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» RAILforum » Passenger Trains » Amtrak » The Slumbercoach - Read All About It

   
Author Topic: The Slumbercoach - Read All About It
Gilbert B Norman
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NRHS Bulletin #71 (most recent I have) has a feature article regarding the Slumbercoach - and quite simply, 'everything you'll ever want or need to know".

I've only reviewed it, but to our Slumbercoach devotees around here, it will prove quite a 'read' and will likely re-ignite the discussion of 'why can't Amtrak have these cars?".

OK, in the "privacy' of this forum, I'll share I can readilly afford "the real deal', but for those whose quest of fame and fortune has not quite caught up with their quest to "get out and ride", it would appear a travel option.

Even if I myself am not in the market for an 'econosnooze' (I've ridden 'em pre-Amtrak), I must commend the Slumbercoach for being in my estimation, the only economy sleeper (including the Touralux on my MILW) that ever made any economic sense.

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palmland
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Until I read that article I didn't realize how much economic sense they did make. With sleeping accommodations for 40, the capacity is about the same as a long haul coach.

Amtrak would do well to dust off the Budd plans. During my one trip on them when in college it was not a whole lot different than a standard roomette, just more spartan. They certainly make more sense than trying to cram two people in a superliner roomette.

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Mr. Toy
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What is the NRHS Bulletin?

Over the years, I've heard a lot about slumbercoaches, but I've never been able to find a picture of one, at least not an interior shot. I'm not really sure how they work.

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Mike Smith
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Don't they have a slumbercoach at the Sacramento Museum?

Isn't that just a day trip for you?

The Galveston Museum has one.

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TALKrr
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I remember the Slumbercoaches fondly. It was years ago, of course , but I remember using these on the Broadway Limited with its run between Pittsburgh and Chicago.

I remember there were both singles and doubles. I always thought these made a great deal of sense. They provided the opportunity to have sleeping space without the expense of meals included in the diner.

They were "spartan" , but I always found them comfortable and (better yet) affordable. I certainly would consider them again if they were offered.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Mr. Toy, NRHS is the National Railway Historical Society of which I have been a Member for the past forty years.

www.nrhs.com

At one time, it seemed that anyone with a hobby interest in the railroad industry was a member of such, but then, everybody reads the newspaper in the morning? Right?

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Mr. Toy
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GBN, thanks for the information. But the "dot org" didn't work until I tried it as a "dot com." www.nrhs.com

Your closing statement reminded me of a quote by Gore Vidal which went "Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half." Personally, I'd be lost without my morning Herald.

Mike, the Sacramento museum lets you walk through a heavyweight sleeper, a streamlined diner, and an RPO, but no slumbercoach. So I'm still clueless.

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train lady
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Mr. Toy, do you remember the old roomette? It was a single and hd the sink and toilet in the room. About the size of the present roomette. At night the bed slid across the seats covering the toilet as well. I the slum er coach the bed was narrower and didn't cover the toilet at night. The double was totally impossible size wise as far as we were concerned so we always got 2 singles across the hall from each other. No meals included and the cost was minimal. From DC we went coach to Harrisburg,pa and there switched to Slumber coach. The Capitol didn't have one and it and the Broadway limited became one train into Chicago. I do remember we paid $27 extra from the coach fare. I hope you can understand my ramblings.
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TruckTrains
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thats a good saying there Toy

--------------------
Train Horns&
Air Horns

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PullmanCo
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Slumbercoach:

Here's an exterior shot:
http://www.jefflubchanskycpa.com/CBQ4901MIAMI-JA19-4-044-18.jpg

Here's an interior cutaway of a duplex-roomette car:
http://thelibrary.springfield.missouri.org/lochist/frisco/history/Images/presentation/side2-panel-k.jpg

Decrease the size of the single rooms a tad; you have to fit 4 standard section (~18 sq ft) footprints and 24 duplex single rooms into a slumbercoach... but you have the general idea.

Whether single or duplex, each room had a happer/sink stand. They had very narrow (NMT 18" wide) berths as I recall.

The double slumbercoach is the architectural prototype for the ECONOMY BEDROOOM, err STANDARD BEDROOM, err Roomette of the Amtrak SL and VL cars. Mr Resor and I agree Amtrak chose the poorest possible design for that space!

--------------------
The City of Saint Louis (UP, 1967) is still my standard for passenger operations

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train lady
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Mr. Pullman, my recollection of the double is that it was smaller than current standard bedroom and much less comfortable.
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Gilbert B Norman
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I confess; I have ridden Slumbercoach in this life namely Chicago to Seattle on the Northern Pacific North Coast Ltd May 1962. This was my first West Coast trip, and I guess "compromises' were made - after all, return was on the Super. thence Broadway home to New York.

While the car, NP 24-8 "Loch Ness', certainly made best use of available space, it was indeed spartan. While in-room "facilities' are one thing for a single occupancy room, it's of course 'something else' in a double. however, it could readily be said in this case 'you get what you pay for' - not sure if same applies to an Amtrak Viewliner.

