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Amtrak Viewliner Roomette

Amtrak Viewliner Passenger Train Accommodations, including photographs and detailed descriptions of seats, rooms, train cars and services. (Note: The "Roomette" used to be called the "Standard Bedroom" and before that was called the "Economy Bedroom". The "Deluxe Bedroom" is now just called the "Bedroom" whereas the "Economy Bedroom/Standard Bedroom" is now called the "Roomette".).

The Roomette accomodates two people. However, if you are either rather tall or rather large, you might question that statement. My wife and I are both under 5'8" and well under 200 pounds. We fit into the Roomette quite comfortably with plenty of room to spare! The best way to describe the Roomette is to say it is almost the size of 3 phone booths. Just think of each person sitting in one of the 3 phone booths with the third phone booth in the middle for leg room and a fold down table.

Here is Amtrak's own description of the Roomette: "The Roomette is designed for one or two passengers, with two comfortable reclining seats on either side of an eye-level picture window and a second window above for extra light. At night, the seats convert to a bed, and an upper berth drops down from the ceiling. Each bed-room includes a sink and toilet, and a shower is located nearby. Upgraded amenities include in-room audio and video featuring first-run films."

DIMENSIONS: 6'8" X 3'6" (2M X 1.1M X 2.6M)
LOWER BERTH: 6'6" X 2'4" (2M X 72CM)
UPPER BERTH: 6'2" X 2'4" (1.9M X 72CM)
Capacity for 2 small suitcases and garment bag.

Overall, the impression that you get is that the Viewliner Roomette is slightly roomier than the Superliner Roomette. Both beds are a bit wider in the Viewliner Bedroom. They did a bit of a trick on the top bunk. They made the top of the bed much wider by extending it almost the full width of the room. The bottom portion of the bed where your legs go remains about the same width as the top bed in the Superliner upper bunk. This extra space is how you climb up into the bunk. The toilet and a ledge over the toilet are the steps up to the top bunk. Since you don't need the full length of the room for climbing into the upper bunk, they used that extra space to make the head of the bed much wider. This was also also possible because the bed lowers down from the ceiling and does not fold out from the wall. Folding out from the wall would require the bed to be a uniform width, but coming down from the ceiling allows the bed to be any shape.

Another great benefit of the Viewliner is the top set of windows. This allows the person in the top bunk to see out the window while laying in bed! It also allows the morning light to wake you up if you leave the curtains open. This is ideal for me. I had two problems in the Superliner bedroom. First, I like to keep my computer set up all night because I sometimes wake up in the night and want to jot down a few ideas. That meant I had to sleep in the top bunk which had several disadvantages. First, it was narrower than the bottom bunk. Second, I couldn't see out the window while I was up there. Third, I like to get up on the train when the sun comes up so I can get as many daylight hours of viewing the scenery as possible. I would sometimes get up late on the train because it was always dark in the top bunk, even after the sun was up! In the viewliner, the top bunk is fairly wide, I can see out the window, and the morning light will stream in to wake me up at daybreak. Also, I won't even have to get up right away. I'll be able to relax in bed in the morning and watch the scenery from under the covers!

There is a luggage rack at the very top of the bedroom. The luggage area actually extends over the ceiling of the outside corridor. Since it is above the ceiling, people walking down the corridor have no view of your luggage, but in this way, the luggage takes up no space in your room. Even though my roller luggage isn't very big, it is pretty heavy with the items that I pack. Thus, it was a bit of a chore lifting the suitcase up to that overhead rack, especially since the upper bunk is kind of in the way. I would not recommend bringing suitcases any bigger than the average size roller-luggage with you in a Viewliner Sleeper. A regular size suitcase would definitely require you to open the upper bunk before attempting to manuever your suitcase into the storage space.

The mystery of where they fit the toilet into the room has been solved. My guess that they made the seats smaller than the seats in the Superliner Roomette was only half right. That is, the seat next to the toilet is smaller, but the seat across from the toilet looks about the same size as the one in the Superliner. This arrangement does not give small or medium size people much of a problem as it still leaves lots of room to move around. However, if I was here with my wife, I could see making good use of all that room in unconventional ways. For example, I might put a pillow on the closed toiled and prop myself up sitting on the pillow so I could look directly out the window. However, I think larger people might feel a bit more confined in this room than in the same type bedroom in the Superliner. If you are a larger person, have serious concerns about your comfort, and money isn't too great an issue, I'd suggest going for the Deluxe Bedroom.

