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Date: 04/27/16 16:29
sleeper cars on Amtrak
Author: hldtrains

Perhaps a dumb question, but here goes:  Why does Amtrak place sleeping cars at or near the front of the train?  Years (and I mean many years ago) I rode a few Amtrak trains and the sleepers were at the rear of the train, as during the time of the Chief and the Lark.  The last six or seven train rides over about as many years found the sleepers near the head end.  Listening to a mainline steam engine up close is a dream, but hearing that horn blasting through small towns in the middle of the night is something else again.  I know I should not complain too much; at least we still have some passenger trains and I'll still get on board.

Thanks in advance.



Date: 04/27/16 16:40
Re: sleeper cars on Amtrak
Author: wa4umr

It's so that the first class passengers arrive first at the destination.
 
I've sort of wondered also.  Could it have anything to do with train handling?  There's very little slack action on Amtrak if compared to 50 years ago or on freight trains so I doubt that that would be the reason.  On the Empire Builder the sleepers for the Portland section (trains 27 & 28) is on the rear while they are on the front of the Seattle section (trains 7 & 8.)

John



Date: 04/27/16 16:49
Re: sleeper cars on Amtrak
Author: badgerexpat

Well, for whatever reason, while the sleepers are usually forward, they are on the rear of the California Zephyr. Go figure.

On the Empire Builder, the Seattle sleepers are forward, the Portland sleeper is the last car on the train. The full consist is a sort of sleeper sandwich:

lcomotive
bag
transition sleeper
sleeper
sleeper
dining car
coach
coach
(the above all go to/from Seattle, the following to/from Portland)
sightseer lounge
coach 
coach (one of these is a coach bag)
sleeper

The Lake Shore is put together somewhat similarly, with the Boston segment on the rear, but a baggage car (if I remember correctly) is the last car.



Date: 04/27/16 17:09
Re: sleeper cars on Amtrak
Author: BoilingMan

The positioning of the sleepers has to do with switching needs or staffing needs of the individual trains involved- nothing to do with ride quality or noise.
That's pretty much it.
SR
(32yrs OBS service)



Date: 04/27/16 18:37
Re: sleeper cars on Amtrak
Author: Mudrock

The westbound Zephyr has sleepers on the rear and eastbound Zephyr has sleepers out front because there is no way turn the entire train in Oakland.

Chris



Date: 04/27/16 18:49
Re: sleeper cars on Amtrak
Author: BoilingMan

Mudrock Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The westbound Zephyr has sleepers on the rear and
> eastbound Zephyr has sleepers out front because
> there is no way turn the entire train in Oakland.
>
> Chris

No
Entire train is turned every night.  (Amtrak's OAK Yard has a wye)

Normally the sleepers are on the rear, but last winter they were dropping, and picking up, an extra coach in Sparks for the RNO-EMY passengers- so the coaches were on the rear during that period.  It's back to normal now: sleepers on the rear.
SR



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/27/16 18:57 by BoilingMan.



Date: 04/27/16 20:24
Re: sleeper cars on Amtrak
Author: Lurch_in_ABQ

I think the logic of sleeper placement in Amtrak LDT consists rivals the most esoteric complexities of rocket science, brain surgery and the Google search algorithm.
But what do I know.



Date: 04/27/16 21:34
Re: sleeper cars on Amtrak
Author: ColdRainAndSnow

And then there's the mystery of the Zephyr lashups. For several years up until fairly recently, the locomotives were almost always back-to-back. Always thought that looked more interesting. And then, the lashups changed to elephant style and have mostly remained that way in recent times. Bring back the back-to-back...



Date: 04/27/16 23:23
Re: sleeper cars on Amtrak
Author: cajon

The Y at the Amtrak Oakland yard will only hold 3 or 4 cars. The sleepers are not turned and that is why they are on the end.
Dennis



Date: 04/27/16 23:31
Re: sleeper cars on Amtrak
Author: thetuck

cajon Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The Y at the Amtrak Oakland yard will only hold 3
> or 4 cars. The sleepers are not turned and that is
> why they are on the end.
> Dennis


They split the train in half and do two wye moves. I believe coaches on the rear will be the norm for 5/6 soon.



Date: 04/27/16 23:49
Re: sleeper cars on Amtrak
Author: BoilingMan

Okay....

5 arrives in the yard on 3 Track.
Train is fueled, watered, and dumped.
Entire train is shoved back thru wash rack.
Train pulls up to wye and cut at the Cafe/Lounge.
Power takes first 1/2 of train thru wye, shoves back, and pulls into 4 Track.
Power cuts off, runs thru wash rack, and back to the waiting tail end of train (sleepers these days).
Power shoves rear 1/2 of train thru wye, pulls it back, clears the 4 Track switch, and then shoves to assemble whole train.
Power runs around train to the head end...
Walla! The next day's 6!
Thank you
Thank you very much
SR



Date: 04/28/16 01:13
Re: sleeper cars on Amtrak
Author: F40PHR231

Have been on the Zephyr several times in the past month, and SR is right, the entire train is wyed as confirmed on my consist records. Plus he knows a thing or two about Oakland train operations.



