Next Generation Amtrak Sleeping Car improvement suggestions....

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Next Generation Amtrak Sleeping Car improvement suggestions....
Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 4:04 AM

Thought this would be an interesting thread to start, so for starters here are my suggestions:

1. Conductor override for sleeping compartment settings for PA announcements.

2. Touch glass / Glass turns Opaque, like they have on the Boeing 777, instead of drapes or shades......much more efficient and lets face it, curtains do take up some space.     I would do it with the external window only.    Would still keep curtains on the windows to interior hallway.

3.  Information panel in each sleeping car compartment on train speed, outside temperature, current GPS Location by town or city name, car number, compartment number, Y or N flag if there are open seats in dining car for the current seating time,  next station and arrival time for the 20 min stretch your legs outside break, flashing porter call status indicator....if porter call button pushed which can be reset by pushing the button a second time.   Ability to tap payment your CC for car attendent tip and/or incidentals like running a tab for mixed drinks, IPAD rental, etc.

4. Restore the Ice Drawer in the center service area of the car for ice water.

5. Small Refrigerator in the center service area of the car for complimentary water and breakfest juice / milk.

6. My pillow dot com, matteress padding and pillows.

7. Restore the small enclosed closet with hangers.

8. Sanitary wipes in individual envelopes in the welcome presentation.

9. Higher quality wash clothes and towels that are thicker and more plush.

10. Restore the paper route guides and timetables.

11. Decent and high bandwidth Wi-Fi throughout the sleeping car.    Extra IPads that can be rented from the sleeping car attendent in case passenger did not bring one on board.   Sleeping car attendent also has special store of extra soap, shampoo, toothpaste, tooth brush, extra towels and wash clothes

12. Cocktail hour in your sleeping car compartment provided by small push cart and mini liquor bottles and charge for the drinks.

 

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 8:39 AM

As to window curtains, they are difficult to close completely, especially in the Viewliners.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 9:00 AM

Charge passengers a sufficient surcharge to fully cover the added expense of operating these cars.  If not,  cancel any future orders or plans. 

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Posted by Gramp on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 10:59 AM

Will stick to using personal auto for the near term if not longer. Have a niece who is a pulmonary nurse practitioner at a large San Antonio hospital. This virus is not something to fool with. 

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Posted by zugmann on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 11:13 AM

Gramp
Have a niece who is a pulmonary nurse practitioner at a large San Antonio hospital. This virus is not something to fool with. 

What does she know?  The people on the internets and at the rallies that barely passed middle school are the real experts.

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 4:23 PM

CMStPnP

3.  Information panel in each sleeping car compartment on train speed, outside temperature, current GPS Location by town or city name, car number, compartment number, Y or N flag if there are open seats in dining car for the current seating time,  next station and arrival time for the 20 min stretch your legs outside break, flashing porter call status indicator....if porter call button pushed which can be reset by pushing the button a second time.   Ability to tap payment your CC for car attendent tip and/or incidentals like running a tab for mixed drinks, IPAD rental, etc.

10. Restore the paper route guides and timetables.

11. Decent and high bandwidth Wi-Fi throughout the sleeping car.    Extra IPads that can be rented from the sleeping car attendent in case passenger did not bring one on board.   Sleeping car attendent also has special store of extra soap, shampoo, toothpaste, tooth brush, extra towels and wash clothes

I would implement #3 and #10 with a webpage connected with the improved Wi-Fi in #11. High speed internet connection would be tricky as a good portion of the LD route does not have access to truly high speed wireless internet.

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 5:35 PM

zugmann
What does she know?  The people on the internets and at the rallies that barely passed middle school are the real experts.

Said he facetiously or sarcastically

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 9:54 PM

CMStPnP
7. Restore the small enclosed closet with hangers.

Are you talking about the narrow closet on superliner cars?  What happened to them?

CMStPnP
12. Cocktail hour in your sleeping car compartment provided by small push cart and mini liquor bottles and charge for the drinks.

I suppose you will also want an elevator so he can get the cart down to the lower level.

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Posted by Paul of Covington on Thursday, April 23, 2020 4:22 AM

Electroliner 1935

 

 
zugmann
What does she know?  The people on the internets and at the rallies that barely passed middle school are the real experts.