There are a tremendous number of buttons and lights in the Viewliner Bedrooms! There is one set of 5 buttons that controls the audio/video (up/down volume, up/down channel, and a reset button). With these 5 buttons they have a sixth button used to call the Car Attendant. Next to this set of 6 buttons is another set of 3 buttons that control the lights. The top button controls the ceiling light, another controls the "wall" light which is really the big florescent lamp directly above the headrest, and the third button controls the reading lamp. The reading lamp directly above my seat wasn't working, but the one above the seat across from me was fine.

Get a picture of the 9 buttons that I described to you, or look at the photo of them. In addition to these 9 buttons, there is also an LED channel indicator directly in the middle of the audio/video buttons. That set of 9 buttons and LED channel indicator is repeat around the room 3 times! One is above the headrest of each seat and a third is high up within reach of a person sleeping on the top bed. One additional set of just the audio/video set of 5 buttons, LED channel display and Call Attendant button has been placed directly above the flat screen LCD Color Television. I'm not sure why it is there since an identical set is just about a foot away above the passenger seat. Maybe so as not to disturb whoever is sitting in that seat while the person in the opposite seat tries to adjust the channel and volume to the television. I guess some people prefer to use controls directly by the TV than the ones by their own seat.

At the door there is another switch which controls the same ceiling light controlled by the other 3 sets of switches in the room. Both above and below the toilets are switches for the mirror light. The toilet flush button is directly above the toilet. There are also lights above the toilet to indicate that the sink is down or that the toilet is out of service. There are 2 110 Volt electric outlets. Unlike the Superliner Cars, there is not sign saying "Razors Only". By the way, the "sink down" light indicates that the sink is not properly folded away into the wall. A small sink folds right out of the wall above the toilet. If you do not fold it up into the wall properly after you are finished, the light will remain on. Also, the bright light serves as a warning in the night if you attempt to sit on the toilet while the sink is down. Without that warning, you might have your back hit the sink pretty hard when you try to sit on the toilet with the sink in the way!

There is also a thermostat which allows you to set the temperature in the room. This one seems much more sophisticated than the one in the Superliner sleepers. The thermostat has degree markings on it and you can set the temperature that you want. There are vents under the window that you can open or close. There are also two circular fans. One can be directed to blow at one bed and the other at the other bed, or during the day, can be directed to blow into the room. Each fan has an "OFF" position and 3 speeds: "LOW", "MED", and "HIGH". Thus, there are 8 more buttons!

I think I have itemized all the controls in the room. Unless I missed something, that is a total of 46 buttons in just one room!

Have you started to wonder how these controls interact with each other since there is only one TV and one set of speakers in the room? They must be using a microprocessor for guidance and control to figure out how all these controls inter-relate. Don't fret! They pretty much act the way you would expect them to.

With each control is a jack for headsets. The Car Attendant didn't offer me any, so I assume you are suppose to bring your own along. Any headsets that you have that work with a portable radio, CD or tape player should work fine! I tried my set which I use with all my electronics: scanner, radio, tape player, and that fit and worked fine.

If you plug your headset into a control, the volume, channel, and LCD channel indicator just work that headset. You will get the audio of whatever channel you select. Thus, you could have up to 4 people in the room all listening to whichever channel they wanted and whatever volume they wanted without interfering with anyone else's listening pleasure! (Though, the room might be a bit crowded with any more than 2 people).

If any one person selects a video channel (such as 4 or 5), then the TV will automatically turn on and set itself to the selected video channel. If someone changes the channel directly on the control nearest the TV, that one takes precedence and the TV will change to that channel. Everyone else will continue to listen to whatever audio channel they had selected, even if they selected the sound track of another video channel.

The speakers in the room work pretty much the same way as the television. The control nearest the television controls which audio channel is played over the speakers. All the other channel controls in the room only control what is played over the set of headphones plugged into them. Thus, it is possible to play no sound in the room and have everyone listen to the TV or other audio just over headphones. Or, you can select any audio channel to be played over the speaker while others listen to the sound track of the TV on just the headphones. Pretty much any combination is possible.

