First look at the Amfleet I coach fleet refresh

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The interior of a newly refurbished Amfleet 1 coach.
Ralph Spielman
NEW YORK – For Amtrak’s 450-odd, 40-something-year-old Amfleet I passenger car fleet, the Budd-built cars are newsworthy yet again, and the news is passenger comfort. The new interior redesign brings the 21st century to the Northeast and the Midwest.

Trains News Wire recently toured Amtrak Business class car No. 81546 at Penn Station New York; it’s one of more than 90 cars with the new Amtrak interior, and it was sitting along side an unmodified Amfleet I coach for a stark comparison. Duncan Copland, director of industrial design at Amtrak, and Alison Simon, director of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Business Development Group, explained the new interior.

“What had been done with the previous interior modifications of the cars took 9 years to finish all the work. This time around, we intend to complete all the work in 12 months,” Simon said. She indicated that the refresh for more than 450 cars would be done at a multiple Amtrak shops to get the job done faster.

Copland says more cushioning was added to the seats; a quick test shows them to be more comfortable than the current Amfleet seats and firmer. Fabric is out, and imitation leather is now the material of choice, with seat frames untouched. The seat back cushions have a slight rounding at the top, instead of being straight, and should be easier to clean. Business class seats are light and dark grey, with a blue accent in the middle top of the seat; coach seats are solid light gray.

New overhead LED lighting provides sufficient light for reading after it gets dark; cove lights above the luggage racks are to be refitted with LED lighting as well in the future. The lavatories will also boast of LED lighting.

The last part of the $16 million dollar project will refurbishment of the cafe cars. Focusing on the galleys, Copland indicated the front counter of the galley will be made of a tougher plastic, which is easier to keep clean.

With a highly restricted budget, Amtrak has undertaken a Cinderella transformation, taking the railcar of the past to the passenger car of today.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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