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Viewliner Slumbercoach Design:

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Viewliner Slumbercoach Design:
Posted by V.Payne on Thursday, November 7, 2013 2:34 PM

So with the Viewliner II being configured for 11 Roomettes (now no toilet in room), 2 Bedrooms and 1 Handicapped Bedroom (along with a 81” long shower module and two 40” bathroom modules), the capacity is now down to (28) passengers from (30). The reality is that as the “Roomette” designation implies, maybe two people might not always work in what is in essence a Double Slumbercoach room. The consumer’s viewpoint of course affects the ultimate revenue that can be generated. I would argue from a revenue standpoint in the Sleeper Class market, Amtrak should have configured the new cars as 9 Bedroom, 1 Handicapped Bedroom, 1 Single Bedroom (sideways bed) (21) passenger cars.

At the rates being charged for the Eastern markets, they would be earning at the least $5.9 a carmile, over at most $3.2 carmile in total expenses (capital included) for the car, versus about $5.8 a carmile for the new configuration if all rooms are sold as two person accommodations entirely, or $4.6 a carmile if all the Roomettes are sold to single travelers. ($0.75/mile for Bedroom, $0.50 Roomette (2) people, and $0.35 Roomette Single used for calculations with a 75% room occupancy factor). The standard bedroom could also be at 6’-0” along the length of the car, for (10) standards instead of (9).

But that got me to thinking about the single traveler market….

This market segment is ultimately most competitive with automobiles. Space on a train that is already running is cheap, so of course you can play games with the fares per person or per group and keep a common accommodation for all, but you are always giving up revenue on a single traveler as shown by the comparison above.

So what would a modern Slumbercoach look like? For starters, the CFR requires one handicapped accessible room, which I figured at 8.25’ including the hallway jig back to a center aisle from the vestibule area. Then I figured (8) pairs of rooms at 7.75’ on each side of the aisle. Finally, instead of a module being entirely just a shower, I figured each 6.75’ shower module would also have a toilet, so (2) shower/toilet modules, and finally (2) toilet only modules at the end of the car. Total capacity is (2) in the Handicapped Bedroom, and (31) single Slumbercoach rooms (coach attendant has one), 33 total passengers, but assuming the Slumbercoach is sold at $0.24/mile, I get $6.1 a carmile in average revenue. Add two of these cars to the Crescent for example and the Long-Run Variable subsidy is cut in half and the per passenger mile numbers likewise improve markedly. Of course sometimes the buckets on the Crescent kick the base coach fare to this range, so demand is there at the lower price level. The accommodation would also be less than airfare for a single traveler for up to a 750 mile trip (Domestic 2012 airfare is represented by the equation CPM = 47.032 x Miles-0.754  )


The Cross-section shows that a 34” wide bed is provided, which would be wider than the current Viewliner Roomettes. Honestly, up to a 38” wide (Twin) would work as well. The upper is reached by a series of stairs that follow the building code limits for spiral staircases, with the foot area of the lower bed cut out only at the very tip of the bed. The door for the upper would allow a portion of the hall ceiling to swing open to provide head room similar to the old slumbercoaches. However, I modified the bed placement to be over the hall for the upper so when the upper bed is down, it would close up this swinging portion. A 6'-4" height for the lower area could be provided instead of 6'-6".  The 1’-7” space between the upper bed and the side of the wall looks relatively tight, until you recall that the standard for domestic airline seats is a 1’-5 1/2” width. Just mentally picture two domestic airline or motorcoach seats in the width of the rooms…

The Elevation shows the general layout. I didn’t have a chance to draw the seat in this view. Take a look at some of the old patents for some ideas.


Here is a snippet from Google’s record of US Patent #2556140. This Budd design "Budgette" would have held (32) single passengers in their own rooms.


Here is a snippet from Google’s record of US Patent #2600706. I believe this is roughly the duplex-roomette idea that gave a capacity of (24) single passengers. This is a good history of the original Slumbercoaches: http://www.srmduluth.org/exhibits/slumbercoaches.pdf

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Posted by D.Carleton on Thursday, November 7, 2013 4:11 PM

Mr. Payne, it's a great idea and a great company would be all over this. That's all I have to say about that.

I do believe from the reports in the Trains News Wire that the V2 sleepers have 10 roomettes and two bathrooms (10&3).

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Posted by oltmannd on Thursday, November 7, 2013 4:24 PM

Why not just go with a bunch of those sleeper-seats they have on the overseas flights? 

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Posted by V.Payne on Thursday, November 7, 2013 4:42 PM

I have heard 10 and 11 Roomettes. I thought of the (14) 81" long slots, (1) will be a shower, and (1) will be two 40" bathroom modules (I think this is where confusion is), and (1) is still the Attendant's room.

