Budd "Slumbercoach" 24-8 Sleeper - Open Discussion

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Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sun Aug 14, 2005 3:17 pm

Actually, Ms. Bly, the job of rebuilding Budd 22 Rmt "--Harbor" sleepers into 16-10 Slumbercoaches was contracted out to Budd. When the cars were returned, the four 24-8's were surplus and returned to the lessor, which just happened to be Budd. From there, those cars were sold to the NP. Four other 24-8's that leased (3) to B&O and (1)Missouri Pacific for Wash-Texas service were also sold to the NP. This means that the entire fleet, save two cars the B&O owned and sold to a private concern,were in the hands of the BN, which included four cars owned by the CB&Q, on A-Day. The two sold by the B&O to the private concern were "flipped' to Amtrak at what I once learned was for a nice fat profit. Who had ownership interest in the private concern I neither know not nor ask not, or at least would not have on A-Day considering I was then employed in the industry.

Be assured, Mr. JP, the "24" were single occupancy rooms, be assured they were not exactly "spacious" and their paucity of space was compounded by a window the size of a bullet hole.

Incidentally, the Slumbercoaches on all roads except the Central were Pullman operated. I made a "one and only' trip during May 1962 on the North Coast Ltd "all the way' in one. As noted, they were Pullman operated but the NP obs-lounge and Sleeper domes were off limits. The NP timetable covered that point with notice to the effect of "the Dome Sleepers and Observation car are for the exclusive use of passengers holding Standard Sleeping Car space". I was undaunted, and atop my "American Graffiti" uniform of the day (I have been compared to Richard Dreyfus in appearance; also Elton John if I may add) I added a Madras sport jacket (trust me they were "in' back then) with my Pullman passenger check conspicuously placed in the front pocket. After dinner in the Diner, (it was open to all but used even less back then by Coach passengers than is an Amtrak Diner today) I somehow "got confused" and walked to the rear (that's where sleepers were customarily placed in railroad days - exceptions of course) and sat in the Obs buying Cokes (had not quite turned "blackjack") without ever being challenged.
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Sun Aug 14, 2005 6:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby John_Perkowski » Sun Aug 14, 2005 6:35 pm

To elaborate on what GBN said, Mr JP,

The footprint of a double slumbercoach room was the same as that of a roomette or standard section: 6'6" or so x 3'3" or so. It accomodated two, much as the current Superliner/Viewliner enclosed section (oh darn, I said that name again, refusing to be PC ;) )

The single slumbercoach room alternated uppers and lowers. Its prototype was the Pullman Duplex Roomette of 1940-41. As GBN stated, the windows were small (18" square IIRC) and the room footprint enough to sit down in.

Here is an image of duplex roomette. Substitute a 20" wide seat for the full width seat of a Pullman roomette, and you have the accomodation.

Here is an image of a slumbercoach, courtesy of Jeff Lubchansky CPA. Note that ATSF ran 24 duplex roomette cars in the late 40s and 50s. A 24 duplex roomette had ALL ITS floorspace occupied by the accomodation. A 24-8 slumbercoach crunched the 24 duplex single rooms into 2/3 the space of the car.

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Postby mbutte » Sun Aug 14, 2005 7:02 pm

The Budd NYCS 22 roomette 'Harbor' cars were rebuilt by Budd for the NYCS and offered 16 singles and 10 doubles (compared to the 24 singles and 8 doubles in the Slumbercoaches built from scratch by Budd).

These 'Sleepercoaches' (as the NYCS called them) were quite similiar to the Budd originals, but they did have 4 singles that were the same size space as a double room. These four rooms were not part of the alternating 'upper and lower' configuration of all the other singles in all the cars.

As a long time fan of slumbercoaches, on any Amtrak train I know that used the ex-NYCS cars, I would make a specific reservation for one of these four 'large' single rooms.

In matter how 'compact' the rooms were, you could never beat the very low price for a private room with sink and toilet in a Slumbercoach.
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Postby VPayne » Mon Aug 15, 2005 8:28 am

As an additional note to the discussion I ordered some Pullman files from the Newberry library which were titled something to the effect of "using regular pullmans as sleepercoaches". I thought that the files would have some interesting financial analysis of sunk cost decision making in the late 60's complete with marginal cost analysis and the such. I was really disappointed. All I received was about 100 pages of correspondence comparing the existing sleeper or slumber coach tariffs on routes where they were offered to what could be offered in a standard sleeper.
I have always really wondered why Pullman did not use more of their standard sleepers in a sleepercoach arrangement in the late 60's. Since I was not around one thought that I have had is that the bottom simply droped out of First Class too quickly thus leading to a reactionary protection of revenue. My other thought is that the Porter's union would not have allowed such a move.
Of course the question then becomes to what extent did Amtrak ever try such a move when it was renting cars from the freight carriers in the early 1970's?
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Postby John_Perkowski » Mon Aug 15, 2005 9:18 am

Mainly because this was deemed an abject failure back in 1956...

