Budd "Slumbercoach" 24-8 Sleeper - Open Discussion

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Post by updrumcorpsguy » Tue Aug 23, 2005 2:19 am

Having had the opportunity (or, more accurately, reason) to ride in the upper berth of both a Superliner and Viewliner sleeper recently, I have to say that for me it wasn't the width, but the clearance, that mattered.

The Viewliner upper berth was fine - quite a pleasure, actually, as there was plenty of headroom and the window to peek out of from time to time.

The Superliner, OTOH, was not only somewhat claustrophobic, but the AC vent directly above the head made for an interesting night.

I'm not an overly large person (although I have noticed that I tend to get bigger from year to year ;-) but the proximity of a ceiling and an abundance of cold air (or lack thereof) does tend to get my attention.

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Post by John_Perkowski » Tue Aug 23, 2005 7:04 am

As requested, here is a floorplan of a heavyweight 14 section Pullman, courtesy of the Newberry Library, the repository of Pullman Company records.

As I say, enclose the sections. Then they're not much different (other than far more comfortable) than the existing sections on an Amtrak car.

Upper berth windows are always a great feature. They don't have to be full size; they do help claustrophobia.

Finally, one vestibule can go, giving space to other uses (including, with a little sharing of changing room/lounge space, adding a 15th revenue section and a porter's section (vice the sofa which makes down to a berth in the men's room).

John Perkowski

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Post by John_Perkowski » Wed Aug 24, 2005 12:03 pm

As an aside, I have a 1953 Missouri Pacific public TT at hand.

Price comparision:
1953, MP, KC-LA, First Class, RT: 103.35
Standard lower berth: 18.10 each way or 36.20

1962, UP, KC-LA, First Class, RT: 113.95
Standard lower berth: 20.80 each way or 41.60

Not a lot of inflation here...

John Perkowski

John_Perkowski wrote:
VPayne wrote:I have seen the CB&Q / UP comparison a few times but have never really understood how the rate was set by Pullman back in the days. Didn't even Pennsy pursue a limited sleeper offering with Pullman at some point in an attempt to reduce costs before finally pulling out of the Pullman pool?

You will have to consult each railroads public timetable for the era, since I suspect tariff rate books are going to be hard to find at the very best. I just asked Tom Madden of the Pullman Project if the Newberry contains Pullman tariff books for the era we're interested in...

Here are Chicago to Denver advertised tariffs for the Union Pacific, October 1962:

Coach: 31.46 OW, 56.65 RT (basically a 10% discount over 2 oneway fares)
First Class: 39.95 OW, 71.95 RT (again, basically a 10% discount for RT)

Pullman Lower Berth rate (the cornerstone of the Pullman tariff) was $12.25 OW. No discounts/RT rates shown.

Using 12.25 as the index value, the other pricings were:

9.25 for an upper berth
17.10 for a Roomette
24.25 for a Double Bedroom (single occupancy)
28.90 for a Double Bedroom (multi-occupancy)
48.55 for two DBR "en suite"
25.50 for a Compartment (single occupancy)
31.45 for a Compartment (multi-occupancy)
34.70 for a Drawing Room (single occupancy)
43.05 for a Drawing Room (multi-occupancy)

Hope all this helps.

John Perkowski


Post by vector_one75 » Tue Sep 20, 2005 1:38 am

I've only first found this thread and may have missed some discussions trying to flip through 5 pages of postings, but I have ridden trains years ago and now, nany on "discounted-type" sleeping car services, some in "standard-fare" type services, not only in USA but elsewhere as well, so hopefully if people are not bored of possible repetition, for the sake of maybe finding some info I could contribute. I'l try to give a roundup of my experiences. My first "consciuos" train trip was 3 years old (1949) on a New Haven fluted streamlined coach Boston to NY (Penn Station) to start a new life, having arrived in Boston harbor from Germany where I was born, as told by my refugee parents, in a train boxcar rushing to sneak through the Iron Curtain borders before they had a crying baby on their hands, so my first hours of life were in a "sleeper" of sorts!

