Europe moving to Amtrak "no-sharing" sleepers model

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Europe moving to Amtrak "no-sharing" sleepers model

Postby Tadman » Thu Jan 25, 2018 4:50 pm

We've repeatedly debated if Amtrak should allow strangers to buy seats/beds in cabins without knowing the other passenger as a way of raising revenue or matching seat miles with passenger miles. There is a certain faction of people that think "we ought to do it like Europe as they have better passenger services".

Well here's an interesting twist: the top European non-cruise night train, the Caledonian Sleeper, is now banning strangers from sharing a compartment.

The Cally is best analogized as the British version of Amtrak's Starlight or Via's Canadian. It is both overnight passenger transportation as well as travel-tainment. Above such trains is a specialized cruise train, the Mountaineer and Belmond Pullman respectively. The prices are materially higher than a coach seat on a day train but still significantly lower than the cruise trains.

I rode last June on 1S25/1A25 and 1B16/1M16, which for those not up on the headache-inducing Brit train numbers, is the Euston-Edinburgh-Aberdeen and return trip. On the down trip (northbound), I shared a compartment but spent most of the night in the lounge/diner. On the up trip, I was supposed to have my own room but forgot to by the ticket until the last minute, which mean I was stuck in seated coach overnight. The shared room to me is the cost of riding sleeper in the UK/EU. The seated coach was crummy but less so than Amtrak coach. Those old Mk2 coaches have comfy seats (with bloody armrests!!!).

Bringing this back to Amtrak: Is the opinion still "we should allow strangers to buy/share seats/bed in compartments in the hopes of raising revenue"? Or does this change your opinion? It looks like this is a revenue-based move by Serco, the Cally operator.

As far as I'm aware, this is the first night train in Europe (not including cruse trains) to do so. OBB's Nightstars, SJ 93/94, and RZD Russia have not made any such moves.

Article: https://inews.co.uk/inews-lifestyle/tra ... ring-cost/
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Re: Europe moving to Amtrak "no-sharing" sleepers model

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:19 pm

AMTK sleepers aren’t set up for multiple unassociated people, and neither is American society. As discussed in various diner threads here, it’s hard enough to get us to eat dinner at the same table as a stranger!

Try some open sections or open compartments on the Capitol Limited and get back to me.
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Re: Europe moving to Amtrak "no-sharing" sleepers model

Postby eubnesby » Thu Jan 25, 2018 6:29 pm

This isn't really about 'Europe moving to a "no-sharing" model', but instead about the decline of sleeper trains in Europe on the whole. The Caledonian Sleeper was, up until recently, the most common form of travel for business travellers between London and Edinburgh/Glasgow. However, as ridership and reliability has decreased, along with cultural changes favouring cheap flights, the Caledonian Sleeper has been forced rebrand itself as the equivalent of a 'Hotel Train' service, rather than a bread and butter transport service. Sharing compartments does not really align with that change, as value travellers will no longer be catered to.
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Re: Europe moving to Amtrak "no-sharing" sleepers model

Postby SouthernRailway » Thu Jan 25, 2018 6:48 pm

Amtrak sleepers are first class, and at the price I pay for my trips on the Crescent, no way would I share with a stranger.

I think that having some budget-class sleeper on Amtrak that is shared would be fine to offer generally, but I wouldn't ever take it.

I thought that European trains have some non-shared rooms; I checked the Nightjet website, and Austrian railroads have sleeping cars with single compartments, and double/triple compartments where you share. As long as there's a single compartment, I'd be fine since that can't be shared.

Nightjet says that it separates men and women in shared rooms. That would be a total mess in the US: can you imagine the uproar if a governmental entity segregated people by gender? Here come the trial lawyers and LGBTQETC. groups and other assorted people with agendas.
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Re: Europe moving to Amtrak "no-sharing" sleepers model

Postby dgvrengineer » Thu Jan 25, 2018 7:51 pm

Depends on how good looking she is!
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Re: Europe moving to Amtrak "no-sharing" sleepers model

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Thu Jan 25, 2018 8:58 pm

Gents, my first ride in a Pullman sleeper in a 12-1 was during July 1952. The Porter grabbed what winks he could on the Men's Room couch. He'd best look sharp for a passenger getting off at 230A.

Now relating this 65 year ago experience to today, neither passengers nor employees serving them "do that kind of stuff" today.

No one in the Western World is willing to share accommodations anymore with an unrelated party. It's life.

