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Amfleet cars at Kingston.JPG
Amfleet I coaches at Kingston, Rhode Island
Amfleet I seats.jpg
Amfleet coach seats
In service 1975–present (Amfleet I)
1981–present (Amfleet II)
Manufacturer Budd Company
Built at Philadelphia, PA
Family name Budd Metroliner
Number built
492 (Amfleet I)

150 (Amfleet II)

Formation single car
Fleet numbers 25000-25124, 28000-28024, 43344-43397, 48140-48197, 81500-81551, 82500-82999, 85999
Capacity Up to 84 seats
Operator(s) Amtrak
Car body construction Stainless steel
Car length 85 ft (25.91 m)
Width 9 ft 11.5 in (3.035 m)
Height 12 ft 8 in (3.861 m)
Floor height 4 ft 3.5 in (1.308 m)
Platform height 4 ft 3.5 in (1.308 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)
Weight 106,000 pounds (48,000 kg) (coach)
110,000 pounds (50,000 kg) (cafe)
Power supply 480 V AC
Train heating Electric heat and air conditioning
Bogies Budd Pioneer
Braking system(s) Pneumatic, 2 tread and 2 disc per axle.
Coupling system AAR type H
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge

Amfleet is a fleet of single-level intercity railroad passenger cars built by the Budd Company for Amtrak in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Budd based the Amfleet design on its earlier Metroliner electric multiple unit. They were the first new locomotive-hauled cars ordered by Amtrak. As of 2015, Amfleet cars are used extensively in the eastern and mid-western United States, forming the backbone of Amtrak's single-level fleet.


See also: Heritage Fleet
Mid-1970s postcard advertising the then new Amfleet cars

Amtrak inherited a fleet of approximately 1,200 steam-heated coaches from private sector railroads when it began operations in 1971. These cars were aging, in need of maintenance, and in many cases incompatible with each other. Amtrak recognized the need and opportunity to standardize on a single design.[1] Amtrak ordered the Amfleets from Budd in two batches. It placed the first order on October 12, 1973, along with orders for 70 EMD SDP40F diesel locomotives and 11 GE E60 locomotives.[2] The first batch, which came to be known as "Amfleet I", consisted of 492 cars in the following configurations:[3]

  • 54 "Amcafe" cafe cars with 51 coach seats and a snack bar in the middle
  • 37 "Amdinette" cafe/dining cars with a snack bar, eight four-person booths and 23 coach seats
  • 40 "Amclub" club/parlor cars with a snack bar, 18 club seats and 23 coach seats
  • 90 "Amcoach" long-distance coaches with 60 seats
  • 271 "Amcoach" short-distance coaches with 84 seats

The first Amfleet cars began running on the Northeast Corridor on August 5, 1975.[2] Amtrak heralded their arrival, calling 1975 as "the Year of the Amfleet". As the cars were distributed throughout the system, timetables would note that trains now had "Amfleet Service" and that trains had been "Amfleeted".[1]

Amtrak followed up in 1981–1983 with a second order, dubbed "Amfleet II". This order consisted of 150 cars:[4]

  • 125 "Amcoach" long-distance cars with 59 seats
  • 25 "Amlounge" lounge cars with a snack bar, ten four-person booths, and 17 assorted seats

The Amfleet II cars were intended to replace rolling stock on Amtrak long-distance trains, featuring larger windows, more legroom, and folding legrests.[5]


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 "Surfliner" railcars 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]

Amfleet interiors
Amfleet I Club-Dinette
The interior of the business class section of an Amfleet I Club-Dinette.
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.[6] 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, Empire Service or Northeast Regional; Amfleet II cars are used on long-distance trains, such as the Cardinal, Lake Shore Limited or Silver Star.

Amfleet I coaches are configured as either Regional coach class (72 seats per car, with 2x2 seating)[7] or business class (62 seats per car, with 2x2 seating).[citation needed] 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). Some tables may be used by train crew members for paperwork. Full-Dinettes have tables on both sides of the snack bar. Table seats in food service cars are not sold and may be used by any passenger.

An Amfleet II coach seats 60 passengers (2x2 seating). 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. Some cars were later rebuilt with an enclosed smoking room in place of the lounge seats. All Amlounge IIs were later converted to Diner-Lites between 2006-2010 with additional tables added where the lounge seats once were and increased food service capability (including new ovens).[citation needed]

In the late 1970s Amtrak converted two Amfleet coaches into sleepers (#22900 and #22901). 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."[8][9]

Paint schemes[edit]

Amfleet paint schemes
Amfleets Phase I&II
Amfleets in Phase I and II (third car) on the Maple Leaf in 1983.
Amfleets Phase IVb and Phase V
A doubleheaded Northeast Regional led by an EMD AEM-7 and HHP-8 traveling through Trenton in 2003. The right-most Amfleet car is still in Phase V, while the other two cars are in Phase IVb.
Main article: Amtrak paint schemes

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, although some business Amfleet cars now wear the Phase IIIb paint scheme, which is Phase III with the current Amtrak logo.

Specifications and build[edit]

The air-conditioning unit underneath an Amfleet car.

Amfleet cars are largely based upon the 1966 Metroliner design and were originally designed to operate at speeds up to 120 mph (193 km/h).[1] Both the Amfleet I and Amfleet II are now rated for 125 mph (201 km/h).[7]

An Amfleet car is 12 feet 8 inches (3,860 mm) tall (relative to the railhead), 10 feet 6 inches (3,200 mm) wide, and 85 feet 4 inches (26,010 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 (50,000 kg), while a coach weighs approximately 106,000 pounds (48,000 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.[10]

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.

One major difference between the Amfleet I and II is the toilet type. The Amfleet I has chemical flush toilets; while the Amfleet II has retention toilets.[7]


  1. ^ a b c Amtrak. "Digging into the Archives: Introducing Amfleet". Retrieved June 8, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "August and September in Amtrak History" (PDF). Amtrak Ink. Vol. 15 no. 8. August–September 2010. p. 20. 
  3. ^ Simon & Warner 2011, pp. 194–204
  4. ^ Simon & Warner 2011, p. 194
  5. ^ "Amtraking" (PDF). Trainmaster. No. 244. Pacific Northwest Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. November 1981. 
  6. ^ Foster 1996, p. 120
  7. ^ a b c Amtrak 2015, p. 25
  8. ^ Sanders 2006, p. 69
  9. ^ "Amfleet Cars". The Wilmington Chapter NRHS Official Newsletter. 32 (3). July 2009. 
  10. ^ Information Sheet Produced in 1977


External links[edit]