Being heavily involved in Lithuanian ethnic community youth activities even in primary school always gave me opportunities to travel, and New York-Scranton-Chicago I was almost like a commuter, and my favorite train was the Phoebe Snow. Money being short (partly subsidized by the clubs), in the early days it was coach, but by the time I was in high school and able to scrape up more for the extra fare, I always enjoyed a sleeper (first via NKP, then via the Erie-Lackawanna direct). However, I tried to sample some of the other routes as well, and even got to the west coast several times. In adulthood, in the late 60's, I was still able to smple some of the "great" (and not so great) pre-Amtrak services. In 1982 family circumstances required me to migrate to Australia and traveled, of course, by train. In between I also traveled by train in Europe, South Aftrica, and Egypt, and these were more vacation, rather than "business" trips.

About Slumbercoaches, the main topic of the thread, but will also deal with the "hangers-on" as well in order to put it all in context.

First, the actual cars officially known as "slumbercoaches" themselves. These were the original new cars built by BUDD, configuration: 24 single rooms in "duplex" fashion (but not the different rooms in first class sleepers known as "duplex roomettes" and "duplex rooms"), staggered in 2 levels on a single common level floor, using a couple of steps up to the upper rooms; and 8 double at the same common floor level as the single rooms.

The lower single slumbercoach rooms had an inbuilt padded chair which folded down to unfold from both walls each half of the length of the bed with a bunk shelf on a foam matrass. Alongside the seat, there as a toilet hopper and folding washstand above. The upper single slumbercoach room had a more fixed padded seat and back, and the two-ended bunk-shelf/matrass foldout bed from both walls was higher up to clear the head and feet of the occupant in the room below. It also had its own toilet hopper and folding washstand, and both were at the corridor side of the room, and the bed was narrower than that in a normal roomette, though the widths of the room were the same. The toilet/washstand being alongside the bed/seat is why the slumbercoach bed had to be narrower.

The double slumbercoach rooms were of aproximate side of a normal roomette, but using narrower beds. The seats were like those of a lower single slumbercoach room but facing each other, and they folded down from both walls to the same bunk/shelf foam matrass bed to form a lower berth, The upper berth was a single-length berth folding down from the wall over the window. There was a single toilet hoper and flding washstand next to one of the seats like in a single slumbercoach room.

Because of the narrower bed than a roomette, one can use the toilet, washroom, and fully stand up and dress in total pricacy in both single and double slumbercoaches with sliding, rather than opening inward, doors. To me, if I was traveling my ALONE by myself, and if I had the opportinitY in my travels to be on a train that had slumbercoaches, a single slumbercoach room was always my first preference above even first class roomette or duplex roomette precisely because one could use the toilet when nature calls WITHOUT having to fold up (or roll in for dulex roomettes) the bed with alll the rigomoroll to use the toilet - that was always such a bother, and being by myself, sleeping, the narrower width of the bed was not an issue for me, nor was it as much as an isue for me that the foam-on-shelf matrass as it was to be able to actually get up to full standing and to be able to use the toilet without going oyr to the curtains in the corridor to fold up the bed in a roomette.

Where I used the Broadway Limited while it still had Duplex Rooms, yes, it was a more comfortable bed, more room, and still had an inside toilet and washroom, but only one train by my era still had it and it was higher (first class) railfare as well as a higher accommodation charge. The Duplex Rooms were a single accommodation with the beds staggered over each other within the rooms, with the upper rooms stepping up from a common floor level.

If I was to travel ALONE, I even preferred the lower berth of an open section to a roomette, because the lower berth, while having to go to a common toilet in the car, I didn't have to undo the bed to go at night like a roomette required, and the open section lower berth to me WAS the MOST COMFORTABLE bed on a train. It just had the right contours for me, so that would be my third choice for sleeping accommoation after the first being the Duplex Room and the second being the Single Slumbercoach room if I was to be travelling alone. Again, unfortunately, by the time I was actively travelling in my college years, the only open sections still around were between New York and Boston on the New Haven "Owl" and that is where my lower berth experiences have been.

