Why do Amtrak trains have such tiny windows?

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by Sandy McBride, Aug 17, 2013.

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  1. Aug 17, 2013 #1
    I have often wondered why Amtrak trains have such tiny windows. The trains that I frequent use are the Northeast Regionals and other short/medium-haul trains on the East Coast.

    Are the windows so small because of the safety regulations or technical limitations in the 1970s? I'm assuming those train cars were all from that era, no?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Aug 17, 2013 #2

    sportbiker

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    As I understand it, the Amfleets common in the east were designed to mimic the aesthetics of an airliner, thinking that was the "modern" way of things. As part of that aesthetic, they used windows smaller than commonly found on other coach designs.

    Newer designs have abandoned that mimicry, but given the long life of Budd products (the bulder of the Amfleets), you can expect to peer through those smaller windows for many years to come.
     
  3. Aug 17, 2013 #3

    Guest

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    I would say that Amtrak's Amfleet windows are larger than even the large windows featured in the new Boeing 787.
     
  4. Aug 17, 2013 #4
    wow... I'm glad they didn't decide to mimic the design of the Concorde.(another product of the 1960s/1970s) :) The windows on the Concorde is about the size of the iPad. :(
     
  5. Aug 17, 2013 #5

    rrdude

    rrdude

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    Because the Amtrak president at the time, came from the airline industry, and he wanted his trains to "look like planes". Hell, I dunno, but that's been one of my pet peeves ever since they accepted those Am(trash)Cans. (I kno, I kno, they are/were at least "reliable" compared to the what Amtrak inherited.....) but look at the windows on the old RTG Turbos, or the Talgos, or almost any European train.

    What is one MAIN reason people take trains? (Outside of NEC and corridors?) ask them, and they will tell you, "To see the country/scenery/landscape/mountains/beaches, etc., etc., etc."

    Amtrak screwed the pooch on windows, even on Superliners. (They are pretty small for the scenery they travel) and why don't/didn't they put windows on the roof/wall of diners? (Like SSL cars) It's not like they need to keep thm dark at night? And two sets of windows on sleepers, like the New(er) Viewliners....

    I'm guessing some engineer will reply something about safety and side-body strength, .........hogwash.....
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 17, 2013
  6. Aug 17, 2013 #6

    rrdude

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    Can't think of the last time I, or anyone I have ever met, took a flight on an airliner to look out the window.....?
     
  7. Aug 17, 2013 #7

    MrFSS

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    Ha! I refuse to fly unless I have a window seat.

    LINK
     
  8. Aug 17, 2013 #8

    Anderson

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    Last time I remember really enjoying flying was...well, sometime in the 90s, when I got to see a thunderstorm from above. But I agree...I don't like the small windows.

    One of the problems with the nicer diner windows you mention is that they are not cheap, at least as I understand it. I am hopeful that future coach orders will have bigger windows...but this was one of the biggest policy errors Amtrak has made. It's not quite SDS, but it's close.

    By the way, would I be right in thinking that the Metroliner windows on the original Metroliners were about the size of Amfleet windows? If so, this "brilliance" can be chalked up to all the other idiocy at the Pennsy/Penn Central in the late 60s, since the Amfleets were supposed to be more-or-less copies of Metroliners without the EMU "capability".
     
  9. Aug 17, 2013 #9

    zephyr17

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    Amfleet pretty much used Metroliner designs, so we can blame the Pennsy.
     
  10. Aug 17, 2013 #10

    rrdude

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    And I may be long-in-the-tooth, but I'm pretty sure the press panned the small windows of the Metroliner when they appeared too, but were soon "silenced" when some Metroliner trains ran opposite of some of the older coaches at speed, and some of the windows in the old(er) coaches "popped out".

    I dispise the Amfleet equipment, all aspects, inside, windows, curvature, bathrooms, no loading door for cafe, no WINDOWS in cafe area, no cafe "feel", seats.

    A few good things: P.A. system, train-lined doors, and most importanty, RELIABILITY. Man they were built to last, and are easy to fix.
     
  11. Aug 17, 2013 #11

    winterskigirl

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    The Talgo has the best viewing IMO of all Amtrak trains.
     
  12. Aug 17, 2013 #12

    AmtrakBlue

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    Same here (though I did get stuck in the middle seat once...but I was going out to meet my newborn grandson, so I "put up with it").
     
  13. Aug 17, 2013 #13

    Bob Dylan

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    I agree but the Superliner Cars and the PPC on the Starlight have pretty nice Windows as do the Viewliners and the One Dome Car that Amtrak still Runs!
     