There are 5 channels active at the moment. Here is what is playing on them right now:

Going above Channel 5 brings you back to Channel 0, which is really Off. I'm not sure of this, but I think more channels are possible. Maybe the channel numbers don't exist if no video is playing in that unit.

I'm sold on these new Viewliner Sleeping Cars! Forget any prior doubts I may have mentiioned over changes they have made relative to the Superliner Roomette. The increase of perceived space, the openness, and the additional amenities and convenience of control make up for any minor shortcomings.

If you sleep in the top bed, the logic of the layout of the room becomes obvious. Unlike the Roomette in the Superliner Sleeping Cars, I can easily reach just about every control from here! The switch for the overhead/night light, the wall light, and my reading light are right next to the head of the bed. The channel and volume controls for the audio and video is also right there. Maybe the only criticism here is that I can't easily watch the TV from the upper bed even though I can easily turn it on and off and change the channel.

From the upper bed I can also reach the thermostat to adjust the temperature at night if I feel the room becomes too warm or cold. That is a great feature since a comfortable temperature often changes once you've been under the covers for a while. There is also a fan right next to me that I can either aim toward or away from me and I can easily adjust the fan speed right from the bed.

From the top bed, you can also easily reach your suitcase in the overhead storage area. However, depending on the shape of your suitcase, you may or may not be able to open it. My roller luggage is pretty thick and doesn't leave too much clearance between the top of the luggage and the top of the storage area. There was enough room however for me to slip things in and out of the front pockets and the main storage area of my luggage.

There are also a number of improvements over some of the features that you will find in the Superliner Roomette. The fold-out table has been made much much sturdier. I certainly wouldn't recommend sitting on it, but I honestly doubt it would suffer any damage at all if I did sit on it. I could never understand why they made the fold-out tables in the Superliners so fragile. It only took a minor design change to insure that any weight placed on the table could be managed by the structure. The table is also just a bit wider and maybe a bit longer. This is easy for me to tell. My notebook computer fits on it with room for my mouse. In the superliner, I always had a hard time figuring out where to put my mouse. Also, the cup holders in the Viewliner are much deeper than those in the Superliner. I've never seen a cup fall over in the Superliner, so I'm not sure that was really an improvement. However, this route at times has seemed to be a lot more shakey than any route I have taken west of Chicago. Maybe the added stability is needed for these tracks.

Another curious item is the ashtray. Next to the cup holder is the tiniest ashtray I have ever seen! It is about half the size of the one of the Superliner Sleeping Cars. On the Crescent Route, they do allow smoking at certain set times. I know that Amtrak's policy is to eventually eliminate all smoking except in specially provided smoking lounges. If you are a smoker, you should check the policy of your particular train before attempting to light up. I'm not sure of the rationale behind the tiny ashtrays. Since smoking is only allowed for so few hours, maybe they figure you won't generate as much ash. Or, since Amtrak intends to eliminate smoking from all Sleeping Cars soon, maybe they figured that ashtrays soon won't be needed at all so a small one would be good enough for now. It's a mystery to me.

The trash bin in the Viewliner Roomette is greatly improved over the one in the Superliner. The one in the Superliner is very small and you have to slide it out and back in to throw things into it. The size is totally inadequate. Usually, the Car attendant sets up two very large trash bags, one downstairs in the vestibule and one upstairs in the corner near the coffee service area. These are usually filled to the brim after a couple of days of travel. I didn't see any similar big trash bags set up in the Viewliner. Possibly because the size of the trash containers in each room is adequate. I don't know exactly how much bigger it is than the one in the Superliner, but it is easier to use and does seem bigger.

The sliding door closes very solid. There are very few vibration noises, but that could just be because these cars are brand new. Instead of curtains for privacy, the door and the window to the aisle have slide down shades. These aren't shades like the old days, but shades built right into the window frames. The shades easily slide up and down to any position. I like to leave the window shade to the aisle always closed. When it is open, all I can see is the wall across the aisle from me, but it does allow people walking down the aisle to look in on me. Thus, I see no purpose for leaving it open. The shade on my door I like to close just enough so that it doesn't block my view out the window from the bedroom across from me. As long as there isn't anyone siting in the seat diagonally across from me in that opposite bedroom, we aren't staring each other in the face. Thus, I get a fairly good view out the windows on both sides of the train. Also, with the shade at half-mast, I don't make eye contact with people walking down the aisle. Don't get me wrong. I don't avoid serendipidous social contact all the time, just much of the time.