 

Said he facetiously or sarcastically

 

   Wait a minute.  I thought he was serious.

_____________

  "So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do." ......  Benjamin Franklin

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Thursday, April 23, 2020 7:22 AM

Electroliner 1935
 
zugmann
What does she know?  The people on the internets and at the rallies that barely passed middle school are the real experts.

 

Said he facetiously or sarcastically

 

I'd vote for facetiously.

This just in, with only one precinct reporting, projections show facetiously leading sarcastically by a margin of 1 to 0. At this time, networks are predicting a win for facetiously. Devil

 

Thanks to Chris / CopCarSS for my avatar.

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Thursday, April 23, 2020 7:23 AM

Paul of Covington
 
Electroliner 1935

 

 
zugmann
What does she know?  The people on the internets and at the rallies that barely passed middle school are the real experts.

 

Said he facetiously or sarcastically

 

 

 

   Wait a minute.  I thought he was serious.

 

Surely you can't be......

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Posted by zugmann on Thursday, April 23, 2020 7:51 AM

Murphy Siding
This just in, with only one precinct reporting, projections show facetiously leading sarcastically by a margin of 1 to 0. At this time, networks are predicting a win for facetiously.

Can I get a piece of this action?

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Posted by Deggesty on Thursday, April 23, 2020 8:33 AM

MidlandMike

 

 
CMStPnP
7. Restore the small enclosed closet with hangers.

 

Are you talking about the narrow closet on superliner cars?  What happened to them?

 

 
CMStPnP
12. Cocktail hour in your sleeping car compartment provided by small push cart and mini liquor bottles and charge for the drinks.

 

I suppose you will also want an elevator so he can get the cart down to the lower level.

 

Yes, what happened to the closets in Superliner bedrooms? The last time I rode (last fall), they were there. Also, the last time I rode in a Viewliner (a year ago), the closets were there.

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, April 23, 2020 10:45 AM

CMStPnP
Thought this would be an interesting thread to start, so for starters here are my suggestions...

Let's look at these in a bit more detail and context.

1. Conductor override for sleeping compartment settings for PA announcements.

In my opinion this ought to be a passenger override, not a conductor override (with the tacit understanding that what a passenger wants is a passenger's responsibility).  There are likely to be priority levels, or time-based levels, of 'override', as well as ability to reduce volume shy of full 'muting' at various times.

Problem I see is that most of the solutions that would work 'properly' involve a great deal of expensive modification or addition to the existing PA systems.  About the simplest alternative is an individual 'soft kill switch' for each compartment, which would shut off the audio while starting a countdown timer -- there are commercial switches that do this for bathroom lighting, where the user can click the equivalent of radio buttons for certain times, from a few seconds to eight or ten hours.  You could easily rig up something with a knob and a digital display showing the mute time (like the timer on many radio alarm clocks) that would be intuitive for customers to run.

A good solution would have a 'conductor override' for important messages... but what the conductor thinks is important, like impending stops all through the night, might not be what the passengers think is.  So there need to be some understandings and procedures about what will be broadcast and what won't.

Possibly 'channeling' the memory of pillow speakers on the C&O, I have to wonder whether at small incremental cost the "PA" could also be arranged to stream music programs selectable by the user -- or, better still, to pair easily with Bluetooth or the like, and allow the user to easily play their preferred music or information or 'podcasts' or whatever through the room's audio system.  

Note that the "PA channel" should be something that can be running as an app on phones and whatnot, so that listening to one's device on headphones one might receive the priority level one selects ... of which, more below.

2. Touch glass / Glass turns Opaque, like they have on the Boeing 777, instead of drapes or shades......much more efficient and lets face it, curtains do take up some space.

There is more electrochromic stuff you could do with that outside window, or probably more likely an electrochromic panel against the back of the existing 'damageable' hard window/emergency egress -- it could be designed to be set as an exterior sunshade, or even a polarized filter.  It has been years since I looked at the 'state of the art' of this stuff, but as I recall the only potential 'showstopper' is that the statvoltage required is rather high, on the order of hundreds of volts.  In the days before high-voltage DC-to-DC conversion this might have been more of an issue; in the days of HEP, the aggregate current for the modesty panels might be relatively slight, particularly if the technology used can 'hold' its state with minimal power between ordering and disordering of the material.

