I took Amtrak to and from the Society for Risk Analysis Annual Meeting. I took an overnight train home and reserved a sleeper car (a “roomette”). It was fantastic! The room was about two seats wide and long enough for me to lie down. In the tiny room was retractable sink and toilet. A second bed could be lowered from the ceiling for a roommate. During the day, the bed could be converted to two seats. My trip was entirely overnight, so I only experienced the room in its nighttime mode. The roomette was a bit pricey ($194 plus the purchase of a regular train ticket), but it is comparable to a hotel stay and includes meals and excellent service. It is a real treat if you only fly/ride coach like me.
I took a few pictures of my roomette because I was so happy with it. Sorry the quality was so bad–I had to use my phone camera and tablet camera, neither of which take good pictures.
Those of you who have spent time in Europe may used to nice train accommodations. I have enjoyed the Amtrak service here in the Eastern United States, but it’s not equivalent to the trains in Europe. The sleeper car experience was a pleasant surprise that I will certainly try again.
What is your best train experience?
December 7th, 2011 at 4:05 pm
Thanks for this wonderful blogspot on overnight train travel in the US and especially for the photos!
When I was a child, my parents would take us on overnight train trips but, as you were speculating, indeed, some of the most memorable train trips (at least for me) have been in Europe and especially the 8 hour train trip from Bergen to Oslo in Norway, plus the great train rides in Austria, Switzerland, and, of course, on the TGV in France.
Tomorrow my undergrads in my Transportation & Logistics class will be doing their team project presentations and there will be several on trains!
December 7th, 2011 at 7:54 pm
Reminds me of this (see 9:30). http://www.npr.org/2011/07/23/138592689/larry-king-plays-not-my-job
December 7th, 2011 at 10:38 pm
I think you did better than our recent Beijing-Xi’an overnight train trip. Two aspects: first, they don’t light up the scenery at night so “seeing the countryside” really doesn’t work, and, second, if the “squat” toilet at one end of the car is really disgusting, the “western” toilet at the other end is unlikely to be a pleasant experience.
December 7th, 2011 at 11:09 pm
Do you think I’d fit??
December 8th, 2011 at 8:50 am
Tim, you might if you curl up a bit. The beds are narrow, so there is only so much curling up one can do. The beds are apparently 6’2″ – 6’6″ long and can comfortably accommodate someone 6’6″ in height. I am tall (for a woman), and fit comfortably.
December 8th, 2011 at 8:54 am
Mike, thank you for your toilet comments. I thought that the toilet pictures might be a bit gross, given that the toilet is literally touching the bed in the Amtrak train. It sounds like it could be much worse.
I didn’t exactly miss the scenery on my trip (I took a daytime train to the conference, and let’s be honest, Virginia and the Carolinas are not as exotic as China). When taking overnight trains through Europe, I definitely missed my time staring out of the train windows. It’s a tough choice: sleep or scenery.
December 9th, 2011 at 7:52 am
Coincidentally, there has been some serious discussion about the future of sleeper trains in the UK. Gradually the number of them has decreased, and now there are only two routes (we are a small island!) The UK Government has pledged to support the sleeper train between London and Scotland
That train is described in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caledonian_Sleeper
The UK sleeper service is celebrated in “Cats” with “Skimbleshanks” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OekFxRxCuNM.
An OR-related problem for the train operator will be the number of sleeping cars to purchase, as they can only be used as sleepers (unlike couchette cars in Europe). So, for every service that you run, there must be enough sleepers to come and the same number to go, plus spares for maintenance.