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Contrasting view: Amtrak Sightseer Lounge 33022

While waiting at Denver Union Station with Holland America 1058 and 1059, Amtrak's California Zephyr showed up (on time, I might add) to make its station stop. While passengers shuffled on and off of the train and workers cleaned the windows and restocked the supplies, I stepped aboard for a moment to take a peek at the inside of the train's Superliner Sightseer Lounge.

With its small curved "dome" windows, the Sightseer Lounges have frequently been referred to as Amtrak's equivalent of the ultradome. I was curious to see for myself.

It's easy to see why the Sightseer Lounge has its name. With its larger windows and the extra windows up top, the view certainly has to be better than the standard coaches. Still, it's no ultradome...

Inside the lower level dining area. The patina of chocolate brown and forest green probably won't be found in a CRM product any time soon. Actually, I was surprised by how dark the interior was, even for Amtrak. I did get a real kick out of the disposable cardboard garbage cans.

Another look at the dining area. The windows are of similar size to the CRM domes, but feature the center post. I am not sure of its purpose, as the windows don't slide open or anything. Only one half of the lower level is accessible by passengers. I presume the other half is used for the HVAC units and other equipment.

While it's not exactly the same as the spacious appointments on CRM's cars, the Superliners do feature a (supposedly) ADA accessible lavatory on the lower level. The configuration harkens more to an airliner than a railcar, though.

The stairway going up (only one is provided) harkens to some earlier Pullman designs, like those used in the bilevel commuter cars. Though the first Sightseer Lounges were built by Pullman, the 33022 was built by ACF.

There was just enough light coming through the windows to keep the flash from turning on, which only exaggerates the overall dark appearance of the car's interior. Just past the stairway is a small service bar.

The car's compliment of seats faces outward. I did like the little drink shelf that is provided under the windows. Much to my surprise, though, the seats are fixed in position and can't be moved.

A final look at the upper level of the 33022. Passenger pass-throughs on the Superliner cars is via the upper level. It might not be fair to compare a car built for intercity passenger service to a luxury dome car, but since many people have tried to draw parallels between the Sightseer Lounges and CRM's domes, I thought it only appropriate. I hope you have enjoyed this look at Amtrak 33022.

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