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Guest John Stutts

Order of Amtrak Cars on California Zephyr

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Guest John Stutts

Hello. We were planning a trip on the California Zephyr from Emeryville to Chicago, and I had a random question: What is the order of the train cars. I was wondering if the car order is always the same, or if it changes every time. This is what I think:

 

1. Locomotive

2. Baggage Car (I am sure about these two)

After those two, the train is made up of Superliner cars. I was wondering if the third and fourth cars were the dining and lounge cars, or if the dining cars were in the middle. I assume the rest of the cars are coach and sleeper cars.

Thanks,

John.

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The consists do change seasonally for the CZ and some of the eastern trains. Around mid January after all the holiday travel peak, the CZ sleepers are moved to the front following the transition sleeper and then the dining car, sightseer lounge and coaches. That arrangement usually lasts until close to Memorial Day in late May when the sleepers are returned to the rear of the train and the consist is engines, baggage, transition car, coaches, sightseer lounge, dining car, and the sleepers.

Edited by Tennessee Traveler

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The consists do change seasonally for the CZ and some of the eastern trains. Around mid January after all the holiday travel peak, the CZ sleepers are moved to the front following the transition sleeper and then the dining car, sightseer lounge and coaches. That arrangement usually lasts until close to Memorial Day in late May when the sleepers are returned to the rear of the train and the consist is engines, baggage, transition car, coaches, sightseer lounge, dining car, and the sleepers.

 

Why is the order of the cars a seasonal thing?

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During the off season there are only two Sleepers and two Coaches, but with the coaches on the rear, it is easy to add a coach during the off season. For the busy season, the Sleepers are on the end so an additional sleeper can be added. When we traveled on the CZ it had the three Coaches up front and three sleepers on the rear. I have also traveled during the off season with two coaches on the rear and two sleepers up front.

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The consists do change seasonally for the CZ and some of the eastern trains. Around mid January after all the holiday travel peak, the CZ sleepers are moved to the front following the transition sleeper and then the dining car, sightseer lounge and coaches. That arrangement usually lasts until close to Memorial Day in late May when the sleepers are returned to the rear of the train and the consist is engines, baggage, transition car, coaches, sightseer lounge, dining car, and the sleepers.

 

Why is the order of the cars a seasonal thing?

 

During the busy, high-season non-winter months the CZ is more likely to need an extra sleeper car.

Having the sleepers at the end of the consist makes it ez-peezy to add a sleeper to the consist.

During low-season it is more likely they would need to add a coach car so the coach cars are placed at the end of the consist in low-season.

 

As mentioned above, in low season 1 sleeper and 1 coach car are eliminated from the consist.

Edited by KmH

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Guest Amtraker

I am not sure I follow the logic behind switching the sleepers back and forth. The consist is assembled on the day of the departure and Amtrak knows exactly how many sleeper and coach pax will be riding. It is not likely that they leave CHI and suddenly find themselves needing another coach car for 50 more pax in KCY.

 

I always pay extra and book roomette for the privacy and comfort but I am pretty annoyed by the horn when the sleepers are in the front.

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The CZ has 6 train sets.

 

Once a train set has run the route round trip and is back in Chicago the set stays together, unless one or more cars need to be switched out because it's due for routine maintenance or needs a repair that can't be done before that train set has to depart Chicago again the next day.

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It is looking like 2018 may be first year of NOT DOING THE SEASONAL CHANGE. As of this Memorial Day, the sleepers(3 of them) are still in the front of the consist. In previous years the movement of the sleepers to the rear was before Memorial Day weekend. With the basic configuration including 3 sleepers and 3 coaches in summer consist and 2 sleepers and 2 coaches in other seasons, there is no reason for this seasonal change. All other Chicago west Superliner trains run the sleepers in the front year round and the sleepers up front are right behind the transition crew sleeper in which Amtrak now sells some roomettes in if the other sleepers are full. Leaving the sleepers in front year round keeps the sleepers with the transition crew sleeper. If the change is not made by early June, I suspect the Zephyr will be going to the sleepers first consist year round.

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I will be on the CZ CHI - DEN next Tuesday, returning Saturday. I'll try and walk the trains and report in.

