Trip Report: The Lake Shore Limited.
There are two Viewliner sleepers on the New York section of this train, and mine is one that has been redesigned and completely refurbished inside.
I must say, the new color scheme is very handsome. The paneling and trim are faux wood in a rich dark brown, matching very nicely the seat cushions and padded arm rests, all in a medium-dark brown with red tones. The woman in the roomette across the corridor calls it maroon. Whatever it is, it’s very good looking.
The most significant change corrects what was a bad idea from the get-go. The original Viewliner sleepers have three large bedrooms and 12 roomettes. Every one of those rooms—bedrooms and roomettes—has a functioning toilet. That is, as you can imagine, a potential maintenance nightmare.
The roomettes in the new version of the Viewliner still have a wash basin with hot and cold water, but the toilet is gone, having been replaced by two communal lavatories at the far end of the car across from the shower.
But the really significant change is the wifi. Yes, we have an internet connection . . . not just for this newly remodeled sleeper, but the whole damn train is on line! Maybe it’s because I’ve been stuck out in the middle of the Pacific during the Corona virus, but this caught me by surprise.
There are millions of potential Amtrak customers who are simply unable to deal with being without an internet connection for a long-distance train ride of two or three days.
Wifi on the Lake Shore, running in the populace East is one thing. Bringing the Zephyr on line as it crosses hundreds of miles of desert is a much bigger problem and comes at a much higher cost.
But it needs doing because there is a huge market out there that has to be connected before they’ll undertake a long-distance train ride. Let’s go get those folks!
And finally: the dining car served a limited selection of barely edible microwaved meals and the usual rail congestion outside of Chicago brought us in over an hour late. Some things never change.