Date: 04/28/16 06:59
Re: sleeper cars on Amtrak
Author: sandy126

I certainly am not as well versed on operations as others but i can tell you that from a mrketing standpoit its crazy to put your best and highest paying customers next to the whistle all night. In all the years i have taken long distance sleeper trains this seems to be a realatively new practice.



Date: 04/28/16 07:12
Re: sleeper cars on Amtrak
Author: joemvcnj

I think they should have configured the Superliners differently.
Instead of some coach-baggage, I would have made some coach-dorm (low level)
Instead of dorm-sleeper, they simply would have been transition coach.



Date: 04/28/16 07:21
Re: sleeper cars on Amtrak
Author: BAB

That works nice just for you but if something happens to the lead unit and the rear one needs to be brought to the front it causes a big problem. Was just on one in Klamath Falls about two months ago when there was a problem just like that, they swaped uints and away, well after about an hour off we went. Had it been facing the wrong way it could have been hours getting the rear unit facing the right way.
-------------------------------------------------------
> And then there's the mystery of the Zephyr
> lashups. For several years up until fairly
> recently, the locomotives were almost always
> back-to-back. Always thought that looked more
> interesting. And then, the lashups changed to
> elephant style and have mostly remained that way
> in recent times. Bring back the back-to-back...



Date: 04/28/16 09:15
Re: sleeper cars on Amtrak
Author: BobB

Sleepers were traditionally on the rear in part because in days of steam power that was as far from the smoke as it was possible to get and the first class passengers got the benefits.  In addition, it made it possible to have the first class lounge car as the last car on the train, with a rear platform or, after air conditioning, a rear view.  The rest of the equipment was designed with the location of the sleepers in mind, with the result that the situation was pretty much unchanged even after diesels took over from steam.  Eventually people realized that, with air conditioning leading to permanently closed windows as well as diesels producing much less smoke, it was no longer necessary to have the sleepers on the rear; some trains changed before Amtrak (I can think of the D&H/NYC Montreal Limited), but it was mostly after Amtrak that flexibility in placement came in, I think partly because rear-end first class lounges no longer existed.  There are those who think that the ride near the head end is better than at the rear (less whipping around curves, less slack action, to the degree that that's still an issue), but in any case Amtrak now seems to have sleepers on the head end for most of its Superliner trains (I'm less familiar with the eastern train other than the Lake Shore).



Date: 04/28/16 09:26
Re: sleeper cars on Amtrak
Author: ColdRainAndSnow

BAB Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> That works nice just for you but if something
> happens to the lead unit and the rear one needs to
> be brought to the front it causes a big problem.
> Was just on one in Klamath Falls about two months
> ago when there was a problem just like that, they
> swaped uints and away, well after about an hour
> off we went. Had it been facing the wrong way it
> could have been hours getting the rear unit facing
> the right way.

I had to chuckle at your quip that B2B lashups on the CZ "work nice just for you." Other than making the trainsets mildly more interesting to look at and photograph, I don't really give a flip about it and apologize if I intimated that I did. Just makes the trainsets a bit more interesting. That a machine so powerful can travel backwards as easily as front-facing is pretty cool. 

I'm no foamer but perhaps you are and can answer the question about B2B lashups...For a few years, somebody in Chicago was intentionally sending the CZ out with B2B motors just about every single day. Why would s/he do that? And in the greater realm, why do railroads in general so commonly assemble their lashups with B2B positioning? Seems like a stretch to say that it's just how they were parked in the yard at train assembly. And that certainly wasn't the case in Chicago for the CZ. 
 



Date: 04/28/16 09:52
Re: sleeper cars on Amtrak
Author: BoilingMan

The B2B/Elephant thing is a rather curious trend. The SDP40F's, P-30's and F40's were nearly always B2B, and so were the P-42's when first introduced.
It may actually have something to do with "how they're parked" in the yard. Here in Oakland all units face south for the push-pull Capitols & SJ's. The non-Calif owned Amtrak units are rotated regularly to Chicago on 5&6, so it would follow that those swaps would result in having units all facing the same way.
I'm not sure how things work in LA these days, but the same factors could be in effect- easier power rotations between Long Distance and local regional push-pull trains.

IDK, it's just a guess based on observation.
SR



Date: 04/28/16 10:08
Re: sleeper cars on Amtrak
Author: joemvcnj

Why do electric locos have double cabs and diesel locos never do ?
If we keep having more of these single unit wonder trains and high horsepower diesel, the logic that a double cab motor ought to apply for a diesel. .



Date: 04/28/16 10:12
Re: sleeper cars on Amtrak
Author: RAAndre

I do believe it's for ride quality.  If you check out the Florida trains, which often have the sleepers on the rear, they have gone to placing the baggage at the end so the sleepers ride better than being at the end. 



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