Viewliner I #62019 on the Lake Shore Limited in Boston.
A seat in a Viewliner I roomette.
|Manufacturer||Budd Company (prototypes)
Morrison-Knudsen (Viewliner I)
CAF (Viewliner II)
|Number under construction||130|
|Number in service||51|
Viewliner I: 62000-62049, 10004(Former 2301), 2300, 8400Viewliner II: 61000-61069, 62500-62524, 68000-68024, 69000-69009
|Line(s) served||Cardinal, Crescent, Lake Shore Limited, Silver Meteor, Silver Star|
|Car body construction||Stainless Steel|
|Car length||85 feet (25.9 m)|
|Floor height||4 ft (1.2 m)|
|Platform height||4 ft (1.2 m)|
|Doors||1 manually operated end door per side|
|Maximum speed||110 mph (177 km/h) (Prototypes/Viewliner I)
125 mph (201 km/h) (Viewliner II)
|Power supply||480v AC 60Hz Head end power|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
The Viewliner is a single-level car type used by Amtrak on most long-distance routes operating east of Chicago. With the exception of a prototype dining car named "Indianapolis", all cars which have been in service so far are sleeping cars and are assigned names that include the word "View." Amtrak expects to begin placing 130 additional cars into service in 2014–2015 including diners, sleepers, baggage-dorms, and baggage cars.
In the 1980s, Amtrak was looking to replace its Heritage Fleet railcars, which had been in service as far back as the 1940s. While new Superliner cars were built starting in 1979, those cars were too tall to run on Amtrak's eastern routes because of clearance issues in and around both New York Pennsylvania Station and Baltimore Pennsylvania Station (see loading gauge and structure gauge).
Working with the Budd Company, Amtrak drafted plans for new single-level sleeping and dining cars that utilized a 'modular' design where the interiors of the cars, especially the sleepers, were built in units separate from the exterior shell. These units contain all fixtures, electrical components, sewage and fresh water handling internally and are then mated with the car exterior shell upon assembly. This approach allows for easier maintenance and reconfiguration through removal and replacement of individual units. Access for this purpose is via a removable hatch on the side of the car, a distinguishing feature of the Viewliner series. Unlike the Superliners, occupants of both bunks in the bedrooms have an outside view. The design of the cars was created by Amtrak's design group, which received input from every department in the company. At the time of their introduction into service, Amtrak planned to assemble a fleet of over a thousand cars during the ten years after their introduction.
The prototype Viewliner cars were assembled at Amtrak's Beech Grove Shops in Beech Grove, Indiana in 1987-1988 from Budd components. Two sleeping cars (2300 and 2301) were built, as was one dining car (8400). These cars were tested on the Capitol Limited beginning in 1988.:133 The prototypes were in regular service until 2002; however, money from the 2009 stimulus package recently funded the restoration of dining car 8400 to service.
In March 2014, prototype sleeper 2301 (which had been renumbered to 62091) was converted into an inspection car named "American View" and given the number 10004. This inspection car has rear-facing seats and a large glass window at the end that allows passengers to observe the tracks. "American View" is used by maintenance crews to visually inspect the tracks for defects and by the Amtrak president and other executives for official purposes.
The first production Viewliners were built in 1995-1996 by Amerail (now Alstom)/Morrison-Knudsen. Amtrak's original intention in the 1980s was to order 500-600 new cars, of which 100 would be sleepers and the rest coaches, diners, and lounges. This would have enabled Amtrak to replace its remaining Heritage Fleet equipment and run trains with solid Viewliner consists. However Amtrak's strained finances led to only 50 sleeping cars being ordered, which contributed to the Budd Company's decision to completely exit the railcar market. The design was transferred to the Amerail/Morrison-Knudsen consortium with delivery finally being completed in 1996 alongside the Bombardier-supplied Superliner II fleet. The Viewliners arrived just in time to retire most of Amtrak's Heritage sleeping cars which were coming under increasing environmental pressure due to their use of non-retention toilets. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s Viewliner sleepers ran on East Coast single-level trains in concert with Amfleet coaches and Heritage diners.:133–134
In the 2009 budget, increased funding was provided to allow Amtrak to initially order 130 Viewliner II cars in the form of diners, sleepers, baggage-dorms, and baggage cars, with an option to purchase 70 additional cars. On July 23, 2010 Amtrak placed an order worth $298.1 million with CAF USA, a fully owned subsidiary of Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles located in Elmira, New York, for the order of 130 new cars. According to Amtrak president Joseph Boardman, CAF's capability to construct the entire car at its factory, rather than relying on subcontractors, as well as submitting a lower bid, were the reasons the company won the contract over Alstom, the only other bidder. The 130-car order broke down as follows: 55 baggage cars, 25 dining cars, 25 sleepers, and 25 baggage-dorms. The breakdown was modified in August 2014; 15 bag-dorms were replaced by 15 more full baggage cars. The new breakdown is as follows: 25 sleepers, 25 dining cars, 10 baggage-dorms, and 70 baggage cars.
