What exactly is a 'Viewliner'?

Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, gprimr1, Amtrak67 of America, Tadman

What exactly is a 'Viewliner'?

Postby Tony T. » Tue Apr 06, 2004 11:46 am

Pardon my ignorance, but what exactly IS a 'Viewliner'? Are these new cars recently built, or refirb'ed Budd's or PS cars.

I am planning a late August round trip on #48/49 originating in Chicago headed for upstate NY and wanted to avoid a night in coach. How easily does the standard room sleep 2? But if possible, I'll opt for the largest available room, $$ taken into consideration.
Tony T.

Postby Sir Ray » Tue Apr 06, 2004 11:56 am

50 single level sleepers, built new in the early 1990s, I believe:


Amtrak designed and assembled Viewliner prototypes in the early 1980's based on a long "wish list" of features desired by passengers and Amtrak crews. After tests and modifications to these prototypes, the company ordered 50 Viewliner sleepers in 1993. The order is being filled by Amerail and manufactured in Chicago and Hornell, N.Y.

Lots of pictures on line - check for Viewliner sleeper.

Amtrak I think has the room layouts for viewliners on thier site.

Oh, I forgot - one prototype Viewliner Dining car was built too.
Sir Ray
Posts: 2023
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 11:41 pm
Location: The Industrial Northeast

No Dumb Questions

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Tue Apr 06, 2004 2:42 pm

First, Mr. "T", there are no dumb questions at this Forum.

The Viewliner Sleepers came on line during 1996. That some around here (including me) find fault with them is beyond the nature and scope of your inquiry.

The only point I wish to make is that a Deluxe Room is the "most suitable" accomodation for two people traveling together. True, the Standard room does have two beds, but it really is only a one person accomodation. The second bunk is really there for an adult and small child or two adolescents. Amtrak will of course sell such to two adults (without any disclaimers), but I would suggezt avoiding such, unless it is a matter of budgetary constraints.

The other problem is that Deluxe Rooms on trains where Viewliners are assigned are in extremely short supply. If you cannot obtain one, then consider two single occupancy Standards.

I realize I have just doubled your accomodation charges, and I know others here disagree with me (they will say a Standard for two is AOK). But please note with some 250K lifetime rail mileage to my name (as well as a Past Moderator of this Forum), I'm trying to give you my best advice I can.

Gilbert B Norman
Posts: 13570
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 6:52 am
Location: Clarendon Hills, IL (BNSF Chicago Sub; MP 18.71)

Postby Tony T. » Tue Apr 06, 2004 4:23 pm

Thank you both for your input. Based upon the dimensions given on the Amtrak web site, I knew the 'standard' bedroom was going to be a stretch (pun intended) for two full size adults (although my wife is quite petite).

I hope to be able to score a deluxe room for the outbound trip and find a 'rail sale' fare back home to offset the huge $$, and perhaps find a unassigned standard room to purchase when boarding the train. Otherwise, we'll just tuff out a night in coach.

I assume the sooner the better for getting a D room outbound. I hope that 4 1/2 months is soon enough. I'll call tomorrow and talk to a real person about that.

(and Mr. Norman, the only reason I felt my question was dumb, is that being a lifetime railfan and hobbyist, I felt embarassed to admit to knowing nothing of this class of car. This will be my first Amtrak ride since the mid-70's, so I expect many changes. In fact, the only time I've ever even been on a Superliner, was back in the '80s when we had that big railfair downtown, and we rode out to Pullman Junction and back. Does anyone else remember that?)

Tony T.

Postby Chatter163 » Tue Apr 06, 2004 7:25 pm

I agree with Mr. Norman regarding the deluxe versus standard accomodations for two. When I travel alone, I take a standard, but with my wife, always a deluxe. :wink:
Posts: 24
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2004 10:38 pm

Postby Otto Vondrak » Tue Apr 06, 2004 8:01 pm

If I remember right, these cars had been in planning since the late 1980s, and the hexagonal design was supposed to usher in a new era of Amfleet cars- sleepers, coaches, diners... but only the sleeper series was ever built (and the aforementioned prototype diner)...

Moderator: New York State Railfan :: New York Central :: Toy Trains
NYW&B Fan Site :: A Magazine I Read Often :: A Museum I Volunteer At
User avatar
Otto Vondrak
Posts: 20255
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 6:47 pm
Location: New York

Postby queenlnr8 » Tue Apr 06, 2004 10:08 pm

Hopefully the Viewliner design will be used in the production of new diners, coaches and club/bar/lounge cars.

I personally really like them! :D

Postby rob5243 » Tue Apr 06, 2004 11:28 pm

queenlnr8 wrote:Hopefully the Viewliner design will be used in the production of new diners, coaches and club/bar/lounge cars.

