Amtrak Debuts Long-Distance Train ImprovementsWritten by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
Amtrak unveiled refreshed railcar interiors and other onboard improvements for riders this week at Chicago Union Station, as part of a three-year, $28 million initiative to modernize more than 450 long-distance service cars.
Amtrak showcased elements of the work—in addition to the first of its new low-emissions diesel-electric locomotives—following the completion of daily service restoration for 12 long-distance routes, which had experienced pandemic-related cuts.
(Sacramento, Calif.-based Siemens Mobility is supplying Amtrak with 75 ALC-42s—designated “Amtrak Long-distance Charger, 4,200-horsepower” units; see below. Delivery of the remaining units is expected by 2024.)
Amtrak is updating the interiors of its 1980-1990-era bi-level Superliner fleet, serving primarily midwestern, southern and western routes, with new seating cushions and upholstery, carpet, LED lighting, tables, and curtains. All Superliner Coaches, Sleeping Cars, Dining Cars and Sightseer Lounges will be refreshed; “Viewliner I” Sleeping Cars operating to and from the east and southeast will receive similar improvements.
The first refreshed coaches will be ready for riders this summer, Amtrak said. It will start deploying the other three types of updated Superliners this fall.
Amtrak also reported that after successful testing of upgraded bedding, pillows, towels and linens on Auto Train, it will begin expanding their use to all private bedrooms and roomettes in August. The railroad will then install lotion dispensers in each bedroom and three-bottle dispensers of shampoo, conditioner and body wash in each shower, “doing away with much of the single-use packaging in our Sleeping Cars.”
Among Amtrak’s other recent “customer experience” improvements are:
• Restoration of traditional dining service on six western routes, commencing June 23.
• Launch of the electronic USA Rail Pass, which allows riders to take multi-segment train trips.
• Expansion of the BidUp program, allowing riders to bid on upgrades into Amtrak’s premium services, including from coach class to private rooms.
“We are marking a new era in customer experience for our historic routes that serve the country with comfortable and affordable coach seating and private rooms,” said Roger Harris, Executive Vice President/Chief Marketing and Revenue Officer for Amtrak. “As we mark Amtrak’s 50th anniversary this year, these significant investments in the long-distance network lay the foundation for our next decades of service.”