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This article is about the Amtrak passenger car. For the former Disneyland attraction, see Disneyland Viewliner.
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 127
Number in service 121
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
Line(s) served

Baggage only:Capitol Limited, Carolinian, Empire Builder, Northeast Regional, Palmetto

All types:Cardinal, Crescent, Lake Shore Limited, Silver Meteor, Silver Star
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 Head end power
Bogies GSI 70
Braking system(s) Air
Coupling system AAR
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)

The Viewliner is a single-level car type used by Amtrak on most long-distance routes operating east of Chicago. With the exception of a prototype dining car named "Indianapolis", all cars which have been in service so far are sleeping cars and are assigned names that include the word "View." Amtrak began placing 130 additional cars into service on March 23, 2015, and took possession of the final 12 baggage cars on November 17, 2015. The 70 new bag cars are used on all Amtrak trains, single-level and bi-level. They replaced almost all of the "Heritage" baggage cars that Amtrak inherited from the freight railroads when it was created in 1971. Other single-level cars still to be delivered include diners, 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 recently funded the restoration of dining car 8400 to 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 to Morrison-Knudsen, which was also building the new California Cars based on the Superliner design. The contract called for 50 sleeping cars with an option for 227 cars of various types.[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 delivery finally being completed in 1996 alongside the California Car fleet. After the first batch of 50 cars was 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. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s Viewliner sleepers ran on East Coast single-level trains in concert with Amfleet coaches and Heritage diners.[11]

Viewliner II[edit]

Viewliner II baggage car No. 61010 on the Lake Shore Limited at Springfield, Massachusetts in 2015.

In the 2009 budget, increased funding was provided to allow Amtrak to initially order 130 Viewliner II cars in the form of diners, sleepers, baggage-dorms, and baggage cars, with an option to purchase 70 additional cars.[12] On July 23, 2010 Amtrak placed an order worth $298.1 million with CAF USA, a fully owned subsidiary of Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles located in Elmira, New York, for the order of 130 new cars. According to Amtrak president Joseph Boardman, CAF's capability to construct the entire car at its factory, rather than relying on subcontractors, as well as submitting a lower bid, were the reasons the company won the contract over Alstom, the only other bidder.[13] The original 130-car order broke down as follows: 55 baggage cars, 25 dining cars, 25 sleepers, and 25 baggage-dorms.[14] The breakdown was modified in August 2014; 15 bag-dorms were replaced by 15 more full baggage cars. The new breakdown is as follows: 25 sleepers, 25 dining cars, 10 baggage-dorms, and 70 baggage cars.[15]

The first car of this order was originally scheduled to roll off the assembly line in October 2012.[16] Instead, in May, 2014, the first baggage car left the CAF factory to begin testing. The first production cars included a diner, sleeper, baggage, and baggage-dorm were delivered for testing in 2014, with hopes of revenue service starting in 2015, and delivery of all 130 cars by 2017.[17] These cars also mark the return of Amtrak's Phase III paint scheme. [18]


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 cars.[19]

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. ^ "American View (AMTK 10004)". 2 April 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  7. ^ "American View (AMTK 10004)". 2 April 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  8. ^ "AMTK 10004". 13 August 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  9. ^ Stephenson, Dick (February 1993). "New Equipment Ordered". Pacific RailNews (351): 45–46. 
  10. ^ "Special Report: First California Cars Delivered". Pacific RailNews (374): 77–78. January 1995. 
  11. ^ Solomon 2004, pp. 133–134
  12. ^ a b "CAF kicks off Amtrak fleet renewal program". Railway Age  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). August 1, 2010. Retrieved 2012-12-12. 
  13. ^ "Amtrak's president explains purchase of new equipment during press conference". Trains Magazine. 26 July 2010. Retrieved 27 July 2010. 
  14. ^ "Amtrak Will Buy 130 Passenger Cars for $298.1 Million". Bloomberg Businessweek. 23 July 2010. Retrieved 24 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. ^
  18. ^ Oct 24, 2013 (2013-10-24). "Coming Soon: New Long Distance Cars |". Retrieved 2014-02-02. 
  19. ^ Trains Magazine, January, 2012.


Further reading[edit]

  • Ingles, David J. (February 1993). "A View of the future? Sleeping well on Amtrak's Viewliner". Trains. 53 (2). 
  • Johnston, Bob (April 1996). "Viewliner beats the odds". Trains. 56 (4). 

External links[edit]