A trainset composed entirely of Amfleet I Cars was placed into service on the Amtrak San Diegans route today, Sunday, June 6, 1999. F59PHI locomotive #454 was on one end and an Amfleet Cab Control Car was on the other end. The entire set of cars was painted in Phase 4 with two narrow stripes each of red and white above one wide blue stripe along the windows.
Click here for video clips of the exterior of the all Amfleet train.
Click here for photos of the interior of these refurbished Amfleet I cars.
Click here for photos of the exterior of these refurbished Amfleet I cars. (photos by Matt Melzer)
For the last couple of years, the Amtrak San Diegans have generally been using two configurations of passenger cars:
This configuration would have either a Horizon or Amfleet Cafe Car and sometimes would even use a full-length dome car for the cafe car. F40 locomotives were used at one or both ends of this train until early last year when all of the F40 locomotives were replaced by F59PHI locomotives. Ever since then, these trains would usually operate with one F59PHI at one end and a Metroliner Cab Control Car at the other end of the train. Passengers were usually not allowed into the Cab Control Car unless the seating space was urgently needed when the train is very full. Usually the Amfleet Custom Class Car will be behind the locomotive, unless there is a baggage car on the train in which case the baggage car will be between the locomotive and the Amfleet Custom Class Car. The Cafe Car is usually right next to the Custom Class Car, though they have been experimenting on placing the Cafe Car in a more central location on some of the longer trains. The locomotive is usually on the north end of the train and the Cab Control Car on the south end of the train.
Click here (519K) for an example of this configuration. A full-length dome car was used as the cafe car in this configuration and there was also a private car in the consist right behind the locomotive. This is a southbound Amtrak San Diegan where the Cab Control Car is at the head of the train and enters the station first.
The other common configuration is a set of California Cars which are double-level cars. A standard Superliner Sightseer Lounge / Cafe Care is often used as the cafe car in this configuration. At other times, a California Cafe Car will be used. A standard Superliner Coach Car is used to provide Pacific Class Service. Often there will be a second standard Superliner Coach Car that is used for just regular coach passengers. The usual configuration is an F59PHI on the north end of the train followed by a Superliner Coach Baggage Car for Pacific Class Service, follwed by a Superliner Sightseer Lounge Cafe Car. That is then sometimes followed by a second Superliner Coach Car used for regular coach seating and that is followed by 2 or 3 regular coach California Cars. The car furthest to the south would be a California Cab Control Car. All of these cars are double level.
I am assuming that these Amfleet I cars may have been previously in service on this Amtrak San Diegans route and that they were sent back east some time ago to be painted in the new Phase 4 color scheme and to be refurbished. The "City of Commerce" Cafe Car has been seen operating on the San Diegans route within the last couple of months. I don't know if it was refurbished and returned quite some time ago or if it was just sent out and returned quickly after being refurbished.
The numbers on these Amfleet I cars are as follows: 44887, 44218, 43040, 44227, 44206. The cab control car was number 9634 and the locomotive was F59PHI 454.
The interior of the cars is in the blue and grey color scheme that is being used for all Amtrak cars being refurbished. This is the original color scheme used for the Amtrak Superliner II Cars and is the color scheme used in refurbishing the Superliner I cars and the Amfleet Custom Class cars. Actually, with a quick glance, the interior differences between these new Amfleet I and the Amfleet Custom Class cars are not obvious.
The first thing I looked for was to see if they placed electric outlets at each seat. Sure enough! There is a 120 volt electric outlet at EVERY coach seat in these refurbished Amfleet I cars! We also noticed that they put special GFI double outlets in place of the 2 original outlets in each car that are used by the car cleaners for the vacuum and floor cleaning equipment. Each pair of seats has a single grounded outlet. This was a smart move on the part of Amtrak. I just hope the new generation of California Cars being built for the San Diegans will also have an electric outlet at every seat in regular coach.
The second thing that I noticed was that the windows were newer and were not scratched or discolored as they are in most of the unrefurbished Amfleet I Cars. The windows were still a bit dirty, but that did not interfere with my viewing pleasure anywhere near the extent of windows that have permanent distortions!
Just like in the refurbished Custom Class cars, I noticed that I seemed to be sitting higher in the seats. I still don't know if this is because the seat is higher, the cushion is thicker, or just that the cushion hasn't yet worn thin after years of use. In any case, it is certainly a pleasure to be able to look out the window even when the seat is reclined as far as it will go. These seats do recline quite a bit, but they don't seem to recline as far as the seats in the Horizon Cars. Unlike Custom Class, there are no foot rests with these seats and the spacing between seats seems to be a bit less than the spacing in Custom Class.
I don't remember how much spacing there was for luggage over the seats in the unrefurbished Amfleet Cars, but the space above the seats in these cars seems to be enough to hold most carry-on bags. The amount of overhead space seems to be the same as that in the Horizon Cars. As in the refurbished Amfleet Custom Class Cars, soft padding has been added to the bottom of the overhead luggage rack. It is not uncommon for one to forget about the low clearance over the seats and bump ones head when standing up! The padding should help to lessen the blow. Ceiling height in the aisles is quite adequate and better than in most aircraft.
Ray Burns commented that there was a steady humm while the train was moving, not unlike the low level humm while flying in an airplane. I figured that probably had to do with new or refurbished trucks under the cars and a lot more use of continuous welded rail for the tracks. It is also possible that a lot more insulation has been added to the car during the refurbishing process. That would isolate the car from a lot of the normal track noises and make the car run quieter than normal. The ride did seem pretty quiet.
While I was standing in the aisle and leaning a bit against the pair of seats in front of me, those seats started to swivel around. Usually, trying to turn the seats around is pretty difficult, but these might be a lot easier to manipulate being all new.
The cafe car still has a pay telephone available to the public. The cafe car has revenue seating on both sides of the serving area. There are no tables in the cafe car. However, the cafe car attendant explained that this particular cafe car (named "City of Commerce") did not have any tables in it even before it was refurbished.