Making it 'touch', though, might not be wise, especially with the COVID-19 concerns likely hanging around for years.  To do touch other than rudimentary on these panels would be expensive and a maintenance concern for very little that a simple 'privacy' switch does better and more intuitively; I'd be concerned that there would be far more 'downside' in potential false contact ... say, if the train were to sway and your bare tail bumped up against the window ... than would be gained.

I would do it with the external window only.    Would still keep curtains on the windows to interior hallway.

I'd use both.  Or give the passenger the option to have the curtains taken down and electrochromic only used, if they want the extra space or are concerned about the space or fabric contamination or whatever.

3.  Information panel in each sleeping car compartment on train speed, outside temperature, current GPS Location by town or city name, car number, compartment number, Y or N flag if there are open seats in dining car for the current seating time,  next station and arrival time for the 20 min stretch your legs outside break, flashing porter call status indicator....if porter call button pushed which can be reset by pushing the button a second time.

This would indeed be a nifty thing, and you could fairly easily cobble up something out of open-source home control code to do much of this and 'interface' it with systems on the car.  But you'll go blind buying panels and interconnect equipment for every single room in every single car ... and deaf, dumb, and blind keeping it all maintained in every car all the time.

All this being made MUCH more simple with a simple low-level pair to an app, or to a rental (included in your ticket cost) of the iPad at desired form factor that would otherwise be your 'personal entertainment system'.  Here is an example, more dramatic than I remember seeing used in other contexts, of how a 'universal' touch-enabled device can accomplish a great many things cost-effectively, far more than even the most expensive Gates-like home control could manage, in a far more user-intuitive manner (as each device's interface, control settings, display pages or modes, etc. can be adapted easily in software to suit a passenger's preference, even if that passenger has to work with some Amtrak support agent to help set it up right.  That is the single greatest thing (imho) that could be set up and organized to improve things on Amtrak trains -- and it is almost literally open-ended in some of the ways the original Apple Manhattan Project intended. 

Ability to tap payment your CC for car attendent tip and/or incidentals like running a tab for mixed drinks, IPAD rental, etc.

Some of this is inherent in crApple and can'tdroid programming on personal devices; it's a food 'n beverage thing tied into a personal 'wallet' service or touchless pay for security.  Only the controls and initial permissions need to be Amtrak-security-specific ... which is the way Amtrak would like it to be.  (And if you go 'over the limit' on some proposed purchase, you'll find out privately, through your own device or interface, not by 'finding out you can't pay after the service is rendered'.

4. Restore the Ice Drawer in the center service area of the car for ice water.

Probably not in this lifetime.  Reasons stack upon reasons why this was an inadvisable thing even in the days car attendants couldn't keep restrooms clean.  

Makes a little more sense to set up some sort of user-accessible ice machine, as in hotels, where there can be a sterilizable compartment for the ice (UV-generated ozone circulated by a tap on the condenser fan) and a touchless path down a chute into where the passenger holds their glass or plastic-bag-lined bucket or whatever.  Make the thing modular like RDC engines so if it breaks it's swapped out at a stop, by trained-monkey attendants if needed and not three separate crafts, and not left broken awaiting repair 'at the next stop' that never comes.

5. Small Refrigerator in the center service area of the car for complimentary water and breakfast juice/milk.

Suspect you'll never see this again in our lifetimes.  Just as I expect it to be going away permanently at hotels with 'free breakfasts'.  What you'll get instead are sanitizable touchless dispensers of prepackaged units -- you get your complimentary water with a button-push (perhaps on the app that lets Amtrak track the complimentary items by verifiable room or ticket assignment, to preclude abuse of common free resources) and you don't get to stick anything into the refrigerated storage after it's dispensed, verifiably clean, to you.

Now, portable Peltier refrigeration issued to individual rooms, or perhaps even HEP-compatible small mechanical or absorbtion refrigerators, would be a better solution to 'onboard cold storage' and a common interface and purchasing recommendations for refrigerators or coolers brought aboard probably a better one still.  Small fees comparable to hotel minibars might apply, as might 'presterilized' content in the individual fridge when a passenger opens it.

