Since then, rail travel has been making a comeback with more travelers staying within the US while vacationing and choosing Amtrak as an alternative to driving or flying.
Now, Amtrak is investing $28 million in upgrading its long-distance trains, known as Superliners and Viewliners. Riders can look forward to upgraded seats and rooms plus a new dining experience on six long-distance western routes.
Amtrak unveiled the new products in Chicago on Tuesday. Take a look inside the upgraded Superliner experience.
All classes of service with see upgraded products with the investment, from coach to the sleeper suites.
The tired blue cloth seats of Amtrak’s past have been replaced with more modern-looking seats with improved cushioning and upholstery.
For riders in the Northeast, the seats are similar to the updated products on Northeast Regional trains.
Seats are still arranged in a 2-2 configuration with no middle seats.
And each seat has a pitch of 50 inches, giving riders nearly double the legroom compared to a coach seat on a US airline.
Paper headrest coverings have been removed entirely from the cars, which Amtrak says reduces waste onboard the trains.
As many as 120 coverings per car needed to be discarded and replaced multiple times over the course of a single trip. Massive amounts of waste were created from the covering alone and it added to the cabin attendant’s workload.
Tray tables remain where riders can eat, drink, or get work done on a laptop using Amtrak’s free WiFi.
And two power outlets are still offered at every row.
Coach tickets don’t include many amenities, besides a generous baggage allowance of two checked bags and two carry-on bags, but a cabin attendant does assist passengers throughout the journey.
The coach cabin extends across both levels of massively tall Superliner and better views can sometimes be had on the top level.
One little-known fact is that conductors can actually reverse the orientation of seats so groups of up to four can face each other.
Routine maintenance programs are also being implemented to ensure that seats and carpeting don’t reach a state of disrepair. Seats will always look as close to brand-new as possible.
Coach passengers will also enjoy better sleeping arrangements as the new seats offer a deep recline complete with leg rest.
There are no dividers in between the seats, offering greater room to stretch out if riders don’t have a seat neighbor. The two seats are roughly the size of a twin-size bed.
Amtrak still doesn’t plan to offer bedding to coach passengers but riders are more than welcome to bring their own. Each passenger, after all, is permitted to bring up to two carry-on bags that can be used to store some pillows and blankets.
The next updated space is the Sightseer Car which features larger windows so riders can take in the views of the journey.
The configuration of the seats remains largely the same but the seat cushions are changed. Riders can choose from a two-seat pair…
Or a single-seat, depending on their preference and how many passengers are in a given group.
All coach and sleeper passengers have access to the shared space with first-come, first-serve seating.
Also offered in the car are standard tables where groups of four can sit.
All tables are open for seating with Amtrak moving away from a pandemic policy of blocking certain tables for distancing.
Cushioning on the bench seating has also been updated with a cleaner look, similar to the style of the coach seats.
Food and drinks from the cafe car can also be enjoyed here as coach customers currently don’t have access to the dining car.
Another change that riders can be excited about is that Amtrak is returning to traditional dining on select long-distance routes.
California Zephyr, Starlight, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited, and Texas Eagle trains, which see the most meals in Amtrak’s network, will be the first to see the new program.
Three meals in the dining car are included in the sleeper car fare and communal dining will be offered once more.
Riders that choose to dine independently, however, can choose to do so.
Amtrak-branded plates will be first used when traditional dining is restored on June 23 but china will soon be used in the service.
New staples include French toast with fresh whipped cream, flat iron steak, lobster crab cakes, and Philadelphia cheesecake. And to top it off, fresh flowers will be placed at every table.
Robert Jordan, Amtrak’s vice president of operations customer services, told Insider that the dining service will better than what was offered even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Next to be upgraded are the rooms. This is the largest room available on the train and can house up to two adults traveling together.
Inside is a sofa and armchair, both of which have been updated in the new design. Gone are the paper head dressings that constantly needed to be replaced.
Here’s what the old rooms looked like with the blue cloth seats.
Riders in these compartments also have a dedicated attendant, dining car access, and get lounge access at Amtrak’s Metropolitan Lounges.
Showers in the rooms remain largely the same but feature one big change: individual soap, shampoo, and conditioner bottles are being replaced with dispensers.