  14. Aug 17, 2013 #14

    MrMattyMatt

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    It begs this question: I have yet to travel in a viewliner sleeping accommodation, but do people really use the upper birth windows?
     
  15. Aug 17, 2013 #15

    Bob Dylan

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    I prefer the Upper Bunk in a Viewliner Roomette even when traveling by myself since you can leave the Seats in Day Configuration, keep your stuff Down Below, and still see out the Window! Its 1000% better than the Coffin in a Superliner Roomette! ;)
     
  16. Aug 17, 2013 #16

    JayPea

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    Whenever the option is possible, I always request a window seat. And on airlines that don't offer the ability to request certain seats, I will walk to the back of the plane if necessary to get a window seat.
     
  17. Aug 17, 2013 #17

    TVRM610

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    It's just the Amfleet I's that have windows that are too small. The Amfleet II are the same size as Viewliners.

    Now personally, the only windows big enough for me are the sightseer windows. Ha.
     
  18. Aug 17, 2013 #18

    AmtrakBlue

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    For my trip back last August, I was booked in a middle seat (because of late booking) and asked at the gate for a window seat if one opened up due to no-show or upgrade. One did open up, but I was warned that it was the last row and therefore I would not be able to recline. Told her that didn't matter because my nose would be glued to the window. :D Yes, those are probably my nose prints you see on the windows. :ph34r:
     
  19. Aug 17, 2013 #19

    rrdude

    rrdude

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    Look, I "too" like window seats on planes, but for how long? Take off and Landing. That's about it. Storms are cool, as is the Grand Canyon. But the last week years, I prefer a aisle seat, for legs.

    Now, if we were talking the Hindenburg, I would DEMAND a window seat. Are you all aware that the Zeppelin company is building some slightly larger airships? (up to 12 pax) btw, they are also (sad, sad, sad) building the new "Blimps" for Goodyear. (they aren't really "Blimps" anymore, are they, since they have an internal structure)
     
  20. Aug 18, 2013 #20

    Swadian Hardcore

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    It was just the Pennsy trying to make their Metroliners look like the shuttle planes that flew the NEC. But it didn't work, 'cause the PRR went bankrupt (as Penn Central) anyway. Greyhound's MC-7 and MC-8 buses from the same time period didn't go with the flow of the planes, instead they made windows bigger and bigger.

    Me too! I hated my flight in the "middle-middle" seat of an United 77E. Not again!
     
  21. Aug 18, 2013 #21

    AlanB

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    Because unlike a Sightseer lounge where you can get up and move if the sun in your face becomes a problem, you cannot do that in the dining car. And I can assure you that this is a problem with the Viewliner diner as well; which is why they're considering curtains for the upper windows! But the curved roof of the Superliner makes that much harder.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 18, 2013
  22. Aug 18, 2013 #22

    Swadian Hardcore

    Swadian Hardcore

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    I forgot about that annoyance. They do need those curtains on the upper windows after all. I've faced this problem a few time on Greyhound, but expecially on Megebus. Those huge one-piece windows on the Megabus thrun into a dangerous major problem. No more Megabus for me, only Amtrak or Greyhound now!
     
  23. Aug 18, 2013 #23

    railiner

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    The Amfleet I was built to cost-effectively utilize the contemporary engineering of the MU Metroliner car bodies, which are very strong, and built for high speed use. Since the carbodies have curved walls, it would have been difficult to make the straight windows any higher. The Amfleet II's were re-engineered somewhat to allow somewhat taller windows.

    Since the primary mission of the "Corridor Cars" (Metroliner's) was to operate primarily in the NEC, where scenery was not much of a factor, the smaller windows were considered sufficient for the purpose. They had the added benefit of being smaller (and sturdier) targets for rock-throwing vandals, which were common along the right-of-way of the period.
     
  24. Aug 18, 2013 #24

    Anderson

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    I think there is a better case that the Metroliners, buggy though they were, were a success insofar as the business they generated. The thing to remember about the Penn Central is how much of a (no pun intended) train wreck it was. Even if they had woken up on merger day with a NEC capable of supporting 2:30 WAS-NYP and 3:00 NYP-BOS, equipment capable of doing that, and no ROW issues, it wouldn't have saved the company. Bought time? Sure...but even in a best-case scenario we might be talking about the Penn Central's bankruptcy after Hurricane Agnes instead of it happening in 1970. There were just too many lines in need of abandonment and too many internal integration issues for the company to work.
     
  25. Aug 18, 2013 #25

    the_traveler

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