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Amtrak Viewliner Travelogue of Jesse Kovach
Please pardon the lack of formatting in these travelogues. I have had a lot
of work to do over the last several weeks, both for the Amtrak Pages and
for my regular work. The only hope of clearing out the backlog is to post
these pages "as is" without taking the time to correct any format problems.
From: "Jesse Kovach"
Subject: Amtrak - Viewliner trains
Date: Mon, 5 Aug 1996 00:09:37
I saw your Amtrak page at about 11 pm EDT, August 4, 1996. Got off an
Amtrak "Crescent" train returning to Washington D.C. from the Olympics in
Atlanta at about 9:30 this morning. My family had Viewliner sleeper cars
and first class service for the southbound and northbound trips. I noticed
you have not had a chance to ride in one of the viewliner cars, so I
thought I'd tell you what they are like.
NOTE/DISCLAIMER: I do not know a lot about Amtrak. I ride a train every
year or two. Please excuse me if I mess up any terminology in this
The Crescent train I was on was about 15-17 cars (I counted 12 cars open
to passengers on the southbound trip to Atlanta, plus baggage cars and
engines.) There were two engines, one of the newer ones (in the front) and
one of the older ones (behind the first one.) I assume this is a fairly
common arrangement, as the train involved in the Feb. 16 commuter train
crash 1 mile away from where I live had this arrangement of engines as
well. There were two Viewliner sleeping cars, one (two on the northbound
train) older sleeping car (with curtians on the small rooms), a dining
car, a lounge/snack bar car, and three or four baggage cars at the front
and rear of the train. A train that I saw while in Atlanta that was
running on the right schedule to be a Crescent had a Superliner transition
sleeper on the back. The rest of the cars were single-level, some old
(Heritage?) and some newer.
The Viewliner cars were the newest on the train (visual inspection.) We
got some coffee mugs that said "Amtrak Crescent/New York-D.C.-New
Orleans/Viewliner/1996 Inaugural" on them, so I assume the cars were new
A Viewliner is basically a modern sleeping car. There are mainly three
different types of rooms: a 6.5+'x2' (approximately) room (12 of them),
and a all-but-1.5-feet-of-the-width-of-the-car family room that appeared
to have four beds (2 of these), and an accessible handicapped room that
was about the same size as the family room (1). When you entered the car
from the (I think) end with the door, the hallway went to the side of the
car to make room for the handicapped room (labeled "H"). After this room
were the two family rooms, "A" and "B". The hallway then went down the
center of the car, where the smaller rooms (#1-12) were. At the far end of
the car, there was a shower room (both times I rode the train it was being
used as a storage room instead), the attendant's room, and a recess with a
coffee machine, juice, Coke, cups, and ice.
I do not know what the insides of the larger rooms look like. I was in one
of the smaller rooms.
Each room has a sliding door, two windows that look out into the corridor
(with sliding window shades), and an upper and lower window looking
outside (with curtains.) There is a toilet, folding sink with hot/cold/ice
water, towels, toilet paper, and garbage can. When you pushed the
toilet-flush button, a little water was sprayed into the toilet while the
waste was sucked out the bottom, creating a fairly strong breeze
underneath the door to the room. There were two seats, reading lights for
both seats, and wall lights above both seats. There was also a ceiling
light for the room. There was a luggage compartment and a strap for
There was a thermostat in the room, but it did not appear to do anything.
It probably was for heating. There were two wall-mounted fans that could
direct air at the two beds. There were four entertainment controls. THree
were for headphones, while one was for the room speaker. There were three
channels of music and two channels with movies that were shown on a small
LCD screen mounted on one of the walls.
When it was time to go to bed, the two seats converted themselves into a
bed. A second bed dropped down from the ceiling. The person in the upper
bed could look straight out the window. Straps prevented the upper person
from falling off. There were lighting controls and a reading light located
on the upper wall.
The trip to Altanta was uneventful, but our car for the return trip had a
problem with the air-handling system. Every second or so, it would make a
clickign electrical arcing noise. Once, the power failed. When it came
back on, the noise occurred about 5 times a second for a couple of
minutes, and then returned to its previous frequency. My dad works on cars
and this sparking noise did not sound good. The conductor said it was
probably the air purifier (the same noise comes from the ventilators in
the smoking section of the lounge car.) The noise was annoying, but the
car did not explode or anything. (If it did, I would probably sue.)
At leas\t ONE company isn't making 3D shoot-em-ups!
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