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Two Superliner questions

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Two Superliner questions
Posted by wasd on Sunday, April 11, 2021 6:28 PM

Hi all! I am from Canada and have never ridden Amtrak, so forgive me if these are dumb questions.

I have two questions about Amtrak's Superliner fleet. The first is about the baggage cars and the second is about the transition sleepers.

Baggage Cars-

I am aware that some coach cars have a dedicated baggage compartment on the lower level. If these cars exist, why do long distance trains operate with dedicated baggage cars. Wouldn't baggage coach superliners make these cars redundant?

Transition Sleepers-

The original order of Superliners did not include transition cars but instead relied upon Hi-Levels to fill this role. Later, the second order included them. My question is why are transition cars necessary? Superliners are not mixed with single level equipment in regular service. In the context of existing services they are used to access the baggage cars, though on some occasions, no transition cars are used. Was there another purpose in mind for the transition cars or were they only purchased to access baggage cars?

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, April 11, 2021 8:06 PM

The 'dedicated baggage compartment' is for carry-on luggage that passengers want to access during the trip.  It does not substitute as a place for all the checked baggage and express.

The Bombardier transition cars, which include crew dorms, are a way to let the Superliners operate in a consist with single-level cars.  They have a door at high level in one end, and at normal 'vestibule' height at the other.  Presumably if any access were needed to Viewliner cars (or coaches that might be added for peak service or other times), one of these would be necessary.

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Posted by SD70Dude on Sunday, April 11, 2021 8:16 PM

While I'm not sure how large a Superliner's baggage compartment is, I do know that none of them have dedicated large baggage doors.  As Amtrak still allows large objects like coffins and bicycles to be shipped as regular baggage the small door size could sometimes become a problem.  EDIT: see photos below, they do have larger doors.

In the past Amtrak has run some trains with a combination of Hi-Level/Superliner and single level equipment, besides the aforementioned baggage cars.  I'm not aware of any trains that currently operate in this configuration, but the proposal from a few years ago for Chicago-New York through sleepers on the Pennsylvanian and Capitol Limited would have created such a consist between Pittsburgh and Chicago.

Santa Fe had some funny looking single level baggage cars with a height extension at one end to 'streamline' the transistion to Hi-Level equipment.  I'm not sure if they had a raised vestibule at that end or if a separate Hi-Level transistion car was still required. 

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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Posted by JPS1 on Sunday, April 11, 2021 9:09 PM
The current version of the Texas Eagle has a locomotive, a transition sleeper, a regular sleeper, a diner, and two coaches.  The sightseer lounge car was dropped when the train was cut back to three days a week.  It supposedly is coming back with the resumption of daily service on May 24th.
 
One of the coaches is a coach baggage car.  The door to the baggage compartment appears to be wide enough to accept some pretty large pieces.  According to a San Antonio conductor that I have known for years, the coach baggage car can handle the Eagle’s checked baggage 95 per cent of the time.  However, during heavy travel periods, i.e., holidays, it was chockers.  This presumably is why the Eagle had one of the new baggage cars prior to the COVID-19 pullback.  On several occasions I looked in the baggage car; it was nearly empty.  
 
The sleepers and coaches have luggage racks on the lower level for passengers that carry-on luggage but do not want to take it to their rooms or seats. 
 
The transition sleeper makes it possible for the conductor, who usually rides in the lower level of the car, when he/she is not working the train, to move from the car to the locomotive, although I am not sure about the passage through the locomotive to the cab.
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Posted by SD70Dude on Sunday, April 11, 2021 9:18 PM

JPS1

although I am not sure about the passage through the locomotive to the cab.

The GE passenger units have a rear door and a walkway through the engine room, I suspect it's similar to a cowl Dash-8 inside.

I'd recommend some heavy duty ear protection when using this passage while the engine is running. 

They do not have a front door, so it would not be possible to get to the cab from the coaches if the train had more than one locomotive.

