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Home > Archives > Prototype Viewliner Sleeping car, 1988.

Prototype Viewliner Sleeping car, 1988.

Color photograph taken in 1988 showing the Viewliner prototype Sleeping car No. 2300 in Washington, D.C.

Prototype Viewliner Sleeping car, 1988.

In 1982, Amtrak management laid the foundation for the Viewliner development program with the purpose of creating a new single-level, long-distance car to replace those in the Heritage fleet. An interdepartmental task force was put together to develop a “design concept that could be used for various car types [including] coaches, sleepers, diners, lounges, baggage cars and bag dormitory cars.”

Measuring 85’4” long over the couplers and 14’ high, the Viewliner cars became known for their two rows of windows. One standardized stainless steel car shell was developed that with minor modifications could accommodate all car types. It is widest at the belt rail—10’6” across—and then tapers towards the roof.

Three prototype cars—two Sleeping cars and one Dining car—were assigned to various routes starting in early 1988. In late 1992, Morrison Knudsen won a $100 million contract to build 50 Viewliner Sleeping cars, and all units were delivered by 1996.

Amtrak photo from the collection of Matt Donnelly.