Is the lounge car important to you or your trip?

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by Thirdrail7, Sep 18, 2019.

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  1. Sep 18, 2019 #26

    Dakota 400

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    Would the lack of a lounge car prevent me from traveling on Amtrak? No.
    Would the lack of a lounge car be disappointing to me? Yes. I enjoy Amtrak as compared to flying because of the potential for friendly social interaction among one's fellow passengers. I have met interesting people sitting in the SSL or the cafe car. If food is available to be purchased in whatever lounge car it may be, tables must be provided. With the train's motion, having to carry those cardboard boxes containing drinks and food and needing to use two hands to hold the box is asking for someone to get hurt or for the contents to be spilled.

    For whatever reason the "techies" may have, sitting for any period of time solely occupying a table working on a laptop, phone, etc. and preventing others from using that table for their own purposes, i.e. sightseeing, eating/drinking, etc. deprives me of "my right" to be able to use the lounge car for the purpose for which it was built.
     
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  2. Sep 18, 2019 #27

    Qapla

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    For some, those who live in rural areas and have for most/all their lives, looking out the windows at all the buildings, roads, traffic and crowded cityscape - the view between PHL and NYP is something to look at - it is certainly different than the view out the window of the Silvers between PAK and ORL
     
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  3. Sep 18, 2019 #28

    Dakota 400

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    I agree.
     
  4. Sep 18, 2019 #29

    BoulderCO

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    I would not use Amtrak if the lounge car goes away.

    All of my Amtrak travel has been via coach on SuperLiners. Sleep in my coach seat, of course, but other than sleeping typically spend 80% of my time in Lounge car or Dining car and only 20% in my seat.
     
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  5. Sep 18, 2019 #30

    PaTrainFan

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    Sadly, this is likely to be the case. I wouldn't be surprised if the SSLs are eliminated, and I enjoy what little time I spend in the it. On eastern trains, I couldn't care less about being in the lounge but support their existence. I just have issues with those who hog seats for hours on end, but that's not germane to this discusssion...
     
  6. Sep 18, 2019 #31

    SarahZ

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    Not really. My laptop is small (13") and still takes up the entire tray table. That leaves no room for a beverage, and if someone is referencing notes or a book, it becomes pretty cramped.

    When I traveled to Chicago nearly every weekend during grad school, I was so grateful for the cafe car. I always made sure to take up as close to 1/4 of the table as possible and indicated to those looking for a seat that they were welcome to sit at my table. Since I was eating and drinking at the time, I didn't feel that I was taking up space unnecessarily and/or depriving anyone of their "right" to use the tables.
     
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  7. Sep 18, 2019 #32

    SarahZ

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    SSL: Definitely keep. It allows coach passengers a chance to escape an undesirable seat partner, it allows those in roomettes to see out both sides of the train, and it's great for groups who want to play cards or board games. It's also a nice place to sit and eat if you're in coach and don't want to balance everything on your tray table.

    Regionals: I like having the tables in the cafe car. For my home route in particular, there are a lot of students and families traveling back and forth, but it's mostly students. I often see a mix of students working on homework and families playing games or coloring.

    I can't speak to the Acelas, as I haven't traveled on one yet.

    Would I still use Amtrak if they got rid of the lounge cars? Of course. I wouldn't like it, but I wouldn't stop riding.
     
  8. Sep 19, 2019 #33

    Maglev

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    I think lounges have always been important and will continue to be so. A lot of Amtrak's lounge cars date to an era when there were actually lounges on airplanes (some 747's initially had lounges for both coach and first-class). Nowadays, lounges for premium passengers in airports and at train stations seem to be de rigueur. Amtrak is down-grading food service, but preserving or expanding lounge car options.
     
  9. Sep 19, 2019 #34

    Sauve850

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    I don't use the SSL on my cross country long distance trips much. I prefer the quiet of my bedroom to the crowds and noise that many times are present. I could live without SSL. I have taken several trips with sleeper lounges. I find I do take my time during and after my meal looking out the windows. I enjoy the "lounge " part of it.
     
  10. Sep 19, 2019 #35

    me_little_me

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    Lounge Car important? No, it's critical. Any ride over 5 hours needs a decent one.

    Sure, they may be eliminated on high speed trains, given they are fast enough to make the trip less than 5 hours. But high speed trains that don't run at high speeds and take too long are not good for long intercity travel. So if the Carolinian was replaced by a high speed train still going between Charlotte and NY, it would have to be so much better than the 13 hour Carolinian with its crappy cafe that I would have my doubts we'll ever see it. That's why I don't drive to Charlotte to take it but pay much more for the overnight Crescent out of Greenville.
    Note: I wouldn't count overnight hours in a sleeper towards my 5 hour limit. If the diner (now called improperly IMHO diner-lounge) were removed from the Crescent, I'd either reluctantly do BC from Cary (after an overnight in a hotel) or the Silver Star from Cary in a daytime roomette or if it had BC (but either only if I were going no further than DC or, more likely, do FC on a plane from my home location.
     
  11. Sep 19, 2019 #36

    Larry H.

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    First of all we haven't really seen a true lounge car since the death of the long distance trains built in the 50's.. I loved walking into the first class lounge and having large mohair sofa's facing the windows and attractive groupings of smaller arm chairs with cushions and often a lamp on one of the tables. Some trains had a writing desk with post cards for free and a bookcase full of magazines and books to pass the time. The plastic seats of the newer lounges just seemed cold to me.. What I really wish is if they are going actually keep using the new diners as lounges that they take out some of the table space and make friendly seating areas so it resembles a lounge. I was never so disappointed as in riding the lake shore only to find the lounge was really old amfleet diner. One would think of routes where a lot of people travel it would behove amtrak to provide more appealing seating that an old diner, and one with such low ceiling over the window areas at that.
     
