• Sleeping car terms

  • Tell us where you were and what you saw!
Tell us where you were and what you saw!

Moderator: David Benton

  by hcm48
Am curious as to what the "old" (pre Viewliner/Superliner) accomodation specifications are. I've figured out that a "section" is an upper or lower birth with heavy curtains providing privacy (as seen in "Some Like it Hot"). What are the specifics and differences between a bedroom, a compartment, a drawing room, a master room and any other that I may have missed. I have found these terms used on the web but have not been able to locate the specifics such as number of occupants, private facilities, shower and so forth. Any info greatly appreciated.
(Mr Moderator - please feel free to move to appropriate forum - though here was best because it is not line specific and could not find a Pullman forum)

VIA still offers all these types of accommodations plus the new Renaissance sleepers on the Ocean. If you begin at this page and click your way through, you will find diagrams and photos of all the types.

  by bill haithcoat
A section is what you described.

A roomette was a room for one person--strikingly similar to today's Amtrak roomettes except for one not two, unless perhaps a mother and baby.

A double bedroom was a room for two. Daytime it could either be two chairs or one sofa. Bedrooms could sometimes be opened up en suite, space for four to sleep.

A compartment had two beds. By day there was both one sofa and one chair, strikingly similar to todays' bedroom, or deluxe bedroom as it was known until recenty. A little more floor room, though, I think.

A drwing room slept three people. I THINK sometimes there were three adult beds and sometimes two adult beds and one smaller bed. By day it had one sofa and two chairs.

A Master Room slept two, had three chairs during the day, and had a shower. Very few trains had master rooms. The Broadway Limited and the Crescent come to mind. Not many. This was normally the only shower on a train, and it was just for the occupants of this particular room. Very few public showers back then. The lounge car of the pre-Amtrak Sunset Limited had a public shower for sleeping car passengers only, not many more did.

I believe the pre-Amtrak California Zephyr had a shower in what it called a drawing room. Thus there could be some flexibility in the terms.

There was such a thing as a single bedroom. It was sort of a larger roomette, with more floor room, easier to lower and raise the bed during the night without backing into the aisle. Not many of these.

There were duplex roomettes, which were sort of staggered.

The above into is mostly from the 1959 Pennsylvnaia Railroad timetable.

Oh yes, in some cases a bedroom could be opened up en suite with a compartment, making for a quite nice and quite large accommodation.
  by bill haithcoat
there were many floor plans. Here are just a few:

10Rmte 6 DBR(the kind that later became "heritage" on Amtrak)
6 Sec 6 Rmt 4 DBR
4 sec 4 Rmt 5 DBr 1 Compt
10 sec, 3 DBr
10 sec 1 Dr. 2 Comp
18 rmte
22 rmte
11 Dbr
13 DBR
12 DbdR
5 dbr-lounge
6 comp 3 DR
4 DBR 4 comp 2 DR
6 DBR lounge
5 dbr OBs.lge
16 sections
10 rmt 5 DBR
8 sec. lounge
10 sec lounge

And many, many more. This just a sample.
  by bill haithcoat
About the Canadian terms---their word "single bedroom" is the same as what we called roomette. Havng traveled the Canadian just two years ago, in every day language they often still call them roomettes.(not to be confused wiht single bedroom in earlier pre-Amtrak pre-VIA usage I referred to above).

Thier triple bedroom is what we used to call a drawing room.

In the cars on The Canadian they no longer sell a "compartment"(old definiton) as such. A little secret through, bedroom "F" was origiinally built ini 1954-55 to be a compartment.

The manor cars were orignally built with: 4 sec 4 rtmt 5dbr and 1 compartment.

One section has been converted to a shower for all the passengers in that car. The compartment is now counted as a bedroom, probably for simplicity in terminology and reservations. So, those cars now have 3 sec,6 dbr, 4 roomttes.