6. My pillow dot com, mattress padding and pillows.

The potential in co-branding alone is worth exploring the idea.  As would be putting RFID and printed serial information in the items to 'preclude the usual wholesale theft that would result from trying this idea'.  Of course the "Amtrak" bedding would be available from amtrak.com for anyone who really wants to own it legally.

Why stop there?  All sorts of other amenities could be developed in co-branding, including potential government subsidies for the providing entities.  I can easily see supplemental filtration for the car circulating air, immediately augmented via aromatherapy products, higher MERV values, customer-supplied electret electrostatics, etc.  Or better reading or Happi-style lighting.

7. Restore the small enclosed closet with hangers.

I wonder if this could be built as a locking module?  Or equivalent useful space provided as such a module in a different part of a given room design, or using a different form factor?

An idea I had many years ago was to provide a little vacuum source and something like 'space bags' for storage -- you unpack your suitcase into bags as appropriate, deflate them for storage, put the various dirties into different bags and collapse them either for onboard laundry (when provided) or for easy storage in minimal space (and no potential odor) until leaving.  (Empty suitcases go up to the bag/dorm until close to your detraining time...)

8. Sanitary wipes in individual envelopes in the welcome presentation.

Of multiple kinds.  Now including some specific for fomite-film removal, and some with 78% alcohol and list "N" assurance of quick viral inactivation.  With instructions on safe use... and best procedure as part of social separation ... also included in the welcome presentation.

9. Higher quality washcloths and towels that are thicker and more plush.

Possibly provided on demand, and perhaps for an additional charge (can be included in ticketing at time of request, if Amtrak goes to a model where basic 'sleeper' is one price and table d'hote-model amenities, such as dining, are added to that).  

See note above about providing RFID and branding to reduce the likelihood of unavoidable 'shrink'.  This also gets around the fun dodge of stealing towels from someone else's room so 'they are on the hook' for your ill-gotten gain.

You forgot the luxurious terry bathrobe pre-heated during its storage.

10. Restore the paper route guides and timetables.

First restore a way to accomplish that in a limited budget without sacrificing other, more popular amenities.

I do sympathize with the value of paper documentation, including (perhaps especially) at stations that lack permanent agents or expensive but limited kiosks.  I think the 'likeliest' solution is to have some kind of reasonable-quality print-on-demand service that exploits someone's franking privilege somewhere to make quick USPS delivery of the result cost-effective.  I leave the details of that up to people with more current knowledge of the contract-printing (or print-on-demand) industries.  I don't think there's much future in trying to implement the logistics of getting bulk printed schedules around to places where people will want them, without wasting large numbers when looky-lous pick up sheafs 'for later'...

11. Decent and high bandwidth Wi-Fi throughout the sleeping car.

This is actually a different question altogether -- and with a multiplicity of answers, some of them 'in parallel'.

FIRST: supplying free broadband to hundreds of people on a train is radically different from providing it, say, in a McDonald's, where only limited numbers are expected to need high QoS and any given customer will leave in a reasonable time (or be able to be kicked off or 'timed out' in favor of another).  When you look at the broadband net of overhead that has to be supplied adequately to a train that might be moving at considerable speed in and out of coverage shadow or rapidly-changing multipath, the fun involved reaches ghastly proportions long before even a few 'modern' users -- playing high-resolution high-frame-rate streaming video on high-overhead low-latency-demanding social-media platforms -- will get what they're used to expecting at home.  But (in an ugly example of the Uncanny Valley kind of effect) they will be hyperaware of any faults or artifacts in their streams, specifically including "buffering" delays ... and find reason to complain about this one thing even if everything else on the trip was perfect or above average.

The immediate thing to assure on the car is quick, positive, low-latency METADATA for the various control systems and audio/informational broadcasting, especially that being fed to the apps or programs or controls in (3) above.  As in the bad old days of dial-up Internet, most of the actual 'presentation' code resides on the local device, and only the values or compressed bitstream actually needs to go over the air, be resolved, and render on the appropriate device that has the appropriate permissions, etc.