One sleeping accommodation I never had the experience of was the Duplex Roomette, which in side and appointment was I guess like a normal Roomette, but staggered like the single slumbercioach with steps up the upper rooms with the beds rolling into place in the staggered alcoves instead of normal roomettte beds folding out of the walls, but both types of roomettes never permitted use of the unfettered toilets at night.

"Actual" Slumbercoaches I have travelled on wer on the Denver Zephyr and Capitol Limited and the North Coast Limited.

A type of car referred to by a previous post was the "sleepercoach" which was unique to the New York Central which were originally BUDD Romettte sleepers converted into 12 "single slumbercoach-type" rooms, 10 "double slumbercoach-type" rooms, and 4 unique single rooms which were really "roomette-type" but with "single slumbercoach" fittings and features, like the same beds, same internal room toilet hopper and washroom as like the "single slumbercoach-typr" room. These I liked even more that the "normal single slumbercoach room" because of the extra roominess, and still able to use the toilet at night. I am not sure as to why these 4 unique single slumbercoach rooms were done up this way.

Both the "slumbercoach" and "sleepercoach" cars were specifically sold that "coach class" rail fares plus a single or double room charge, whereas "roomettes", "duplex roomettes", "duplex rooms", and "open sections" were sold at the higher "first class" railfares plus a higher priced specific berth or room charges for the accommodation, similarly as for daytime travel in reserved seat coaches, a "coach class" railfare plus seat reservation charge generally was added and in parlor cars, a higher "first class" railfare was added with a higher priced parlor seat accommodation charge.

Now, if I was traveling WITH SOMEONE, then I would tend to prefer a double bedroom (first class railfare plus higher room charge) over a double slumbercoach room (at lower coach class railfare plus lower room charge) because (at least in most postwar bedrooms) there is a private toilet and washroom, plus the beds are much more generous in and with sprung matrasses, as well as more room to stand and dress in. Compartments, Drawing rooms, Master rooms, Suites, etc are nicer and more comortable, but are also more expensive on the room charges. So if travelling with someone, I would try to avoid the double slumbercoach rooms.

So as you see, in my experiencve, whether or not a "slumbercoach" or "sleepercoach" is preferable to first class sleepers, it depends on whether I'm travelling alone or with someone else. But for lone travel, I find the ubiquitous "first class" roomette/duplex roomette being my last preference. In my very younger days, I'd put up with a coach seat overnight, but from college days onwards, I usually graviteted toward sleeeping car travel.

Now, I already said that "officially", slumbercach and sleepercoach cars were intended to be sold at coach class railfares and other sleeping cars at first class railfares. Over time, certain railroads experimented with marketing normal sleepers "as-if" slumbercoaches at "coach class" raifares with low berth/room charges to mimic the slumbers. The only ones that were specifically built for this type of service were the Milwaukee Olympian Hiawatha "Touralux" and combination "Coach-Touralux" cars, the Touralux being a "coach class" railfare plus low cost accommodation charge for open sections (lower and upper berth). One of the earlier posters described these, but I'm not sure why certain open sections were considered "coach class railfares" (Touralux) whereas normal open section sleepers were sold at "first class" railfares" and what was the difference that made the "non-Touralux" cars so special that a first class railfar was required.

Canadian Pacific converted sme heavyweight open section sleepers to add stainless steeel fluting to make compatible with the new BUDD "Canadian" train to make these particular concerted havyweight cars to be "tourist class" whereas the BUDD-built cars with open sections were sold at "first class railfares". Again, what's the difference and why the class distinctions for essentially the ame accommodatin. The slumbercoach and sleepercoach cars had definie differences in appointments amnd features, but a open section is an open section I'd say.

Things become even more intersting. Previous posters referred to the B&O "bird" cars with actual "duplex romettes" being used in surrogate "slumbercooach-type" service at coach class railfares. Again, it was also referred to the UP "City of Denver" train where ex -PRR "Inn" roomette sleepers were labled as slumbercoaches. And I personally rode an NYC 10roomette-6 DoubleBedroom sleeper "Toronto Harbor" overnight between Rochester and New York carded as a "slumbercoach"!