Each car measures approximately 85' long, 14' high and 10.5' across at the widest point. Capable of moving at speeds of up to 125 mph, the new cars will not slow down the faster trains on the NEC. The Viewliner II cars will be interoperable with the Viewliner I, Amfleet II (long-distance), Horizon and any remaining Heritage cars, as well as all Amtrak electric and diesel road locomotives. The baggage cars are longer than the Heritage bag cars, adding capacity. The Viewliner baggage cars will be used throughout the system, on the bi-level routes out West as well as the single-level routes in the East.
The Sleeping cars each include 11 Roomettes, two Bedrooms and one Accessible Bedroom. The interior components of the cars are installed in a modular system. Unlike the Viewliner I design, the Roomettes do not include toilets; passengers will share two restrooms and a shower at one end of the car. Many riders did not like having the toilet enclosed with the compartment; in any case, having 11 fewer units of plumbing should reduce problems and maintenance costs.
The Dining cars seat 46 and include full-service galley kitchens; carts that roll on and off the cars allow for easier stocking via a side door. Bicycle racks have been added to the Baggage cars. The doors on the Bag cars are designed to seal more tightly, keeping out ice and snow. The cars will be heated to keep the interiors above freezing. Overall, the cars offer passengers modern interiors, improved lighting and much more efficient air conditioning and heating systems.
Per the Amtrak Fleet Strategy Plan, released on February 1, 2010, the higher number of baggage and baggage/dorm cars are to replace all Heritage Fleet baggage cars in service system-wide. Most of these cars are over sixty years old and cannot be operated above 110 miles per hour (177 km/h).
The Viewliner II diners will replace the Heritage Fleet diners currently in use on single-level service, which are mostly one of a kind, with one or two from each of a dozen or more railroads that operated passenger trains before Amtrak was formed. Maintenance of the old and unique diners has been a major cost, even keeping multiple spare parts on hand has been onerous.
Most important for revenue and operating results, the 25 new sleepers will greatly augment the existing 50 Viewliner sleeping cars. This 50% increase in capacity will allow more sleepers on the Eastern long-distance trains, where sleepers often sell out, especially on the Cardinal, the Lake Shore Limited, and the Silver Meteor. It could provide Amtrak with a larger inventory of single-level sleeping cars required for expanded long-distance overnight service, such as the third train set needed to make the 3-days-a week Cardinal into a daily service (which would double ridership), to add cars to the Capitol Ltd and the Pennsylvanian to interchange at Pittsburgh (allowing through sleeper service Chicago-Philadelphia), and perhaps add a sleeper to the current overnight all-coach train between Boston and Newport News. But the new order is still the bare minimum, and without an option order for more cars, Amtrak will remain constrained and less efficient than if it were to have sufficient equipment.
The first car of this order was originally scheduled to roll off the assembly line in October 2012. Instead, in May, 2014, the first baggage car left the CAF factory to begin testing. The first production cars included a diner, sleeper, baggage, and baggage-dorm were delivered for testing in 2014, with revenue service starting in 2015, and delivery of all 130 cars by 2017. These cars also mark the return of Amtrak's Phase 3 paint scheme and "Inverted Arrow" logo. 
Viewliner cars are designed for use on Amtrak's long-distance routes in the Eastern US, due to clearance issues in and around both New York Pennsylvania Station and Baltimore Pennsylvania Station that prevent tall bi-level cars from clearing the tunnels (see loading gauge and structure gauge). These long-distance routes typically include some segments of track along the Northeast Corridor, but extend to Chicago on two routes, to Miami on two routes, or south to New Orleans, well beyond the Northeast Corridor.
A one-of-a-kind Viewliner dining car, car number 8400, was rebuilt with stimulus funding and restored to revenue service in October 2011, given the name Indianapolis. Originally a prototype dining car with experimental trucks built during the Viewliner design phase in the late 1980s, the car was completely rebuilt at Amtrak's Beech Grove shops and currently serves on Lake Shore Limited trains between New York and Chicago. Information learned from building and using this car will be applied to the dining cars included in the new order of Viewliner cars.
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