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The cost of changing the 6 consists twice a year could be a factor under Anderson. Switching the three sleeper, the Dining Car, the SSL, and the three coaches is time consuming since each type has to be repositioned.

 

E,E,B,Trans,SL,SL,SL,DC,SSL,C,C,C To. E,E,B,Trans, C,C,C,SSL,DC,SL,SL,SL.

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There have been times on the CZ when the add/drop of a car was not at the endpoint, Denver as an example.

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Yep.

During high season they often ran an additional sleeper just between CHI & DEN, uncoupled it there at DEN, and then coupled it to the #6 heading back towards CHI later in the day.

Then they stopped doing that and just pulled the extra sleeper the entire route in both directions.

 

Now when they sell out the 3 regular sleepers they're just Sold Out.

I think it's because, from what I've read, even sold out Superliner sleeper cars don't pay for themselves.

Edited by KmH

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This past summer on the CZ, all three Sleepers were occupied almost the entire trip, I purposely took notice since we walked through all three for our meals and when we went to the SSL. I know every coach seat was sold and resold throughout the entire trip because the conductors had to tell those in Coach all seats were sold for those getting off. The train was packed, as was the Dining Car, and the SSL (we never could get a seat). Talking with the Conductors, they both stated that on some of the CZ runs they felt an additional coach and sleeper could be sold out.

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Guest X

The cost of changing the 6 consists twice a year could be a factor under Anderson. Switching the three sleeper, the Dining Car, the SSL, and the three coaches is time consuming since each type has to be repositioned.

 

E,E,B,Trans,SL,SL,SL,DC,SSL,C,C,C To. E,E,B,Trans, C,C,C,SSL,DC,SL,SL,SL.

Normal practice is to cut "E,E,B,Trans", wye them, put them back on the other end of the train, then flip the coach seats around.

 

So it's really not that bad.

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The cost of changing the 6 consists twice a year could be a factor under Anderson. Switching the three sleeper, the Dining Car, the SSL, and the three coaches is time consuming since each type has to be repositioned.

 

E,E,B,Trans,SL,SL,SL,DC,SSL,C,C,C To. E,E,B,Trans, C,C,C,SSL,DC,SL,SL,SL.

Normal practice is to cut "E,E,B,Trans", wye them, put them back on the other end of the train, then flip the coach seats around.

 

So it's really not that bad.

 

You being sarcastic?

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No, he’s explaining to you how the world works. Pay attention and learn something.

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It's a hell of a lot easier to just detach/attach a car or two, than to wye them, put 'em at the other end of the train, and flip the seats. You can't deny that much (I don't know why I said that. you will deny it).

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It's a hell of a lot easier to just detach/attach a car or two, than to wye them, put 'em at the other end of the train, and flip the seats. You can't deny that much (I don't know why I said that. you will deny it).

And you know this how?

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It's a hell of a lot easier to just detach/attach a car or two, than to wye them, put 'em at the other end of the train, and flip the seats. You can't deny that much (I don't know why I said that. you will deny it).

And you know this how?

Any time you can avoid running the wye is a good day. And for the record anyone who turns seats on a regular basis can flip them pretty fast. When it's been two of us flipping an excursion consist. As long as the seats are maintained as far as the mechanism. No reason you can't turn the car in under three minutes.

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It's a hell of a lot easier to just detach/attach a car or two, than to wye them, put 'em at the other end of the train, and flip the seats. You can't deny that much (I don't know why I said that. you will deny it).

It's not a comparison between attaching and detaching a car or two.

 

He's talking about how they execute the twice-annual rotation of the consist from sleepers first to coaches first.

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It's a hell of a lot easier to just detach/attach a car or two, than to wye them, put 'em at the other end of the train, and flip the seats. You can't deny that much (I don't know why I said that. you will deny it).

It's not a comparison between attaching and detaching a car or two.

 

He's talking about how they execute the twice-annual rotation of the consist from sleepers first to coaches first.

 

Oh, sorry. Well in that case, everything I said is nonsense. I guess I'm pretty freaking out of it today. :huh:

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