Then you might have high bandwidth from fixed storage on the car ... something that is now eight orders of magnitude or better less expensive per megabyte than it was in the days Sarnoff implemented video-on-demand with a RAID-like array of striped inexpensive hard drives.  Much of the entertainment 'broadcasting' to be supplied to a client on a rental 'entertainment screen' can be preloaded from a central library or service, whether at some virtual effective location 'in the cloud' or a small server on the train, over as high a bandwidth as the equipment cost-effectively provides, at this point multiples of GB/s.  This reduces the absolute momentary requirement of the wireless-broadband enablement dramatically.  Likewise, providing hardpoints in some of the cars to 'preload' bulk content, such as e-mails or social pages, for asynchronous review and minimized-bandwidth updating, can further assist.  A great deal of the very large body of acquired wisdom in the Rural Broadband Initiative is more or less directly applicable to moving trains with limited backbone access... 

Extra IPads that can be rented from the sleeping car attendant in case passenger did not bring one on board.

Picked up at cost, as 'obsolete' models that are still perfectly capable of handling 100% of the requirements actual passengers require of a pervasive environment.  Qi charging, and established charge points in the cars.  Sealed or wireless connection ports (and the receivers to access them).  All the entertainment 'tiers' provided in storage, or easily crossloaded via quick fixed broadband.  Easy connectivity via the customer's private broadband to the larger screen, better audio system in the cars, etc. etc. etc.

And make it easy for non-tech people to understand and run the controls, including getting a remote assist from 'operators' or AIs that help them not only do things, but make the machine do what they want when they want it.

Sleeping car attendant also has special store of extra soap, shampoo, toothpaste, tooth brush, extra towels and washcloths

You mean this isn't already standard?

Every chain motel in the country already does this, either out of boxes under the reception counter or in a closet somewhere just inside the office.  Why it should be difficult for Amtrak to put a couple of stock boxes on one of the cars somewhere, and get the stuff out for distribution on request, shouldn't be advanced managerial or logistic science.

Now, it would be nice if cars could be 'turned' the way motel maids do, with everything including the supplies on one cart (from which passengers could pluck stuff they found they needed) which moves along from room to room as turns are done.  For a variety of reasons that isn't and won't be practical on Amtrak trains, but the alternative (as we developed for the "New York cleaning model" - with the cleaners themselves 'wearing' everything they need to take in or out) is somewhat less impractical -- think, for example, of some of the attendants donning the equivalent of a Bat-utility-belt as they go to set up sleepers for the night, and having some amenities right to hand as part of that.

[quote]12. Cocktail hour in your sleeping-car compartment provided by small push cart and mini liquor bottles and charge for the drinks.{/quote]Civilized ... but high overhead, including the regrettable but almost inevitable 'gotcha' when some nosy bastard or other tries to catch the poor slop pushing the cart failing to ask for ubiquitous ID (and carefully logging proof of the result), ensuring there are no minors present, selling in a 'dry county', etc.

Probably better to have quick room-service with a portable drink bar, or in fact just having the attendant bring the stuff in the equivalent of an alcohol Bento box.  Schedule activities for the car so that additional time is available in windows during 'cocktail hour' for making up and bringing what is ordered.  All the 'proof' is pre-set in the order metadata stream, and ordering is tied to room ID and hence all the credential stuff is automatic, and since the control system knows the train's location via GPS as part of the position and speed tracking service, it can also know from GIS where dry vs. wet actually is ... and when to hurry up to get the order to a thirsty passenger before the world turns legally dry, or how long to tell a thirsty passenger they have to wait before getting 'back to wet'.

I encourage anyone reading this thread to look back to the brainstorming Delta recently did (just before the whole COVID-19 thing exploded) on rolling out a set of new amenities to improve the 'experience' of their air travel.  Many of the things they decided on will work nicely in an Amtrak context; perhaps some of the ones they chose not to pursue might, too.

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Posted by GERALD L MCFARLANE JR on Thursday, April 23, 2020 10:53 AM

Erik_Mag
 
CMStPnP

3.  Information panel in each sleeping car compartment on train speed, outside temperature, current GPS Location by town or city name, car number, compartment number, Y or N flag if there are open seats in dining car for the current seating time,  next station and arrival time for the 20 min stretch your legs outside break, flashing porter call status indicator....if porter call button pushed which can be reset by pushing the button a second time.   Ability to tap payment your CC for car attendent tip and/or incidentals like running a tab for mixed drinks, IPAD rental, etc.

