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amtrak horizon coaches


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#1 amtrakwolverine

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 01:01 AM

Ok why does everyone hate amtrak's horizon coaches. to me on the inside they look the same as the amfleets and they ride the same. at least to me. whats the big deal.

#2 ALC Rail Writer

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 01:11 AM

We've been over this before in several threads. But here are the basic arguments:

1. Stairs are exposed to the elements. That means in winter they freeze which is both a work and passenger hazard.
2. They are pretty lightweight and bounce around easy on rough freight track.
3. they are prone to dirt. GML may know why they are (maybe the wrong metals) but they get really dirty and dingy easily.
4. I may not have the numbers, but compared to AFIs I find Horizons to be more cramped.
5. All single levels, including AFs, are prone to freezing up. That's why the new orders for coaches are bi-levels, and thats why Metra's bi-levels have been a success.

Don't get me wrong they're a reliable commuter coach-- but in winter, in Chicago, on Amtrak (which in many ways is a step above commuter rail) they do not suffice.

Amtrak Routes Travelled: Capitol Limited (x12s), Northeast Regional (x10), Pennsylvanian (x10), Empire Builder (x6), Cascades (x4), Empire Service (2), Acela Express (3), New Haven Shuttle (2), Vermonter (1), Lake Shore Limited (x3), Lincoln Service (3), Coast Starlight (x2), California Zephyr(1), Capitol Corridor(1), Southwest Chief (1), Missouri River Runner (1), Downeaster (2), Crescent (2)
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#3 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 01:23 AM

The Horizons are or were unpainted aluminum. It gets dirty very easily.

Micah's points are all true, but he has left out their high speed stability issues. Much above 90 mph, the GSC trucks, which are not optimized for the Comet body characteristics (they are designed for inboard bearing trucks) the cars start to pitch around their longitudinal axis and while no derailments have ever, thank god, occurred, their have been instances where wheels have fully lifted off the ground at speeds of 110 and over. Amtrak restricts the cars, which are rated for 125 for reasons unknown, to 90 mph.

Amtrak has been anxious to get rid of them since the early 90s.

By the way, Micah, while Amfleets do freeze up, they are not prone to it. The Viewliners and Horizons have that problem, while the Heritage diners and Amfleet cars do not. Budd had too much experience building cars to build one prone to freeze up. Actually, the Viewliners freezing issues are the result of inferior material used in certain locations for insulation, as well as a few mislocated waterlines, all as a result of "productionizing" by Morrison-Knudson. Amtrak-Budds original design would not have suffered from most of the problems that the production cars do.

Edited by Green Maned Lion, 15 December 2009 - 01:28 AM.

Travelled: Broadway Limited (1), Lake Shore Limited (6), Capitol Limited (7), Empire Builder (1), Southwest Chief (2), Sunset Limited (1), California Zephyr (3), Coast Starlight (2), Silver Meteor (5), Silver Star (5), Silver Palm (2), Crescent (1), Cardinal (4), Auto Train (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Palmetto (1), Acela Express (1), Empire Service (1), Northeast Regional (11), Keystone Service (1) --- Total Miles: 50,144 --- Total Trains: 61
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#4 ALC Rail Writer

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 01:31 AM

Micah's points are all true, but he has left out their high speed stability issues. Much above 90 mph, the GSC trucks, which are not optimized for the Comet body characteristics (they are designed for inboard bearing trucks) the cars start to pitch around their longitudinal axis and while no derailments have ever, thank god, occurred, their have been instances where wheels have fully lifted off the ground at speeds of 110 and over. Amtrak restricts the cars, which are rated for 125 for reasons unknown, to 90 mph.


Well, unlike the Amfleets... the Horizons are boxes, big flat boxes.

Amtrak Routes Travelled: Capitol Limited (x12s), Northeast Regional (x10), Pennsylvanian (x10), Empire Builder (x6), Cascades (x4), Empire Service (2), Acela Express (3), New Haven Shuttle (2), Vermonter (1), Lake Shore Limited (x3), Lincoln Service (3), Coast Starlight (x2), California Zephyr(1), Capitol Corridor(1), Southwest Chief (1), Missouri River Runner (1), Downeaster (2), Crescent (2)
Amtrak Rail Miles: 34,568

My most recent Amtrak trip report!

 

All Aboard Ohio - Advocacy group for intercity travel in Ohio


#5 battalion51

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 01:53 AM

From a comfort level I've found the Horizons to be a bit garish. I can't quite put my finger on why, but the Amfleets and Superliners just feel more comfortable and relaxing. The Horizons definitely have a purpose in life in Mid-West service, but I think they would likely have been a more successful fleet if they were primarily based in California or somewhere in the south.

