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Viewliner II Part 2: Dining Car Production, Delivery, Speculation

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My understanding is that the serviceable Heritage fleet is down to 9 now, for a total fleet of 11.

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Can't help noticing that Viewliner II diners Montgomery, Nashville, and Tallahassee will be named for cities that once had Amtrak service but no longer do. Also ironic that Viewliner II diner Raleigh will never be seen on the Silver Star running through its namesake city.

Don't forget about Columbus.

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They should say new dining "car" until they receive another one.

There is the 8400 too, or doesn't that Viewliner Diner count anymore?

 

The 8400 isn't new and isn't a Viewliner II.

 

I didn't realize that 8400 was being retired with the Heritage diners. Thks.

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could you please enlighten us on how you got 13 for the star and meteor? my count would be 10, eight in service and two protect. 11 if there is one in maintenance.

I am kind-of wondering why the two "protect" diners, which just sit in stand-by at each terminus, couldn't be Heritage diners? I guess in the case of the Silvers, the best two Heritage diners? While I understand the need for two "protect" diners, it seems a waste to assign two brand new diners to this duty (yes, "They also serve who only stand and wait", Milton :D ).

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Why not use the less confusing terminology - "Non-Heritage Diner Fleet"?

 

It is indeed true that 4890 is not new by any reasonable definition of the word "new".

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To operate the Meteor and the Star Amtrak needs 13 dining cars (inlcluding a shop count for when the cars are in for regular inspection, and one "protect" car at each terminal). Apparently with Indianapolis and Annapolis in service... they only have 13 dining cars, because the active Heritage fleet is down to 10.

 

Restoration of dining car service on the LSL would require a total of 17 or 18 dining cars. (Although I query why the Crescent kept its service when the LSL didn't, since the LSL had higher patronage in the dining car....) How early this can happen probably depends on when various Heritage cars come due for inspections. If there are a number which were inspected very recently and are good for a year, they might not *all* be replaced before LSL dining service is restored.

could you please enlighten us on how you got 13 for the star and meteor? my count would be 10, eight in service and two protect. 11 if there is one in maintenance.

 

20% of the time in the shop for inspections and maintenance. This is about right, unfortunately, just based on FRA required inspections (it's slightly higher than the minimum time required by the FRA, as explained to me by someone who detailed all the required inspections). So 8 * 1.2 = 9.6 cars needed. One protect at each of the THREE termini (Miami, New York, and New Orleans) is 3 more (arguably 3 * 1.2 = 3.6). 9.6 + 3 = 12.6, or 9.6 + 3.6 + 13.2. Either way, 13 are needed.

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I am kind-of wondering why the two "protect" diners, which just sit in stand-by at each terminus, couldn't be Heritage diners? I guess in the case of the Silvers, the best two Heritage diners? While I understand the need for two "protect" diners, it seems a waste to assign two brand new diners to this duty (yes, "They also serve who only stand and wait", Milton :D ).

Sure, they can be, if they haven't been retired. So let's compute with the assumption that Amtrak wishes to retire daily-use Heritage cars ASAP but is OK with using them as protect cars. Meteor, Crescent, and LSL == 11 active. 20% shop count adds 2.2, for a total of 13.2 active *Viewliner* dining cars needed, which rounds up to 14. 4 additional protect cars, one at each terminus, could be Heritage cars.

 

We have 2 Viewliner dining cars active. We need 12 more.

 

I am a little surprised that dining car service hasn't been suspended in favor of "diner lite" on the Crescent and I suspect it might be before this winter is over...

 

Anyway, we have 2 Viewliner dining cars (8400 and 68001). 2 more (perhaps 68000 and 68002) will equip the Meteor, except when one is in the shop, which is 20% of the time. For that, another (perhaps 68003) is needed.

 

If 5 more (68004 through 68008) arrive, that would equip the Crescent, with shop count.

If 4 more (68009 through 68012) arrive, that would equip the LSL, with shop count.

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To operate the Meteor and the Star Amtrak needs 13 dining cars (inlcluding a shop count for when the cars are in for regular inspection, and one "protect" car at each terminal). Apparently with Indianapolis and Annapolis in service... they only have 13 dining cars, because the active Heritage fleet is down to 10.

 

Restoration of dining car service on the LSL would require a total of 17 or 18 dining cars. (Although I query why the Crescent kept its service when the LSL didn't, since the LSL had higher patronage in the dining car....) How early this can happen probably depends on when various Heritage cars come due for inspections. If there are a number which were inspected very recently and are good for a year, they might not *all* be replaced before LSL dining service is restored.

could you please enlighten us on how you got 13 for the star and meteor? my count would be 10, eight in service and two protect. 11 if there is one in maintenance.

 

20% of the time in the shop for inspections and maintenance. This is about right, unfortunately, just based on FRA required inspections (it's slightly higher than the minimum time required by the FRA, as explained to me by someone who detailed all the required inspections). So 8 * 1.2 = 9.6 cars needed. One protect at each of the THREE termini (Miami, New York, and New Orleans) is 3 more (arguably 3 * 1.2 = 3.6). 9.6 + 3 = 12.6, or 9.6 + 3.6 + 13.2. Either way, 13 are needed.

 

There is no protect car kept at NOL.

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I don't think they have any intention of retiring 8400.

Then why can't it be counted in as part of the new diner car fleet?

Because it isn't new?

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I don't think they have any intention of retiring 8400.

Then why can't it be counted in as part of the new diner car fleet?
Because it isn't new?

But it was overhauled for this specific purpose was it not?