The outside window curtains have also changed. Both the top and the bottom are connected to things that slide in the grooves. Thus, there are no more tie-backs. There is also a couple of velcro spots to keep the curtains in place when they are open and a snap to keep them in place when they are closed. This seems to be an improvement over the old method, but I'm not sure why. The curtains to the upper window work in an identical manner, though I can't see why I would ever want to close those curtains.

Where do you put things during the day? I like to keep my backpack always at the ready and I keep a number of items that I might use at any time in there such as my camera, scanner, radio, books, schedules, pens, clothing for the day, etc. In the Superliner Roomette, it is just a little bit typing keeping my backpack on the steps that lead to the upper bunk. In the Viewliner Roomette, there is plenty of room for my backpack! Directly below the TV is a very wide a long shelf where my backpack and additional items fit comfortably. For items that you don't mind moving whenever you need to use the toilet, there is plenty of room on top of the closed toilet seat.

The one major drawback just seems to be the way the seat next to the toilet has been made quite a bit more narrow than the seat across from the toilet. I sat there last night to watch television and didn't find it a problem, but I don't think it would be as comfortable for a larger person. This would be especially true if there are two larger people sharing the room.

I did mention before that I wasn't sure if I was sold on the idea of having a toilet and sink in the room. My concerns are still valid. Unless you and your roommate have an unusual lack of modesty, where does your roommate go when you use the toilet? Unlike the Superliner cars, there are no open areas in the Viewliner Car. I guess your roommate either heads for the Cafe Car, or stands in the aisle dodging traffic through the narrow passageway. For traveling alone, however, having the toilet in the room is a real convenience. No need to get dressed just to go down the hall. Also, it is a lot easier for washing, shaving, brushing your teeth, etc. since there is a lot more room in the Viewliner Bedroom than in the standard restrooms in the Superliner Cars. As a small side benefit, you don't have to miss any of the movie if you find you need to go during the movie. The toilet seat has a better view of the screen than the passenger seat that is right next to the TV!

If you look at the diagram of the Viewliner Bedroom, you might think that not much legroom is provided for using the toilet. The designers had their thinking caps on for even this one. Although the diagram shows the toilet facing forward, the toilet seat itself is actually diagonal facing in toward the center of the room. Thus, sitting on the seat, you are actually facing away from the corner of the room, not away from the back wall of the room. This gives you a lot more leg room than if you had to face directly forward.

The only minor inconvenience about having the toilet in the room, in addition to the one I mentioned above, is how to reply if the Car Attendant decides to knock on your door at that moment. This is something that is unlikely to ever happen while you are in the restroom on a Superliner Car. The Car Attendant would just assume you are "busy" and don't want to be disturbed at the moment. Maybe this isn't a concern at all. The only time the Car Attendant has ever knocked on my door during this trip is when I asked about coffee and she said she would let me know when it was ready. One other item you might be thinking about I don't believe is a concern. Between all the power fans and vents in the room, new fresh air appears to enter the room about as fast as you could ever desire.

One last but not least important item is the location of the toilet paper. Before you panic thinking you are going to have to call the Car Attendant before you can get off your seat, the toilet paper is in those two little celophane packets across from you right next to the "TRASH" door. You might have mistaken them for packets of facial tissues which I have as yet to find in the room. You are not provided with a lot of toilet paper, but I'm sure you can ask the Car Attendant for more. However, those of you that have owned an RV or a yacht will probably agree with me that the amound of toilet paper provided is adequate. Until you have had to repair or pay for a very expensive repair of a portable waste system clogged with toilet paper, you don't appreciate how little toilet paper you really need to use. Amtrak is not trying to be stingy with the toilet paper, they just to keep the system working. Also, I would not recommend bringing your own from home nor using facial tissue in place of toilet paper. These portable waste systems are usually designed to work best with single-ply tissue that can dissolve easily and don't take kindly to paper not designed for the system.

Ever hear one of the many jokes about toilet paper tearing everywhere except at the perforations? Well Amtrak seems to have solved the problem. They have found toilet paper with no perforations at all! I've examined it closely and can find no hints of perforations on the toilet paper at all. First time I've ever seen a roll like that.

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