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Viewliner on Lake Shore Limited at Yawkey.JPG
Viewliner I #62019 on the Lake Shore Limited in Boston.
Viewliner sleeping car seat.jpg
A seat in a Viewliner I roomette.
Manufacturer Budd Company (prototypes)
Morrison-Knudsen (Viewliner I)
CAF (Viewliner II)
  • 1987–1988 (prototypes)
  • 1995–1996 (Viewliner I)
  • 2012–present (Viewliner II)
Entered service 1988–present
Number under construction 130
Number built 137
Number in service 128
Fleet numbers

Viewliner I: 62000-62049, 10004(Former 2301), 2300, 8400

Viewliner II: 61000-61069, 62500-62524, 68000-68024, 69000-69009
Capacity 30
Operator(s) Amtrak
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)
Maximum speed 110 mph (177 km/h) (Prototypes/Viewliner I)
125 mph (201 km/h) (Viewliner II)
Power supply 480 V AC 60 Hz
Bogies GSI 70
Braking system(s) Air
Coupling system AAR
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge

The Viewliner is a single-level car type used by Amtrak on most long-distance routes operating east of Chicago. The first production cars, consisting of an order of 50 sleeping cars, were put into service in 1994. On March 23, 2015, Amtrak began putting 70 new Viewliner II baggage cars into service. The 70 new baggage cars are used on all Amtrak trains, single-level and bi-level. They replaced almost all of the Heritage Fleet baggage cars that Amtrak inherited from the freight railroads when it was created in 1971. The 25 Viewliner II Dining cars are currently being delivered, with the first having entered service in late 2016. 35 more Viewliner II cars will follow consisting of baggage-dorms and sleepers.[1]

Early design[edit]

One of the prototype sleeping cars at the Wilmington shops in 2012. Note the Phase III paint scheme.

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.[2]

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.[3] The prototypes were in regular service until 2002; however, money from the 2009 stimulus package funded the restoration of dining car 8400 to regular service.

In March 2014,[4] prototype sleeper 2301 (which had been renumbered to 62091)[5] was converted into an inspection car[6] named "American View"[7] 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.[8] "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.


Viewliner I[edit]

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.[2] Ultimately, Amtrak awarded a contract for 50 sleeping cars with an option for 227 cars of various types to Morrison-Knudsen, who were also building the new California Cars based on the Superliner design.[9] Morrison-Knudsen unveiled the first Viewliner shell at its Chicago plant on October 26, 1994.[10] After Morrison-Knudsen's bankruptcy, the outstanding orders were completed by Amerail with final delivery in 1996 alongside the California Car fleet. After the first 50 cars were delivered, none of the remaining 177 options were exercised. The 50 Viewliners arrived just in time to retire most of Amtrak's remaining Heritage sleeping cars, which were coming under increasing environmental pressure due to their use of non-retention toilets. Since the 1990s, Viewliner sleepers have operated on East Coast single-level trains in concert with Amfleet coaches and Heritage diners (and eventually Viewliner diners).[11]

Viewliner II[edit]

Viewliner II diner Atlanta deadheading on the Capitol Limited in November 2017

On July 23, 2010, Amtrak ordered 130 Viewliner II cars – 55 baggage cars, 25 dining cars, 25 sleepers, and 25 baggage-dorms – with an option for up to 70 additional cars.[12][13] The five-year order, worth $298.1 million, was placed with CAF USA in Elmira, New York, a fully owned subsidiary of Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles. According to Amtrak president Joseph Boardman, CAF was selected over Alstom, the only other bidder, due to CAF's lower bid and their being able to construct the entire car at their factory, rather than relying on subcontractors.[14] In August 2014, the order was modified by swapping 15 baggage-dorms for 15 baggage cars, changing their totals to 10 and 70, respectively.[15]

The interior of a Viewliner sleeping car bedroom with the lower bed down

The first car from the order was originally scheduled to roll off the assembly line in October 2012,[16] but was delayed by more than a year, with field testing beginning in June 2014.[17] While all 130 cars were originally expected to be delivered by the end of 2015,[18] by late 2016 only the baggage cars and one diner were in service, with the remaining cars scheduled for delivery by September 2018.[19] As of November 2017, 10 Viewliner II diners have been put into service, operating on the Silver Meteor and Crescent routes[20]

Viewliner IIs are delivered in Amtrak's older Phase III paint scheme.[21]


Viewliner passenger 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.[12]

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 Eastern long distance trains. Information learned from building and using this car was applied to the dining cars included in the new order of Viewliner II cars.[22]

Viewliner baggage cars are used on all Superliner and single-level trains which use full baggage cars in the Amtrak system. The first Viewliner Baggage cars went into service on March 23, 2015 on multiple Eastern routes.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Amtrak Previews New Long Distance Cars" (PDF). Amtrak. Retrieved 4 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Borcover, Alfred (December 27, 1987). "Amtrak introduces new sleeper car". The Day. Retrieved 2010-07-25. 
  3. ^ Solomon 2004, p. 133
  4. ^ Warner, David (1 September 2014). "Amtrak By the Numbers: Updates - Viewliner". Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  5. ^ Warner, David (15 July 2014). "Amtrak Rolling Stock Roster - Company Service Cars". Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  6. ^ Railroad Picture Archives (2 April 2014). "American View (AMTK 10004)". Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  7. ^ Railroad Picture Archives (2 April 2014). "American View (AMTK 10004)". Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  8. ^ Railroad Picture Archives (13 August 2014). "American View (AMTK 10004)". Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  9. ^ Stephenson, Dick (February 1993). "New Equipment Ordered". Pacific RailNews. No. 351. pp. 45–46. 
  10. ^ "Special Report: First California Cars Delivered". Pacific RailNews. No. 374. January 1995. pp. 77–78. 
  11. ^ Solomon 2004, pp. 133–134
  12. ^ a b William C. Vantuono (July 24, 2010). "CAF kicks off Amtrak fleet renewal program". Railway Age. Retrieved 2012-12-12. 
  13. ^ "Amtrak Will Buy 130 Passenger Cars for $298.1 Million". Bloomberg Businessweek. 23 July 2010. Retrieved 24 July 2010. 
  14. ^ "Amtrak's president explains purchase of new equipment during press conference". Trains Magazine. 26 July 2010. Retrieved 27 July 2010. 
  15. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Amtrak orders 130 single-level cars". Trains Magazine. 23 July 2010. Retrieved 24 July 2010. 
  17. ^ "Amtrak begins field testing new Viewliner II cars". Trains Magazine. June 17, 2014. Retrieved December 4, 2017. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Amtrak Ink" (PDF). National Railroad Passenger Corporation. November–December 2016. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  20. ^ "Amtrak By The Nubmers". White River Productions. October 2017. Retrieved 31 October 2017. 
  21. ^ Oct 24, 2013 (2013-10-24). "Coming Soon: New Long Distance Cars |". Retrieved 2014-02-02. 
  22. ^ Trains Magazine, January, 2012.


Further reading[edit]

  • Ingles, David J. (February 1993). "A View of the future? Sleeping well on Amtrak's Viewliner". Trains. Vol. 53 no. 2. 
  • Johnston, Bob (April 1996). "Viewliner beats the odds". Trains. Vol. 56 no. 4. 

External links[edit]