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#6 ALC Rail Writer

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 01:56 AM

I think California is quite content with its run of coaches lol.

And you're right b51, I can't put my finger on it either-- but the Horizon is the only coach I have ever felt cramped in...

Amtrak Routes Travelled: Capitol Limited (x12s), Northeast Regional (x10), Pennsylvanian (x10), Empire Builder (x6), Cascades (x4), Empire Service (2), Acela Express (3), New Haven Shuttle (2), Vermonter (1), Lake Shore Limited (x3), Lincoln Service (3), Coast Starlight (x2), California Zephyr(1), Capitol Corridor(1), Southwest Chief (1), Missouri River Runner (1), Downeaster (2), Crescent (2)
Amtrak Rail Miles: 34,568

My most recent Amtrak trip report!

 

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#7 Dutchrailnut

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 06:25 AM

Micah's points are all true, but he has left out their high speed stability issues. Much above 90 mph, the GSC trucks, which are not optimized for the Comet body characteristics (they are designed for inboard bearing trucks) the cars start to pitch around their longitudinal axis and while no derailments have ever, thank god, occurred, their have been instances where wheels have fully lifted off the ground at speeds of 110 and over. Amtrak restricts the cars, which are rated for 125 for reasons unknown, to 90 mph.


Don't know where you get info from but Horizons are not restricted to 90 mph, the timetable speed for Horizons 51000 - 54599 and 58000 - 58109 are 125 mph as per Amtrak timetable rule 37-S5 on page 287 on NEC timetable
only restriction is cars in series 53000 & 58000 are restricted from Third rail territory with exception to cars 53501, 53505, 53509, 53510, & 53511.

#8 Pastor Dave

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 07:25 AM

Interesting. I haven't seen any horizon coach discussions. You learn something new everyday.
Routes I've traveled. Lake Shore Limited (aced NY section); Capitol Limited (aced); Silver Star; Silver Meteor; Crescent; Carolinian; AutoTrain (aced - but that's not hard to do); NEC; Cardinal; Adirondack; Empire Service; Three Rivers; Pennsylvanian; Sunset Limited (ORL - NOL).

#9 ALC Rail Writer

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 09:57 AM

Interesting. I haven't seen any horizon coach discussions. You learn something new everyday.


They pop up every now and again.

With inferior gear comes debate as to what is to be done with it.

Amtrak has made a decision to purchase the Midwest Bi-Levels, which will probably look something like the Surfliners with a few minor tweaks.

As for the rest of the Horizon fleet... nobody knows what is going to be done with them quite yet.

Amtrak Routes Travelled: Capitol Limited (x12s), Northeast Regional (x10), Pennsylvanian (x10), Empire Builder (x6), Cascades (x4), Empire Service (2), Acela Express (3), New Haven Shuttle (2), Vermonter (1), Lake Shore Limited (x3), Lincoln Service (3), Coast Starlight (x2), California Zephyr(1), Capitol Corridor(1), Southwest Chief (1), Missouri River Runner (1), Downeaster (2), Crescent (2)
Amtrak Rail Miles: 34,568

My most recent Amtrak trip report!

 

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#10 OlympianHiawatha

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 10:50 AM

I think part of the nastiness associated with the Horizons is simply from the tighter pitch seating. Us "West Side" riders get spoiled with the Superliners and then feel cramped whenever we step on a mid or short haul train using single level equipment.

#11 cpamtfan

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 10:50 AM

I was thinking, why don't they just paint em' blue? I mean wouldn't that fix one problem?

#12 Phila 30th St

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 11:55 AM

My lone Horizon ride (Kalamazoo-Ann Arbor) was quite comfortable. I paid the $12 Business Class upgrade fee and ended up in 1-2 seating behind the cafe car with about three other people. Though the Coaches I walked through did look pretty cramped and dirty.
This is the 7:40 local train to Stamford. Calling at Mt. Vernon, Pelham, New Rochelle, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Harrison, Rye, Port Chester, Greenwich, Cos Cob, Riverside, Old Greenwich and Stamford.

#13 AlanB

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 12:09 PM

My lone Horizon ride (Kalamazoo-Ann Arbor) was quite comfortable. I paid the $12 Business Class upgrade fee and ended up in 1-2 seating behind the cafe car with about three other people. Though the Coaches I walked through did look pretty cramped and dirty.


Yes, Amtrak converted the Horizon BC cars to mimic what they did with the Amfleet Club-Dinette cars. They had enough seats left over from the old Metroliner FC cars, so they invested in the upgrades to the Horizons after they finished with the Amfleets.
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#14 AudenHoggart

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 12:28 PM

My lone Horizon ride (Kalamazoo-Ann Arbor) was quite comfortable. I paid the $12 Business Class upgrade fee and ended up in 1-2 seating behind the cafe car with about three other people. Though the Coaches I walked through did look pretty cramped and dirty.