While it seems har to come informatin by, it is my undrstanding that Pullman Standard had been experimenting with a "Budget Sleeper" in the late 1940's for "coach class" sleeping car service , but BUDD got the slumbercoach out forst, and PS's effort went stillborn. I wish I could find the floorplan for this PS "Budget Sleeper". The BUDD slumbercoach, by the way originallly was called a "Siesta Coach".

Canadian National also had something called "Dormette" sleper for coach class railfare travel, but I do not have any info on this, whether it was open sections, or de-amenitised roomettes, etc. Later CN also has a "DayNighter" which again, I know othing of, whether it may have been a simply more comfortable recining seat coach.

In Australia, the major services are the "Indian-Pacific" (Sydney-Adelaide-Perth) and the "Ghan" (Melbourne-Adelaide-Alice Springs-Darwin) and the first class cars are "Twinnettes" (similar to USA Double Bedrooms), Deluxe Cabin" (similar to USA Master Room), and Roomette (almost, but not quite the USA roomette). Australian Rooomette cars are all-roomette, and have a unique way of solving the toilet access problem. By pitting the seats in the roomettes back-to-back instead of all in one directionin the USA, and by putting these back-to-back seats alongside the toilet hopper/washstand, and by alternating the seat groupings at seat/bedhead and foot at opposite cross-sections of the sides of the car, a serpentive central corridor achieves a "slumbercoach-type" use of toilet at night but at the same time allows a wider (though admittedly not as wide a) bed to provide single travellers at first class ("Golden Kangaroo") fares. The equivalent of a "slumbercoach at economy class ("Red Kangaroo") fares is exactly the same car and roomette, except that the roomettes are for double occupancy only with seats facimh each other and an upper berth as well. While the roomettes and economy roms are the same except for the additional seat and uper bertth, the space allotted for first class is for one person, and the same space allotted for economy class is for 2 people. 2 people in first class use the twinnette or at a 3-fare level for 2 people, a Deluxe Cabin. For single travel in economy sleeper, one shares another traveller in the double economu room, there are no exclusively single rooms in economy class. This is like most trains in Europe and elsewhere in the world. Only in the USA has there been a single exclusive coach class room accommodation and that has been in the form of the slumbercoach.

The Australiam Roomette car is actually derived from the German DSG (a rival of the Wagons Lits International Sleeping Car Company in Europe) design where I originally rode in 1969. Earlier European sleepers did not have any single accommodation and everyone shared essentially double bedroooms. If anyone wanter total privacy you simply paid for 2 berths in the room instead of 1. DSG came up with the serpentine corridor esign for a roomettte that in my estimation was a winner and became the design for the "Indian-Pacific" roomette sleepers. I was surprised that USA sleeping car manufacturers didn't jump on this pattern because as I see it, the lack of ease of toilet access at night was I feel the downfall of the roomette. Wagns-Lits countered with 2 very different designs for single first class travelers, one being something similar to a cross between a duplex roomette and a duplex room in one cae, and a duplex cross between single lower and upper double room, where single travellers can use the double room but the 2 people in the uppper room can use second class, rather than first class. To permit sleepers to use second class travel more, Wagons Lits also set up 3-tier berths in the bedrooms where 2 prople can travel in first class, 1 sole traveller pays double for the room, and if 3 people are in the room then all can travel at 2nd class fare. Remember these are class-based railfares, on top of which you then have an accommodation charge. The realy cheaper sleeping cars travel is what is known as a "couchette" which is a compartment like a normal day compartment facing sofa seats, where at night the sofas fold oy to bunks. No bedding is provided, people sleep in onrmal clothes. Now here's the interesting part: couchettes are low-cost accommodation charges, but are both first class fares at 4 people per room or second class fares at 6 peole per room! So you can rough it in luxury or rough it cheap in a couchette, or you can sleep in comfort in luxury or you can sleep incomfort with cramped quarters in normal sleeping cars. How's that for choice! In Europe unless you pay for the entire room with all the beths in it, you must share with other travellers, and with mixed genders in the couchettes.

