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Amfleet 1.jpg
Amfleet I coaches at Iselin, NJ
Amfleet I seats.jpg
Amfleet coach seats
In service 1975–present (Amfleet I)
1981–present (Amfleet II)
Manufacturer Budd Company
Built at Red Lion, PA
Family name Budd Metroliner
Number built

492 (Amfleet I)

  • 406 coaches
  • 86 food service cars

150 (Amfleet II)

  • 125 coaches
  • 25 lounge/food service cars
Formation single car
Capacity Up to 84 seats
Operator Amtrak
Car body construction Stainless Steel
Car length 85 ft (26 m)
Width 9 feet and 11.5 inches (303.53 cm)
Floor height 4 ft (1.2 m)
Platform height 4 ft (1.2 m)
Doors Amfleet I: 2 pairs end doors, automatic operation
Amfleet II: 1 pair end door, manual operation
Maximum speed 125 miles per hour (201 km/h)
Power supply 480v AC Head End Power
Train heating Electric heat and air conditioning
Bogies Budd Pioneer
Braking system(s) Pneumatic, 2 tread and 2 disc per axle.
Coupling system AAR
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)

Amfleet is a series of intercity railroad passenger cars built for the operator Amtrak by the manufacturer Budd Company in two series during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Today, Amfleet cars are used extensively throughout the Amtrak system outside the western United States. The Amfleet cars have a unique rounded appearance which was done to try to emulate the design of an aircraft to attract would be flyers to ride trains instead. Some railfans refer to these cars as "Amcans" or "Amtubes" due this distinct rounded appearance.


The cars were built in two series for Amtrak by the Budd Company:

  • Amfleet I, consisting of 406 coaches and 86 cafes, was ordered on October 12, 1973 and delivered August 5, 1975 through 1978.[1]
  • Amfleet II, consisting of 125 coaches and 25 lounges, was delivered in 1981–83.

The Amfleet cars were intended to replace many of the variety of aging, sometimes incompatible, streamlined passenger cars[which?] inherited from Amtrak's predecessor railroads. The Amfleet II cars were intended to replace rolling stock on Amtrak long-distance trains, featuring larger windows, more legroom, and folding legrests.

Amfleet cars were constructed in varying layouts known as the Amcoach, the Amcafe, the Amdinette, the Amlounge, and the Amclub. The Amcafe cars had 53 coach seats with a snack bar in the middle of the car. The Amdinette had 23 coach seats, a snack bar in the middle, and 8 tables seating 32 passengers at the other end of the car. The Amclub cars had either 6 tables or 23 coach seats, a snack bar in the middle, and 18 club seats. The club seats were more spacious and usually required an upgrade to Business Class or other deluxe service. Some cars also were in a full club layout, with business class seats at both ends.

Originally, there were two main Amcoach I variations: 84-seat cars for use on shorter routes, and 60-seat cars for use on longer (generally overnight) routes. The 60-seat cars have all since been converted either to coaches or business class cars, having been displaced from longer routes by Amfleet II and Superliner coaches.

Amfleet cars are largely based upon the 1969 Metroliner design and are designed to operate at speeds up to 125 mph (201 km/h).


Because Amfleet cars can fit through the tunnels and under catenary of the northeastern United States, Amtrak uses them heavily in that area.

Amfleet rolling stock mostly disappeared from service in California when the San Joaquins switched to the Horizon Fleet in the 1990s and then to "California Cars" later in the decade. The San Diegans also stopped using the Amfleet when their Pacific Surfliner cars were delivered (with the exception of a single trainset that runs during the Del Mar Racetrack season in July and August, and during Thanksgiving week). The Pacific Northwest Cascades now use Talgo train sets instead of Amfleet.

Car types[edit]

The interior of the business class section of an Amfleet I Club-Dinette.
The open seating area in an Amfleet I Club-Dinette.

Each type of Amfleet, I and II, currently is composed of coaches and food service cars. Amfleet IIs include lounge cars. Amfleet I cars can be identified by having vestibules at both ends of the cars; Amfleet II cars have a single vestibule.[2]:120 North American standard (120 V, 60 Hz) electrical outlets are provided in most cars of both types. Amfleet I cars are mostly used on corridor trains in the northeast, such as the Downeaster or Northeast Regional; Amfleet II cars are used on long-distance trains, such as the Cardinal or Silver Star.

