Found this website while looking folr info on our trip to PGH. Hope this helps on room location.
Safe ride and have a great trip. Snarkaz
jpwc50 wrote:Just made an on-line reservation for the Southwest Chief from Fullerton,CA to Kansas City. I'm assigned to Roomette #012 in car #430. Does anyone know if this roomette # is on the upper or lower level?? Also, how are the car numbers placed within the train? I understand that the "4" in the car number is actually the train number with the "30" being the sleeper number. Are the sleepers numbered consecutively front to rear ie: 430,431,432??
The best way to see what you are in for is to go to Amtrak.com, click on Traveling with Amtrak, click on On Board - Sleeping Accommodations, click on the Superliner Sleeping car icon, and take the visual tour of the car.
Roomette #12 is on the lower level. Or it least it is on the Sunset Limited, Texas Eagle, and Capitol Limited, which are the trains that I have ridden over the past year or so. In fact, on my last trip on the Sunset, which was in February, I had Roomette #12 from El Paso to Austin.
The first number is the train number followed by the car number. Thus, the numbers for the Eagle sleeper are 2130 and 2230. The Eagle only has one sleeper, unless it sells out, in which case passengers may be booked in the transition sleeper, or at least I think that is what happens.
I don't know the order of the sleepers on the Southwest Chief. I suspect that they differ depending on whether train is the westbound version or eastbound version.
Roomette #12 is one of the four on the lower level (11-14). 1-10 are upstairs.
There usually are only 2 sleepers on the Southwest Chief, with 0430 being the first and 0431 the second (0330 and 0331 on the westbound). As you suspect, the first sleeper is the normally the "30" car. But this is not always the case. On my last trip this August, the 30 car was the second sleeper.
Currently the Chief is running with sleepers up front. So when boarding at Fullerton, you'll board near the pedestrian bridge.
If you have any more specific questions about the Southwest Chief, just ask. I probably have an answer
Matt from Anaheim, CA and Bayfield, COClick Here for photos of my train layouts
Since you offered, I'll ask a few more questions. Sleepers up front? Is this an exception rather than the norm? I thought the coaches were up front with a transition coach first in line behind the baggage car?
Is the diner open on departure from LA? The Amtrak website says reservations are required for dinner, but with a 7:20pm departure from Fullerton, will I be out of luck for a sit down meal that evening?
I'll be travelling during a peak period(the day after Christmas)so, I expect the train will be at full capacity. How difficult is it to snag a seat in the lounge car?
My last Amtrak trip was in 1978 on the old "National Limited" from Kansas City to North Philadelphia. I rode in an ex Union Pacific 10-6 sleeper(Pacific Waters) the lounge was(I believe) a converted ex army hospital car(possibly one of the Monon rebuilds) and the diner was the ex California Zephyr(Silver Platter).The power was an SDP40F and an E-8(GG1 east of Harrisburg). Compared to that hodge-podge of a train, this will be a new and hopefully better expierence for me.
Glad to answer your questions John.
By the way, Fullerton is my local station so I'm super familiar with it.
The Southwest Chief used to be unique in that it always had the sleeping cars on the rear of the train. This practice seemed to change around the time it turned into a run through consist with the Capitol Limited, late 1990s or so? It went back to sleepers on the rear in the 2007 and this can be seen on a video I shot of the train arriving into Albuquerque New Mexico. Here is a link to the video:
Southwest Chief Video Clip
But as of my last trips (July and August 2008), and starting around October 2007, the sleepers were once again up front.
So the typical consist is as follows:
The diner is open shortly after departing Los Angeles. Depending on the number of passengers already onboard, getting on at Fullerton can get you a dining car seat right away, or could be as late as the last call to dinner (typically around 8:30 PM). But you'll get a dinner, it just depends on the time. If you are traveling alone, parties of one typically can get a seat quicker then larger parties.
Lounge seating availability varies a lot during the journey. One thing you'll want to check is what type of lounge is on your train. Some of the newer refurbished cars have half lounge seating and half dinning car style seating. Essentially half of the car has tables to sit at and the other has individual seats that face out toward the large windows. If it's a diner/lounge configuration the tables tend to fill up quickly. But during the long stop over in Albuquerque, when most passengers typically get off to stretch their legs and do some shopping along the platform for Native crafts, the lounge empties. If you're not interested in the native crafts, then it might be a good time to grab a seat as there will be a tour guide during the trip east after ABQ during some of the best scenery along the line. And the car typically fills up for this very fast.
But all in all, you should be able to find a seat most of the time. And there is seating downstairs in the lounge snack bar area too, although they are mostly tables.
However since you do have a roomette, you might just want to stay in there for most of the journey. They have very large windows, and even on the lower level you'll still have a pretty good view. And depending on the nature of travelers, the lounge can fill up with, umm how can I describe this....well let's just say rowdy passengers. But don't worry, this is the exception to the norm. Most often there are very friendly people with interesting stories.
Comments on your last trip (1978)
Amtrak has come a long way since 1978. The biggest improvement on the long distance trains are the Superliners, which were just starting to show up in 1978.
The best part of traveling on the Southwest Chief are the meals. Very good food and a courteous staff make meal time a very enjoyable experience. And by traveling in a sleeping car your meals are included with the fare. One treat that might be available is a turkey dinner. This is typically only offered during the holiday season...Thanksgiving, and Chirstmas.
The scenery is also pretty good, with the best along Raton Pass. Traveling during the Christmas season might even give you some fresh snow that really makes the line extra beautiful. There is something really cozy about traveling on a train through the snow. And although it happened last year, the linenormally does not get blocked due to bad weather.
