Amtrak

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Superliner and High-Level Equipment

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Amtrak's high-level Superliner cars were delivered in two major groups.  The first batch began arriving in 1979 and are now referred to as Superliner I or S1. The second order was built in 1993-94, known as Superliner II or S2.  They are used primarily on the Western long-distance trains (i.e. Empire Builder, California Zephyr, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited), in California, and on the Auto Train.  They (and variants) also show up on California Surfliner trains.

A convenient spotting feature is the trucks.  The S1 equipment all came on coil-spring trucks (initially with airbags in the coil).  These trucks have an unconventional look to them, and much of the wheel face is exposed.  The S2's, on the other hand, have trucks of more conventional construction with prominent low-hanging sideframes.

There are four main types of cars, with a couple of variations within type: coaches, sleepers, diners, and lounges.

 C  O  A  C  H  E  S

Coach/Baggage 31013, at Gallup on 9/24/2011.  It wears Phase IVb.  See comments for 31027, which also apply here.

Coach/Baggage 31027, westbound at Clay (base of the Front Range) on 12/6/2008.  An S1, of course-- all the coach/smokers started out as coach/baggages, but were later modified with installation of seats in the baggage area, which was then designated as a smoking room. Now that smoking is no longer allowed anywhere on the train, these cars have been converted back to their original baggage function on the lower level.  Note that the lower windows have been blanked, as originally configured.  Note the large door opening on the side.

Coach/Baggage 31040 in Albuquerque on 2/26/2009.  Note that it's still wearing standard Phase IV lettering, and is labeled as "Coach Smoker", but has actually been modified back to a coach/baggage configuration.
 Coach 31523, shown at Glenwood Springs on 11/30/02.
Another view of coach 31523.  A Superliner I built as coach/baggage car No. 31023, this coach was classified as a Super Smoker at time of photo. Note the lower windows have glass in them.
Coach 34027, an S1, oblique view.  It's eastbound at Palisade, CO on 4/28/2014. As with all Superliners at this time it's in Phase 4b.
Coach No. 34062 is seen on the California Zephyr at Grand Junction, CO on 1/05/2006.  On this day the train was being run as a stub operation west of Denver, turning at Grand Junction, and as such was run without sleepers, baggage car, or lounge.  Three coaches and a diner behind two P42DC's were the entire train.  The announced reason was because of  flooding in California, although why they didn't run through to Salt Lake was not explained to me.  This is a standard S1 coach.
Coach 34075, last car on the Southwest Chief in Albuquerque on 2/7/2010.  It's an S1 in Phase IVb.
S1 Coach 34090, at Albuquerque on 2/26/2009.  Wearing Phase IVb.
S2 coach 34120, at Gallup on 9/24/2011.  Phase IVb stripes.
S2 coach 34134, at Gallup on 9/24/2011.  Phase IVb stripes.

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 T R A N S I T I O N   S  L  E  E  P  E  R  S

Superliner 2 Transition Sleeper 39009, at Albuquerque on 2/26/2009.  It's in Phase IVb.
Transition Sleeper 39019, a Superliner I (1/1/04).  Look closely at the far end of the car and you will see a small window on the end.  These cars have a standard-height vestibule on that end, allowing passage into the baggage car (or other standard-height equipment).  Wearing Phase IV lettering.
 

Transition sleeper 39028, westbound in Byers Canyon on 8/9/2007.  This was the first time I had photographed the newer, simplified Phase IVb scheme.  Note the lack of the scripted "SUPERLINER" lettering, and modified numbering and car identification legends.

Transition sleeper 39031, in Gallup on 9/24/2011.
Transition sleeper 39035, at Westwater, Utah on 4/27/2014. The consist was inverted, with coaches behind the transition car, and only 7 cars total.

S  L  E  E  P  E  R  S

S1 sleeper 32042, in Albuquerque on 2/26/2009.  It seems to have had some kind of repair done on the roof towards the right end.  Wearing Phase IVb, which is probably the fourth paint scheme for this car.
S1 Sleeper 32044 brings up the markers on No. 5 at Westwater, Utah (4/27/2014). Oblique angle but we get a good look at the end of the car.

This particular run featured (in order) a transition sleeper at the head end, two coaches, lounge, diner, and these two sleepers on the tail.


Sleeper 32050, a Superliner I.

TOP: In essentially original paint, the Phase II scheme-- note the extremely narrow white separation between the red and blue.  It's at Coal Creek Canyon west of Denver, trailing a coach in the same scheme, in July 1986.

BOTTOM: Same car, 25 years later (9/24/2011) in Gallup, now it's in Phase IVb.

 

Sleeper 32053, an S1 at Big 10 curve on 12/6/2008.  Note that the "Amtrak" herald and the car number are a much lighter blue than the stripe.  The light-blue letters on the silver background can be very hard to read in certain light. 

In all likelihood this is the fourth paint scheme this car has worn (see 32050 above for a look at the original Phase II scheme).

Sleeper 32059, at Glenwood Springs on 11/30/02.  It's a Superliner I, and the former paint scheme is showing through in places.
S1 sleeper 32065, in Gallup on 9/24/2011. Note the panel adjacent to the car number; it seems to have received a repair job at some point.
Sleeper 32083, a Superliner II carrying the name "IOWA".  S2 sleepers were originally named for states.  (1/1/04)
S2 Sleeper 32086, at Albuquerque on 2/26/2009.

