I rode 333 and 342 Chicago - Milwaukee and back 9/14, and got a full Siemens Consist heading north (timetable west?). With a friendly conversation with a car attendant, I got a Venture car to myself. Some notes:
The carbody, with the big windows and square profile, is a decided improvement over an Amfleet. Very airy. The wider aisle is very noticeable. The narrower seat is noticeable, but not negatively so. The armrest makes the whole package superior. The cushion is firm, but a firm cushion, at first glance, is sometimes better that a softer one as the hours build up. I say this as a end to end 42/43 rider many times. On my hour and a half, it was fine.
That is the good part. These are the issues that stuck out IN MY FIRST RIDE within 20 minutes. I'm a inside sales guy. I talk on the phone for a living and glue tiny pieces of plastic together to make foot long rail cars as a hobby. That this stuff gets missed by professional rail car constructors amazes me.
The net on the back of the seat, has no attachment at its bottom in between the ends of the net, so the safety cards fall out onto the floor.
The tray tables are held in the upright position by friction in the pivots. NO latch. I cant wait to see what ugly solution the mechanical compartment comes up with to remedy this when they inevitably wear out, like the thing they machined to hold Viewliner roomette doors shut.
Rolls of toilet paper merrily rolling to and fro across the floor because they are stored haphazardly on top of the fire extinguisher box. Is there not a place for this in the car? At least, screw a basket on top of the extinguisher box to hold them. Or this could be the storage is stuffed full and this is overflow, or this is easier than putting them in the proper storage? Who knows, it looks bush league in a 3.6 million dollar car.
The fancy glass paneled luggage racks rattled like a 20 year old transit bus going 80 through downtown. Same for window shades not fully retracted.
The floor to ceiling glass door between the vestibule and the compartment was already filthy. I would overlay an opaque film from the floor, four feet up, immediately. This may just happen organically.
My car hunted consistently at speed. It was right in the middle of the consist.
Other than the usual asinine Chicago boarding procedure, and the two trainman blocking both tables in the fullest car, An Amtrak tradition, It was a nice ride.