I rode some trains in the USSR in 1969, and international through cars (Moscow-Berlin-Paris) had "normal European" -type cars alrgough they were Russian-built and not Wagons-Lits operated. Internal Soviet trains were either "soft" or "hard" ("class" was not politically correct) and the normal "compartmented" sleeping cars were essentially glorified couchettes in European terminology, with the soft cars being 4 berths and the hard cars with 6. "Ope" cars are totally out in the open with bunks of groups of 6 or 4 people in corrals, depending on hard or soft cars. All sleeping cars in the Soviet Union were totally shared and gender-mixed.

In the late 1990's I did some train travel in Africa and the Middle East. On the "Trans-Natal" Johannesburg-Durban, we were in a first class sleeper, 2 of us, my wife and myself. very similar to a doublr bedroom. 2nd Class sleepers held 4 people like European 1st class couchettes but with full facilities and amenities, all sharing. 3rd class sleepers were like European 2nd class couchettes, quite spartan though still more comfortable than the couchettes. This train was the longest I've ever ridden, about 19 cars long. Had very nice diner and adequate lounge. Food was real home style, not gourmet but lots of it. You'll never go hungry on a South African train! The waiting staff was very young and all trying to impress.

Similarly in Egypt, the sleeping car service was excellent, the last operation left in the world by now for Wagons-iLits. The cars were virtually brand new, built a year before, service excellent. No diner, but with full dinner meal room service. The lounge car was a very nice feature for conversation and drinks. Don't know it it still carries the official train name of "Star of Egypt Express" Cairo-Luxor-Aswan, but that's what people still call it.

Well, there was a bit of experiences about slumbercoaches and surrogate "coach" "second class" and "hard cars" sleeping services as well as thoughts on these as well s first clas and, in Africa, 3rd class sleeping cars!

Hope I haven't bored you all, and sorry for the typos - my fingers are too fat for the keyboard!

Vytautas B. Radzivanas
Perth, Western Australia


Post by vector_one75 » Tue Sep 20, 2005 3:17 am

POSTSCRIPT: a few thoughts I may have missed in my ewcent previous post:

While this is not from my experience, being muchg before my time, I do recall something in the literature (can't remember where) about a dormitory-type sleeping car (for passengers, not crew) I think on one of the "top accross country" railroads on a heavyweight coach car where there were special reclining coach seats whose seat-backs do all the way down horizontally to create a double bed for the 2 people adjacent, with people sleeping on pillows under blankets, without asny curtains or other separation. Cant remember exact details, but I would surmise that seat reservations for the overnight journeys would have to be on the alternate seats forward/back to allow horizontal prone placement, with short day trip passengers in between. I'm sure these "dorm-coaches" would have to be at coach class fares!

There was a long-haus bus company in Australia called "Deluxe Coaches" (since gone bankrupt) where they did something like this as well, like a sleeper bus.

There were also a few odd-ball heavyweight sleeping cars.

There were several PRR cars called "Single Bedroom" cars which ostensibly has regular beds (not folding berths) across the car with a chair for sitting for one person, with the aisle on one side of the car.

There was also what was also known as "Duplex Rooms" very different from the streamlined type of Duplex Room, which I have no details of, but from the Rvarossi HO model of this car (no interior) I would surmise these would be staggered lower berth open sections (?) enclosed on one side of the car with the aisle on the other side of the car in order to permit mobility within the room. I'm not sure how many persons would be usable.

In a bit of whimsy, I can imagine someone might have created a conversion of an LIRR double decker with both sides in staggered form of a similar heavyweight duplex room car into a "Duplex Open Section"!

And in the first generation early streamliners had some unique sleeping rooms as well, like "cabines" etc for such trains as GM&O's "The Rebel", the original D&RGW "Prospector", "Train of Tomorrrow"'s dome-sleeper, etc. And very much today, some of the Colorado Railcar company offerings provide new styles of sleeping car accommodation if someone actually puts in the orders for such.