CB&Q and Union Pacific ran head to head on the Chicago-Denver run: The Q ran the Denver Zephyr, while the UP ran the City of Denver. In 1956, the CB&Q kept very quiet their plans to introduce Slumbercoach service. They got the business drop on the UP in introducing them to the Denver Zephyr.

UP followed up: They leased two 21 roomette cars from the Pennsy, and ran them on the same sleepercoach tariff. Point of fact: You got a better value riding the UP cars over the Burlington cars: More room for the single passenger, and a full berth.

In spite of the benefit, UP did not even cover its costs, where CB&Q was filling its Slumbercoaches to capacity most runs. UP dropped the competition, while the Q was quite delighted.

Going forward, roomettes became a less desireable accomodation by the late 50s and 60s. Look at an early Amtrak Car Spotter: HOW MANY PC 72-80 seat commuter coaches were rebuilds from 18/22 roomette cars?

Remember also the fragmentation of American passenger travel. Even though Pullman ran the sleeping cars, its responsibility was to encourage sleeping car travel... not advocate any single railroad. It strove to keep the playfield level between competitors.

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Postby CarterB » Mon Aug 15, 2005 10:33 am

While I have long 'lobbied' for an "economy" sleeper alternative, the 'what the market will bear" seems to be the pervailing sentiment.

I have often wondered, however, why not have the "all standard bedroom" nee "slumbercoach Amtrak version" as an alternative on those trains that carry at least two sleepers? or add and extra one where sleeper demand is very high.

This would allow for more 'all deluxe' first class cars at premium pricing (which seem to be in high demand for long distance routes) and the alternative 'all standard bedroom' modular interiors for the 'one night out' routes with no meal supplement, "make your own bed", and an upcharge over coach fare. In the viewliner mod, yes you would lose a bedroom due to the need for toilet facilities, but since all bedrooms would be a "double slumber" or 'double roomette' the occupancy might be able to justify and perhaps turn a profit?

Seems to work just fine in Europe.
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Postby VPayne » Mon Aug 15, 2005 12:03 pm

I have seen the CB&Q / UP comparison a few times but have never really understood how the rate was set by Pullman back in the days. Didn't even Pennsy pursue a limited sleeper offering with Pullman at some point in an attempt to reduce costs before finally pulling out of the Pullman pool?
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Postby Gilbert B Norman » Mon Aug 15, 2005 12:25 pm

While I have long 'lobbied' for an "economy" sleeper alternative, the 'what the market will bear" seems to be the pervailing sentiment

You certainly have, Mr. Morris, and while I do not agree with the need for an Economy Sleeper arrangement beyond what already exists, i.e. double occupancy of a Roomette, I certainly respect your thoughts on the matter.

Unfortunately, if the toilet facilities were to be removed from the rooms, I believe that more than one module would need be allocated to 'facilities'. I think of the 6-4-6 sleeper configuration used by the New Haven, L&N, UP and others where in there were four lavatories for the 12 Section patrons. Imagine the number required for 40 if there were to be the 20 Economy Room car you envision. The inclusive facilities of both the Viewliner and the Slumbercoach represent the most efficient use of that scarce commodity - space.

While I note this time you are not proposing shared accomodations such as you have in the past, you have proposed eliminating the car attendant and have passengers "make their own'. Ignoring the issue of existing labor agreements, we must also consider potential liability. When the Pullman Roomette as well as the Budd Slumbercoach were designed, people could be entrusted to "look out for themselves", but we know in the litigous world of today, that is not the case. I shudder to think of the potential liability Amtrak would face if a patron were to fall out of an improperly secured Upper bunk. This is why Amtrak will not "officially" permit a patron to make even the lower bunk of a Roomette (even though I have done so on many an occasion).

As for the removal of meals from the Sleeping Car ticket, that is a marketing decision that Amtrak has made. Why they have not carried that decision to the next step and make the Dining Car "cash free' escapes me.

Lastly, and I say this with respect, you obviously travel overseas extensively and evidently are quite prepared to "live European" where shared accomodations and foregoing the morning shower until arrival (lest we note that is in the early morning and on time) I guess are still prevalent. But this is America, where shared accomodations went adios with the withdrawal of regular transatlantic passenger sailings during the 60's and open section accomodations along with their potential liabilities to their operators went same on A-Day.