As to lay-flat airline beds, sure why not, but in addition to the single slumbercoach, regular coach in a 2:1 layout, high-density 2:2 coach, and sleeper class with ensuite restrooms. Generating marget segmentation if possible and many different price points to build volume.

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Posted by D.Carleton on Thursday, November 7, 2013 5:20 PM

V.Payne

I have heard 10 and 11 Roomettes. I thought of the (14) 81" long slots, (1) will be a shower, and (1) will be two 40" bathroom modules (I think this is where confusion is), and (1) is still the Attendant's room.

This is what Johnston had to report:
Bob Johnston

In the latest version, two roomettes at the end of the car were removed to make way for two public bathrooms because there are no longer toilets in the rooms, similar to Superliner roomettes. This reduces revenue space to 10, though the addition of a baggage dorm car for on-board crews will make up for the lost rooms.

So 10 roomettes, one attendant room and two bathrooms. The refreshment kiosk is being moved to between the bedrooms and roomettes. Perhaps that's the 14th space.

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Posted by oltmannd on Friday, November 8, 2013 8:28 AM

V.Payne

I have heard 10 and 11 Roomettes. I thought of the (14) 81" long slots, (1) will be a shower, and (1) will be two 40" bathroom modules (I think this is where confusion is), and (1) is still the Attendant's room.

As to lay-flat airline beds, sure why not, but in addition to the single slumbercoach, regular coach in a 2:1 layout, high-density 2:2 coach, and sleeper class with ensuite restrooms. Generating marget segmentation if possible and many different price points to build volume.

You'd have to cost out each then figure out how  the market segments itself out vs. price, then calculate net maximums for the various combinations.  An interesting problem!

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by oltmannd on Friday, November 8, 2013 9:11 AM

Thinking along the same lines...how about using starting with an NJT-Bombarier bi-level?  The well-car design should provide more space.  Put bathroom and shower on one end and handicap room on the other.  Might get close to capacity for 40 - even more if you fill one deck with lie flat seats.

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Posted by V.Payne on Friday, November 8, 2013 2:26 PM

I put together a quick design for lie flat seats. In a single level car the most I could get was (33) total passengers/seats, (32) seats, with one bed at 48" centers on both sides of the aisles, and (1) Handicapped accessible seat near the restrooms.  This also assumes a 30" wide bed/seat that tapers to about 13" at the foot berth up under the table adjacent the bed/seat in front of it to get 76" of total bed length in 48" of longitudinal space along the car. This is the same capacity for the Viewliner Slumbercoach and there was no attendant room provided in the lie-flat variant, but the bed is much smaller.

I guess there is the other variation of lie-flat beds, that is two beds on either side of the aisle, but that really is no different than the old "sleepy hollow" seats in a 44 capacity coach back in the days. This might just be me, but I would prefer a private room with its own sink and door. With the space the same I am not sure how you would/could price lie-flat differently and come out ahead. I'm sure though that you could do better with a bi-level.

Just think about airfare, for say ATL to WAS, a good Eastern overnight market, it averages about $0.40/mile, with one checked bag for a non-stop flight to the close to the city airports. So we are talking about undercutting this by $200 a roundtrip or so on average. Serving a north and east of ATL market the access cost to get to the airport is quite a bit higher. They really need to get some unstaffed suburban ATL rail stations in place. It just seems like ATK wants to turn away money sometimes but I suppose some of this depends on the on-off again commuter rail plans as the LD trains can't pull it alone.

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Posted by Kevin C. Smith on Thursday, January 23, 2014 5:47 PM
V.Payne

I put together a quick design for lie flat seats. In a single level car the most I could get was (33) total passengers/seats, (32) seats, with one bed at 48" centers on both sides of the aisles, and (1) Handicapped accessible seat near the restrooms.  This also assumes a 30" wide bed/seat that tapers to about 13" at the foot berth up under the table adjacent the bed/seat in front of it to get 76" of total bed length in 48" of longitudinal space along the car. This is the same capacity for the Viewliner Slumbercoach and there was no attendant room provided in the lie-flat variant, but the bed is much smaller.

I guess there is the other variation of lie-flat beds, that is two beds on either side of the aisle, but that really is no different than the old "sleepy hollow" seats in a 44 capacity coach back in the days. This might just be me, but I would prefer a private room with its own sink and door. With the space the same I am not sure how you would/could price lie-flat differently and come out ahead. I'm sure though that you could do better with a bi-level.