Yes, Amtrak converted the Horizon BC cars to mimic what they did with the Amfleet Club-Dinette cars. They had enough seats left over from the old Metroliner FC cars, so they invested in the upgrades to the Horizons after they finished with the Amfleets.


Another issue with most Amtrak single level coaches is that the windows are fairly high, and this restricts viewing of the passing scene. This dilutes one of Amtrak's major advantages. I'm reasonably tall but I still notice this, and it must be more significant for shorter people.

#15 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 01:38 PM

Micah's points are all true, but he has left out their high speed stability issues. Much above 90 mph, the GSC trucks, which are not optimized for the Comet body characteristics (they are designed for inboard bearing trucks) the cars start to pitch around their longitudinal axis and while no derailments have ever, thank god, occurred, their have been instances where wheels have fully lifted off the ground at speeds of 110 and over. Amtrak restricts the cars, which are rated for 125 for reasons unknown, to 90 mph.


Don't know where you get info from but Horizons are not restricted to 90 mph, the timetable speed for Horizons 51000 - 54599 and 58000 - 58109 are 125 mph as per Amtrak timetable rule 37-S5 on page 287 on NEC timetable
only restriction is cars in series 53000 & 58000 are restricted from Third rail territory with exception to cars 53501, 53505, 53509, 53510, & 53511.


That's not what I have been informed of by various Amtrak managers. Tell me, Dutch, where have you seen a Horizon doing more then 90?

Travelled: Broadway Limited (1), Lake Shore Limited (6), Capitol Limited (7), Empire Builder (1), Southwest Chief (2), Sunset Limited (1), California Zephyr (3), Coast Starlight (2), Silver Meteor (5), Silver Star (5), Silver Palm (2), Crescent (1), Cardinal (4), Auto Train (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Palmetto (1), Acela Express (1), Empire Service (1), Northeast Regional (11), Keystone Service (1) --- Total Miles: 50,144 --- Total Trains: 61
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#16 como

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 01:47 PM

I'll be in the minority and say that based on several trips on the Missouri River Runners and their predecesors, the Horizon cars are comfortable for 2 to 4 hours. They aren't as horrible as many seem to feel.

#17 railiner

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 04:09 PM

I have always been partial to Budd equipment including Amfleet, but the straight sides of the Horizons seems to me to be not as stylish as Amfleet, but more practicle.
The overhead baggage racks can be further apart and/or deeper than the Amfleets. Years ago, when they experimented with those economy sleeper rooms on an Amfleet car for the Shenandoah, they would have had more space for them.
If the Horizons are constructed of aluminum, why can't they be polished to gleam, similar to the unpainted finish on American Airlines aircraft?
metroblue?

okay on the blue!

#18 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 04:15 PM

Airplanes don't spend their time being buffetted by dirty, sand, and rocks.

Also, the Horizon is a smaller car then the amfleet. Shorter and narrower.

Travelled: Broadway Limited (1), Lake Shore Limited (6), Capitol Limited (7), Empire Builder (1), Southwest Chief (2), Sunset Limited (1), California Zephyr (3), Coast Starlight (2), Silver Meteor (5), Silver Star (5), Silver Palm (2), Crescent (1), Cardinal (4), Auto Train (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Palmetto (1), Acela Express (1), Empire Service (1), Northeast Regional (11), Keystone Service (1) --- Total Miles: 50,144 --- Total Trains: 61
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#19 railiner

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 04:23 PM

Airplanes don't spend their time being buffetted by dirty, sand, and rocks.

Also, the Horizon is a smaller car then the amfleet. Shorter and narrower.

Okay, good point about the operating environment.
What are the dimensions of Horizon cars? I thought they were the same as Amfleet....85 feet long by 10 feet, 6 inches wide?
metroblue?

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#20 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 04:27 PM

I don't have my spec book with me, but I think the Amfleet is actually 10'8" wide at its widest point because of the curvature.

Travelled: Broadway Limited (1), Lake Shore Limited (6), Capitol Limited (7), Empire Builder (1), Southwest Chief (2), Sunset Limited (1), California Zephyr (3), Coast Starlight (2), Silver Meteor (5), Silver Star (5), Silver Palm (2), Crescent (1), Cardinal (4), Auto Train (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Palmetto (1), Acela Express (1), Empire Service (1), Northeast Regional (11), Keystone Service (1) --- Total Miles: 50,144 --- Total Trains: 61
Most important: Keep it Simple, Stupid!
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