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 L  O  U  N  G  E     C  A  R  S

S1 Lounge 33004, in Albuquerque on 2/7/2010.  Probably the fourth paint scheme it has worn since being built in 1979...  Note the four windows beyond the off-center side door-- this easily identifies it as an S1, even if one cannot see the trucks.
Sightseer Lounge car 33013, a Superliner I (8/07/01).  These cars are the best place to be for the scenic portions of a trip, particularly in Colorado's canyon country.
S1 Lounge/Cafe 33014, in simplified Phase III stripes on 6/30/1995.  Video capture image.  It's in the rain in Glenwood Springs.
S1 Lounge 33016, at Gallup on 9/24/2011.  Note that, by this date, the car numbers have been changed to a darker blue, and are far easier to read than the early Phase IVb numbers.
Sightseer Lounge car 33020, a Superliner I (11/30/02).  Lounge cars are the most easily spotted, with their large amount of glass on sides and roof.
Lounge 33022, an S1, seen at Westwater, Utah on 4/27/2014. Phase 4b scheme.

Interior of a Superliner I Sightseer Lounge car, upper level.  Photo is taken standing with the stairway immediately to the left.  Notice the earth-tone interior, which is the as-built color scheme.  Word has it that some cars have been refitted in the Superliner II scheme (see below).  Sightseer lounges have a TV monitor at each end of the car, to the left of the aisle, on which movies are played in the evenings.
Interior of a Superliner I Sightseer Lounge car, upper level, looking the opposite direction.  Stairway is just to the right.  Seat cushions in these lounges are a putty-colored tan on the stationary seats (lounge clusters) in the middle of the car, and darker brown on the swivel seats to each end.

Sightseer Lounge car 33027, a Superliner II, on the Southwest Chief at Albuquerque on 2/26/2009.

Interesting footnote: On this day, No, 4 was running without a diner, and only 2 coaches behind the lounge.  Very strange, and pity the passenger with a taste for something more elegant than a microwaved hotdog...

Lounge 33031, an S2, at Palisade, CO on 4/28/2014. Though the entire car isn't shown here, I found it interesting that you can easily see where all the Phase 4  appliques were peeled off-- the large SUPERLINER letters, the cartype descriptors, even the word "Amtrak" .  Most other cars do not show the shadows like this one does. It's been around 7 years since they were removed.
Sightseer Lounge car 33041, a Superliner II, waiting at Denver Union Station on 1/1/04.  Notice that the vestibule door is more centered than on a Superliner I, and that this side of the lower level has no windows beyond the door. 
The opposite side of Sightseer Lounge car 33041.  You can see that the lower level on this side has two regular-size windows to the left of the door, plus one smaller window (in the lounge attendant's area). 

S2 Sightseer Lounge 33030, in Byers Canyon on 8/9/2007.  It wears the Phase IVb scheme.

 Interior of a Superliner II Sightseer Lounge car, upper level.  The steward at left is coming up the staircase.  Yes, that's the Ski Train visible out the right-hand windows; photo taken at Denver Union Station.
Interior of a Superliner II Sightseer Lounge car, upper level, looking the opposite direction.  Stairway is just to the right.  Notice the interior colors based on light gray, which is the as-built color scheme.  Stationary seats (lounge clusters) typically are dark blue-gray, and the swivel seats at each end of the car are maroon.
Interior of a Superliner II Sightseer Lounge car, lower level.  Stairway is on the right, beyond the vestibule area.  Photo taken from doorway of the lavatory, which is the full width of the car and handicap-accessible.  The door at the far end leads to the concession area.  The tables on the near end are designed for easy access by those with disabilities, whereas the tables at the far end are standard booths.

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 D  I  N  E  R  S

Diner 38008, a Superliner I, at Glenwood Springs on 11/30/02.
Superliner I diner, number not legible, in Byers Canyon on 8/09/2007.  It's been put into Phase IVb lettering.
S1 Diner 38016, at Westwater, Utah on 4/27/2014. It has the patchy paint so common on S1 cars.
S1 diner 38019, at Gallup on 9/24/2011.  Phase IVb stripes.
Diner 38062, a Superliner II.  It was quite new when this photo was taken on June 30, 1995.  The Phase 4 paint scheme with the two narrow red stripes debuted with the Superliner II series; note the other cars in the train are still in the Phase 3 scheme.  By the way, food onboard contemporary Amtrak diners is first-class.
Diner 38011, a Superliner I, at Glenwood Springs on 1/1/2004.

 

 H I G H - L E V E L    C A R S  ( E L  C A P I T A N )

As described on the Introduction Page, the Superliner design was based on that of Santa Fe's El Capitan cars. As it turned out, two types of the original El Capitan cars remained in Amtrak service after introduction of the Superliners. These are the transition coaches ("Dorm Coach" in Amtrak parlance) and the Parlour Lounges.

The dorm coaches were used at the front of trains during the S1 era, but were gradually phased out as the S2 Transition Sleepers entered service in the 1990s, and all are off the roster now.  As of this writing, five Pacific Parlour Lounges remain in Amtrak service on the west coast.  I also videotaped one in Colorado on 12/29/1994 on train No. 5.

Two views of "Pacific Parlour" car No. 39972 in Seattle, 7/24/2009.  Taken from a tour bus, the image quality could be better, but you can still see the distinguishing features.

TOP: Note the overhead windows which inspired the Superliner Lounge Cafe / Sightseer Lounge design, but see how they are shifted towards one end of the car.  Also note the slight height difference when compared to the adjacent Superliners.

BOTTOM: closer view of the window end of the same car. See the wider Amtrak California blue stripe.

Dorm Coach on train No. 6 in July 1986-- it is just behind the baggage car. (Closer view coming soon.)

James R. Griffin.  All rights reserved.