And, insofar as the "you get what you pay for" part, the then- prevailing Chi to Sea fare in the S/C was $59.10 Coach + $25.60 Room, or $84.70. In a Roomette, same would have been $82.75 Rail + $33.80 Pullman or $116.55. I guess you could say 'that's 37% off'

On the North Coast, the car was placed on the head in front of any Dome and the Coach Diner-Lounge ("Travelers' Rest"; several survived to be 'Bengstonized'). However, and even though the NP timetable had a stern warning printed that the obs and Dome Sleepers "were for the exclusive use of passengers holding Standard Sleeping Car tickets", the Diner was 'fair game' and placed behind the two Portland Sleepers in the consist. Additionally, the Slumbercoach was Pullman operated which meant that its passengers held a Pullman issued Passenger Receipt. So, this meant at Dinnertime break out the sport jacket (tie? let's give my mind a 45 year 'break' on that one) and 'dress for dinner' but making sure the top of the Receipt was "discretely' visible in the sport jacket's (a Madras; they were "oh so in' back then) front pocket. After the excellent Prime Rib and 'Great Big Baked Potato' (an NP specialty), time to "crash the party", watch the ascent from Missoula to Paradise in an 'as good as empty' Pullman dome, then have a drink (I'd just made "Blackjack') and chat with the "landed gentry' in the Obs - both without any incident.

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dcfan
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The Slumbercoach was a great way to travel, even in early Amtrak days. What a great use of space.

Wesley

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RRRICH
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I traveled in Slumbercoaches on many occasions in my early AMTRAK-riding days, and always enjoyed them.
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rresor
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Reading the slumbercoach thread here and the one on railroad.net, and having been a frequent user of slumbercoaches in the past, I found myself thinking about the great variety of sleeping accomodations one can find on European trains. I wonder why Amtrak can't be bothered to offer more variety?

Just as an example, in Europe one can find everything from reclining seats with curtains around them (Norway) through six-berth couchettes (everywhere) and four-berth couchettes (France) to two- and three-berth rooms with plumbing (TransEuropNuit of some years ago) and the luxurious InterCityNight cars and the Talgo "Gran Clase" rooms with separate bathroom with private shower.

My question is: if the Europeans can find markets for all those different levels of service and price points, why can't Amtrak?

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SilverStar092
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My first slumbercoach trip was aboard Amtrak's Empire Builder in the "Loch Awe". I was awakened in the morning at Whitefish, MT as passengers were run out as the car had to be bad ordered due to a hot box. I spent the next night curled up on a sofa in the lower level lounge of a dome car. Years later the Loch Awe was destroyed in a Montrealer wreck. But overall thos ecars were useful as they did provide privacy and a place to lie down at night albeit not very comfortably. I always preferred the upper rooms that were slightly higher than the floor level rooms. The beds for the floor level rooms actually slid below the step up rooms. Those upper rooms had beds that folded down in two parts from the wall. Before the slumbercoaches were moved east by Amtrak, I often rode Seaboard Coast Line's ex-B&O Budget Room Coaches which actually survived into Amtrak service. These were named for birds such as Oriole, Cardinal, Gull, Wren, Swan, Thrush, etc. and contained 16 single rooms and 4 doubles with the singles again being in a duplex layout. In reality these cars' single rooms were very close to roomette size as those cars had a capacity of 24 compared to 22 for a basic 10-6 sleeper.
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G E HURN
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There is an article about and photo of the the slumbercoAch in Wikipedia.
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Amtrak207
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Amtrak would love to offer more choices in sleeping car accomodations, but they're concentrating on offering them in the first place for starters. Remember the big Viewliner shortage of 2003? Well, nothing has changed since then. You get what your government pays for (or not). Given some sort of actual investment (above and beyond the clueless "we'll make you get by on this" life support of the past ten years) Amtrak is interested in purchasing:
1. More Viewliner sleepers. This would allow them to be reintroduced on the overnight NEC "red eye" train, the Boston stub of the Lakeshore (guessed) and maybe even go daily on the Cardinal/Crescent. On all other eastern trains that use this equipment, it would allow a serious revenue boost during high-demand summer months.
2. A Viewliner baggage/crew dorm combination car. This would allow crew in the Lakeshores (and assumed to be both Silver Service trains and the Crescent and Cardinal) to stop occupying six to eight rooms in one sleeping car, which equates to roughly a thousand dollars of lost revenue per trip per train.
3. Viewliner dining cars. Yes, the prototype was poorly designed, but new floorplans and details have been developed to make this one work. Diner Lite stinks.

The thing that really did in the Slumbercoaches (both the 24-8 floorplans from B&O/C&O/Seaboard I think) and the "East Rochester Rebuilds" (ex-NYC half slumber bunks, half roomette) were the nearly 40 individual toilets.

I could really use some photos of the interior of a slumbercoach so I can paint the interior on my HO model. Anyone know of any?

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Gilbert B Norman
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Ye wish is thy command, Mr. 207

http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=258385

http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=258386

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Henry Kisor
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I'd like to see how you're going to reproduce that seat fabric in HO. I'd have trouble in G scale!
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