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Slumbercoach (Sleepercoach) vs. Pullman Duplex Roomette

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Slumbercoach (Sleepercoach) vs. Pullman Duplex Roomette
Posted by Redwards on Monday, November 16, 2009 7:47 AM

I'm trying to ascertain the similarities/differences betwen these two types of sleeping car arrangements.  They seem to be similar in terms of the room size 'footprint' and the offset up and down arrangement.  I believe they also both had in room toilets and sinks. 

Were the Pullman run duplex roomette cars more "luxurious" than the railroad run slumbercoach spaces?  Did the Pullmans have slighly more space or perhaps better mattresses than a slumbercoach room?   

--Reed

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Posted by passengerfan on Monday, November 16, 2009 7:56 AM

The slumbercoach room was smaller than the duplex roomette although not by much. The mattress was a standard pullman mattress in the duplex roomette where the slumbercoach mattress was somewhat thinner. Both had toilets and sinks. The major difference was you had all of the Pullman amenities in a duplex roomette not found in the slumbercoach, such as access to the first class section of the train, shoes shined etc. There was not much difference in price between a Roomette and Duplex Roomette but quite a difference between that and the Slumbercoach room. First no first class upgrade for slumbercoach and in most trains the Slumbercoach was next to the coaches if not ahead of the coaches.

Al - in - Stockton

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Posted by aricat on Monday, November 16, 2009 9:44 AM

I don't wish to make a dogmatic statement,but I don't believe that the Pullman Company ever operated a Slumbercoach. CB&Q,NYC, NP and B&O were the only lines to operate Slumbercoaches to my knowledge. NYC began using them after they took over operations of sleeping cars.On CB&Q and  B&O train conductors not Pullman conductors picked up tickets in the slumbercoaches. The Blackhawk was the only CB&Q train to carry a slumbercoach, both the Capitol Limited and the National Limited carried slumbercoaches on the B&O. The NP operated slumbercoahes on both the North Coast Limited and the Mainstreeter.Slumbercoahes I think were used by Amtrak for a while.

I think that slumbercoaches compared favorably to the current Amtrak economy sleepers, slumbercoaches were  more comfortable.

I am surprised that ACL and SAL did not purchase slumbercoahes, considering the Florida trains that they ran ?

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Posted by Deggesty on Monday, November 16, 2009 10:22 AM

aricat

I don't wish to make a dogmatic statement,but I don't believe that the Pullman Company ever operated a Slumbercoach. CB&Q,NYC, NP and B&O were the only lines to operate Slumbercoaches to my knowledge. NYC began using them after they took over operations of sleeping cars.On CB&Q and  B&O train conductors not Pullman conductors picked up tickets in the slumbercoaches. The Blackhawk was the only CB&Q train to carry a slumbercoach, both the Capitol Limited and the National Limited carried slumbercoaches on the B&O. The NP operated slumbercoahes on both the North Coast Limited and the Mainstreeter.Slumbercoahes I think were used by Amtrak for a while.

I think that slumbercoaches compared favorably to the current Amtrak economy sleepers, slumbercoaches were  more comfortable.

I am surprised that ACL and SAL did not purchase slumbercoahes, considering the Florida trains that they ran ?

A note or two--the slumbercoaches used on the NCL also were operated on the Denver Zephyr, running Chicago-Colorado Springs. If the NCL came into Chicago in time, the slumbercoach would be turned and sent to Colorado Springs the same day, and the car that came in from Colorado Springs would be turned and sent out to Seattle the same day.

The ACL did operate a sort of slumbercoach, using B&O Duplex roomette-bedroom sleepers between New York and Miami. The operation was continued into the early days of Amtrak--I rode in a lower level duplex roomette from Jacksonville to Washington (it was nice to pull the berth part way out and rest my feet on it) in July of '71. Eventually, Amtrak began operating slumbercoaches New York-Miami, and continued the practice into '89, at least.

Johnny

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Posted by KCSfan on Monday, November 16, 2009 1:57 PM

I rode in NYC slumbercoaches a couple of times. Once on the 20th Century and IIRC the other time on the Ohio State Ltd. I remember the matress being a thin sponge rubber affair and no where near as comfortable as a Pullman matress. I was not overly impressed with accomodations but they did beat trying to sleep all night in a reclining coach seat.

Mark

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Posted by RoyPBower on Monday, November 16, 2009 2:24 PM

I had a roomette traveling Miami to Washington DC about 1992 or so and remember catching a glimpse of the slumbercoaches. They were SMALL and made my humble heritage roomette look large. I remember them being staggered in that one door would be higher than the other as you moved through the car. This was done to allow room for the bed which was perched on a ledge,or under a ledge depending on the location of the door. If there was a toilet, it had to have been under the passenger's seat.

