Posts Tagged ‘Viewliner baggage cars’

Move Faster Clouds, Faster

November 2, 2022

The morning of Oct. 23 in Porter, Indiana, was pleasant but skies had sun and clouds mixed. That meant playing a game of “dodge the clouds” whenever a train showed up.

Such was the case with the arrival of the Amtrak Train 49, the Lake Shore Limited.

If you look toward the front of the train you’ll see it is in sunlight. But the two New York section Viewliner sleepers and baggage car are still in shadows because a cloud hadn’t moved enough out of the way of the sun.

Still I like the contrast between the “dark” end of the train and the brilliant fall foliage in sunlight above and to the side of No. 49.

The train is in the middle of the CP 482 interlocking, which is a junction of the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern, the Grand Rapids Subdivision of CSX, the Amtrak Michigan District and the NS Porter branch.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Maintenance Worker Shortage Seen as Root Cause of Amtrak Checked Baggage Suspensions

October 1, 2022

A recent Amtrak announcement that checked baggage service will be suspended on two routes raised a few eyebrows because of the reason given for it.

The announcement cited equipment shortages, yet Amtrak in recent years has received 70 new Viewliner baggage cars that were built by CAF USA as part of a 125-car order placed in 2014.

The checked baggage service suspension will begin Oct. 3 on the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian and the New York-Charlotte Carolinian.

The Amtrak announcement said the suspension will run through Nov. 17. Also affected on the Pennsylvanian will be checked bicycle service.

Trains magazine reported on its website that just five Viewliner baggage cars are known to be out of service.

The magazine’s report said the root cause of the service suspension is a lack of mechanical workers to perform maintenance on cars and locomotives.

That also has led to temporary suspensions of some Midwest Corridor trains from Chicago to Detroit (Pontiac), St. Louis, and Carbondale, Illinois.

In the wake of the service advisory announcing the suspension of checked baggage service on the Pennsylvanian and Carolinian, a printed service advisory posted in some stations erroneously said checked baggage service was being suspended on the Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited and Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief.

That posted advisory said Amtrak “may occasionally suspend checked baggage and bicycle service along the route, due to equipment shortages.”

Although the Capitol Limited has long had checked baggage service, until this summer that was provided in the baggage compartment of a Superliner coach.

Amtrak added a Viewliner baggage car to Nos. 29 and 30 to increase capacity for checked bicycle service. However, in recent days the Viewliner baggage car has been absent from the Capitol.

Checked Bag Service Suspended on 2 Trains

September 24, 2022

Amtrak is suspending checked baggage service on two medium-distance trains through mid-November.

In a service advisory, the carrier cited a lack of equipment for suspending checked baggage service on the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian and the New York-Charlotte Carolinian. The move also affects checked bicycle service.

The suspension of checked baggage service will begin on the Pennsylvanian on Oct. 3. No date was given for when checked baggage service will be suspended for the Carolinian.

Amtrak said it expects to resume checked baggage service and trainside checked bike services on or about Nov. 17.

“We will continue to re-assess equipment plans and update the plan for the winter,” the notice said.

The Rail Passengers Association said Amtrak’s notice doesn’t answer some questions, including whether it was prompted by the need for major maintenance of Viewliner baggage cars, a shortage of mechanical department workers, or having to re-assign equipment to other routes where the host railroad has imposed minimum axle counts.

On some corridor routes that have minimum axle counts requirements imposed by Canadian National, Viewliner baggage cars have been used to meet the axle count requirements.

Headed for Chicago

November 1, 2019

With it’s station work at Waterloo, Indiana, compete, Amtrak’s westbound Lake Shore Limited is now headed for Chicago.

But first there will be intermediate stops in Elkhart and South Bend, Indiana,to make.

Train No. 49 is running about an hour late so there is no time to waste. It is also following traffic, including the Capitol Limited so opportunities to pick up time might be limited.

As usual, a Viewliner baggage car is bringing up the markers on No. 49.

Milepost 367, measured from Buffalo, New York, is located just beyond the western edge of the Amtrak station platform.

Meet Me at Interstate 90

May 30, 2018

Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited meets a westbound CSX auto rack train beneath the bridge carrying Interstate 90 over the CSX Erie West Subdivision at the State Line exit on the border of Pennsylvania and New York just outside North East, Pennsylvania.

The auto rack train has Union Pacific motive power and a cut of manifest freight.