10. Restore the paper route guides and timetables.

11. Decent and high bandwidth Wi-Fi throughout the sleeping car.    Extra IPads that can be rented from the sleeping car attendent in case passenger did not bring one on board.   Sleeping car attendent also has special store of extra soap, shampoo, toothpaste, tooth brush, extra towels and wash clothes

 

 I would implement #3 and #10 with a webpage connected with the improved Wi-Fi in #11. High speed internet connection would be tricky as a good portion of the LD route does not have access to truly high speed wireless internet. 

Did you know that every single railroad microwave tower is part of the wireless cell phone network? That's how someone like Verizon has so much coverage in what's considered rural America without building their own towers, could easily handle wifi as well to increase that coverage, or use statelite wifi services.

You guys adding in all these restrictions because of the current virus outbreak are completely insane and apparently don't know the human brains capacity for forgetting.  I predict within 12 - 18 months(if not as soon as 6 months if the news stops reporting about it) the vast majority of people will return to doing everything just as they did before.  Surveys asking such have already proven this out, with I think the highest number I've seen for people delaying things like flying at 20%, and that's with a plus or minus error of 3 - 4 %.  Be more realistic with what humanity will do when this is "back to normal' and not throw out the fantasy numbers.

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Posted by Deggesty on Thursday, April 23, 2020 11:36 AM

As to observing "wet/dry" while traveling on Amtrak, I have had the impression that this is not observed on Amtrak trains. I have not requested any such beverage while between Harper's Ferry and Cumberland (except wine with my dinner westbound) and I have not seen restrictions on such there. 

I do remember seeing mention, in the distant past, of trying to order such when the train darted across Maryland briefly.

Johnny

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Posted by bratkinson on Thursday, April 23, 2020 11:38 AM

Restore the closets?  Over my dead body!!!

The Superliner Is had/have the small closets.  Dark, deep, and very easy to leave something behind shoved all the way to the back.  Superliner IIs and Viewliner Is (and IIs?) use an 'open' closet with a U shaped tube and a couple of hangers, and a strap to keep everything from swaying into your face while sitting up.  However, I WOULD add a small shelf above the U-hanger to put the towels and face cloths on.

If it were up to me, I'd nearly replicate the Viewliner I 'control panel' at the top of each seat.  And the volume control would actually be more than a simple 'decoration'.

And, of course, PUT THE LIGHT SWITCH IN THE DOOR JAMB!  The light switch on Superliners is in the most ridiculous position possible.  And anyone with arthritus or simply groggy and needs to turn on the light needs to be able to access it with the least amount of bending, twisting, whatever.

And lastly, refit the restrooms in Superliner IIs to match the refits in Superliner Is where the toilet is in the corner at a 45 degree angle.  MUCH more open space for overweight folks!  The original perpendicular-to-the-hall toilet design in both Superliner Is and IIs is great for anyone under 200 pounds.  But I'm not one of them.

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Posted by Enzoamps on Thursday, April 23, 2020 4:53 PM

Oh man, load up the train with all kinds of little things.  Other than the NEC and a few other commuter lines, train travel is leisure travel, not efficient travel.  Especially sleepers. I have to wonder, how many extra travellers will be lured in by all these little tweaks that wouldn't train anyway?

On the Capitol, I'd sure like simply to have cell phone reception east of Pittsburgh.  In the mountains we get zero bars most of the time.   Touch screen windows?  So in a roomette when I am trying to dress or undress in that 3/4 of a square foot floor space, every time I lean agains the door window it clears or darkens?  Print up a bunch of paper timetables so they can be discarded soon after?  Why not just post the schedule on the door? No wasted paper, no waste on the floor.

Just my opinion, but it sounds to me like thousands of dollar added to the cost of each car for no net increase in ridership.

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Posted by York1 on Thursday, April 23, 2020 6:43 PM

CMStPnP
Thought this would be an interesting thread to start, so for starters here are my suggestions:

 

This really is an interesting idea.  It's fun to forget about costs, and just think of the great things that would be on a wish list.

