Overnight Coach Configuration Ideas

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Re: Overnight Coach Configuration Ideas

Postby CComMack » Fri Aug 31, 2018 3:27 pm

CarterB wrote:Why keep dreaming up airline type lay flat, when the tried and true 24/8 slumbercoach plan with 40 berths still outdoes all dreamups and each compartment is totally private?


Because a Slumbercoach has to be built as a Slumbercoach, resulting in a mechanical unicorn fleet, while the Thompson Aero Vantage (the OEM name for the Delta One lie-flat seat) can be installed in any open-plan coach car, whether that's a Siemens Viaggio, a Bombardier MLV, or even a refitted Amfleet or Superliner. More importantly, if the experiment for whatever reason doesn't work out, the Vantage seats can be returned to the manufacturer, or sold to a third party, and the coach refitted in a more traditional coach configuration.

And it's not as though airline business class lie-flat seats aren't tried and true themselves; British Airways rolled them out for Club World back in 1999. They're as mature a technology as you can ask for, and buying off-the-shelf with manufacturer technical support is always going to be cheaper than the alternative.
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Re: Overnight Coach Configuration Ideas

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Aug 31, 2018 3:51 pm

Theoretically, a Viewliner could be built to the standard 12-2-1 layout and be converted to 24-2-1, or 6-2-1 (compartments with 4 or 6 berths), without rearranging the windows. That doesn’t change your point that only a purpose-built car can be a Slumbercoach, just broadens the field a little.
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Re: Overnight Coach Configuration Idea

Postby electricron » Fri Aug 31, 2018 4:45 pm

The whole point of providing an upgraded overnight coach service with lay flat seats should be about charging higher fares for seats and thereby reduce the amount of subsidy an overnight train service needs. So obviously it is okay to have less seats than standard coach class, because you’re charging a higher fare. But as many have pointed out, it’s going to be difficult to include more than half the seats than regular coach, and therefore the fares needed to break even on the car configuration will be at least twice as much. To actually pay for the extras business class passengers will want for the better seats, like free drinks and free food, an even higher fare will be needed. Will there be any passengers willing to pay that much extra for so little room???
Meanwhile , I believe many have shown that Amtrak already provides half the capacity with its’ Viewliner sleepers, where it is common they charge more than twice as much as a standard seat coach fare for the roomettes, and even more for rooms.
So any present sleeper configured car will easily collect higher revenues per car than a business class lay flat seat coach. So why do it if Amtrak is going to lose money doing so?
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Re: Overnight Coach Configuration Ideas

Postby SouthernRailway » Fri Aug 31, 2018 5:48 pm

Isn’t the downside to Viewliners the fact that they have 2 beds per room but often sell just 1 of the 2 beds?

So wouldn’t Amtrak want to have (1) some rooms with one bed or (2) some rooms where beds are sold to travelers who aren’t together?

I would prefer lie-flat seats over a regular coach seat but if I’m on a long-distance train, I want a room with walls for total privacy.

So I vote for new Slumbercoaches.
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Re: Overnight Coach Configuration Ideas

Postby electricron » Fri Aug 31, 2018 7:08 pm

SouthernRailway wrote:Isn’t the downside to Viewliners the fact that they have 2 beds per room but often sell just 1 of the 2 beds?

So wouldn’t Amtrak want to have (1) some rooms with one bed or (2) some rooms where beds are sold to travelers who aren’t together?

I would prefer lie-flat seats over a regular coach seat but if I’m on a long-distance train, I want a room with walls for total privacy.

So I vote for new Slumbercoaches.


Not really, because of the way Amtrak charges fares for both rooms and roomettes. You basically pay for coach plus for the room or roomette. All Amtrak gets from the second passenger is what they would get for a coach seat. That probably only pays for the food and drinks of the second passenger. The increase fares comes from the accommodation charge for the room or roomette, which is usually at least twice that of a coach seat. Amtrak isn’t losing profits if the second bunk isn’t sold relative to full coach car - which by the way usually isn’t completely sold out off the NEC anyways. And neither are the sleeper cars.

Never-the-less, the total number of seats and/or bunks in a car determines what fares Amtrak can charge relative to one another. To make a luxury chair car competitive with a standard coach car from Amtrak’s point of view, it must charge more for fares at least inversely to the ratio in the number of seats.
Examples = 60 seats per car with an average fare of $50 = $30O0 fares per car.
$3000 fares per car / 30 seats = $100 per seat; just to break even without the additional perks to balance payments for.
Don’t get lost in the fare details because there are many variables, it’s the principle that counts.
I’m pretty certain that roomettes and rooms from 15 rooms and roomettes should make Amtrak more revenues than a 30 seat business class car...even if all the rooms and roomettes have signal occupancy.

