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The "Missing" Pacific Parlour Car in Illinois


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#21 OlympianHiawatha

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 08:07 PM

Those probably belong to the Dallas RR museum.They are in the process of moving that museum to Frisco Tx. They had an old Pulman car on display and information about the move in Dallas on NTD


I don't think these belong to the RR Museum as they are on the opposite end of the Park (over by McDonalds for those who know the area). Someone told me that property belongs to a railway equipment broker.

#22 rtabern

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 11:00 PM

Serviceable condition? They look pretty rough to me. I'll bet that you can buy a new trainset for what it would take to buy these and get them into running condition.

Amtrak's fleet strategy is pretty emphatic about the fact that they're tired of dealing with 50+ year old mismatched equipment and are trying to get away from it as fast as they can.

Thanks for sharing the pictures, they were pretty incredible.


I cant really speak for the running condition of the cars, but from the inside... most looked in pretty good shape. A couple of coaches look like they could still be in service if you didnt know any better (or see the April 1997 Amtrak magazines sticking out of them). Before the trip down there last month, I had no idea that Amtrak had buffet-style dining cars... I sorta like that concept because you could choose what you wanted to have. Then again, I'm a sucker for Ponderosa and those Buffet places... haha.

But yes, that was the point, the owner(s) were planning on IL buying them for return to service.

It was sad to see the PPC just sitting there... :(

#23 rtabern

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 11:03 PM


Personally, I think it's a shame Amtrak didn't just refurbish a 6th PPC -- that way they could have had a "protect" PPC in LA and SEA. Now, if something happens to your PPC and its gets bad ordered... you'll get a Cross-Country Cafe replacement.


While I agree that it's a shame that they didn't keep that PPC, Amtrak sold that car longer before the refurbishments.


Do you know the timetable? I'm curious...

A friend who works for Amtrak told me that he thought #39971 was never a Pacific Parlour Car officially... however... it had the PPC logo on the side of the car by the door.

I, too, thought the PPC name came with the refurbished cars... but obviously I was wrong... since this car was called a PPC, but was un-refurbished.

#24 rtabern

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 11:04 PM

Illinois had the right idea for these hi-levels a few years back. They where going to have them refurbished and placed into service on the Illinois corridor routes (especially Chi-Stl) at less than a million a piece, supposedly there's over 50 Hi-levels that could have been put into service (Rtaburn can say whether there was that many there). But sadly, the funding never made it out of the statehouse. Now all that fed money is going into buying new bilevel cars, so these HI-levels will probably never run again. It would have been a cheap way to do massive capacity improvements on existing routes.


I'd say maybe 30-35 Hi-levels... but 50+ cars in Amtrak colors if you throw the slumber coaches, domes, etc. cars they have out there.

#25 railiner

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 12:40 AM

Thanks so much for sharing those wonderful photos of those wonderful old cars. I remember riding in several of them thru the years....
Would love to see them fully restored back to their original ATSF/CB&Q/PRR et al. condition, but as the song says "Only in my dreams"...

Too bad Amtrak had replaced the wonderful Karpen seats in the Hi-Level's with those newer (and less comfortable) ASI seats.

That facility has a collection that would be the envy of many museums. Because of the various cost issue's discussed in this thread, I seriously doubt any of that equipment will ever be used again, and will eventually be scrapped. Hopefully, I will be proven wrong.
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#26 AlanB

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 01:34 AM



Personally, I think it's a shame Amtrak didn't just refurbish a 6th PPC -- that way they could have had a "protect" PPC in LA and SEA. Now, if something happens to your PPC and its gets bad ordered... you'll get a Cross-Country Cafe replacement.


While I agree that it's a shame that they didn't keep that PPC, Amtrak sold that car longer before the refurbishments.


Do you know the timetable? I'm curious...

A friend who works for Amtrak told me that he thought #39971 was never a Pacific Parlour Car officially... however... it had the PPC logo on the side of the car by the door.

I, too, thought the PPC name came with the refurbished cars... but obviously I was wrong... since this car was called a PPC, but was un-refurbished.


I don't have all the details, but I can fill in some of the blanks.

Amtrak acquired all 6 of the cars in 1971 at its formation. They saw some service on the SW Chief until the early 80's. After that, they saw service on the San Joaquin’s and the Capital Corridor trains until Cali started buying its own cars for those lines. They went into mothballs for a few years, before being dusted off and turned into PPC's. They debuted in 1996 on the CS as PPC's.

For reasons that remain unclear, sometime in either 2000 or 2001 Amtrak dumped a bunch of old cars, and 39971 was included in that batch of cars. It was sold to the Illinois Transit Association Assembly. At one point the car was also reported to be in Iowa and under the ownership of Northwest Sky Rail Charters, but I cannot confirm that.
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#27 OlympianHiawatha

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 01:56 AM

I fondly recall riding the Sunset Limited between Phoenix and San Antonio back in 1995, give or take a year, and having a Hi Level Lounge in place of the SightSeer.

