Check Out Amtrak’s New Missouri River Runner Train Cars
Amtrak's first new train coaches for Amtrak Midwest, what Amtrak calls their Midwest routes, have recently been spotted in Chicago. These train cars will eventually replace the Amfleet and Horizon passenger cars on the Missouri River Runner.
Siemens Mobility, the manufacturer of the rail cars promise the new cars, called Venture Trainsets, will ride more comfortably, have spacious interiors with wide seats and in-seat recline which won't encroach on passengers sitting the next row back, large windows and USB ports at all seats and better Wi-Fi throughout the train.
Wikipedia says the cars were originally designed for Virgin Trains USA which runs a route between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Virgin Trains ordered five train sets of four cars and ten engines for their corridor service in 2014.
In 2017, the State of California representing a coalition of states including Missouri, Illinois and Michigan ordered 137 of the cars for their state supported trains after a prototype of the Next Generation Bi-Level Passenger Car they wanted failed a certification test in 2015. This came after years of delays and problems with that project.
According to Wikipedia 97 of the 137 cars will be used on Amtrak Midwest routes including Lincoln Service between Chicago and St. Louis and the Missouri River Runner between St. Louis and Kansas City. Many of the cars will be married pairs, which means two cars will be semi-permanently joined together. 17 cafe cars will be married to 17 economy coach cars, 17 economy coach cars will be married to 17 combination business class / economy coach cars. And there will be 26 stand alone coaches.
In Europe and on Virgin Trains USA the cars make up train sets that are a set length and semi-permanently coupled. While train sets made up of a more or less permanent length are common in Europe, and many El or subway trains are set up as married pairs, that's not been the practice of Amtrak.
I suspect the company prefers the flexibility to lengthen or shorten trains as ridership dictates and likes the flexibility of using different types of coaches together. Interestingly enough the cars ordered for Amtrak California will be semi-permanently coupled seven car train sets.
I can't wait to see the new cars roll through Sedalia and Warrensburg and even ride them to Kansas City. Heck, maybe I'll just leave the car at home and take Amtrak to visit my Mom in Chicago.