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ChuckL

PPC Status on Coast Starlight

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In the recent post on 14 being stuck on the Cuesta Grade, the OP mentioned that it did not have a PPC on it. Was this just a fluke or has Amtrak removed the PPC's from the CS again for "maintenance?" What have some of the recent riders experienced regarding this?

 

 

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Edited by ChuckL

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In the recent post on 14 being stuck on the Cuesta Grade, the OP mentioned that it did not have a PPC on it. Was this just a fluke or has Amtrak removed the PPC's from the CS again for "maintenance?" What have some of the recent riders experienced regarding this?

 

 

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Occasionally, the PPC may be missing due to a variety of circumstances such as a "bad-ordered" car.

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Those cars were really built well. They are 50-60 years old and still chug all those miles. I have not heard about more on order and when they are gone, I suspect they will be really gone. Compared to a DC-10, which is sitting somewhere waiting for the scrap heap, train cars are a much better buy!

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I'm still trying to find out if recent (perhaps in the last month) passengers had PPC service or not. If not, were PPC amenities (e.g. meals , wine tasting) offered in another location such as the dining car or SSL car?

 

 

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The car shells themselves will last essentially forever. The problem is all the support systems, such as AC, and the mechanics. I have a friend who knows someone who works logistics at Amtrak and from what I understand, if the truck frames ever crack (and truck frames do crack), that is pretty much then end. Those truck frames haven't been available in decades.

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The car shells themselves will last essentially forever. The problem is all the support systems, such as AC, and the mechanics. I have a friend who knows someone who works logistics at Amtrak and from what I understand, if the truck frames ever crack (and truck frames do crack), that is pretty much then end. Those truck frames haven't been available in decades.

 

From reports, Amtrak apparently intends to convert five Superliner Cross Country Cafe cars into replacement Pacific Parlor Cars, though did specifically note that further rebuild of the existing Parlors would also be evaluated.

 

Though my guess would be for the Superliner rebuild option to come out on top, would it really be a 'deal killer' to have to re-truck the cars (presumably with a 'standard' design truck)?

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I think the issue is everything related to the trucks that the truck design was engineered to handle. I am not sure you could put a different truck design in there without more extensive re-engineering.

 

If push came to shove,Beech Grove could actually reverse engineer the trucks and cast new ones. They have (or had) the physical shop capability to cast truck frames. I have no idea of what would be involved in designing and making the tooling to do that, though, especially for only 5 cars.

 

I've been on the Starlight when the Diner Lounges (the actual name of the "cross country cafes") subbed for the PPCs and they are a very poor substitute. The main problem in my view is that the service counter faces away from the main seating area, and the lounge area at the service counter is tiny (4 tables). People did not hang out like they did in the regular PPCs or even in an SSL. They really should have taken something like SP's Sunset Coffee Shop-Lounges as the pattern where the lounge service counter was at one end of the car, facing inwards. I can't see Amtrak spending money to extensively re-do the interior layout of the Diner-Lounges, maybe some frills, but not the basic layaout.

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I'm still trying to find out if recent (perhaps in the last month) passengers had PPC service or not. If not, were PPC amenities (e.g. meals , wine tasting) offered in another location such as the dining car or SSL car?

 

 

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I, and others on AU, have been in the PPC in the last 3 weeks.

 

 

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Its not the durability. Lets say it costs me $270 million to buy a Boeing 777-200ER (source google, USA Today, no idea of validity) and a plane has a useful life of 20 years. So procurement costing is $13.5 million per year. If I fly that aircraft between New York and Denver 2 round trips a day, at $200 average ticket price, 85% full, I carry 272 Pax 4 times for a per diem revenue of $217k, and assume it flies 330 days a year, that is $71 million in annual revenue. I suspect that the entire Hi-level lounge fleet hasnt generated $71 million in revenue in its entire existence.

 

That means the revenue over 20 years is ~$1.4 billion. The PPCs are nice and all, but the basis of superior revenue versus a properly utilized wide body aircraft is ludicrous.

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Good for you buddy!

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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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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.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

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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Edited by ChuckL

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Who has those these days, that outfit in Illinois?

 

Yes, those trucks ought to work. The Hi Level diners had 6 wheel trucks but the lounges should be the same trucks as the coaches.

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Who has those these days, that outfit in Illinois?

 

Yes, those trucks ought to work. The Hi Level diners had 6 wheel trucks but the lounges should be the same trucks as the coaches.

I wondered if and who might have that stock. I have fond memories of riding the El Capitan with my grandmother in 1968 for my very first train trip!

 

 

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The PPCs are the much-changed lounge cars from the El Capitan, the "Top O' the Cap" (upstairs) and "Kachina Coffee Shop" (downstairs). Not that the interiors look anything at all like they did in Santa Fe service.

Edited by zephyr17

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To further the huge difference between planes and train cars, airlines acquire and dispose of aircraft much more freely than Amtrak can rail cars. More than age, it is an economic and/or competitive decision, not political. Fuel prices rise sharply and less fuel efficient planes go away, if the value falls sharply enough on a series of used planes, an airline may find them cheap enough to buy and operate anyway (like MD-90 a Delta) interest rates matter tremendously. Planes can be maintained and keep flying for very long times, but become more and more expensive to maintain, often tipping the scale to replacement, or re purposing as a freighter (lower utilization cycles extend life and maintenance costs drop) and finally, the decision to bring in new planes may be to match competitors upgrades in equipment or amenities on a route, the finance and marketing folks scrutinize the upgrade vs replace options very carefully. And like in every other business, it doesn't always work out the way they thought it would.....

Edited by PVD

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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.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

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?

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

 

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.

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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.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

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?

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

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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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!

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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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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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