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Thread: Viewliner II Diners Usage

  1. #11
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    The Government of Ontario does not have to meet US high speed rail crash standards. There was no existing bi-level design that could have been 'tweaked'. The new shell under development by Nippon Sharyo that was supposed to failed during the compression test. There is only so much that can be done to a car shell to accommodate any second tier of occupants, while keeping axle loadings in tolerable ranges, and make sure the whole thing when used in high speed rail situations does not crush when exposed to tremendous stress. Single level cars can get there sooner, as the weight saved from the missing second floor can be used to beef up the structural sturdiness of what amounts to an enhanced 'tube' design.

  2. #12
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    I don't think it's a case of bilevel-can't-pass; Nippon Sharyo basically couldn't do it on time and budget. The state procurement process for the cars wasn't blameless in the process, iirc, though NS was the primary culprit.

    As a practical matter, none of the trainsets currently being bought in the US, except for the Acela replacements, are designed or intended for use above 125mph - most of them will never exceed 90. Rotem built bilevel commuter cars for LA Metrolink that meet the standards. After some wrecks with older Bombardier cars (especially in LA, though LA does still use some mid-train), it's unlikely that their design will be sold to many more US commuter lines, and it's not appropriate for longer-distance regional service.

    Note: I've been on the Metrolink trains, and the old Bombardier cars ride much more comfortably than the Rotems. None of the seats are comfortable, since the Rotems came with and Bombardiers were retrofitted with some excruciating bolt-upright things that have no legroom and are apparently designed mainly to restrain occupants in a crash. Presumably, cars for Amtrak would be a little more comfortable.

    As for capacity, it *is* a factor. California trains are sometimes SRO at peak times, for 2-hour runs. A couple of San Joaquin runs use rebuilt Comet cars with seats tightly squeezed; even with that, they are down at least 50 seats for the trainset compared to the Cal Cars, are much slower at stations due to conventional doors at the end, and are real beasts when it comes to loading wheelchairs. Also, no bike racks. That's almost certainly an issue with the Siemens cars, too, given that outside of Brightline and the NEC there are no high platforms.

    Bottom line: to get the seating capacity the original order was intended to, more cars will be needed of the single-levels, and they still won't work as well. That's not necessarily a Good Thing.

    What does all this have to do with Viewliners (diners)? Not much, except by implication: Viewliners are single-level but with a slightly raised roof so upper-berth sleepers can see outside. That was done so they would fit the NEC clearances, which Superliners don't. Amfleet also fits the clearances (they were designed for it), but Amfleet is mainly for coach service - no sleepers/1st Class. Viewliner and Amfleet are compatible, being all single-level high-platform, and are intermixed in most trains using Viewliners. Most of us outside the East Coast have never seen a Viewliner (I or II) and never will, and with the Cal Cars in California and Talgos in OR-WA even Amfleets are rare (being incompatible in terms of walk-thru with Superliner or Cal Car). That doesn't make them bad; it just is, and is required if long-distance trains are operated in the NEC.

  3. #13

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    I prefer a Viewliner Roomette to a Superliner because I like the headroom.

  4. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeebb View Post
    What does all this have to do with Viewliners (diners)? Not much, except by implication: Viewliners are single-level but with a slightly raised roof so upper-berth sleepers can see outside. That was done so they would fit the NEC clearances, which Superliners don't. Amfleet also fits the clearances (they were designed for it), but Amfleet is mainly for coach service - no sleepers/1st Class. Viewliner and Amfleet are compatible, being all single-level high-platform, and are intermixed in most trains using Viewliners. Most of us outside the East Coast have never seen a Viewliner (I or II) and never will, and with the Cal Cars in California and Talgos in OR-WA even Amfleets are rare (being incompatible in terms of walk-thru with Superliner or Cal Car). That doesn't make them bad; it just is, and is required if long-distance trains are operated in the NEC.
    Good points, but single level equipment is the norm on most of the state sponsored routes out of Chicago/Los Angeles/Oakland. Arguably, there'd be a lot more flexibility if some of the long distance routes were also converted back to single level... and we should be seeing Viewliner baggage cars...

    Slowly getting back to what it has to do with the diners.... IIRC, the original concept of the Viewliner was to be able to convert them to other uses. The interiors were supposed to be modular (pre-fab units which include all wiring, seats, lighting, etc.), which then get attached to the shell. I don't know if the diners held to that concept, but in theory, you can swap modules and convert the shell to a sleeper, lounge, diner or even a baggage car. It's a job that can only be done at the factory or Beech Grove, but it does allow the cars to have multiple purposes in its lifespan.
    Last edited by eolesen; 06-13-2018 at 12:13 PM.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by eolesen View Post
    Good points, but single level equipment is the norm on most of the state sponsored routes out of Chicago/Los Angeles/Oakland. Arguably, there'd be a lot more flexibility if some of the long distance routes were also converted back to single level... and we should be seeing Viewliner baggage cars...

    Slowly getting back to what it has to do with the diners.... IIRC, the original concept of the Viewliner was to be able to convert them to other uses. The interiors were supposed to be modular (pre-fab units which include all wiring, seats, lighting, etc.), which then get attached to the shell. I don't know if the diners held to that concept, but in theory, you can swap modules and convert the shell to a sleeper, lounge, diner or even a baggage car. It's a job that can only be done at the factory or Beech Grove, but it does allow the cars to have multiple purposes in its lifespan.
    Good points regarding the Viewliner. I hinted at that, but not the specifics of how it worked. Thanks for the better description.

    As for state-sponsored runs, I'm not familiar with Chicago-based operations, but the California state-sponsored trains are in fact predominantly high-level cars (Cal Cars), with an occasional Superliner spliced in that has a snack bar downstairs (when there aren't enough Cal Car snack/lounge cars available). Note for the wise: the Superliner is quieter and rides smoother than the Cal Cars. Single-level cars are used for 1 San Joaquin schedule each way using refurbed Comet cars. Singles are occasionally seen on the LA-San Diego Surfliners, but rarely (and mostly Amfleet). I've never seen single-level Capitol Corridor trains, though it may have happened once or twice (probably when the service was starting up and the Cal Car fleet was stretched a bit thin).

    The only place in California state-sponsored service where the speed limits exceeds 79 mph is on limited stretches of the Surfliner route between Santa Ana and San Diego (90 mph limit). Cal Cars and Superliners (as well as all the single-level stuff) run fine at those speeds. 90 is also allowed on parts of the Needles Sub between Barstow & Needles CA - for the once a day in each direction SW Chief that uses Superliners.

    In addition to the reduced train capacity, ADA accessibility is a problem with single-level stock. Outside of the NEC and Brightline, high platforms don't exist, and the low-level boarding and downstairs seating of the Superliners and Cal Cars are major benefits. Yes, the Siemens cars (probably) have built-in lifts that will work better than the roll-around ones currently in use, but it's still going to slow things down. Large-scale conversion to single-level, though, would result in longer station stops, or would require nationwide construction of high-platform stations and replacement of all double-deck stock (a practical impossibility). The double-deck Cal Cars (Superliners don't have this, but could) also provide a convenient, mostly out of the way place to rack bicycles; singles don't have that, resulting in poorer multimodal travel support.

  6. #16

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    Wabtec makes a variety of lifts that can deal with the ADA issues and low level platforms. The NS gallery cars use them, and they have one made for a standard car with an 8" platform.

    From what I've heard about the new Siemens cars, ADA compliance may be improved, in that wheelchair-bound customers aren't limited to the lower level of their car. Today, there's no lift between levels on the Superliners, so they can't enjoy the dining car, lounge, or get outside of a 40' radius of where they boarded.

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