I'm sure that other recollections will follow


Vytautas B. Radzivanas
Perth, Western Australia

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Re: Budd "Slumbercoach" 24-8 Sleeper - Open Discussion

Post by sjlevine34 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 6:49 pm

All 18 24-8 slumbercoaches built new by Budd ended up on Amtrak and all were converted to HEP. The only 2 that did not end up on Burlington Northern went from the Baltimore and Ohio to the High Iron Company and then to Amtrak in about 1983. Two were lost on Amtrak, the Loch Awe in the derailment of the Montrealer in 1983, and the Silver Siesta, which burned in Sunnyside Yard at about the same time. The remainder saw service until the early to mid 90's, when they were discontinued because they did not possess retention toilets. Survivors include the Silver Repose at the Tennessee Central Railway Museum in Nashville, TN, the Silver Slumber at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Miami, FL, the Loch Sloy at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, IL, and the Dreamland, at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore, MD.

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Re: Budd "Slumbercoach" 24-8 Sleeper - Open Discussion

Post by sjlevine34 » Mon Sep 25, 2017 11:58 am

Found another surviving slumber coach. It is the MP/NP/Amtrak Southland/Loch Tarbet and it is at the Museum of the American Railroad in Frisco, TX (http://www.museumoftheamericanrailroad.org" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;)

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Re: Budd "Slumbercoach" 24-8 Sleeper - Open Discussion

Post by jhdeasy » Mon Sep 25, 2017 12:11 pm

sjlevine34 wrote: Survivors include the Silver Repose at the Tennessee Central Railway Museum in Nashville, TN, the Silver Slumber at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Miami, FL, the Loch Sloy at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, IL, and the Dreamland, at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore, MD.
LOCH NESS, a former Northern Pacific, Burlington Northern and Amtrak 24-8 slumbercoach, is owned by Webb Rail LLC and is currently stored at a shop in New Orleans. The car had been sitting idle while stored in Spokane WA for many years, under a previous owner.

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Re: Budd "Slumbercoach" 24-8 Sleeper - Open Discussion

Post by Arborwayfan » Mon Sep 25, 2017 5:43 pm

Somewhat OT but related to the general ideas about future Amtrak cars and service methods: I just rode Norway's Bergensbanen (Oslo-Bergen, with a pretty spectactular return trip in daylight). The sleepers have 15 rooms, each with and upper and lower bunk, each reserved as a unit (ie no strangers share). The run is about 7.5 hours. You board the train up to an hour before departure and find the conductor in the cafe car, where he-she gives you a plastic key card for your room. And then leaves you alone until its time to get off. The beds are already made down (I doubt they ever go up, since the cars only run during sleeping hours, although they look like they could be configured for sitting up. Maybe when one passenger travels alone the top bunk is folded up for more headroom.). No attendants needed. I assume there are crews at the terminals who clean up and make the beds. In Oslo, they would take care of three trains' worth of sleepers, in Trondheim two, and in Stavanger and Bergen one. The rooms are set across the car, with the passage on one side. Common bathrooms, but each room has a nice sink and enough floor to stand on while the beds are down. Pleasant to sleep. Tiny window would make a lousy day car, but as I say I don't think they run as day cars. The passage has folding seats and bigger windows for those who want the view. I can't help thinking they could have gotten a few more beds into the footprint with lengthwise beds, because the aisle is quite wide and there's all that floor space in the rooms. But they were comfortable and not particularly expensive, around a hundred dollars extra IIRC. No food, but the cafe was open with a night menu for those who wanted it. Norway is lucky to have four routes just the right length or a little too short for sleeper service, so no need to deal with feeding sleeper pax or using sleepers in daylight.

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Re: Budd "Slumbercoach" 24-8 Sleeper - Open Discussion

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Tue Sep 26, 2017 9:17 am

What is also amazing, Mr. Arborway, is how the Sleeper in Continental Europe, save this initiative by the Austrian Railways which is simply "lipstick on the pig" and is not long for this world, is "going, going....".

