Amtrak begins $28 million upgrade on sleeper cars and coaches
In the last month, Amtrak has started rolling out new and improved comforts and features for its long-haul passenger rail cars. The $28 million upgrade project focuses on Amtrak's bi-level Superliner and single-story Viewliner fleets of rail cars used for overnight train routes.
Amtrak will improve more than 450 rail cars during the next three years through the project, starting with its Superliner fleet used for routes in the Midwest, South and West. Once these rail cars are refurbished, the company will turn its attention to the Viewliner sleeper cars used in the East and Southeast.
By the end of the project, every one of Amtrak's Superliner and Viewliner coaches, dining cars, sightseer lounges and sleeper cars will be refreshed.
What should travelers expect from this latest effort by Amtrak to upgrade the rider experience? Here's a look at what's coming to long-haul Amtrak routes.
New rail car features in rooms
Some Amtrak rail cars have not been updated since the 1990s — and it shows. As a result, Amtrak is making modernization a major focus of this fleet refresh.
New seat cushions and upholstery will be installed in rail cars, along with new carpeting, curtains, LED lighting and tables. Additionally, each private bedroom and roomette will feature new bedding, linens, pillows and towels, plus large updated toiletry dispensers full of body wash, conditioner, shampoo and soap. The latter is designed to help passengers freshen up throughout their overnight journeys in a more eco-friendly way.
“We are marking a new era in customer experience for our historic routes that serve the country with comfortable and affordable coach seating and private rooms,” Roger Harris, Amtrak's president, said in a statement. "These significant investments in the long-distance network lay the foundation for our next decades of service."
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Dining upgrades and reimagined public spaces
Onboard accommodations are not the only areas of Amtrak's Superliner and Viewliner rail cars that are getting a refresh. In addition to the updated look of the viewing areas, Amtrak is upgrading each train's dining experience.
New seat cushions, rugs, curtains and cafe menus promise to brighten up the rail-riding experience. Overnight passengers can expect three-course dinners served with proper dinnerwear settings on white tablecloths in dining cars with comfortable seating. Kids menus as well as chef-prepared breakfasts and lunches will also be available.
"Amtrak is making many important investments to improve customer satisfaction, including restoring and reimagining our popular onboard dining experience with a service our customers will enjoy and our employees will be proud to offer,” Robert Jordan, Amtrak's vice president of operations and customer services, said in a statement.
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Amtrak's plan to upgrade rail cars on long-haul routes is just one part of the company's larger strategy to elevate train travel in the U.S.
In addition to beginning this Superliner and Viewliner refurbishment, Amtrak unveiled a new menu of food and beverage items in August for select trains with cafe cars; this includes those traveling throughout the Northeast Corridor.
Only time will tell whether these improvements truly resonate with passengers and make their journeys more comfortable and memorable.
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