What About New Equipment?

Something has to be done about replacing equipment for Amtrak’s long-distance trains. There should be a budget item for acquisition of new equipment every year. 

I have heard that the Société Nacionale de Chemin de Fer, the French national railroad more commonly known as SNCF, has a standing order every year for a specific number of rail cars and/or locomotives. It certainly makes sense that funds for new equipment should be a specific budget item every year.

With respect to Amtrak and its equipment needs, let’s start with dome cars.

These cars are immensely popular on the VIA Rail trains and, if promoted as an extra benefit for Amtrak sleeping car passengers, they would help to generate more ridership. Besides, sleeping car passengers keep paying more and more, so it would be nice if access to a dome car came as an extra benefit.

More Viewliners, please!

The Cardinal is one of my favorite trains, passing through some of the country’s most beautiful scenery, but there is only one Viewliner sleeping car in the Cardinal consist and four or five of the roomettes in it are used for the on board crew. Another couple of Viewliner sleeping cars in the Cardinal’s consist would be very popular and would begin to generate some serious revenue.

By the way, eliminating the toilet from the Viewliner roomettes in the new generation of these sleepers was the right call. I’m sure it has reduced maintenance costs substantially and having to walk to the rear of the car to use the facilities isn’t a problem. That’s how it’s done in Superliner sleepers.

The Superliner sleeping cars work well and passengers seem to like them, so how about a standing order for x-number new Superliners a year. Only this time—please!— add a window for the people in the roomettes’ upper berth.