In closing, I still believe, that so long as there will continue to be long distance trains (appears they are safe for another year; "W" and Norm's efforts notwithstanding), the best approach is simply to get more sleepers on the road (we ALL agree on that) and let demand pricing fill 'em up. As I noted earlier, those who "have their limit' for what they will pay for accomodations will have their opportunities to ride away from peak travel seasons.
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Postby John_Perkowski » Mon Aug 15, 2005 12:53 pm

VPayne wrote:I have seen the CB&Q / UP comparison a few times but have never really understood how the rate was set by Pullman back in the days. Didn't even Pennsy pursue a limited sleeper offering with Pullman at some point in an attempt to reduce costs before finally pulling out of the Pullman pool?


You will have to consult each railroads public timetable for the era, since I suspect tariff rate books are going to be hard to find at the very best. I just asked Tom Madden of the Pullman Project if the Newberry contains Pullman tariff books for the era we're interested in...

Here are Chicago to Denver advertised tariffs for the Union Pacific, October 1962:

Coach: 31.46 OW, 56.65 RT (basically a 10% discount over 2 oneway fares)
First Class: 39.95 OW, 71.95 RT (again, basically a 10% discount for RT)

Pullman Lower Berth rate (the cornerstone of the Pullman tariff) was $12.25 OW. No discounts/RT rates shown.

Using 12.25 as the index value, the other pricings were:

9.25 for an upper berth
17.10 for a Roomette
24.25 for a Double Bedroom (single occupancy)
28.90 for a Double Bedroom (multi-occupancy)
48.55 for two DBR "en suite"
25.50 for a Compartment (single occupancy)
31.45 for a Compartment (multi-occupancy)
34.70 for a Drawing Room (single occupancy)
43.05 for a Drawing Room (multi-occupancy)

Hope all this helps.

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Postby CarterB » Mon Aug 15, 2005 2:11 pm

What I have in mind is a layout sorta like this:

http://www.villagephotos.com/pubgallery.asp?id_=1063016
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Postby Gilbert B Norman » Mon Aug 15, 2005 2:39 pm

While I don't wish to be party to dissuading your efforts expressed at that photo site, Mr. Morris, the problem is that the Slumberette you depict only offers 36 berths, or 6 more than the existing Viewliner. This means the car could only reduce its nightly "berth rate' some 16.66% below that of the existing Viewliner - likely less than that because one Viewliner Bedroom often prices out higher than two Roomettes.

Further, the Slumberette does not provide for an ADA compliant Special Room. This means the car could not be assigned on any train without an existing Viewliner.

I'm sorry, I simply do not see "what's in it" for Amtrak. My long standing recommendation that any future Viewliners should be weighted towards Bedrooms as "dat's whar der Gol dis".
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Postby John_Perkowski » Mon Aug 15, 2005 4:42 pm

CarterB wrote:What I have in mind is a layout sorta like this:

http://www.villagephotos.com/pubgallery.asp?id_=1063016


No way in Hades would I accept accomodation on that car.

That is NOTHING MORE than a standard section sleeper, with washroom space FAR below the acceptable minimum.

Even Pullman maxed out at a 16 section car. 18 sections is not acceptable.

Here is an HO model of a heavyeight 14 open section sleeper. Note the larger washroom space.

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Postby John_Perkowski » Tue Aug 16, 2005 8:46 am

For Mr Payne,

Got this from Alex Schneider on the Passenger Car List... tariff data IS available at the Newberry...

"According to the catalog or guide to the Pullman Company Archives, these records are in section 08/00/03, Passenger Traffic Department / Rate Books and involve 20 cubic feet of records. My own interests haven't taken me to that section, but let us know what you find.

"Alex Schneider"


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Postby CarterB » Tue Aug 16, 2005 11:44 am

Mr. Perkowski,

The 'slumberette' I proposed is nothing more than an "all standard room" Viewliner, with extra toilets tossed in (from Superliner specs). The standard room in a Viewliner already has a toilet and sink in each room.
So..........if you wouldn't go in an existing Viewliner (with sink and toilet) or Superliner "roomette" (without sink and toilet),I guess you wouldn't opt for the 'slumberette' either.

However, since I am apparently alone in my sentiments, I leave it to 'what the market will bear' in the US, enjoy thoroughly my European night rail trips, and use Jet Blue for my long distance USA trips.

If, however, some of the current "dump the food service and sleepers" Amtrak management sentiment/s prevail, I wonder just how long any overnight Amtrak trains will last?

Will the USA be left with only daytime 'corridor' service and a few 'land cruise' operators?
Last edited by CarterB on Tue Aug 16, 2005 12:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby John_Perkowski » Tue Aug 16, 2005 12:04 pm

Not acceptable.

Too little space allocated to facilities.
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