No. 48 was operating 43 minutes late when it left Erie, but the New York section made it to Penn Station in New York less than 10 minutes late.

Inside an Amtrak Viewliner Baggage Car

May 16, 2016

The exterior of the Viewliner sleeper on display in Toledo at National Train Day.

The exterior of the Viewliner sleeper on display in Toledo at National Train Day.

Amtrak passengers seldom get an inside look of a baggage car. If you are riding in a coach or sleeper next to a baggage car you might be able to get a glimpse inside the baggage car through the door window of your car.

So it was a rare opportunity during the annual National Train Day festival in Toledo recently to be able to go inside one of the new Viewliner baggage car.

The car has racks to hold luggage but they were locked upright, probably to prevent children from climbing on them.

At one end of the car was a cabinet that can be locked. Someone on a railfan chat list suggested it is or could be used for storing firearms that have been checked as luggage.

The car has the familiar bowed sides of a Viewliner on the inside.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

Looking down the middle of the interior.

Looking down the middle of the interior.

Getting a closer look at the luggage racks that were in the up position.

Getting a closer look at the luggage racks that were in the up position.

A locked cabinet sat at one end of the car.

A locked cabinet sat at one end of the car.

The current Amtrak logo on the side of the car.

The current Amtrak logo on the side of the car.

Viewliner Baggage Cars on Lake Shore Limited

April 6, 2015

Amtrak has begun assigning some of its new Viewliner II baggage cars to the Lake Shore Limited. On Saturday, No. 48 passed through Cleveland en route to New York and Boston with two of the new cars.

No. 48 also had a Viewliner I dining car No. 8400 so that meant that the train operated without any heritage fleet equipment. Indeed, the train had five Viewliner fleet cars.

The Viewliner II cars are being built by CAF USA in Elmira, N.Y. The order includes sleepers and diners as well as baggage cars as Amtrak seeks to phase out the last of its heritage fleet equipment.

New Viewerliner II Equipment Hitting Rails

October 11, 2014

Amtrak’s new Viewliner equipment has begun appearing in revenue service. A handful of the 130 cars being manufactured by CAF USA have been deployed. The entire Viewliner II order is expected to be done by late 2015. Most of the cars will be assigned to eastern long-distance route, including the Lake Shore Limited. Some baggage cars are expected to see service nationwide. Amtrak altered its order in late August, reducing the number of baggage-dorm cars from 25 to 10 and increasing the number of baggage cars from 55 to 70.

Amtrak Changes Viewliner Order

August 25, 2014

Amtrak has altered its new car order, deciding to cut the number of Viewliner II baggage-dormitory cars from 25 to 10 while increasing by 15 the number of baggage cars that it wants. The cars are being built by CAF USA at Elmira Heights, N.Y. The original order for 25 dining cars and 25 sleeping cars is unchanged.

Amtrak declined to explain why the Viewliner order had changed other than to specifiy that it was done “to address business needs.” The current single-level fleet requires about 17 train sets to operate the Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Crescent, and Lake Shore Limited daily and the Cardinal tri-weekly.

The change in the Viewliner order means that baggage-dormitory cars will not operate consistently on every train. Crew members will therefore need to be accommodated in space in regular Viewliner sleepers.

Increasing the number of baggage cars being built will mean that checked baggage and bicycle carriage will be able to be extended to additional trains in the Northeast Corridor and on state-supported routes.

Viewliner II baggage cars will replace cars that are more than 50 years old.

In a related development, California and three Midwest states plan to acquire an additional 45 bi-level cars from Nippon Sharyo.

The states had ordered 130 cars that are being assembled in Rochelle, Ill. That contract provided an add-on options at a slightly increased cost, depending upon car type.

The order will now include 122 cars to be used in Midwest corridor service and 175 cars to be used in California. The first of these cars are expected to enter service by 2016.

1st New Viewliner Baggage Car Leave Plant

May 19, 2014

The first new baggage car constructed by CAF USA for Amtrak departed the plant in Elmira Heights, N.Y., last Friday morning.

The train had Amtrak P42DC No. 203, Amfleet food service car No. 43358, new baggage car No. 61000, and GP38H-3 No. 520.

The 61000 is the first of 55 baggage cars being built for Amtrak. The body of the car is based on the single-level Viewliner car design and features two sets of double doors that swing inward. The baggage cars will also include bike racks.