Amfleet cars: They just keep going and going and going…

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
Amfleet 1

How many times can Amtrak spruce up its aging yet dependable Amfleet* cars, originally supplied by the long-defunct Budd Company in the 1970s and 1980s, and based on an electric multiple-unit design the Pennsylvania Railroad commissioned in the mid-1960s for New York-Washington, D.C. service?

When funds for capital equipment acquisitions are limited by government largesse (or lack thereof), and billions have already been expended on locomotive replacements and new high-speed trainsets, you give your “old reliables” a once-over and a “refresh,” as Amtrak is calling a $16 million extensive interior overhaul on more than 450 40-plus-year-old Amfleet I cars that protect Northeast and Midwest services.

The overhaul program, which is “aimed at introducing a more modern, more comfortable experience for customers,” begins this month and will be accomplished in phases over a nine-month period. The overhaul includes new seat cushions, flooring and carpeting; LED lighting; upgraded wainscoting and bulkheads; new curtains in Business Class cars; and redesigned galleys in Café cars.

“Amtrak is committed to offering a premium customer experience, and these modernized interior features are a marked improvement in the overall ambience on board,” said Wick Moorman, Amtrak Co-CEO. “The upgrades offer customers what they told us they want more of during their travels—a more comfortable, refreshed look and feel. Amfleet I equipment forms the backbone of many of our state corridor services, which have been the fastest growing segment of Amtrak’s business.”

Amtrak said its schedules will not change due to the refresh.

*Amfleet cars, called “AmCans” and “AmTubes” by some in the railfan community who prefer even older designs, are a fleet of single-level stainless-steel-bodied intercity 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. An initial order for 57 cars in 1973 to supplement the Metroliners on the Northeast Corridor grew to two orders totaling 642 cars, sufficient to reequip all NEC services and many other routes. The first 492 cars, known as Amfleet I and completed between 1975 and 1977, were designed for short-distance service. A second order of 150 cars, known as Amfleet II and completed between 1980 and 1983, were designed for long-distance service. They were the last intercity passenger cars built by Budd.

Amfleet 1





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