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Amtrak is getting a big chunk of money from the federal government and, given the state of the current fleet, let us all assume that new or overhauled equipment will be where a large chunk of the money goes.
Let’s all try to be realistic . . . but let’s come up with a collective “wish list” for how some of the funds should be spent. (Some items are just a policy change). OK, I’ll go first.
1. Assuming there will be some new sleeping cars, whatever the design, there must be a window for the upper berths in all roomettes. And, if possible, try to add a window for the upper berths when Superliner sleeping cars are refurbished.
2. And—this is coming in the form of a question because I really don’t know all of the problems that may be involved—is there any reason why Viewliners could not be used on some of the long-distance trains which now have Superliner equipment? I personally like the Viewliner sleepers a lot and would be glad to find them on the western trains.
3. It’s too damn hard—and potentially dangerous for us old guys—to climb up into the upper berth in both Superliner and Viewliner sleeper roomettes and bedrooms. Lightweight, easily stored ladders, please.)
4. The old time railroaders were right: the best way to attract more ridership for long-distance trains is by serving really good food in the dining cars, because that’s what passengers talk about with their friends when they get home. So give the chefs more latitude to create at least one dish that is unique to whatever train their diner is attached to.
5. And let’s get the issue of late trains resolved. That will mean the federal government, with support from Congress, putting an end once and for all to the freight railroads’ arrogant flouting of the law that says they must give preference to Amtrak trains running on their track.
That’s my list and, really, there isn’t anything there that can’t be accomplished when there’s a common sense of purpose and good will among all the players. (I knew there was a catch!)
This article first appeared on www.trainsandtravel.com
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