If you were to think of everything you could get in a four-star hotel, make that available on the train.  Hire dozens of dedicated and well-paid attendants who are never more than a few seconds away from fulfilling every need that may arise.

Cut down the number of rooms per car so room space is not an issue.

Wine and other drinks are available at all times.

York1 John       

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Posted by Deggesty on Thursday, April 23, 2020 8:45 PM

Enzoamps

Oh man, load up the train with all kinds of little things.  Other than the NEC and a few other commuter lines, train travel is leisure travel, not efficient travel.  Especially sleepers. I have to wonder, how many extra travellers will be lured in by all these little tweaks that wouldn't train anyway?

On the Capitol, I'd sure like simply to have cell phone reception east of Pittsburgh.  In the mountains we get zero bars most of the time.   Touch screen windows?  So in a roomette when I am trying to dress or undress in that 3/4 of a square foot floor space, every time I lean agains the door window it clears or darkens?  Print up a bunch of paper timetables so they can be discarded soon after?  Why not just post the schedule on the door? No wasted paper, no waste on the floor.

Just my opinion, but it sounds to me like thousands of dollar added to the cost of each car for no net increase in ridership.

 

I agree about cell reception--it is not there; and as you cross Iowa there are dead spots.

As to windows, it was suggested that only the exterior windows would darkened or lightened by a touch; the curtains would stay on the vesitbule door.

As to timetables, I have not been able to find them on Amtrak's website--I tried "Schedules" (which used to have all the schedules) and got something similar to "Train Status." 

Sometimes it seems that if Amtrak is trying make its site easier to use it makes it more difficult to use.

 

As to income advantage, I doubt very much that the suggestions would bring more passengers if they were followed.

Johnny

  • Member since
    August 2005
  • From: At the Crossroads of the West
  • 11,013 posts
Posted by Deggesty on Thursday, April 23, 2020 8:46 PM

Enzoamps

Oh man, load up the train with all kinds of little things.  Other than the NEC and a few other commuter lines, train travel is leisure travel, not efficient travel.  Especially sleepers. I have to wonder, how many extra travellers will be lured in by all these little tweaks that wouldn't train anyway?

On the Capitol, I'd sure like simply to have cell phone reception east of Pittsburgh.  In the mountains we get zero bars most of the time.   Touch screen windows?  So in a roomette when I am trying to dress or undress in that 3/4 of a square foot floor space, every time I lean agains the door window it clears or darkens?  Print up a bunch of paper timetables so they can be discarded soon after?  Why not just post the schedule on the door? No wasted paper, no waste on the floor.

Just my opinion, but it sounds to me like thousands of dollar added to the cost of each car for no net increase in ridership.

 

I agree about cell reception--it is not there; and as you cross Iowa and Wyoming there are dead spots.

As to windows, it was suggested that only the exterior windows would darkened or lightened by a touch; the curtains would stay on the vesitbule door.

As to timetables, I have not been able to find them on Amtrak's website--I tried "Schedules" (which used to have all the schedules) and got something similar to "Train Status." 

Sometimes it seems that if Amtrak is trying make its site easier to use it makes it more difficult to use.

 

As to income advantage, I doubt very much that the suggestions would bring more passengers if they were followed.

Johnny

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 19,352 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, April 23, 2020 9:02 PM

Enzoamps
On the Capitol, I'd sure like simply to have cell phone reception east of Pittsburgh.  In the mountains we get zero bars most of the time.   Touch screen windows?  So in a roomette when I am trying to dress or undress in that 3/4 of a square foot floor space, every time I lean agains the door window it clears or darkens?  Print up a bunch of paper timetables so they can be discarded soon after?  Why not just post the schedule on the door? No wasted paper, no waste on the floor.

QYB.  There are many locations between Connellsville and Cumberland that there is NO Cell phone service for railroaders on the ground.  When working a derailment, CSX official had to drive 4 or 5 mile from the scene to get any cell service to give updates on clean up progress.  Even the company radio service has dead spots.

Railroads traverse large expanses of limited population.  Those of us living around population centers don't understand how sparcely populated wide expances of the country still are.  Wi-Fi is something living in populated areas people take for granted.  It isn't that simple in the middle of nowhere.