#28 Anderson

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 05:28 AM

You know, I get where Amtrak is coming from as far as sets of miscellaneous equipment...but 35 cars is easily 7-8 LD trains' worth of coaches, and on a longer Regional-style consist you're still looking at 4-5 trains' worth of equipment which matches. That's actually more than you can say for Talgo sets, and it doesn't help Talgo's case that those are (if I am recalling correctly) semi-articulated sets which have little to no flexibility in car deployment (so you can't, for example, add some cars to service for a few weeks at a peak season...again, correct me if I'm wrong here).

I'm going to grant that the main issue on a lot of routes is sold-out sleepers, but right now the old saying of "beggars can't be choosers" comes to mind: Amtrak may not want to run older cars, but given the choice between hitting an unclimbable capacity wall on a lot of routes (and they are getting there pretty steadily, almost across the board) and using the cars to meet increasing demand (perhaps in conjunction with some above-grade fare hikes...use the equipment situation to justify the fare move, but also use the fare move to cover the equipment situation), I'd readily choose the latter as a matter of policy. With that said, I have no problem with passing some or all of the added cost onto the state(s) and/or the riders, but I'd rather see the equipment being used than not used...and I do think that Amtrak owning equipment is a better policy than the states owning it in many cases, if simply because the potential for wild mood swings causing trouble at the state level seems higher.

I also suspect that there are projects that you might be able to "lock in" in some cases, and not having to go through a multi-year dance having new equipment built (which is increasingly becoming route-specific...it seems that more and more, you throw in a set of this here and set of that there) would be a good way to be able to move while there's political will (existing services, particularly those with solid ridership, tend to be much harder to get rid of than "in-process" routes).


Alan,
To take a stab, I think Amtrak was trying to get old equipment off the books in the face of more or less stagnant ridership. Based on where ridership numbers had gone from 1980-2000, I can't blame them, and though in retrospect the move seems to have been an ill-timed blunder of sorts...I suspect that it was the right decision at the time. Also, that equipment dump occurred right after the Surfliner purchases, did it not?

Edited by Anderson, 16 June 2011 - 05:28 AM.

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#29 jis

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 08:26 AM

To take a stab, I think Amtrak was trying to get old equipment off the books in the face of more or less stagnant ridership. Based on where ridership numbers had gone from 1980-2000, I can't blame them, and though in retrospect the move seems to have been an ill-timed blunder of sorts...I suspect that it was the right decision at the time. Also, that equipment dump occurred right after the Surfliner purchases, did it not?

Even if they still had them, where was the money to fix them up to keep them roadworthy going to come from? Remember Amtrak also parked close to a hundred Amfleet Is during the Gunn years because they claimed they did not have the money to do the regular COT&S on them. In that period Northeast Reqionals were down to 5 and sometimes even 4 car trains!

Edited by jis, 16 June 2011 - 10:56 AM.


#30 Ryan

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 09:43 AM

I cant really speak for the running condition of the cars, but from the inside... most looked in pretty good shape. A couple of coaches look like they could still be in service if you didnt know any better (or see the April 1997 Amtrak magazines sticking out of them).


Thanks for clarifying that - looking at the pictures again, a lot of what I was seeing was more cosmetic than I had originally thought.
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#31 Anderson

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 11:29 AM

Ryan,
There seem to be one or two that got smashed up...but I think that was an exception in the lot, not the rule.
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#32 bretton88

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 11:53 AM

Illinois could have had these running on their routes for under a million a piece. That would have been a bargain. Now the money is for new bilevels, so these cars will probably never run again, unless some other state see's it as a cheap way to start up/enhance a corridor service (Georgia? North Carolina? Colorado?)

If I won the lottery, I'd probably build a passenger from nowhere to nowhere.


#33 Gratt

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 12:01 PM

Illinois could have had these running on their routes for under a million a piece. That would have been a bargain. Now the money is for new bilevels, so these cars will probably never run again, unless some other state see's it as a cheap way to start up/enhance a corridor service (Georgia? North Carolina? Colorado?)


I would not scrap them just yet but they do need to "shop around" for another customer, I also would not limit this to the states, there may well be other countries that would be interested in this, Canada is an easy option, but I would not rule out any nation that uses a standard gauge system.

-- also I find it kind of silly that Amtrak would not want the bi-level sleepers, I get they are a pain to maintain, but 1. It is extra revenue and 2 it would show congress they need a new order.

Edited by Gratt, 16 June 2011 - 12:03 PM.