Caledonian is simply getting with the times; and OBB NightJet, which I'm not about to try on any future overseas journeys, is simply "putting lipstick on the pig" of a model that died "over here" sixty years ago, and "over there", say thirty years ago.
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Re: Europe moving to Amtrak "no-sharing" sleepers model

Postby eubnesby » Thu Jan 25, 2018 11:48 pm

It's worth nothing that in the original franchise agreement for the Calendonian Sleeper, when the present operator took over, it was intended that the new rolling stock would contain a replacement of the 'shared compartment'-type accommodation with 'pods', equivalent to lie-flat seats on airliners. See the relevant announcement at this link https://www.sleeper.scot/news/85-newtrains.

However, apparently for safety reasons, the pod concept proved impossible to implement in actuality (see https://www.scotsman.com/news/transport/new-caledonian-sleeper-berths-to-feature-double-beds-1-4165526), and so the new train will have neither pods nor shared compartments, only a regular coach and first class sleeper accommodation.
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Re: Europe moving to Amtrak "no-sharing" sleepers model

Postby Arborwayfan » Fri Jan 26, 2018 11:39 am

Norwegian sleepers are also sold only as a whole room. The conductor even gives you a key.
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Re: Europe moving to Amtrak "no-sharing" sleepers model

Postby ExCon90 » Fri Jan 26, 2018 4:07 pm

SouthernRailway wrote:I thought that European trains have some non-shared rooms; I checked the Nightjet website, and Austrian railroads have sleeping cars with single compartments, and double/triple compartments where you share. As long as there's a single compartment, I'd be fine since that can't be shared.

The standard practice in Europe--since the elimination of third class in 1956--was that a second-class rail ticket (plus berth charge) bought you the equivalent of 1/2 of a double bedroom (same price for the upper and the lower); you could always get a room to yourself by paying first-class rail plus a significantly higher berth charge. Similar to the American practice of requiring two rail fares for single occupancy of a drawing room.
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Re: Europe moving to Amtrak "no-sharing" sleepers model

Postby JimBoylan » Fri Jan 26, 2018 4:30 pm

Agatha Christie's "Murder on the Orient Express" mentions the practice of bribing one of the train crew to ensure that if there is an unsold space, you get the compartment with only 1 occupant. She also writes about how that scheme breaks down when an official of the sleeping car company gets last minute space for a friend.
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Re: Europe moving to Amtrak "no-sharing" sleepers model

Postby ExCon90 » Fri Jan 26, 2018 4:48 pm

True--once in Greece I got a room to myself for the 2nd-class rail fare because there weren't many passengers, and I didn't even have to bribe. Sometimes you could just "luck out."
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Re: Europe moving to Amtrak "no-sharing" sleepers model

Postby JPoland » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:19 pm

So if I meet some hot chick in the club car I cant take her back to my roomette? Who would dare police this?
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Re: Europe moving to Amtrak "no-sharing" sleepers model

Postby electricron » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:36 pm

JPoland wrote:So if I meet some hot chick in the club car I cant take her back to my roomette? Who would dare police this?

The car steward may inform the conductor, and the conductor has the authority to kick you off the train. There's a club car on a train for a reason, amongst many is socializing with other passengers.
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Re: Europe moving to Amtrak "no-sharing" sleepers model

Postby andrewjw » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:43 pm

electricron wrote:
JPoland wrote:So if I meet some hot chick in the club car I cant take her back to my roomette? Who would dare police this?

The car steward may inform the conductor, and the conductor has the authority to kick you off the train. There's a club car on a train for a reason, amongst many is socializing with other passengers.


Ha! I can't imagine this ever being enforced. Would they really rather two people start 'socializing' in the club car or restroom?
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Re: Europe moving to Amtrak "no-sharing" sleepers model

Postby electricron » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:47 pm

andrewjw wrote:
electricron wrote:
JPoland wrote:So if I meet some hot chick in the club car I cant take her back to my roomette? Who would dare police this?

The car steward may inform the conductor, and the conductor has the authority to kick you off the train. There's a club car on a train for a reason, amongst many is socializing with other passengers.


Ha! I can't imagine this ever being enforced. Would they really rather two people start 'socializing' in the club car or restroom?


If I were the conductor, I would rather they socialize "in the naughty way" off the train.
It's never a grand idea to permit non-first class paying passengers in the first class areas. :)
A line from the movie Patton comes to mind, "this isn't a bordello". :-D
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