So last night I caught the Meteor RVR-ORL. Nice trip, as always (dragged myself into breakfast and then crashed for a few more hours). The train was 1:15 late out of NYP, however, and never made the time up (where there might have been some makeup along the way, it appears that passenger loads killed any chance of that).
The train likely ties a combined LSL for the longest Amtrak train I have ever seen:
-4 sleeping cars
-6 Amfleet II coaches
I talked with the OBS...it seems that this was accomplished by turning two of the sleepers off of the morning's inbound Meteor (and that a very modest delay on 98 (11/28) caused 97 (11/29) to lose time on departure due to trouble turning the equipment fast enough). Also of note is that per OBS, both the Meteor and Star were running with four sleepers (again, something only feasible if you can "save a set" on the sleeper side...4 sleepers on both trains would require 32 sleepers, creating a "math problem") while it might just be possible to juggle equipment to get both trains up to 4 sleeping cars if you pretty much blow out all spares, all protects, and start praying a lot. Doing it without the same-day turn at NYP doesn't quite work out (assuming nobody else gets extras, that requirement is 16 (Meteor), 16 (Star), 8 (Crescent), 9 (Lake Shore), and 2 (Cardinal)...which is 51 and Amtrak only has 50). A same-day turn of two cars gives you one spare at NYP...and probably a work-product commendation from the Vatican for the number of prayers said that nothing goes wrong anywhere else.
Of note, on Sunday evening 97 discharged about 150 pax in RVR and then loaded about another 60. For reference, per VA's numbers from a few years ago that's about one week's worth of "average" traffic load in a single one-way passage, and the station was a total zoo when the preceding Regional got in as well (it looked like the offload was well over 100). Although I suspect that was the heaviest stop (the Regional was likely almost sold out or actually sold out, causing plenty of pax to default to "last train out"...resulting in spill-over from 87 into 97). Still, there was apparently very strong turnover continuing into Florida Monday morning.
Could I get any operational confirmation on the Meteor and Star running with 4 sleepers each? My initial speculation was that the Meteor got its 4th by simply not giving the Star its 3rd for the weekend (3/3 was a normal setup in previous years). Likewise, I don't think I've ever seen the Meteor run with 6 coaches (usually it maxes out at 5). I saw 98 (11/30) heading north as well, btw, and counted 4 sleepers...but I did not see an iteration of 92.