Amfleet I coaches are configured as either Regional coach class (72 seats per car, with 2x2 seating) or business class (62 seats per car, with 2x2 seating). Amfleet I food service cars are either Club-Dinettes or Full-Dinettes. Club-Dinettes have 6 tables at one end and a snack bar in the middle, followed by 18 business class seats (1x2 seating). Full-Dinettes have tables on both sides of the snack bar. Except for the business class seats in Club-Dinettes, seats in Amfleet I food service cars are not sold and may be used by any passenger.

An Amfleet II coach seats 59 passengers (2x2 seating, with a single seat for a handicapped passenger) whether sold as coach class or business class. Amfleet II food service cars are referred to as Diner-Lites to distinguish them from other types of Amtrak dining cars. When first delivered, the Diner-Lites were configured as Amfleet II Lounge containing 17 lounge seats on one end, a snack bar in the middle, and 8 tables at the other end of the car. All Amlounge IIs were later converted to Diner-Lites with additional tables added where the lounge seats once were.

An equipment shortage in the late 1970s led Amtrak to convert two Amfleet coaches (#22900 and #22901) into sleepers. Two prototype Superliner roomette modules were installed, displacing twelve seats. The cars were used on the WashingtonCincinnati Shenandoah. Regular sleepers returned to the Shenandoah in 1979 and the two coaches were returned to a standard configuration. These conversions were termed "Ampad."[3]:69[4]

Paint schemes[edit]

Amfleet I cars are the only Amtrak rolling stock to have carried all five normal paint schemes. These paint schemes are referred to as "Phases". Phase I-painted Amfleet cars had large red and blue stripes around the windows with thin white stripes on each end of the pattern, and featured the original Amtrak logo on one end of the car.

Amtrak's Phase II paint scheme eliminated the arrow logo. The Amtrak logo and coach number were printed in white.

Phase III paint featured stripes that border the windows, and had equal-width red, white, and blue stripes. The Phase III paint scheme marked a switch to black Amtrak logos and coach numbers.

Phase IV (aka "NortheastDirect") paint departed more noticeably from the previous designs. This scheme consists of a large blue stripe outlining the windows, and smaller red and white stripes above the blue stripe. On more recently painted cars, a red reflective stripe runs along the bottom of the car.

For a short period of time in the early 2000s, some Amfleet cars were painted in the Phase V style, also known as the Acela Phase. The Acela paint scheme varied depending upon the type of car, with the different types having different colored "splotches" on them. The Coach class cars were decorated by a turquoise window stripe and a darker-shaded turquoise splotch, and the Business class cars were decorated by a navy blue window stripe with a light-turquoise splotch. Cafe cars were decorated with light-turquoise splotches and navy blue window stripes, and instead of a window where the snack bar was, there was a splotch of spring green.

All active Amfleet cars are currently painted in the Phase IVb scheme, which is Phase IV with the newer Amtrak logo.

Specifications and build[edit]

The air-conditioning unit underneath an Amfleet car.

An Amfleet car is 12 feet 8 inches (3861 mm) tall (relative to the railhead), 10 feet 6 inches (3200 mm) wide, and 85 feet 4 inches (26010 mm) in length over the vestibule diaphragm faceplates. The carbody itself is built up from spot-welded stainless steel sections, resulting in an exceptionally strong structure that is resistant to corrosion. Due to the length of the car, a noticeable arch is built into the carbody to prevent sagging when carrying a full passenger load.

A cafe car weighs about 110,000 pounds (49900 kg), while a coach weighs approximately 116,000 pounds (52620 kg). Amfleet seats have swing-down tray-tables for at-seat food service, overhead and underseat luggage storage (similar to that on a commercial airliner), and all cars (including cafes) are equipped with at least one restroom. Electric heating and air conditioning, operated by head-end power from the locomotive, are used to maintain passenger comfort.[5]

A feature inherited from older Budd-built cars is the use of dual disc brakes on each axle, with electronic anti-slide controls to prevent wheel lockup during full service or emergency brake applications. Although this braking system is more costly than the traditional wheel tread shoe braking design, experience has shown it to be a better-performing and lower maintenance alternative.


  1. ^ "August and September in Amtrak History", Amtrak Ink, August–September 2010: 20, retrieved 2010-08-31 
  2. ^ Foster, Gerald L. (1996). A Field Guide to Trains of North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-70112-0. OCLC 33242919. 
  3. ^ Sanders, Craig (2006). Amtrak in the Heartland. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-34705-X. OCLC 61499942. 
  4. ^ "Amfleet Cars". The Wilmington Chapter NRHS Official Newsletter 32 (3). July 2009. 
  5. ^ Information Sheet Produced in 1977

External links[edit]