I personally really like them! :D

Unfortunetely the dimensions of the viewliner diner prototype were atrocious for the kitchen staff. Very cramped and user-unfriendly. Hopefully they can get the design flaws worked out. I think the viewliner has potential to be a multi-purpose design for several different car types.

Postby mlrr » Tue Apr 06, 2004 11:57 pm

Pardon me if I take a previous comment out of context, however I found a standard bedroom pretty efficient for an overnight trip with two people, in the Viewliner. My Grandmother and I had the pleasure of experiencing this. If the trip was to last much longer than that, then I would be inclined to spring for the Deluxe bedroom. The LSL shouldn't be too long as opposed to Silver Service trains that take a little over 24 hours (If I'm not mistaken). Don't forget, you can always move about the train.
User avatar
Posts: 803
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 9:58 am
Location: Baltimore, MD

Postby EastCleveland » Wed Apr 07, 2004 12:29 am

The charm of overnight coach travel definitely wears off by 2 a.m. If it's a toss up between a deluxe room outbound and a coach seat coming back, or a standard room in both directions, go for the latter.

As long as you and your wife maintain a sense of humor about it, you'll find life inside a standard room pretty amusing. For two people with a modest amount of luggage, it's a classic "Lucy and Ricky" experience -- the next best thing to stuffing yourselves into one of those tiny clown cars at the circus.
Posts: 496
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2004 12:44 pm

Postby Mr. Toy » Wed Apr 07, 2004 12:38 am

Tony T. wrote:This will be my first Amtrak ride since the mid-70's, so I expect many changes.

Tony, welcome bak to Amtrak!

I was in your shoes in 2000, returning to the trains after a 16 year absence. I, too, rode a lot in the '70s as a student. I remember my first Superliner ride in 1983 on our honeymoon. The next Superliner ride was in 1984, and was my last train trip until 2000.

I'll tell you, that I was initially disappointed in the Superliners when I first rode them. The old cars (now referred to as "Heritage" cars) felt more spacious to me. Plus they swayed a lot more. And Superliner rest rooms leave much to be desired over the old days. They are by far the Superliner's worst feature, in my opinion, being horribly cramped, even by airliner standards.

And Superliner Sightseer lounges are nowhere near as comfortable as the old lounge cars. Plus they face people away from each other which discourages socialization.

However, I have come to appreciate some other features of Superliners. It is kinda fun having an upstairs and a downstairs, and the rooms on each level have their benefits.

But you'll be in a Viewliner, which I have never had the pleasure of riding. However, an aquaintence of mine told me of her first Viewliner trip. She was in a Standard bedroom, and she insisted in sleeping in the upper bunk, even though she's in her 80s and she was the only person in the room. Why? because of the window! The upper bunk of a Viewliner is much more spacious than on a Superliner, due to more ceiling clearance, and there is a nice big picture window from which to enjoy the passing contryside from your bed.

I only wish the Superliners had a window by the upper bunk. With the low ceiling clearance, they are awfully claustrohobic. A window would really help.
Mr. Toy

Postby David Benton » Wed Apr 07, 2004 1:18 am

shouldnt there be more room in a viewliner diner , as they are higher than the heritage dining cars ? . or did they try and compress the kitchem area to use that extra space , and add more dining psace ?
Moderator worldwide railfan , Rail travel & trip reports
The only train trips I regret are the ones I didn't take.
User avatar
David Benton
Posts: 8207
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 11:29 pm
Location: New Zealand

Postby DutchRailnut » Wed Apr 07, 2004 6:43 am

A viewliner is same height as a heritage car . it only maximizes a wider body like some transit cars. see :
http://www.trainweb.org/amtrakpix/locos ... 2003A.html
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

Retired Triebfahrzeugführer
User avatar
Posts: 21739
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 8:02 pm
Location: released from Stalag 13

Postby Tony T. » Wed Apr 07, 2004 8:47 am

Thanks all for more excellent input. Furthermore the link to the photos was precisely what I wanted to see. I do not get many opportunities to train watch Amtrak's east coast-Chicago runs. (mainly cause I have not planned such a trip in many years...) The Amfleet coaches make a pretty ungainly looking train when paired up with a Viewliner I see. The term 'streamliner' really does not apply any more I guess. (progress....)

I'll take the 'virtual' tour offered on their web site next. TT
Tony T.

Postby mlrr » Wed Apr 07, 2004 1:00 pm

If I'm not mistaken, I think I heard that the viewliner diner was taken out of service. I hope I'm wrong on that one.

I did have the pleasure on one of the few long distance trips that I did take to ride in one. I will say that asside from the angular fluting, the extra row of windows also provides the illusion of more space. I found the atmosphere quite relaxing and enjoyable!
User avatar
Posts: 803
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 9:58 am
Location: Baltimore, MD


Return to Amtrak

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: eastwind, Google [Bot] and 19 guests