As far as accommodations go, you might get lucky and your sleeping car may be one of the completely refurbished cars. Photos of what they look like can be found in the links below (photos are at the bottom of the first site):
Amtrak Refurbished Superliner Sleeping Car Link #1
Amtrak Refurbished Superliner Sleeping Car Link #2
A list of all of the known complete refurbished cars can be found here:
Refurbished Sleeping Car Number ListThe Southwest Chief doesn't always get these cars, but they do show up from time to time. I've traveled on three during my many trips aboard the Chief. But all of the Superliner sleeping cars have new upholstery and curtains, and most have newer wall panels so thankfully you don't have to worry about getting a super dingy and dirty car anymore.
I hope this information is helpful, and hopefully you'll have a nice trip on the Chief.
jpwc50 wrote:Thanks for the speedy replies!
Matt has done a good job of providing details regarding travel on the Southwest Chief. I have a few additional comments regarding the subject.
Riding on the lower level of the Superliner is not as good a deal as riding on the upper level. But you might be able to switch your room. Check periodically with Amtrak to see if an upper room becomes available. If it does, you will be able to change your room assignment. Also, if you are not successful in changing your room before your departure, assuming that you want an upper level room, ask the conductor when you board the train if there is an upper level roomette available. Sometimes people cancel at the last minute and the room becomes available.
I have traveled frequently on Christmas Day or the day after, which is known as Boxing Day in most English speaking countries. The train may not be as crowded as you expect. Most people travel prior to Christmas to get home for the holidays. Or away from home! And many of them don't start the return trip until after the New Year. This is especially true for people traveling by train. Many of them are students and retired persons.
I have ridden on the Texas Eagle, Capitol Limited, Sunset Limited, and Empire Builder over the past two years. The sleepers were on the front of the train. One of the conductors on the Eagle told me that Amtrak puts the sleepers up front so the first class passengers don't have to walk through the coaches to get to the dinning and lounge cars. Apparently some first class passengers complained about having to walk through the coaches, which can be in a state of disarray in the early morning. I don't know whether this is true. Take it for what it is worth.
Samantha wrote:One of the conductors on the Eagle told me that Amtrak puts the sleepers up front so the first class passengers don't have to walk through the coaches to get to the dinning and lounge cars. Apparently some first class passengers complained about having to walk through the coaches, which can be in a state of disarray in the early morning. I don't know whether this is true. Take it for what it is worth.
Interesting thought. May make sense on the Eagle, not familiar with it's consist. But that conductor's logic makes no sense to me about the Chief. If the sleepers are on the rear of the Chief the consists is as follows:
So not sure what that conductor was thinking of
However, I heard the change to up front sleepers was done in case Amtrak needed to sell a few extra roomettes in the Dorm car. Thus, all sleeping car passengers would be together in the same general area. Perhaps this is what that conductor meant.
I believe the issue is the transition sleeper. It has been on the front of the Eagle for as long as I can remember. Amtrak has been selling the roomettes in this car when the regular sleeper sells out. On one of my trips four of the transition roomettes on the Sunset Limited were occupied by what appeared to be paying passengers.
The roomettes in the transition sleeper did not appear to be as attractive as those in the regular sleeper. I would hate to pay a first class fare and get an accommodation that does not appear to be as good as what I would have gotten in the regular sleeper.
I will certainly call Amtrak & try to have my roomette switched to the upper level, thanks for the tip!
As far as sleeper positions in the train, I thought the Amtrak transition cars were coaches(could be I'm mixed up with the SantaFe Hi-Levels..didn't they have transition coaches?).
Thanks to everyone for all the good information, I appreciate you efforts.
jpwc50 wrote: Samantha,I will certainly call Amtrak & try to have my roomette switched to the upper level, thanks for the tip!As far as sleeper positions in the train, I thought the Amtrak transition cars were coaches(could be I'm mixed up with the SantaFe Hi-Levels..didn't they have transition coaches?).Thanks to everyone for all the good information, I appreciate you efforts.John
The transition sleeper is a sleeping car. It is intended primarily for the on board service crew. However, since the crews on the long distance trains have been reduced substantially, there is sufficient space in the car to sell the roomettes if there is a demand for them.
Don't hesitate to call Amtrak every couple of week's right up to your departure date. The call is toll free if you use the 800 number. I have found that persistence pays.
Samantha is right. The Superliner II Transisiton Dorms are essentially sleeping cars. Here is an upstairs floorplan:
Transition Dorm Floorplan
You'll notice the first few rooms continue the numbering of the regular sleeping car roomettes (17-24). The rooms 1-8 are reserved for crew members.
On shorter consist trains, like the Eagle, the Trans Dorm will serve as extra sleeping capacity. Not too likely on the Southwest Chief though, at least I haven't seen it utilized that way yet.
The Santa Fe Hi-Level Coach-Dorms are now off the Amtrak system. The Superliner II Transition Dorms replaced those cars starting around 1994. Like the "Step-Up" Hi-Levels, they also have one lower level end door to mate with single level cars. That's why it's placed next to the single level baggage cars.
On rare occasions another Transition Dorm may be placed on the rear of a Superliner train to connect with single level cars placed on the rear. However this is extremely rare and I've only seen it done once on the Southwest Chief. This was a few years ago when then Amtrak president David Gunn traveled to the west coast on the back of a regularly scheduled Southwest Chief using the single level business car Beech Grove. It also occurred on the special Good Morning America train of Superliners and a few single level private cars.