Superliner Bedrooms: Over-rated.
Those of us who enjoy traveling by train—and I mean long-distance trains—usually pass our nights in a sleeping car.
Amtrak operates two kinds of sleeping cars: bi-level Superliners on western trains and Viewliners in the east. Both of those rail cars offer roomettes, which are designed for one or two people, and the more spacious bedrooms, which are also intended for two persons, but include atoilet and other amenities
I’m going to skip quickly over the Viewliner bedrooms because they were designed quite well. They sleep two in separate berths and there’s an en suite sink and toilet in older models. Everything is compact, of course, but it’s all quite serviceable.
There are five big bedrooms in the Superliner sleeping cars but—remember, this is just one guy’s opinion—but I don’t think they’re very well designed and I don’t think they’re worth the money.
The bedrooms run most of the width of the rail car. You enter each from the corridor which runs along the far side of the car. Each bedroom has a window with seats on either side. There’s a sink with running water, a long sofa that converts to a berth that is not much wider than a standard twin bed. (It’ll sleep two, but you’d better like each other a lot!) There is an upper berth that folds down from above the bed.
Now here are what I consider to be the negatives:
1. Neither bed is close to a window. That’s a disappointment because, personally, one of the pleasures of train travel for me is drifting off to sleep while watching the darkened landscapes pass by outside my window. That’s not possible with he layout of the Superliner bedroom.
2. Each of the five bedrooms includes a very compact phone-booth-size toilet/shower combination. It’s so compact, in fact, that I recommend using the very spacious shower and changing room on the lower level of the sleeping car instead. Of course you can use the toilet in the big bedroom’s “phone booth”, but do remember it’s also a shower, so be sure to push the right button when you flush.
But there’s a bigger problem with the large bedrooms in the Superliner sleepers.
3. There is a flimsy removable partition between Bedrooms B and C and between Bedrooms D and E. The idea was to have the option of removing the partition in order to create a 4-bed “suite” for families or friends traveling together.
That’s a nice idea in theory, but the removable partition is quite flimsy and passengers in both pairs of bedrooms can hear every word uttered above a whisper by the folks in the the other bedroom. That gets to be very annoying very quickly.
As with the roomette, one person pays full fare for the big bedroom; tall guy pays only the basic rail fare, plus whatever else he might owe.
I’ll admit it’s only my opinion, but there are just too many things about the big bedrooms that don’t work very well. There is another idea, however, and I’ll write about it in my very next post.