I continue to get emails and comments from people expressing anger and frustration over Amtrak’s announcement that the Pacific Parlour Cars will be permanently removed from service during the first week of February.
A common theme runs through all of them: when it comes to the parlour cars, Amtrak decision-makers just don’t get it.
As I have noted in an earlier post, Amtrak fares for sleeping car accommodations are usually higher for the Coast Starlight than for comparable distances on any of the other long-distance trains—significantly higher. And that’s because of the Pacific Parlour Cars.
The Coast Starlight is one of Amtrak’s most popular trains, most of the time running full or close to it. On those days, the Sightseer Lounge car is filled to capacity, mostly by coach passengers. Many of them camp out there, hogging seats for hours at a time.
When that happens, and when the train is operating without a parlour car, the only practical option for sleeping car passengers is to stay in their roomettes and bedrooms except when called to the dining car for meals. The net result? Passengers pay a substantial premium for a first class amenity (in this case, the Pacific Parlour Car), but end up, for all practical purposes, confined to their roomettes or bedrooms except when taking their meals in the dining car.
Finally, a petition being circulated demands that Amtrak continue running the Pacific Parlour Cars through this calendar year and, in the meantime, begin work to design and build a new generation of bi-level lounge cars to replace the Pacific Parlour Cars, but on every long-distance train.
Botton line: We should insist that Jack provide sleeping car passengers with first class amenities and service. After all, we’re already paying for it.