Santa Fe High Level cars

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Santa Fe High Level cars

Postby BobLI » Wed Jun 29, 2011 8:46 am

What was the reason that the Santa Fe bought the high level cars? It was a totally new concept back then. Was it to improve the image of the named trains they were running?
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Re: Santa Fe High Level cars

Postby frank754 » Wed Jun 29, 2011 6:46 pm

I'm not an expert on the Santa Fe, but my impression is that they were always very proud of their trains and offered top-notch service. If you go way back in time, they had Fred Harvey (1835-1901) who started restaurants, hotels (along the AT&SF mostly), as well as catered the trains, even into the 1950's. Some of the Harvey Hotels lasted well into the 50's, catering to tourists along the Santa Fe, like Winslow AZ of the "Eagles" fame.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Harvey_(entrepreneur)

There was even a 1946 movie about the Harvey Girls, with Judy Garland:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038589/

Some of the lines from NYC/DC, etc. had through Pullmans via the Santa Fe to provide coast to coast service, and I believe in the heyday, they advertised Chicago-LA runs of under 40 hours. The Super Chief (All-Pullman) and El-Capitan (coach) were their two signature trains running on the same schedule from Chicago to LA.
The El Capitan featured the Hi-level cars. Here's a complete AT&SF timetable (over 30 pages) from the fall of 1962 which I scanned from my collection.

http://viewoftheblue.com/photography/ti ... FALL62.pdf
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Re: Santa Fe High Level cars

Postby Allen Hazen » Thu Jun 30, 2011 12:19 am

After the Second World War, the rich and business travelers could fly to California if they were in a hurry, and several western railroads put more emphasis on scenery in marketing their transcontinental trains. You get a much better view from an upper deck (except in very flat terrain the track is often in a cut, and even a shallow cut can obscure passenger view from a standard height coach). Hence the Dome car. Santa Fe's idea was probably better: you don't get the forward view you have in a dome car (which the deep-dyed railfan will miss: the type of person who is more fascinated by signals and trains approaching on the opposite track than by the Rocky Mountains (Grin!)), but in a Santa Fe style highlevel all the passengers, and not just the limited number who can fit into the dome, have upper-deck views of the scenery. As an indication that Santa Fe was on to something, note that when Amtrak got new cars for western (= high clearance) lines it bought the "Superliner" double-deckers, which were generally seen as inspired by (though not in detail direct copies of) the Santa Fe's cars.
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Re: SFe High Level cars

Postby timz » Sat Jul 02, 2011 7:13 pm

Hi-Level coaches had 72 seats on 50-inch centers (if no end stairs); SFe's Budd low-level coaches of 1953 had 48 seats on 50-inch centers.
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Re: Santa Fe High Level cars

Postby John_Perkowski » Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:32 am

Moderator's Note:

I will ask some folks on the Amtrak and BNSF Forums to weigh in.

As a Member:

Every railroad needed to show "difference" in its passenger services. NYC, Pennsy, SP, Santa Fe, UP, Rock Island, Burlington, NP, GN ... all had something.

Budd built two bi-level cars for the Santa Fe in 1954, as an experiment. You could tell these cars from the rest of the fleet, they had slightly canted from vertical walls at the windowline.

Of course, the major delivery was in 1956 to re-equip the El Capitan, with an additional buy of coaches in 1964 to help out other trains.
Here is some information on the Hi-Level lounges, courtesy of Mr "Pismobum" Ainsworth, who occasionally posts at railroad.net":
http://trainweb.org/web_lurker/hllounge/

The wikidpedia article on the Hi-Levels offers some good bibliographic sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Capitan_%28train%29
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Re: Santa Fe High Level cars

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Mon Jul 04, 2011 12:33 pm

Mr. Bob, recalling an article circa 1956 in TRAINS (I'll "fish it out" should anyone be interested) DPM reported that ATSF had the clearances and Budd had the economics...ergo; Hi-Levels.

As Mr. TimZ immediately notes, Hi-Level could handle 72 passangers with the same level of comfort as could the "other guy in Armour Yellow" handle 44;just think; that was 72 fares over which to allocate the Porter's salary (maybe $2.50hr) instead of 44. Think of any other cost area of operating a passenger train, and it is no wonder Amtrak chose to limit its flexibility and connectivity in favor of 84 seats (and in the area of Sleeping Cars, where Santa Fe never went, 40 v. 22).
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Re: SFe cars

Postby timz » Tue Jul 05, 2011 1:43 pm

All? the SP/UP/SFe 44-seat coaches had seats on 52-inch centers-- so not quite the same comfort level. It was just the SFe 48-seat Budds that had 50-inch.

The low-level coaches had one definite advantage for the passenger: less noise when someone opens the end door at speed.
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Re: Santa Fe High Level cars

Postby jhdeasy » Tue Jul 05, 2011 4:43 pm

A related thought, but not an answer to your original question.

In 1956, Budd built high level lounge cars for ATSF's El Capitan, while Pullman Standard built standard height Sun Lounge cars (bedroom lounge cars) for Seaboard Air Line's Silver Meteor. I see some similarities in the design of the lounge windows, especially the roof skylights.

Fast forward to 1980, with Pullman Standard building Superliner I Sightseer Lounge cars for Amtrak ... a variation on the high level lounge car design and the windows of the Sun Lounge car.
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Santa Fe ...the Finest Passenger Railroad?

Postby 2nd trick op » Thu Jul 07, 2011 6:38 pm

I think it's fair to say that like its East Coast counterpart, Alantic Coast Line, Santa Fe was conceived as much more passenger-oriented than most railroads, and retained that focus further into the post-World War II era in a similar pattern.

But like all Amtrak's private-sector predecesors, Sant Fe devrloped a variety of passenger services, arranged so as to accomodate everyone from the well-heeled to those guided by economic necessuty, to those motivated merely by a desire for adventure, as with the summer-seasonal specials to the western National Parks.

There was a very spirited discussion on this subject a few years ago, as referenced in the link below:

viewtopic.php?f=46&t=42531&hilit=+California+Limited

The more variety. flexibility and options that system could offer, the greater the revenue that could be bought to the bottom line (or at least help to cover the overhead).
What a revoltin' development this is! (William Bendix)
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Re: Santa Fe High Level cars

Postby bostontrainguy » Mon Mar 27, 2017 10:13 am

Just read this on Wikipedia:

"Sleeping car proposal:
Santa Fe considered equipping the Super Chief with Hi-Level sleeping cars, and Budd drafted a design for such a car in 1957. In this design there was an aisle on the lower level only, and set against one side instead of centerline. The lower level also contained six single bedrooms and a toilet. The upper level would have eight two-person "Vista Bedrooms" which spanned the width of the car. Access to these rooms would be from four sets of stairs from the lower level aside. Each Vista Bedroom would contain an individual toilet and two beds: one stacked above the bed in the single bedroom beneath, and one lengthwise over the aisle"

Cool but . . . how do you get through the car to the other high-levels? Searched for more info but couldn't find anything. Anyone know?
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Re: Santa Fe High Level cars

Postby John_Perkowski » Wed Mar 29, 2017 3:56 pm

I would suggest contacting The Santa Fe Railway Historical and Modeling Society. That is truly your best opportunity to gather more information.
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Re: Santa Fe High Level cars

Postby bostontrainguy » Wed Mar 29, 2017 4:16 pm

John_Perkowski wrote:I would suggest contacting The Santa Fe Railway Historical and Modeling Society. That is truly your best opportunity to gather more information.


Thanks, I'll give that shot.
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