miles on them.
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Re: Superliner II Sleeping Cars

Postby Alcochaser » Mon Aug 21, 2017 1:13 pm

The biggest issue with the Super Is are those wackball Waggon Union MD76 trucks.

Parts are a SERIOUS issue.
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