Having stated that, if it was possible to install like 45 seats into the business class car, maybe just maybe it can earn more profits than a sleeper car. But so far no one has shown how to do it with existing lay flat seats in service anywhere in the world. Slumber sleepers can easily get 45 bunks into a car, but then you wouldn’t have a coach configured car anymore. With half again as many potential passengers in the car, Amtrak could break even with a lower fare than previously suggested, using the same ratios. Example; $3000 fares per car / 45 seats/bunks = $67 per seat or bunk. That’s a savings of approximately 33% vs 30 lay flat seats.... again just to break even on fares per car.
Last edited by electricron on Fri Aug 31, 2018 7:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Overnight Coach Configuration Ideas

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Aug 31, 2018 7:38 pm

Topical question: what are a Viewliner’s inside dimensions? If anyone knows the dimensions for an Amfleet and a Viaggio, I’d love those dimensions too.
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Re: Overnight Coach Configuration Ideas

Postby SouthernRailway » Fri Aug 31, 2018 8:09 pm

electricron wrote:
SouthernRailway wrote:Isn’t the downside to Viewliners the fact that they have 2 beds per room but often sell just 1 of the 2 beds?

So wouldn’t Amtrak want to have (1) some rooms with one bed or (2) some rooms where beds are sold to travelers who aren’t together?

I would prefer lie-flat seats over a regular coach seat but if I’m on a long-distance train, I want a room with walls for total privacy.

So I vote for new Slumbercoaches.


Not really, because of the way Amtrak charges fares for both rooms and roomettes. You basically pay for coach plus for the room or roomette. All Amtrak gets from the second passenger is what they would get for a coach seat. That probably only pays for the food and drinks of the second passenger. The increase fares comes from the accommodation charge for the room or roomette, which is usually at least twice that of a coach seat. Amtrak isn’t losing profits if the second bunk isn’t sold relative to full coach car - which by the way usually isn’t completely sold out off the NEC anyways. And neither are the sleeper cars.



On the Crescent tomorrow, Viewliner roomettes or whatever the smallest rooms, with 2 beds, are $326 for 1 person between NYC and the Carolinas. Adding 1 more person to the room would be $170 more.

So if each room has just 1 person in it instead of 2, that's $170 of revenue per room that can't be obtained by Amtrak. So it would make sense for Amtrak to have at least a few smaller rooms, with 1 bed, for perhaps $250 (slightly more than 1/2 the price of a 2-person room). That would probably result in more ticket sales and fewer unsold beds.

$170 more than covers the cost of food and drinks for the second passenger--and the marginal cost of the second passenger in the room wouldn't be much more than food and drinks and laundering the bedding. So the $170 second passenger fare should be highly profitable for Amtrak.

I'd take the Crescent a lot more frequently if my commute in a private room were $250.
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Re: Overnight Coach Configuration Ideas

Postby electricron » Fri Aug 31, 2018 8:16 pm

SouthernRailway wrote:
electricron wrote:
SouthernRailway wrote:Isn’t the downside to Viewliners the fact that they have 2 beds per room but often sell just 1 of the 2 beds?

So wouldn’t Amtrak want to have (1) some rooms with one bed or (2) some rooms where beds are sold to travelers who aren’t together?

I would prefer lie-flat seats over a regular coach seat but if I’m on a long-distance train, I want a room with walls for total privacy.

So I vote for new Slumbercoaches.


Not really, because of the way Amtrak charges fares for both rooms and roomettes. You basically pay for coach plus for the room or roomette. All Amtrak gets from the second passenger is what they would get for a coach seat. That probably only pays for the food and drinks of the second passenger. The increase fares comes from the accommodation charge for the room or roomette, which is usually at least twice that of a coach seat. Amtrak isn’t losing profits if the second bunk isn’t sold relative to full coach car - which by the way usually isn’t completely sold out off the NEC anyways. And neither are the sleeper cars.



On the Crescent tomorrow, Viewliner roomettes or whatever the smallest rooms, with 2 beds, are $326 for 1 person between NYC and the Carolinas. Adding 1 more person to the room would be $170 more.

So if each room has just 1 person in it instead of 2, that's $170 of revenue per room that can't be obtained by Amtrak. So it would make sense for Amtrak to have at least a few smaller rooms, with 1 bed, for perhaps $250 (slightly more than 1/2 the price of a 2-person room). That would probably result in more ticket sales and fewer unsold beds.

$170 more than covers the cost of food and drinks for the second passenger--and the marginal cost of the second passenger in the room wouldn't be much more than food and drinks and laundering the bedding. So the $170 second passenger fare should be highly profitable for Amtrak.