  • Member since
    February 2018
  • From: Great Plains
  • 2,266 posts
Posted by York1 on Thursday, April 23, 2020 9:13 PM

BaltACD
Railroads traverse large expanses of limited population.  Those of us living around population centers don't understand how sparcely populated wide expances of the country still are. 

I realized it this past summer traveling through southern Utah and southern Colorado.  There were hours of driving each day where there was no cell service at all.  Of course, there weren't any towns or houses, either.

York1 John       

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 19,352 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Friday, April 24, 2020 7:19 AM

York1
 
BaltACD
Railroads traverse large expanses of limited population.  Those of us living around population centers don't understand how sparcely populated wide expances of the country still are.  

I realized it this past summer traveling through southern Utah and southern Colorado.  There were hours of driving each day where there was no cell service at all.  Of course, there weren't any towns or houses, either.

Beyond that - railroads go to many locations, where the only way to get there IS on the railroad.

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 13,474 posts
Posted by Overmod on Friday, April 24, 2020 7:31 AM

BaltACD
Those of us living around population centers don't understand how sparsely populated wide expanses of the country still are.  Wi-Fi is something living in populated areas people take for granted.  It isn't that simple in the middle of nowhere.

Except that with mandatory PTC no place is 'in the middle of nowhere' any more.  All that is required is to be able to tap into the data stream appropriately (a bit like people in the old days throwing a wire over the telegraph line to key emergency messages).

Now you certainly won't do this with voice telephone -- that damn near killed broadband in the mid '90s when morons figured itty-bitty compressed audio long-distance telephone service nearly 'too cheap to meter' at putative OC3 bandwidth could cohabit the fiber with long RCP/IP packets.  But you can easily use store-and-forward with the equivalent of half-duplex (think using a keyed walkie-talkie) and for most railroad communication the latency involved may be tolerable.

Gets more fun when PTC is down, of course.  And the thought of enhancing 'passenger' bandwidth by giving them access to the dedicated PTC connectivity is ... well, not an idea I'd relish having to explain, let alone espouse.

  • Member since
    September 2017
  • 3,724 posts
Posted by charlie hebdo on Friday, April 24, 2020 7:50 AM

York1

 

 
CMStPnP
Thought this would be an interesting thread to start, so for starters here are my suggestions:

 

 

This really is an interesting idea.  It's fun to forget about costs, and just think of the great things that would be on a wish list.

If you were to think of everything you could get in a four-star hotel, make that available on the train.  Hire dozens of dedicated and well-paid attendants who are never more than a few seconds away from fulfilling every need that may arise.

Cut down the number of rooms per car so room space is not an issue.

Wine and other drinks are available at all times.

 

+1. Great post! 

  • Member since
    April 2020
  • 2 posts
Posted by MarkSTM on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 7:34 AM

Sleeping car fares are exhorbatant already.  Depending on the route, the fare exceeds $400 per night that would get you a suite in a hotel, not a roomette 9'x6'.  Looking at old time tables, Pullman and accommodation charges rarely exceeded double the coach fare.  AMTRAK's sleeping car fares come close to triple or more.  Lower prices would sell more space; prices are kept artificially high as it is due to insufficient capacity.  Sleepers often sell out months before the departure date.

 

  • Member since
    July 2014
  • 15 posts
Posted by GERALD A EDGAR on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 9:31 AM

You'll be out of your car for gas, food, lodging, etc.  My wife's an RN, I serve on a State medical Board.  We take suitable precautions and are comfortable using Amtrak.  (& as always going from A to B is far safer on a train than in a car - 40,000+ Americans will die in car accidents this year!)

 

  • Member since
    September 2014
  • 4 posts
Posted by BRADNEY THOMAS on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 11:30 AM

All good except MY PILLOW . I have seen many reviews and their stuff is universally panned as overpriced, uncomfortable, terrible quality and generally a rip off.

 

  • Member since
    September 2013
  • 1 posts
Posted by hvrails on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 3:32 PM
Amtrak management doesn't even care enough do the basics like washing the windows. Been that way for years. I can't see them doing anything that would make the trip more enjoyable for premium paying passengers.

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