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PPC Status on Coast Starlight


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#21 ChuckL

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Posted 17 October 2017 - 11:49 AM

 

3 of the 4 PPCs were operating regularly on the CS this summer, with the 4th train equipped with a 2nd SSL instead. Specific days on which the CS did NOT have a PPC are discussed in threads on trainorders dot com.


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Thanks chakk. Is there a way to do a search for those threads?

Well I actually found the search function, but it looks like I have to be a member to use it.
Do you know what the membership fee is?

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There is a webcam at Dunsmuir CA that records the arrival of all northbound Coast Starlights -- around 5 AM if on time.  The videos are posted to the Dunsmuir webcam folder on trainorders.com
 
I checked a few of the recent recorded videos and was able to determine that the trains leaving Los Angeles on the following days definitely had a PPC in their consist:
11 Oct, 09 Oct, 07 Oct, 06 Oct, 03 Oct, 01 Oct
 
Trains leaving Los Angeles on the following days definitely did NOT have a PPC in their consist:
10 Oct, 08 Oct, 04 Oct
 
I could not discern whether trains leaving Los Angeles on the following days did or did not have a PPC, since the train stopped short in Dunsmuir station before the first class lounge car appeared on camera:
05 Oct, 02 Oct
 
 
Southbound trains leaving Seattle two days after the Los Angeles departure dates shown above would likely have the same PPC status -- unless the lounge was replaced in Seattle by another car.
 
Based on the most recent days that I have observed, I would GUESS there may only be 2 of the 4 PPCs currently operating, and they are leaving Los Angeles on even dates, with SSLs substituting on odd day departures from Los Angeles.
 
And since the Starlights are on a two day cycle, then it would also be the case that the PPCs are on trains leaving Seattle on even dates, with SSLs substituting on odd day departures from Seattle.
 
But, of course, all it takes is one substitution at either terminal -- LAX or SEA -- for one day to flip the schedule from even day departures to odd day departures.
 
Be alert also to the likelihood that ALL PPCs will be pulled out of service from early January to mid-March for annual maintenance.
 
This has been the case for the past several years.
Hopefully the schedule will flip sometime soon. I travel from LAX-PDX on November 8 and riding in a PPC is one of my favorite things to do on the Coast Starlight. It's a beautiful car and experience reminiscent of the grand old days of rail travel.


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#22 CAMISSY55

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Posted 21 October 2017 - 11:28 AM

ChuckL, I hope you'll be fortunate enough to have the PPC on your upcoming trip.

I recently traveled the #11, PDX-LAX on October 8th-9th and was so happy to find the consist included the PPC! There was wine tasting both evenings for a charge of $7. I only went the second evening.

Meals were served at regular mealtimes, by reservation for lunch and dinner. There also was a breakfast buffet. I didn't try it, but it looked good and folks who did seemed to enjoy it. The reservations (space limited) were made by the dining car LSA, as he made the rounds
for the dining car reservations.

As I was already aware from the knowledgeable folks on this site, there were only two meal choices available at either the lunch or dinner seatings. Unfortunately, because I eat gluten free and my travel mate eats vegetarian, we didn't have our meals in the PPC.

On the first evening, after having dinner at the last seating, I was pleasantly surprised to find a small group of folks socialing and enjoying a variety of adult beverages in bar section of the car. I joined in and had a wonderful time. Our attendant, CJ, was excellent and made the experience that much more memorable!

After breakfast the following morning, I spent several hours in the swivel chair section conversing and laughing, with another varied group of passengers. It was wonderful. I normally do not visit and spend much time in the SSL. But the PPC is a completely different experience.

Once again, ChuckL, I hope you'll have a PPC. Good luck!

#23 ChuckL

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Posted 21 October 2017 - 11:32 AM

ChuckL, I hope you'll be fortunate enough to have the PPC on your upcoming trip.

I recently traveled the #11, PDX-LAX on October 8th-9th and was so happy to find the consist included the PPC! There was wine tasting both evenings for a charge of $7. I only went the second evening.

Meals were served at regular mealtimes, by reservation for lunch and dinner. There also was a breakfast buffet. I didn't try it, but it looked good and folks who did seemed to enjoy it. The reservations (space limited) were made by the dining car LSA, as he made the rounds
for the dining car reservations.

As I was already aware from the knowledgeable folks on this site, there were only two meal choices available at either the lunch or dinner seatings. Unfortunately, because I eat gluten free and my travel mate eats vegetarian, we didn't have our meals in the PPC.

