Parlour Cars In and Out of Service.

OK, I will concede that you may be tired of reading about the Pacific Parlour Cars on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight. I suppose part of the reason I write about them is because I really do go out of my way to ride the Coast Starlight—at several hundred dollars of extra expense—just to spend a dozen hours luxuriating in the Parlour Car. Furthermore, I know that I’m not alone.
But I’m also concerned that Amtrak is going to come up with some pretext to take these cars out of service when it’s really just another effort to cut costs by a few measly dollars. In fact, the last I heard, the Parlour Cars were sort of in and out of service … sometimes part of the consist, sometimes not.


The official story is that an inspector from the Federal Railroad Administration discovered a problem with the window glazing. I was subsequently told it was with the windows on the lower level where the little theater is located. NARP made an inquiry and was assured that the cars will be back in service full time as soon as the windows are repaired or replaced or whatever.
There may indeed be nothing nefarious to this, but during a time when the railroad is under tremendous pressure from Congress to break even, no cuts or changes could be announced that would surprise me.
By the way, if you’re traveling on the Coast Starlight, spend the extra money book a roomette even though you may be traveling a relatively short distance. Typically, because I’m into the American Airlines frequent flyer program, I fly home to Maui out of Los Angeles. When coming from Chicago, I take the Zephyr to Davis, California, then catch the Coast Starlight to Los Angeles the next morning. It’s about a 14-hour ride, but I pay an extra $100 for a roomette. For that additional expense, I get privacy when I want it; I get three meals in the dining car included in that extra fare; and I get access to the Pacific Parlour Car, which is available only to sleeping car passengers. To me, that makes spending the extra hundred bucks an absolute no-brainer.