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Sunday, April 11, 2021 9:32 PM

'

JPS1
One of the coaches is a coach baggage car.  The door to the baggage compartment appears to be wide enough to accept some pretty large pieces.  According to a San Antonio conductor that I have known for years, the coach baggage car can handle the Eagle’s checked baggage 95 per cent of the time.  However, during heavy travel periods, i.e., holidays, it was chockers.  This presumably is why the Eagle had one of the new baggage cars prior to the COVID-19 pullback.  On several occasions I looked in the baggage car; it was almost nearly empty.  

The Supperliner Coach-Baggage below. Car has a plug door that can handle large items. See photos below.

http://www.trainweb.org/amtrakpix/locoshots/supcoach/31002A.html

http://www.trainweb.org/amtrakpix/locoshots/supcoach/31041A.html

 II'm not shure how the station baggage handlers like them as the floor is at platform height and if the station has an old style baggage cart, all luggage have to be transitioned to/from one height to the other. 

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Posted by SD70Dude on Sunday, April 11, 2021 9:43 PM

Well, you learn something every day.  I'd never seen a photo of the Superliners with the larger doors before.

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, April 12, 2021 2:10 AM

SD70Dude
Santa Fe had some funny looking single level baggage cars with a height extension at one end to 'streamline' the transistion to Hi-Level equipment.  I'm not sure if they had a raised vestibule at that end or if a separate Hi-Level transition car was still required. 

All the references I've seen say there was no raised vestibule access from the six baggage cars with the fairing (some references call it a 'spoiler'); it is just visual (and marginally functional) streamlining.  You'd still need a transition car to match vestibule height on the fairing-equipped cars, as noted.

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Posted by josephr33 on Monday, April 12, 2021 11:48 PM

It does seem that during the pandemic the superliner coach baggages are getting a workout.  Most of the superliner equipped trains are running without a separate baggage car and just utilizing the baggage compartment in a superliner coach.

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 11:29 PM

Overmod
SD70Dude
Santa Fe had some funny looking single level baggage cars with a height extension at one end to 'streamline' the transistion to Hi-Level equipment.  I'm not sure if they had a raised vestibule at that end or if a separate Hi-Level transition car was still required.  

All the references I've seen say there was no raised vestibule access from the six baggage cars with the fairing (some references call it a 'spoiler'); it is just visual (and marginally functional) streamlining.  You'd still need a transition car to match vestibule height on the fairing-equipped cars, as noted.

https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.spookshow.net%2Fpassenger%2Fkatocap2.jpg&imgrefurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.spookshow.net%2Fpassenger%2Fkatocap.html&tbnid=L7geWs4M_1ABvM&vet=12ahUKEwj-jIys8fzvAhWTE80KHZ44Ad4QMygAegUIARC-AQ..i&docid=_FcfyjC0CZPbuM&w=619&h=209&q=santa%20fe%20rr%20baggage%20cars%20el%20capitan&ved=2ahUKEwj-jIys8fzvAhWTE80KHZ44Ad4QMygAegUIARC-AQ

Kato Santa Fe & Amtrak El Capitan Passenger Cars

Yes, the transition coach was placed behind the baggage/dorm car.

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Posted by AMTRAKKER on Sunday, April 18, 2021 2:58 PM

The coach/bags played a larger role in years past when Amtrak ran more trains that split into sections while enroute. 

The Empire Builder splits at Spokane, Wa with the power and baggage car continuing on the Seattle section. Checked bags for Portland,Or are handled in the coach/bag on the Portland section. 

The California Zephyr used to spawn the Pioneer and Desert Wind, and checked bags for LA and Portland being handled in the respective sections coach/bags. 

As for the transition cars, not only did they allow access to the lower level bag, but also come in handy keeping exhuast fumes from entering an exposed high level door. I experienced this many times riding the Pioneer with the lounge car directly behind the locomotive!

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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 5:05 PM

Slightly different topic but generally the topic of Superliner builds....