Roy

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Posted by Deggesty on Monday, November 16, 2009 5:11 PM

RoyPBower

I had a roomette traveling Miami to Washington DC about 1992 or so and remember catching a glimpse of the slumbercoaches. They were SMALL and made my humble heritage roomette look large. I remember them being staggered in that one door would be higher than the other as you moved through the car. This was done to allow room for the bed which was perched on a ledge,or under a ledge depending on the location of the door. If there was a toilet, it had to have been under the passenger's seat.

Roy

Well, Roy, the toilet facilities (including the basin) were by the aisle wall, so it was not necessary to unmake your berth if you had to get up in the night. They were not quite as cramped as the similar facilties in an Amtrak Viewliner "roomette." The slumberroom seat and berth were not as wide as the Viewliner "roomette." I have had experiences with slumberrooms, both Amtrak styles of "roomette," and real roomettes (in which you had to put your berth up into the wall if you needed to make use of the facilities in the night). I have slept in every kind of Pullman accomodation except the Master Room and single rooms. A drawing room is wonderful. I never slept in a heavyweight, though.

In an upper single slumberroom, the middle part of the berth was folded in over the seat of the room in front; in a lower room, the middle part was folded in under the seat of the room in front. In both cases, the back of the seat, when folded down, became the head of the bed, and you put your feet into the opening from which you unfolded the middle part. I do not recall just what the arrangement at the front of the car was, though.

Johnny

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Posted by Redwards on Monday, November 16, 2009 6:27 PM

Thanks very much for all the great information. 

--Reed

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, November 17, 2009 5:20 AM

Amtrak operated Slumbercoaches on the Broadway Limited from Amtrak's start, and this continued until either the Broadway or the slumbercoach operations were discontinued.   Rode it.

I believe the CB&Q and NP were exceptions in that their Slumbercoaches, shared between them, were operated by Pullman.   Also, regarding the CB&Q operated Slumbercoach each way on the Blackhawk, chicago - Twin cities:   Porter in charge, since only one car.   This is what my memory says.

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Posted by Redwards on Tuesday, November 17, 2009 6:19 AM

There seems to be a decent amount of information out on the web regarding slumbercoaches - does anyone have a rough idea how many duplex roomette cars were produced and in what configurations? 

--Reed

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Posted by Deggesty on Tuesday, November 17, 2009 11:18 AM

Redwards

There seems to be a decent amount of information out on the web regarding slumbercoaches - does anyone have a rough idea how many duplex roomette cars were produced and in what configurations? 

--Reed

The book, From Zephyr to Amtrak, lists the following cars built with duplex roomettes:

SFé: 12 ea 24 Dup Rm. B&O: 11 ea 16 Dup Rm, 4 BR. MILW: 4 ea 16 Dup Rm, 4 BR, 10 ea 8 Dup Rm, 6 Rmt, 4BD. RI: 5 ea 8 Dup Rm, 6 Rmt, 4BD. GN: 10 ea 16 Dup Rm, 4 BD, 12 ea 8 Dup Rm, 4 BD, 4 Sec, 8 ea 7 Dup Rm, 4 Sec, 3 Bd, 1 C. NP: 18 ea 8 Dup Rm, 6 Rmt, 4BD. CN: 52 ea 8 Dup Rm, 4 BD, 4 Sec. CP: 29 ea 8 Dup Rm, 1 DR, 3 BD, 4 Sec.

Of all of these, only the cars built for the CP are still in use. The Sfé cars were rebuilt to the 12 BD configuration. Some of the cars listed under GN and NP were actually built for the CB&Q or SP&S, but were operated on GN or NP trains.

Johnny

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Posted by Redwards on Tuesday, November 17, 2009 6:19 PM

Thanks Johnny - much appreciated!

 --Reed

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Posted by Nebraskafan on Thursday, December 3, 2009 3:17 PM

 The other postings have accurately described the differences between Slumbercoaches and duplex roomettes. As-built Slumbercoaches were more spartan than standard sleeping cars, although two roomette sleepers were used as Slumbercoaches on UP's City of Denver for a time around 1957. The Burlington initially used them on the Denver Zephyr, expanding the pool with Northern Pacific cars for the North Coast Limited. Toward the end a Slumbercoach replaced the sleeping car on the American Royal Zephyr between Chicago and Kansas City, although that train later went coach only, and one was used on the Black Hawk between Chicago and Minneapolis. The singles were the best travel bargain around, a private room at coach fare plus a space charge. I wish we still had them. The double rooms were rather "cozy" for two travelers. Baltimore & Ohio and Missouri Pacific had through Slumbercoach service between Baltimore-Washington and Texas. I think New York Central's were called Sleepercoaches and the concept was originally referred to by Budd as "Siesta Coach."

