mtuandrew wrote:Then use the V-IIs as cafe cars, or diner-lites if that concept is still current. They have huge fridges and shelf space, even if their seating is more limited than Amfleet full cafes. Stick the elderly Amfleet full cafes on axle count duty. No-brainer to me.
Re-purposing them as cafe cars or diner lite cars = re-engineering = more costs $$$$ to expend on them. Amtrak has already spent a high price for this equipment that has taken YEARS to get delivered.....perhaps the longest procurement process of any Amtrak equipment....
And then, as you mention, "if the concept is still current." That's a big and loaded question to answer!
Before re-engineering cars and spending more money, Amtrak needs to define how it moves forward in the F&B world and how F&B fits into the LD model - if there is to be one.... The Amfleet diner lite cars that were re-engineered are hardly a master piece (more cons than pros with these cars), and as much as the Superliner I diners needed an overhaul, not sure if the overall concept was met in the Cross Country Cafe car that emerged.....but again, Amtrak customers got a refurbished Superliner I diner that was needed. But only half of the car really functions as useful....right now......
Amtrak still has Heritage Baggage cars that could be used for axle count. Not all are being sold, and plenty still on property. There's other options too..... V-II's make no sense as just providing axle count for a Midwest corridor train. I find the "pick" to use VII diners as an interesting choice.
The current VII's were ordered when it was thought that the "general" 1950s diner concept would continue on LD trains AND there may be an expansion (or through cars added to some LD trains). Specifically, through cars to/from Pennsylvanian and Capitol Limited (Viewliner Diner, Sleeper, coach). It had also been presumed that the Silver Star would continue with dining services and the Cardinal would be expanded.....
Meteor - 4 diners
Star - 4 diners
Crescent - 4 diners
Lake Shore - 3 diners
Cardinal - 3 diners (hope to go daily)
Pennsylvanian/Capitol Limited through cars to Chicago - 3 diners
TOTAL - 21 Viewliners required; 26 available including Indianapolis; 20% reserve factor (as is pretty normal)
This has all changed now! Amtrak is looking to do a study on all F&B service (RFI was in the works).
One of the biggest "pros" with the Viewliner in general is the double row of windows to see the scenery. Another for the diners is the table seating. Many on/off the corridors like the table seating. Visit any corridor train at rush hour with business folks on them. Many camp out in the cafe car just for the table seating!
So for long distance day trains (state or non-state supported - whatever!), couple the VII diner with the business class car and charge one fee, but an increased fee, because you have created greater value.... That at least yields added revenue than just head heading or parking the VII diners.
- can't figure out what to do with these cars in the F&B world right now
- should probably not spend any more funds to re-engineer the car (what will their "studies" yield?)
- doesn't want to burden the accounting with operating expense by putting any "services" in this car
- does NOT want to spend either capital or operating costs on these new cars as delivered
Amtrak should try to keep them in some sort of general operation that perhaps is advantageous to the passengers (hey, if they are good enough to dead head around, guess they are good for some service right?).
As VIA rail pairs Renaissance Service Cars with its business class car (corridor train) or a Park Car with its Touring class car (eg on Prince Rupert train) and charges MORE for it, why couldn't Amtrak try this for its long distance day trains (state or non-state supported)?
The idea is you'd get your regular seat in coach, and option to go to the Viewliner II for VIEWING or for having a table seat to do work etc. Amtrak could charge more than just a "business class" fare - hence a name change to custom, touring, economy plus, class. The kitchen area stays closed. If the State of Vermont or NY or PA want to do something special here in this car, that's for them to coordinate and chose. NY got headlines with the Great Dome attached! I am sure that did an uptick for ridership. Perhaps a one-time infusion, but it might get people interested. And does business class really make sense anyway for some of these trains?
Do it as a trial for only a few trains. There's only so many extra VII's right now anyway....but it's enough!
Western LD trains have the Superliner Sightseer Car, which eastern trains don't. Granted, the Superliner Sightseer has a lower level cafe in it. But sometimes the cafe operates out of the Cross Country Cafe and the Sightseer Car is still strung along!
Again, a simple way to get these cars used in some way - and not parked - to passenger advantage, and exposing their greatest asset - the VIEWING.
When Amtrak figures out its F&B plan in the next year or so, then perhaps these cars get used as engineered or a re-engineer then...In the mean time....
What to do at low or minimal cost, but could still bring in some revenue.....