On the first evening, after having dinner at the last seating, I was pleasantly surprised to find a small group of folks socialing and enjoying a variety of adult beverages in bar section of the car. I joined in and had a wonderful time. Our attendant, CJ, was excellent and made the experience that much more memorable!

After breakfast the following morning, I spent several hours in the swivel chair section conversing and laughing, with another varied group of passengers. It was wonderful. I normally do not visit and spend much time in the SSL. But the PPC is a completely different experience.

Once again, ChuckL, I hope you'll have a PPC. Good luck!

Thanks for your reply and great information on the PPC.


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#24 duckmark

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Posted 23 October 2017 - 12:59 AM

No PPC on #14 today. Extra lounge car substituted.


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#25 ChuckL

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Posted 23 October 2017 - 01:16 AM

No PPC on #14 today. Extra lounge car substituted.


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Do you know if the services standard to the PPC (special dining, upgraded bar menu, and Cheese tasting) were being offered in the Sightseer Lounge car, or was it just a private car for sleeping car and BC passengers?


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#26 Phil S

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Posted 23 October 2017 - 11:11 AM

 

No PPC on #14 today. Extra lounge car substituted.


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Do you know if the services standard to the PPC (special dining, upgraded bar menu, and Cheese tasting) were being offered in the Sightseer Lounge car, or was it just a private car for sleeping car and BC passengers?


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The latter when I traveled a few weeks ago. Disappointing.


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#27 PVD

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Posted 23 October 2017 - 11:25 AM

Another forum reports one has been released from Beech Grove and is heading back. They mentioned truck and lower body work.



#28 Bob Dylan

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Posted 23 October 2017 - 11:41 AM

Another forum reports one has been released from Beech Grove and is heading back. They mentioned truck and lower body work.

Yep, its Sonoma Valley,which is ironic with the fires that have devastated that area.

Hopefully this is an ongoing program for all of the cars, so that when the PPCs are taken out of service during the annual Winter Maintenance period, they will actually be worked on and not just be lazing in the sun in the LA yards as has happened( allegedly) during previous periods!!
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#29 SP&S

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Posted 23 October 2017 - 01:04 PM

Could we defer the winter maintenance period, I seem to ride every February so havn't had the PPC experience in several years.  I know, I could take a summer trip too......



#30 chakk

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Posted 23 October 2017 - 02:29 PM

I think Amtrak intends to always do PPC maintenance in time periods when the CS has the LEAST total ridership. And that always seems to be after New Years and before Easter.


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#31 neroden

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Posted 25 October 2017 - 02:07 PM

Honestly, I think it's about time for Amtrak to give up on the PPCs.  They can't keep them in service reliably any more.  I'm hoping to see one on my upcoming trip to catch the Tacoma Narrows route before it goes away... but I'm not expecting to.  I've taken the Coast Starlight twice before and it was always a substituted SSL.  The PPC does act as relief for the overcrowded dining and lounge cars on the Coast Starlight, though, so Amtrak will have to come up with something... but maybe there are enough SSLs.


Edited by neroden, 25 October 2017 - 02:08 PM.

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#32 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 25 October 2017 - 02:53 PM

Honestly, I think it's about time for Amtrak to give up on the PPCs.  They can't keep them in service reliably any more.  I'm hoping to see one on my upcoming trip to catch the Tacoma Narrows route before it goes away... but I'm not expecting to.  I've taken the Coast Starlight twice before and it was always a substituted SSL.  The PPC does act as relief for the overcrowded dining and lounge cars on the Coast Starlight, though, so Amtrak will have to come up with something... but maybe there are enough SSLs.

 

Amtrak doesn't "have" to come up with anything.  They can simply disband the entire PPC fleet and replace them with nothing.  Even a 30% chance of departing with a genuine PPC is much better than the 0% odds you're advocating.  The PPC is my favorite car in the fleet, by far, and in my experience the PPC creates a livelier and more memorable experience than Amtrak's SSL.  Perhaps Amtrak could shrink the PPC schedule down to fewer days but schedule them in advance so people know when to expect that particular benefit.  Maybe charge a few more dollars per sleeper passenger to help defray the additional costs on those particular days.