I'd take the Crescent a lot more frequently if my commute in a private room were $250.

How many single bed spaces would you install in each sleepers, and how many resulting rooms or roomettes will you take out to make room for them? Definately a better idea than 30 lay flat seats. It it seems Amtrak doesn’t like single bed spaces, preferring the upper bunk possibility over the lower bunk and standardizing the type of rooms with the Superliners.
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Re: Overnight Coach Configuration Ideas

Postby SouthernRailway » Fri Aug 31, 2018 9:12 pm

Electricron, I would see how many rooms are sold to just one traveler on average per train and would make a number smaller than that for one-bed mini-rooms.

I’m not interested in anything on an overnight trip that lacks full walls and full privacy.
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Re: Overnight Coach Configuration Ideas

Postby bostontrainguy » Fri Aug 31, 2018 10:06 pm

SouthernRailway wrote:I’m not interested in anything on an overnight trip that lacks full walls and full privacy.


Realize that Delta can't have full height walls on their version of the Delta One mini-suites due to FAA regulations. They fought like hell just to get the doors. Amtrak could have full height walls to provide complete privacy.
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Re: Overnight Coach Configuration Ideas

Postby electricron » Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:44 am

bostontrainguy wrote:
SouthernRailway wrote:I’m not interested in anything on an overnight trip that lacks full walls and full privacy.


Realize that Delta can't have full height walls on their version of the Delta One mini-suites due to FAA regulations. They fought like hell just to get the doors. Amtrak could have full height walls to provide complete privacy.

If they did, half the seats wouldn't be able to see out any windows. Want to talk about getting motion sickness, eliminating outside views is one of the quickest ways to do it. You'll still not squeezing much more than 30 lay flat seats into a car. As I tried to explain above, 30 isn't enough to get that fare midway between a coach and roomette fare so many desire.
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Re: Overnight Coach Configuration Ideas

Postby bostontrainguy » Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:00 am

electricron wrote:
bostontrainguy wrote:
SouthernRailway wrote:I’m not interested in anything on an overnight trip that lacks full walls and full privacy.


Realize that Delta can't have full height walls on their version of the Delta One mini-suites due to FAA regulations. They fought like hell just to get the doors. Amtrak could have full height walls to provide complete privacy.

If they did, half the seats wouldn't be able to see out any windows. Want to talk about getting motion sickness, eliminating outside views is one of the quickest ways to do it.


Not sure what you are saying here. Every seat has it's own window on the outer wall. The aisle-side wall/door does not interfere with the windows at all. Also the doors could have a window (with shade) so the suite could actually feel fairly open and bright with windows on both sides.
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Re: Overnight Coach Configuration Ideas

Postby STrRedWolf » Sun Sep 02, 2018 6:50 am

mtuandrew wrote:Topical question: what are a Viewliner’s inside dimensions? If anyone knows the dimensions for an Amfleet and a Viaggio, I’d love those dimensions too.


From the PRIIA Single Level Spec 305:

The completed car shall have the following overall dimensions:
Length (over coupler pulling faces) 85 ft 0 in.
Height (maximum) (ATOR) 14 ft 6 in.
Overall Car Width (maximum) 10 ft 6 in.
Carbody Width (excluding side handholds) 10 ft 2 in.
Truck Centers 59 ft 6 in.
Floor height (ATOR) 4 ft 3 in.


From a thread in a different forum here:

The "curtain" is 15" in Amtrak cars but can be 16".
The vestibule door varies with design but 30" seems to be a good fit. The vestibule itself can be 3' wide.
The outer walls look to be 6" thick.


So taking all that in, your internal (actual coach carrying, no vestibule) dimensions are at least 9.5' wide by 79' long.
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Re: Overnight Coach Configuration Ideas

Postby mtuandrew » Sun Sep 02, 2018 8:14 am

Thanks, that helps & reinforces what I’ve seen elsewhere. Any idea on the actual inside length (between bathroom bulkheads that is, not just inner end of car) or the inside height? All of those cars also have a pronounced taper from floor to ceiling with a bulge at the belt line, unlike the Horizon and Superliner, but that’s less concerning to me.
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Re: Overnight Coach Configuration Ideas

Postby bostontrainguy » Sun Sep 02, 2018 8:15 am

Why not 10' 6" wide? It's only 4 more inches but that actually does matter . . . like every seat 1" wider.

Aren't the existing Viewliner and Amfleet cars actually 10' 6" wide or are they actually narrower and every dimension we see includes handrails and other items? Since the handrails can be recessed into the body shell, isn't the body itself 10' 6" at the widest belt line?
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