I could never understand and still do not understand why the radio channel settings in the sleeping car compartments are different for car intercom between the Superliner I and Superliner II builds.    If they followed the detail in the specs 100% they should be the same.    It is humorous to watch on almost every single Texas Eagle trip I take someone in the Dining car or Lounge car complaints that they cannot hear announcements in their sleeping car compartment.    In almost all cases it is the radio setting set incorrectly vs it not being operable.    You would have think that over 20 years Amtrak would have figured out this minor customer sat issue and fixed it so that the radio settings are intercom on or off and the same in every car in the fleet.     Is this minor and tiny, low cost change.....too much to ask of Amtrak?    Apparently so.

However a word of caution to the few good samaritains out there.   If your in an Amtrak Superliner I and you found the correct crew intercom channel on your compartment intercom speaker.    It's probably only good for your car if the next car is a Superliner II, so if you advise other passengers keep that in mind with your instructions or your just going to frustrate them more.    Also, don't expect the Amtrak crew to understand the technicals here either, most do not and give the passengers the deer in the headlights look.

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Posted by domefoamer on Wednesday, April 21, 2021 9:54 PM

"The Supperliner Coach-Baggage below. Car has a plug door that can handle large items. See photos below."

No, the Supperliner is another name for the dining car- isn't it? : >

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, April 21, 2021 10:20 PM

domefoamer
"The Supperliner Coach-Baggage below. Car has a plug door that can handle large items. See photos below."

No, the Supperliner is another name for the dining car- isn't it? : >

The plug door on the Supperliner is to load the 'Giant Baked Potatoes' being sourced from the former Norther Pacific commissary.

Superliners don't handle the potatoes.

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, April 22, 2021 9:54 AM

domefoamer
No, the Supperliner is another name for the dining car- isn't it? : >

Until they get flat wheels; then they're dinning cars.

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Thursday, April 22, 2021 9:56 PM

[/quote]

domefoamer
"The Supperliner Coach-Baggage below. Car has a plug door that can handle large items. See photos below."

No, the Supperliner is another name for the dining car- isn't it? : >

Ouch. Spell Check would not catch it. But you did get a laugh out of it.

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, April 22, 2021 10:11 PM

Overmod
 
domefoamer
No, the Supperliner is another name for the dining car- isn't it? : >

Until they get flat wheels; then they're dinning cars.

When they get flat wheels they get franchised as 'Shake Shack'.

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Posted by JPS1 on Thursday, April 22, 2021 10:24 PM

BaltACD
When they get flat wheels they get franchised as 'Shake Shack'. 

I rode the Eagle from Austin to Dallas and back last week.  Lunch in the Shake Shack was pretty good.  I had the pasta and meatballs going and coming.  It came with a roll, salad, and brownie.  I also got a complementary glass of Chardonnay.  The meals were good, although admittedly I am not a foodie. 
 
The train had two regular sleepers; the transition sleeper has been dropped.  I presume it is because there is a strong demand for sleeping car accommodations. 
 
Number 22 was on-time; Number 21 was 45 minutes late into Dallas, but it arrived on time in Austin thanks to a heavily padded schedule between Dallas and Austin. 
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Posted by CMStPnP on Friday, April 23, 2021 1:55 AM

I am on the Texas Eagle on Friday from Chicago to Dallas and hope it is on time.   We'll see.   Certainly it should beat the time duration of Delta's transport ability from Dallas to Milwaukee on the way up.

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Posted by Sunnyland on Saturday, May 8, 2021 4:33 PM

I know there is a transdorm car on CONO between sleeper and engine, have been told when they sell out, there are extra sleeper  rooms in there that  can be sold too. Have never looked in it, but the conductor usually seems to come from that direction when he walks thru the sleeper car. Have not been in any sleepers on other trains except Builder, Starlight and SW Chief but that was over 15 years ago and they were all on the rear of train.  Seems like sleepers are now on the head end behind engine, they are on CONO. I had asked why and attendant told me rough roadbed and passengers bounced around on rear, even falling out of bed. I know that is a very rough roadbed, I have been on many trains and it is one of the worst. I  always take my luggage with me into the roomette as I do not  want to go to lower level to  get something, I pack light with only one bag. No problem when I rode deluxe bedroom, plenty of room.  In the coach, I will put on lower level or at end of car if there is space. 

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