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I don't think they have any intention of retiring 8400.

Then why can't it be counted in as part of the new diner car fleet?
Because it isn't new?

But it was overhauled for this specific purpose was it not?

 

 

Dining car 8400 was restored to service for the explicit purpose of having sufficient diners available to cover eastern (single-level) train assignments; This actually isn't the first time the Lake Shore Limited (or Silver Star, in the 90's) has been without a dining car, nor is the Heritage diner shortage completely new. It was originally one of three prototype Viewliner cars from the late 1980's. The fact it was overhauled and returned to service doesn't make it either new or part of the Viewliner II fleet.

 

That doesn't mean it isn't a good car, that it isn't part of the diner fleet, or that will necessarily be retired. All it means is that it isn't a newly built Viewliner II. Amtrak also has five ex-Santa Fe Hi-level cars in service on the Coast Starlight. They were overhauled (more than once) for the purpose they now serve; No one is arguing that somehow makes them Superliners.

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IMHO, it is perfectly reasonable to include 8400 as being part of the Viewliner diner car fleet. Whether like it or not, that's Amtrak's plans for this diner.

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You left out an important word.

 

 

I don't think they have any intention of retiring 8400.

Then why can't it be counted in as part of the new diner car fleet?

 

Nobody is saying that it isn't a part of the Viewliner fleet.

 

It's not new, though. It is literally one of the oldest Viewliners in existence.

 

I'm utterly amazed at how difficult this concept is for some people to grasp.

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To operate the Meteor and the Star Amtrak needs 13 dining cars (inlcluding a shop count for when the cars are in for regular inspection, and one "protect" car at each terminal). Apparently with Indianapolis and Annapolis in service... they only have 13 dining cars, because the active Heritage fleet is down to 10.

 

Restoration of dining car service on the LSL would require a total of 17 or 18 dining cars. (Although I query why the Crescent kept its service when the LSL didn't, since the LSL had higher patronage in the dining car....) How early this can happen probably depends on when various Heritage cars come due for inspections. If there are a number which were inspected very recently and are good for a year, they might not *all* be replaced before LSL dining service is restored.

could you please enlighten us on how you got 13 for the star and meteor? my count would be 10, eight in service and two protect. 11 if there is one in maintenance.

 

20% of the time in the shop for inspections and maintenance. This is about right, unfortunately, just based on FRA required inspections (it's slightly higher than the minimum time required by the FRA, as explained to me by someone who detailed all the required inspections). So 8 * 1.2 = 9.6 cars needed. One protect at each of the THREE termini (Miami, New York, and New Orleans) is 3 more (arguably 3 * 1.2 = 3.6). 9.6 + 3 = 12.6, or 9.6 + 3.6 + 13.2. Either way, 13 are needed.

 

There is no protect car kept at NOL.

 

Why on Earth does the Crescent still have dining car service? They can't rely on it northbound (if something goes wrong, no protect car). The ridership is very low south of Atlanta, leading to poor utilization.

 

Bluntly, allocation of the remaining dining cars to the Crescent rather than the LSL smells like a hasty action done without forethought or analysis. I suppose they're swapping LSL sets south to the Silver Star still? They could swap the LSL sets with Crescent sets just as well, so this smacks of laziness in management.

 

I don't know who in Amtrak management is ultimately responsible for such decisions (besides the CEO) but after following this sort of nonsense for years I'm pretty sure I could do better. Maybe the problem is that these decisions aren't made by one person; they are CEO-level decisions but I don't get the impression that Boardman personally looked into the details. We may be getting the management-by-committee failure mode?

Edited by neroden

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I would assume it is assigned to the Crescent because of the length of the trip compared to LSL. Also, there is no spare Diner kept in Chi to replace a shopped car either, so same situation would apply.

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I am almost certain that the CEO is not the primary decision maker of which trains get the Diner. It is most likely the operations guy. Afterall as rumors go the CEO inly came to know after the fact the decision about Diners on the Star.

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That list might very well grow in the short term.

 

Hmm...Heritage diners approaching due dates for major work, perhaps before there are enough Viewliners to cover assignments?

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Gads ! What adolescent arguments. It will be 25 V-2 diners ; 1 V-1 diner, And depending on how the Heritage diners hold up any where from 0 - 8 on protect status until enough V-2 diners are in service.a

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My understanding is that the serviceable Heritage fleet is down to 9 now, for a total fleet of 11.

 

The serviceable fleet has yet to change. There have been no official retirements in months. Indeed, I believe one of the diners that was out for some time was just ok'd.

 

Why on Earth does the Crescent still have dining car service? They can't rely on it northbound (if something goes wrong, no protect car). The ridership is very low south of Atlanta, leading to poor utilization.

 

 

 

Bluntly, allocation of the remaining dining cars to the Crescent rather than the LSL smells like a hasty action done without forethought or analysis. I suppose they're swapping LSL sets south to the Silver Star still? They could swap the LSL sets with Crescent sets just as well, so this smacks of laziness in management.

 

 

 

I would assume it is assigned to the Crescent because of the length of the trip compared to LSL. Also, there is no spare Diner kept in Chi to replace a shopped car either, so same situation would apply.

 

The main factor as OBS mentioned is Crescent serves more meals than the LSL due to the length and timing of the trip.

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I am almost certain that the CEO is not the primary decision maker of which trains get the Diner. It is most likely the operations guy. Afterall as rumors go the CEO inly came to know after the fact the decision about Diners on the Star.

Or what Amtrak promised the congressional representative from the appropriate district to trade for a positive vote for funding! :)

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