Viewliner I #62019 on the Lake Shore Limited in Boston.
A seat in a Viewliner I roomette.
Budd Company (prototypes)|
Morrison-Knudsen (Viewliner I)
CAF (Viewliner II)
|Number under construction||130 (Viewliner II)|
137 (Prototypes/Viewliner I)|
14 (Viewliner II)
|Number in service||128|
Viewliner I: 62000-62049, 10004 (Former 2301), 2300, 8400Viewliner II: 61000-61069, 62500-62524, 68000-68024, 69000-69009
|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)|
110 mph (177 km/h) (Prototypes/Viewliner I)|
125 mph (201 km/h) (Viewliner II)
|Power supply||480 V AC 60 Hz|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 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 all of the Heritage Fleet baggage cars that Amtrak inherited from the freight railroads when it was created in 1971. 22 of the 25 Viewliner II dining cars have been delivered, with the first having entered service in late 2016. One of the 10 baggage-dorms have been delivered. None of the 25 sleepers have been delivered.
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. 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, 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. 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. Morrison-Knudsen unveiled the first Viewliner shell at its Chicago plant on October 26, 1994. 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).
When Amtrak decided on the names for the new Viewliner II sleeping cars, they also announced new names for the Viewliner I sleepers. Instead of names ending in "View," eg. American View; Mountain View, they were given names to match the incoming cars: alphabetically after major rivers east of the Mississippi.
A one-of-a-kind Viewliner dining car, car number 8400, was rebuilt with stimulus funding and restored to revenue service in October 2011 and 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.
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. 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 former 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. In August 2014, the order was modified by swapping 15 baggage-dorms for 15 baggage cars, changing their totals to 10 and 70, respectively.
The first car from the order was originally scheduled to roll off the assembly line in October 2012, but was delayed by more than a year, with field testing beginning in June 2014. CAF had multiple issues, including failure to detect defects in the baggage cars, and quality issues with initial construction of the diner and sleeping cars. Amtrak also experienced project management challenges in addressing these faults. While all 130 cars were originally expected to be delivered by the end of 2015, by December 2016 only the baggage cars and one diner were in service, with the remaining cars scheduled for delivery by Fall 2018. As of August 16, 2018, 22 Viewliner II diners have been delivered, with 11 currently in service, operating on the Silver Meteor, Crescent, and Lake Shore Limited routes. One bag-dorm has been delivered, though it has not entered service. All of the 25 sleepers have yet to be delivered
Viewliner IIs are delivered in Amtrak's older Phase III paint scheme. The baggage cars are numbered 60100–60169. The dining cars, numbered 68000–68024, are named alphabetically after the first 25 state capitals east of the Mississippi River, with Indianapolis being the name of the Viewliner I which was rebuilt as a prototype. The sleeper cars (62500–62524) are alphabetically named after major rivers east of the Mississippi, continued from the renaming of the Viewliner I sleepers. The bag-dorms are numbered 69000-69009.
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.
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, and the last started service in December 2016.
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