 

Nebraskafan

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Posted by Deggesty on Thursday, December 3, 2009 4:56 PM

Nebraskafan
The singles were the best travel bargain around, a private room at coach fare plus a space charge. I wish we still had them. The double rooms were rather "cozy" for two travelers. Baltimore & Ohio and Missouri Pacific had through Slumbercoach service between Baltimore-Washington and Texas. I think New York Central's were called Sleepercoaches and the concept was originally referred to by Budd as "Siesta Coach."

You're right, When Budd began building them, Budd called them "Siesta Coaches." Perhaps the B&O thought that a full night's sleeper was better than an afternoon nap so they called them "Slumbercoaches."

I have slept in both the NYC converted cars and the cars built for this service--and I have slept in a duplex roomette, in 1971, Jacksonville to Washington, that was sold for this kind of service. Except for my last two trips, I always a had a single room (the upper rooms were more spacious); in 1984, I had a double room (at the single room price) from Montreal to Wilmington, and, again, from Atlanta to Trenton. The double room was not bad for one passenger.

I have had three experiences in duplex roomettes. The first was from Minneapolis to Milwaukee, in 1968, and the room was sold as a duplex roomette. The second is mentioned above, and the third was from Boston to Philadelphia 30th Street, in 1974; the room was sold as a roomette.

In 1989, when Amtrak was still operating them NYC-Fla., my wife and I had a bedroom, in former SP 10-6, from NYC to Sebring. We ate dinner with a lady who had been unable to obtain Pullman space, and she was unhappy with her accomodation. I would say that Amtrak did not do a good job of explaining the difference between the two types of car. I do not know how easy it would be for the traveler who is not as familiar with the various types of sleeping accomodations as many of the contributors to these forums are to be able to comprehend the differences. Other than this, I wish that Amtrak had seen fit to maintain and continue to use the cars.

Johnny

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, December 17, 2009 9:30 AM

Impossibility of installing retention toilets without complete rebuilding the car was the reason for Slumbercoach phase-out.

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Posted by Randock on Saturday, January 2, 2010 7:42 AM

 I rode a Slumbercoach on the Broadway from Philadelphia to Chicago, New Year's Eve 1982. By then the car was pretty shopworn, but the mattress was certainly thin, and I recall an unfavorable comparison to my recent roomette in the Chateau Lemoyne in the VIA Canadian. One more thing that I'll always remember, if you made the choice to sleep head - to the rear of the train (My preference for watching the scenery roll by from bed) your head was RIGHT next to the toilet. Good housekeeping really could come in handy at that time, and let's just say that '82 must not have been a good year for Amtrak!

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Posted by Deggesty on Saturday, January 2, 2010 11:18 AM

Randock

 I rode a Slumbercoach on the Broadway from Philadelphia to Chicago, New Year's Eve 1982. By then the car was pretty shopworn, but the mattress was certainly thin, and I recall an unfavorable comparison to my recent roomette in the Chateau Lemoyne in the VIA Canadian. One more thing that I'll always remember, if you made the choice to sleep head - to the rear of the train (My preference for watching the scenery roll by from bed) your head was RIGHT next to the toilet. Good housekeeping really could come in handy at that time, and let's just say that '82 must not have been a good year for Amtrak!

Certainly, Budd did not design the Slumbercoaches to have all the comforts of a Pullman. To made the best use of space, Budd used a pad instead of a mattress (imagine folding a mattress into the space used to store the pad when it was not in use). The pads that Amtrak has in its sleepers are a little better than those in the Slumbercoaches--but innerspring mattresses they are not.

Edit; add: Even though they are slightly smaller than the roomettes in the Manor cars, the duplex roomettes in the Chateau cars had the same berths that you found in roomettes and larger rooms; one noticeable difference was that a duplex roomette cost a little less than a roomette. However, VIA makes no difference in pricing between the two, and simply cars each a "single cabin." VIA also makes no difference between a compartment (Room F) in a Manor car and a bedroom, calling each a "double cabin," and making no difference in the space charge. And, it calls a drawing room a "triple cabin."

As to 1982's being a bad year for Amtrak, I agree. I made a trip to the East and South that year, and the only decent diner service I found was on the Rensselaer-Boston leg of the Lake Shore Limted and on the City of New Orleans. On the other trains I rode, the service was more like McDonald's--pay up front, plastic cutlery, paper napery, and a limited menu. I expected more than I did find for lunch on the way to Boston, and the service on the City was superior to that on the other main trains. Before leaving Washington for Greensboro, I ate supper in the restaurant in the station, and I also found some supper in the station in Chicago before leaving for Salt Lake City.

Johnny

Johnny

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