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  12. Sep 19, 2019 #37

    Lonestar648

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    I use the SSL a lot to relax and watch the views. Sometimes a conversation at a meal, continues in the SSL. I find the Cafe on the LSL, Crescent, or the non sleeper trains, has limited space due to the crew and some who just camp out, These just are not the same atmosphere as the SSL.
     
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  13. Sep 19, 2019 #38

    jiml

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    I don't think the SSL's are going anywhere on Western trains. One could argue their relative value on the Capitol, Auto Train and City, which only leaves extras for new more scenic routes.;) A food-service car of some sort - whether a lounge or down-graded diner - is still required on all trains over a certain distance. (Even budget airlines realize that if you have a captive audience it makes sense to at least offer beverages.) If that service is to be provided from a single car and they're not adding a flexible diner to trains that don't have one, then the lounge car remains the only viable solution. Maybe we see more half-lounge configurations with Business Class or coach seating, but it would be tough to completely eliminate them.
     
  14. Sep 19, 2019 #39

    MARC Rider

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    Who says the Capitol Limited has no scenery? The entire eastbound run from whenever it gets light to Rockville is scenic.
     
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  15. Sep 19, 2019 #40

    jiml

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    I don't think anyone, including myself, is saying that. Having done the route several times on both single-level and Superliner trains, I quite like the scenery. However, it is not scenery that requires a glass roof - i.e. not mountains. The view is great from any car with large side windows. If there were to be a shortage of, or need for, Sightseer Lounges elsewhere those are the 3 routes with the lowest priority.
     
  16. Sep 19, 2019 #41

    Manny T

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    Lounge cars are a relic and I'm a relic, so I love the lounge car. But from what I can see while observing other (younger) people, life consists of looking at a screen these days--laptop, phone, wearing ear buds, doing work, watching movies--who looks out the window anymore?

    I suspect lounges served their purposes in days of yore, when people had no "personal electronic devices" to keep them permanently occupied on long trips--they needed to look out the window or TALK TO OTHER PEOPLE to keep themselves occupied. Not anymore. So it wouldn't surprise me if non-revenue generating "lounge" cars are phased out. I'd miss them, like I miss every other amenity that has been taken away.
     
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  17. Sep 19, 2019 #42

    Skyline

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    Socialization is an important aspect of train travel. More so than any other travel venue except possibly a water cruise. Lounge, dining, cafe, and dome cars are where socialization happens. They are all needed -- especially on trips of over 200 miles.
     
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  18. Sep 19, 2019 #43

    Skyline

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    I recall a mouse infestation in the '80s. Hasn't that been resolved?
     
  19. Sep 19, 2019 #44

    crescent-zephyr

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    Other than dome cars, pre-Amtrak lounge cars typically faced the seats away from the windows. Most old photos show men and women reading newspapers or magazines in the lounge.

    I still think the Amtrak designed ssl is one of the best lounge cars ever designed. As much as I love dome cars, unless you get the lucky front seat, your still turning your head quite a bit to look out vs. the way you can look out on a ssl.
     
  20. Sep 19, 2019 #45

    TiBike

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    What's not to like about a lounge car? That said, if getting rid of lounge cars streamlines operations and even marginally improves on time performance and/or the onboard environment (e.g. cleanliness, modern amenities), I'm all for it. It might be an indirect effect – eliminating a class of cars means more attention and resources can be applied to those remaining – but that's fine.

    Over the past year or so, I've taken intercity trains in Japan, China and Europe. Including several trips over flyable distances and a 24-hour sleeper trip in China (in a compartment with 4 bunks). Not a single train had a lounge car or dining car. Only the sleeper had something that could be described as a cafe. But every one was clean, staff was efficient and polite, and OTP was within seconds of schedule or, at most, off by a handful of minutes. That's how a passenger railroad should be run.
     
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  21. Sep 19, 2019 #46

    railiner

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    There were a handful of pre-Amtrak observation cars, either round end or flat, that had some of its seats facing out the windows....
     
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  22. Sep 19, 2019 #47

    crescent-zephyr

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    I know the Milwaukee Road and Burlington had lounges with swivel chairs that could rotate either way... kinda like the old purple chairs of the ppc.

    Oh.... as for us young people always looking down at our phones and not enjoying the lounge.... here’s a photo of the original Santa Fe hi-level lounge.... people have always enjoyed reading things when in the lounge.... just replace all those magazines with tablets and you’ve got today!
     

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  23. Sep 19, 2019 #48

    jis

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    That is consistent with the situation in India. There is exactly one regional train left that has a Restaurant Car to maintain a long time tradition, and that is the Deccan Queen between Mumbai CSMT (formerly Bombay Victoria Terminus) and Pune. Most trains that have infrequent stops carry a Pantry Car, which often has a Buffet Counter, and a full kitchen for preparing meals for AC First Class passengers. It also has the food storage space for prepackaged meals to be served to all other classes carried by the train. Most prestige overnight trains carry only Sleeping accommodation, typically 20-22 cars of them plus 2 or 3 service cars (Bag/Generator, Pantry etc.). The push in India has been to remove service cars and replace them with passenger carrying cars in any way possible.

    But bottom line, no Lounge cars in general. There are a couple of daytime trains through especially scenic areas that carry a car that could be characterized as a Lounge Car with huge windows. But those are few and far between.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2019
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  24. Sep 19, 2019 #49

    Rasputin

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    Please don't give Amtrak management any more ideas about how they can remove any additional speck of enjoyment for long distance rail passengers. They are doing a good enough job in this regard on their own.
     
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  25. Sep 19, 2019 #50

    Devil's Advocate

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    It would probably be easier if you simply told us whatever service/amenity you're not willing to throw away at the drop of a hat, if anything.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2019
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