If you're really looking for maximum capacity, try old fashioned sections, based on the layout of the sleeper bus! http://i00.i.aliimg.com/img/pb/131/429/451/451429131_442.jpg :-o
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Posted by oltmannd on Friday, January 24, 2014 10:37 AM

V.Payne
Just think about airfare, for say ATL to WAS, a good Eastern overnight market, it averages about $0.40/mile, with one checked bag for a non-stop flight to the close to the city airports. So we are talking about undercutting this by $200 a roundtrip or so on average. Serving a north and east of ATL market the access cost to get to the airport is quite a bit higher. They really need to get some unstaffed suburban ATL rail stations in place. It just seems like ATK wants to turn away money sometimes but I suppose some of this depends on the on-off again commuter rail plans as the LD trains can't pull it alone.

I would be all over a slumbercoach room between ATL and the northeast if I could get a fare less than $200 one way.  I can fly for roughly $125 most of the time when I travel to Phila or BWI.

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 9:34 AM

V Payne, having read through the thread to this point, I think your design is excellent, and I wish I knew exactly who it is that you should send it to at Amtrak.

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Posted by V.Payne on Sunday, February 2, 2014 2:15 PM

Thanks,

I have attached a slightly revised version of the Slumbercoach design. Note the 46” floor height (2-3” lower than current but doable) and the slightly lower 6’-4” ceilings in the hall and lower rooms.
I did try to contact Amtrak’s ultimate engineering contractor, RailPlan back when there was a RFP for the Viewliner II design that supposedly allowed for innovation. I never received a response back. I figured they would get the bid before it was awarded and to a degree I wonder if there ever really was a consideration of any departure from the Viewliner I design in the bid process (besides the stated simplification of plumbing). I think Siemens was in the running and a modification of their WLABmz 173.1 sleeper would have been nice. http://www.railfaneurope.net/pix/de/car/night/WL/WLABmz173/interior/pix.html Even the existing design with more bedrooms would also have been nice and generated more net income.
RailPlan has added some more details regarding the Viewliner II to their website by the way. http://www.railplan.com/caf---amtrak-viewliner-ii.html
            Anyway, I am not trying to be political, but the centralization of decision makers with consultants in Washington is probably behind this outcome (it really isn't a earth shattering great idea, just run of the mill). But ideas coming from Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, or Los Angles just aren’t considered.
            There is probably no solution out there other than changing Amtrak’s subsidy to a per passenger mile subsidy at different levels depending upon their ownership of the tracks. Beyond that specific infrastructure capital projects would be approved by line where there a cheaper solution than adding highway capacity.
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Posted by erikem on Sunday, February 2, 2014 11:12 PM

6'4" ceilings may be a deal breaker, I'm 6'2" in my bare feet and most shoes are thick enough that my head would be brushing up against the ceiling. Anyone over 6' would be acutely aware of the low ceiling.

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Posted by V.Payne on Monday, February 3, 2014 7:43 PM

True, you probably dislike regional jets about as much as I do then, particular the bathroom, as that is my height. If 33" wheels were used the floor could be about 43-44" so that gets you those 2" back.

Alternately, if you stayed with 36" wheels, and a 46"-47" floor then you could always break out of the Viewliner profile above the point where the wall and roof meet. The NEC allows up to 14'-8" height, at a reduced width. Assuming just 14'-6" that gets you and extra 6" above the assumed standard Viewliner. I will post a revised section showing the NEC plate clearance envelope.

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Posted by oltmannd on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 1:51 PM

V.Payne

True, you probably dislike regional jets about as much as I do then, particular the bathroom, as that is my height. If 33" wheels were used the floor could be about 43-44" so that gets you those 2" back.

Alternately, if you stayed with 36" wheels, and a 46"-47" floor then you could always break out of the Viewliner profile above the point where the wall and roof meet. The NEC allows up to 14'-8" height, at a reduced width. Assuming just 14'-6" that gets you and extra 6" above the assumed standard Viewliner. I will post a revised section showing the NEC plate clearance envelope.

Just gotta be careful you don't wind up with non-standard undercar mounted equipment ala DC Metro...

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Posted by aegrotatio on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 8:53 PM
What's the non-standard undercar mounted equipment on the DC Metro?
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Posted by oltmannd on Thursday, February 6, 2014 10:39 AM

DC Metro has lower platforms than other subway systems in the US.  Consequently, a standard piece of equipment, like and air conditioner condenser or air compressor that would fit a NYC or Chicago car would not fit a DC Metro car.  Everything had to be custom designed for the DC Metro, driving up the cost.

It would be even worse for Amtrak.  Instead of having one, standard Viewliner undercar airconditioner compressor box, they might need two.  One for the lower floor slumber coach and one for all the rest. 