In a world of TGV, ICE, AVE, and Ryanair, the business traveler ain't coming back. The backpackers will of course stay - and many of them will just "sit up" in a 2nd Class coach. A Couchette is a luxury.

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Re: Budd "Slumbercoach" 24-8 Sleeper - Open Discussion

Post by sjlevine34 » Tue Sep 26, 2017 4:38 pm

Found another surviving 24-8 slumbercoach, NYC 10802/CB&Q/BN/Amtrak Loch Arkaig at the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth, Georgia (http://www.train-museum.org/locomotives ... enger-cars" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;).

That makes 7 surviving 24-8 slumbercoaches that I know about, by original owner 2 CB&Q, 2 NP, 1 B&O, 1 MP, 1 NYC.

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Re: Budd "Slumbercoach" 24-8 Sleeper - Open Discussion

Post by Arborwayfan » Tue Sep 26, 2017 5:38 pm

I've been pondering why NSB still has its four sleeper routes, Mr. Norman. I don't have a definite answer, or a prediction of how long they will last. You're right that in most cases sleeping cars are not going to be big carriers of business travellers ever again barring huge changes like the loss of air travel. I don't think any of the Norwegian lines are especially high-speed routes, so there isn't the TGV-type time making sleepers obsolete, but of course there are plenty of planes. Yet there were three sleepers on my train to Bergen. I don't know if there were extra cars or extra passengers because the world championships of road cycling were going on, but it does not seem unlikely. Still, those three routes run at least one car every night each way. Here are the things I can think of that make these Norwegian routes, at least the three that radiate out from Oslo, different from many routes further south in Europe: They pretty much have a big city at one end and a biggish city at the other end. The routes are short enough that if you sleep on board they literally take you no time to get where you're going. They are close enough together to leave after the day is over and get in before it starts. The airports are as much as an hour outside of downtown, so the night train beats the earliest flights. (That's literally why we went to Bergen that way. It was effectively faster than flying, if you assume we were going to sleep somewhere anyway.) But even so I don't know how full they normally are, or what policy decisions keep them in place or set their prices.

There aren't many US trips that are just the right length for a sleeper, are there; probably not many in "lower" Europe either. And in any case, except for Boston to Washington, where the air service is more frequent than say Oslo-Bergen and where the routes are really designed for local service to many intermediates (and what intermediates they are -- NYC, Philly, Baltimore, etc ) those US trips are now all parts of rather longer Amtrak LD routes that mean that sleeper services have to bear the costs of diners, of using sleeping cars during the day as inefficient coaches, of attendants to make the beds up and down, etc. I do wonder if an all-sleeper, no diner, beds-always-down train along the NEC could get a decent number of Bos-Wash/Virginia passengers again. I just can't shake the notion that leaving 128 at 10 and getting to DC at 7 (or some version of that that would be reliable) would be more attractive to a business traveller from Canton than getting up early enough to fly into DC for a meeting at 8:30 or 9. On the other hand, a traveller I know well spent forty years going to meetings in Washington from Boston and took a train maybe once -- there were so many planes that flying was convenient and cheapish and he didn't want to leave the night before etc. and Amtrak ended up dropping the Bos Wash sleepers to use them on other routes, so I figure I'm probably wrong.

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Re: Budd "Slumbercoach" 24-8 Sleeper - Open Discussion

Post by Tadman » Mon Oct 02, 2017 9:44 am

For what it's worth, the demise of the European sleeper is greatly exaggerated around here. True, in what we think of as postwar modern Western Europe, the sleeper is a rare bird. But...

-The Caledonian Sleeper is re-equipping with brand new cars
-The Night Riviera is running strong
-The Nordic countries all have sleeper lines
-Austria has sleeper lines
-Russia and certain Eastern European countries have Sleeper lines

It's never going to be what it once was, but I think we've hit a safe stasis for this generation.

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Re: Budd "Slumbercoach" 24-8 Sleeper - Open Discussion

Post by ngotwalt » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:08 am

The Russian trains are dropping like flys. I've been going there regularly for seven years, the regularity and number of trains has dropped by at least half.

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