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#33 desertflyer

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Posted 25 October 2017 - 04:11 PM

If the PPC ever had to go, I think it would be great to have even a SSL replace it. I've been on a few trips with a SSL subing for the PPC and it is really nice for those that don't care much about the history of the car. In the end it's nice to have a quiet place to grab a drink, have dinner, or look out the window and a single SSL on the CS is often too crowded to accommodate all of the passengers - and doesn't serve all of these functions to begin with.



#34 A Voice

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Posted 25 October 2017 - 04:38 PM

Honestly, I think it's about time for Amtrak to give up on the PPCs.  They can't keep them in service reliably any more.  I'm hoping to see one on my upcoming trip to catch the Tacoma Narrows route before it goes away... but I'm not expecting to.  I've taken the Coast Starlight twice before and it was always a substituted SSL.  The PPC does act as relief for the overcrowded dining and lounge cars on the Coast Starlight, though, so Amtrak will have to come up with something... but maybe there are enough SSLs.

 

If the PPC ever had to go, I think it would be great to have even a SSL replace it. I've been on a few trips with a SSL subing for the PPC and it is really nice for those that don't care much about the history of the car. In the end it's nice to have a quiet place to grab a drink, have dinner, or look out the window and a single SSL on the CS is often too crowded to accommodate all of the passengers - and doesn't serve all of these functions to begin with.

 

As already stated, Amtrak has plans to convert existing Superliner Cross Country Cafe cars (diner lounge, not Sightseer Lounge) into Parlor car replacements within the next couple years; Apparently, further rebuild of the current Hi-level cars will also be evaluated (though I fully expect the Superliner option to be selected).  


Edited by A Voice, 25 October 2017 - 04:39 PM.


#35 desertflyer

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Posted 25 October 2017 - 04:48 PM

 

Honestly, I think it's about time for Amtrak to give up on the PPCs.  They can't keep them in service reliably any more.  I'm hoping to see one on my upcoming trip to catch the Tacoma Narrows route before it goes away... but I'm not expecting to.  I've taken the Coast Starlight twice before and it was always a substituted SSL.  The PPC does act as relief for the overcrowded dining and lounge cars on the Coast Starlight, though, so Amtrak will have to come up with something... but maybe there are enough SSLs.

 

If the PPC ever had to go, I think it would be great to have even a SSL replace it. I've been on a few trips with a SSL subing for the PPC and it is really nice for those that don't care much about the history of the car. In the end it's nice to have a quiet place to grab a drink, have dinner, or look out the window and a single SSL on the CS is often too crowded to accommodate all of the passengers - and doesn't serve all of these functions to begin with.

 

As already stated, Amtrak has plans to convert existing Superliner Cross Country Cafe cars (diner lounge, not Sightseer Lounge) into Parlor car replacements within the next couple years; Apparently, further rebuild of the current Hi-level cars will also be evaluated (though I fully expect the Superliner option to be selected).  

 

 

Yes, but as you know, until the cars are actually converted (or rebuilt), there is a chance it won't happen. I was just expressing my opinion that any type of lounge car is an improvement to the onboard experience, and I support them continuing with a lounge even if it isn't with the current PPC rolling stock. 



#36 west point

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Posted 25 October 2017 - 05:55 PM

It may be that "IF"  Amtrak ever gets SL-3s that the number of cars on the train ( Including more sleepers ) will require a PPC type car that will serve the many more passengers and maybe another diner ?



#37 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 26 October 2017 - 01:21 PM

They dont need additional diners if the load goes up; the SL diners are designed for about triple the throughput they are used for. Theyd just need to staff it better to get that throughput up.
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#38 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 26 October 2017 - 02:11 PM

What difference does it make how many staff they have or how many passengers they can process if they can't even stock enough product to last through the first seating?  Out of all the various departments Amtrak F&B seems to be the most entrenched and inept, and that's saying something.


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#39 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 26 October 2017 - 03:50 PM

The COULD stock enough product. They just dont.
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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#40 Palmland

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Posted 26 October 2017 - 04:30 PM

It wouldn’t take much to make the SSL a worthy replacement for current PPC. Take out the cheap plastic chairs and tables. Replace with the comfortable swivel chairs in the PPC, attractive and comfortable 4/2 table seating, and a nice bar/snack counter. Downstairs, perhaps a private dining room for groups, similar to the Turquoise Room on the ATSF that could also serve as the wine tasting area with quality wines.

Now if you really wanted to have fun with it, put the sleepers on the rear of the train with the PPC as the last car and put in rear facing glass windows. But that’s the railfan in me talking.




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