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by V.Payne on Saturday, February 15, 2014 9:06 PM

Below is a slightly revised section that inserts an arch roof between the top of the wall profiles. This makes full use of the Amtrak NEC clearance. You can see the dashed profile of the standard Viewliner roof section and the clearance envelope as a dashed line. It keeps the 6'-6" room height for the lower level and uses a 47" floor versus 51" as the more or less standard even though platforms are lower at 48". Since the top of a regular centersill is about 41.5" This would allow for 3.5" minor cross members and 2" of corrugated decking and resilient floor even with standard 36" wheels and trucks.

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, February 15, 2014 9:12 PM

V.Payne
This makes full use of the Amtrak NEC clearance.

Just out of curiosity:  (1) does this allow proper suspension excursion, especially if the car is lightly loaded, and (2) isn't the 'real' overhead clearance on the NEC (where the 'revised' part of this design is concerned) fully catenary-dependent (not just the messenger/trolley alignment)?

Would it help safety, or perceived safety, to provide something with good dielectric strength across the 'patch' of roof that might be exposed to cat 'near-enough-contact' as the car rolls or moves in service ,,, 'just in case'?

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Posted by erikem on Sunday, February 16, 2014 1:47 AM

FWIW, FR-4 fiberglass is supposedly good for 300V/mil after aging, so a 0.10" chunk of the stuff should be good for the 11/12.5kV catenary on the tight clearance sections of the NEC.

A 6'6" ceiling height would be a noticeable improvement over 6'4" for me - getting to be about the headroom on a modern submarine.

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Posted by squirrel point rr on Sunday, February 16, 2014 4:29 PM
We are very disappointed at the removal of the toilet in the rooms. Yes, it was cramped. However, being a senior citizen, as are most of the passengers we have seen in the Sleepers, we need something more convenient. Walking down the hall in the middle of the night is not convenient. Are they going to provide in room urinals? Someone did not research this very well with their consuming public.
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Posted by Deggesty on Sunday, February 16, 2014 4:57 PM

Of course, we can think of the section sleepers, which required that all passengers in the sections go to one end or another, except for the very, very, few cars that had private sections--each one of the four in the car had its own toilet facilities which did require that the passenger step into the aisle to get to his private facility, which was right next to his section.

The few nights that I have spent in a Viewliner roomette (which, to me, is more like a slumbercoach in what is crammed into the space) I appreciated having the necessaries right there--and it was not necessary to put the berth up if I had to get up in the night (I had that experience once in a real roomette, and I was fast enough). On my last trip, I spent three nights in Viewliner roomettes (Cardinal, Silver Meteor, and Crescent), and was glad to have everything right there. It was also nice having a shower in the car.

I wish Amtrak could come up with some other name for the small rooms on Superliners, for to people who have ridden real roomettes they are not roomettes (nor are they "economy bedrooms," since a bedroom has private facilities).

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Posted by V.Payne on Sunday, February 16, 2014 9:00 PM

This slumbercoach design was just for the price sensitive traveler, not a sleeper replacement. I fully understand that most travelers would prefer some type of restroom in the room. A split level bedroom design is in the works that would have 14 rooms, each with showers and restrooms, under the NEC clearance restriction. BTW, I believe the clearance envelope referenced is static. What is the NEC minimum structure/wire height? 15' 4"? I suppose the wire gap is to that point.

Also in regards to height, remember that the VanHool TD925 motorcoach has a 71" lower floor and a 67" upper floor. The older regional jets are roughly as skimpy. It helps to visualize the relative scale to picture two 17.3" airline seats side by side in the room width, with a few inches extra.

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Posted by Pullman608 on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 5:06 AM

I guess I don't get it: a guy I worked with in St. Louis had an idea when PRR began retiring all its 21 roomette sleepers. He came up with a conversion plan for the cars which would then have the capacity to sleep 40 passengers. It was a design like the roomettes in a current Superliner. Restroom space in #21, service area in space as originally designed, porter area. Tight, but doable according to his doodles.

He suggested it to one of the PRR suits, but he dismissed the idea and said "We'll get more use from those cars as coaches."

And so they did...

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 6:01 AM

Deggesty
I wish Amtrak could come up with some other name for the small rooms on Superliners, for to people who have ridden real roomettes they are not roomettes (nor are they "economy bedrooms," since a bedroom has private facilities).

I'm tempted to say 'chamberettes'...  ;-}

BTW: historically are there two types of chamberettes?  Were the ones on the Prospector motor cars (which I've seen described as not having toilet accommodations) different from a kind that did?

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