Viewliner Sleepers Have Real Pluses.
Amtrak uses Viewliners on a number of the eastern overnight routes because the bi-level Superliners are too high for some of the tunnels and a few or the older bridges on those routes. The two Florida trains, the Silver Meteor and the Silver Star, have Viewliner sleeping cars, as do the Lake Shore Limited, the Cardinal and the Crescent. It’s easy to spot the Viewliner sleepers—they’re taller than the coaches in their consist and they have that distinctive double row of windows.
Viewliner roomettes have a wash basin and a toilet in the room, which is convenient but, as you can see, one of the two facing seats is quite narrow to make room for it. There is a community shower and a changing room at the end of the car.
In the nighttime configuration, the two seats push together to form the lower berth and the upper berth lowers from the ceiling to provide—I’m guessing at this—about five feet of space under the ceiling. But the great feature is the nice big window up there. That, and the extra headroom means claustrophobia is no longer a problem.
In fact, if you’re traveling solo in a Viewliner roomette on one of the Eastern trains, ask the car attendant to prepare the upper berth for you when you’re ready to turn in. That will give you space on the lower level in which you can change clothes and move around. And, in the upper berth, you’ll be able to drift off while watching the passing scenery, but you’ll be high enough so people walking by on the platforms during the night won’t be able to look in on you when you’re asleep.
Supposedly, there is a new version of the Viewliner sleeping car that, sooner or later, will be put into service. The main difference is that they don’t have a toilet in each of the roomettes—a decision made, no doubt, to reduce maintenance problems. I’ll miss the convenience of having the toilet en suite, but its absence will mean a few more square feet of available moving-around space, and that will be welcome.
There are three larger bedrooms in each Viewliner sleeping car, two for the general public and one for someone in a wheelchair with a companion.
Summing up: I really like the Viewliner sleepers. With the higher ceiling, the roomettes are a bit more spacious than those in the bi-level Superliners, especially when you use the upper berth for sleeping. And it’s nice to have the toilet right there in the room, although it can lead to a minor annoyance when two people are sharing a roomette. When one has to use the facilities, the other person often finds himself standing in the corridor for a minute or so. One more reason to consider booking two roomettes when traveling with a companion.