#34 Anderson

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 12:14 PM


Illinois could have had these running on their routes for under a million a piece. That would have been a bargain. Now the money is for new bilevels, so these cars will probably never run again, unless some other state see's it as a cheap way to start up/enhance a corridor service (Georgia? North Carolina? Colorado?)


I would not scrap them just yet but they do need to "shop around" for another customer, I also would not limit this to the states, there may well be other countries that would be interested in this, Canada is an easy option, but I would not rule out any nation that uses a standard gauge system.

-- also I find it kind of silly that Amtrak would not want the bi-level sleepers, I get they are a pain to maintain, but 1. It is extra revenue and 2 it would show congress they need a new order.


Do those sleepers have hopper toilets or retention toilets? If the former, then I think there's a nasty refit cost associated with it; if it's the latter, though, I'd like to see better reasoning for not using the cars other than "We don't want old cars in the system", especially when most of the PIPs require at least some new cars and a "stray" order of 2-3 cars is simply not going to happen. I'm actually now wondering...is there enough variety in the car types available that they could run one LD route entirely (or almost entirely) on refurbished hi-levels (say, the SWC)?
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#35 AlanB

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 12:48 PM

Alan,
To take a stab, I think Amtrak was trying to get old equipment off the books in the face of more or less stagnant ridership. Based on where ridership numbers had gone from 1980-2000, I can't blame them, and though in retrospect the move seems to have been an ill-timed blunder of sorts...I suspect that it was the right decision at the time. Also, that equipment dump occurred right after the Surfliner purchases, did it not?


Sorry, I guess I phrased that badly late last night when I wrote it.

I fully understood why Amtrak was dumping a bunch of cars back then.

What I don't understand is why 39971 was included in that dump.

And yes, I believe that the equipment dump occured as the new Surfliner cars came online.
Alan,

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#36 Guest_George B_*

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 02:55 PM

I fondly recall riding the Sunset Limited between Phoenix and San Antonio back in 1995, give or take a year, and having a Hi Level Lounge in place of the SightSeer.


The Sunset Limited must have put a good number of soon-to-be-PPCs to use as well since you had it on your trip in 1995, and #39973 was in the Big Bayou Canot wreck in 1993.

#37 MikefromCrete

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 05:15 PM


Illinois could have had these running on their routes for under a million a piece. That would have been a bargain. Now the money is for new bilevels, so these cars will probably never run again, unless some other state see's it as a cheap way to start up/enhance a corridor service (Georgia? North Carolina? Colorado?)


I would not scrap them just yet but they do need to "shop around" for another customer, I also would not limit this to the states, there may well be other countries that would be interested in this, Canada is an easy option, but I would not rule out any nation that uses a standard gauge system.

-- also I find it kind of silly that Amtrak would not want the bi-level sleepers, I get they are a pain to maintain, but 1. It is extra revenue and 2 it would show congress they need a new order.

There aren't any bi-level sleepers (unless they're Superliner wrecks). The Santa Fe hi-levels included only coaches, lounges and diners.

#38 dlagrua

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 05:25 PM

If you do a search and you will find that old RR cars are still in good supply. Train restoration places, RR brokers, private collectors and even some salvage yards have them.

#39 Big Iron

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 05:39 PM

Thanks so much for sharing those wonderful photos of those wonderful old cars. I remember riding in several of them thru the years....
Would love to see them fully restored back to their original ATSF/CB&Q/PRR et al. condition, but as the song says "Only in my dreams"...

Too bad Amtrak had replaced the wonderful Karpen seats in the Hi-Level's with those newer (and less comfortable) ASI seats.

That facility has a collection that would be the envy of many museums. Because of the various cost issue's discussed in this thread, I seriously doubt any of that equipment will ever be used again, and will eventually be scrapped. Hopefully, I will be proven wrong.


Some of the cars are for sale. The blunt end CB&Q dome/obs is going for $250,000.00

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#40 jis

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 05:44 PM

I would not scrap them just yet but they do need to "shop around" for another customer, I also would not limit this to the states, there may well be other countries that would be interested in this, Canada is an easy option, but I would not rule out any nation that uses a standard gauge system.

There are not too many countries in the world that have 16.5' height clearance on their railroads.

-- also I find it kind of silly that Amtrak would not want the bi-level sleepers, I get they are a pain to maintain, but 1. It is extra revenue and 2 it would show congress they need a new order.

Santa Fe never had even a single bi-level sleeper. So none of the Heritage bi-level cars are sleepers. The bi-levels were exclusively for use in El Capitan and other Coach trains. Even when the Super Chief and the El Capitan ran as a single train the Sleeper passengers and Coach passengers were apparently kept separated so no access to Hi-level cars for Sleeper passengers. That probably changed after Amtrak day.

Folks need to remember that bi-level sleepers is an exclusively Amtrak invention. No private railroad ever ran such service.




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