ACL Budget Room sleepers : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

I have memories of ACL using sleepers marketed as "Budget Room sleepers" to counter SAL's use of Slumbercoaches back in the 1960's. I can't find traces of the SC's, where they came from or where they went, but I remember them on NY-Florida trains. ACL took sleepers, removed the carpeting and put vinyl tiles down and closed up the hall-side shoe compartment door (from a story in Popular Science in my memory.) The SAL SC was economically sound, but the ACL response was not, although competitively necessary. I think the ACL offering was in "Bird" series 16duplex room/4 dbr cars (B&O had 11, I can see 8 sold to SCL about 1960, three I can't trace - could these be the ACL Budget Room sleepers? Anyone remember the Slumbercoaches or Budget Room sleepers? It is just a nagging memory I am trying to straighten out. Where the cars came from, what they were, and where they went.

-- Joel McEachen (, November 27, 2000


Part of the mystery of two Ex-B&O slumbercoaches may have been solved by David Randall of RPC prod. While stopped at Cumberland,MD at the Western Maryland yards while riding the Independence Limited in 1973, I took slides of two 24-8 slumbercoaches,both unlettered, which were striped with blue and/or red below window levels. After looking through my various sources without success,I sent prints of each to Dave, who believes that they had been obtained by the High Iron Co. to provide crew space on steam excursions. Can anyone add to this info?

-- Paul Coe (, August 25, 2002.

Following excerpt from Jacksonville Terminal's 10:00 P.M "Dope Sheet" dated July 3, 1964-- "The following slpr have been placed in SAL coach account for service as needed: GLEN DALE, GLEN ARBOR, ROMNEY (on hand) plus GLEN MEADOW, CLOVER LAKE, ANSELIN'S TOWER (out line of road)."

Maybe not by choice, but one might ride Pullman at coach prices on SAL.

-- Harry Bundy (, July 11, 2002.

I am not sure if the first two B&O slumbercoaches were wrecked/scrapped by B&O or if they were returned to Budd Co. from whom they were leased. The third ex B&O car was wrecked while under NP ownership.

The same thing goes for the three Bird cars not sold to SCL. Not all cars may have been wrecked, but they stayed with the B&O. Perhaps a B&O car person might have a better handle on this. B&O was known for its winding ROW and it did have some wrecks in the 1960's which led to car scrappings-one particular one was the National Limited in which the trains ex NYC observation sleeper was destroyed.

It is unsure why the ACl started Budget Room service. They had a very stable coach service and a very stable sleeping car service-in bedrooms. Roomettes were a slow, declining market. Travelers to the south usually travelled in pairs and thus Bedrooms were the going commodity-and were the one item which the ACL was short on. This need for bedrooms explains why the ACL rebuilt its 14 roomette 2 drawing room sleepers to 7 bedroom 2 drawing room cars, and why it rebuilt one of its 21 roomette sleepers to an all bedroom car. The need for bedrooms was so great that the ACL even purchased prewar cars from the New York Central and converted them from a 4 bedroom, 4 compartment 2 drawing room layout to a 4 bedroom, 4 drawing room layout. These cars were unsuccessful due to the bedrooms retaining their prewar non enclosed toilet facilities and their poor ride.

ACL did have a surplus of roomettes and it had a fleet of 21 roomette cars which were looking to be used. Running them in Budget Room service was one way of generating some money by running the cars. However, this still resulted in only single rooms and the use of the Bird series cars gave the railroad the use of four bedrooms which could be sold for parties of two-more reflective of the passenger mix.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak, December 04, 2000.

Thank you for your answers. This dialogue has enabled me to think that the Slumbercoaches I remember to Florida most likely began in the early days of Amtrak. I always liked the Slumbercoach concept and thought expansion would have helped the passenger trains, but they came too late in the downward spiral. The Milw/UP response on the "City of Denver" to CB&Q's SC's (22 roomette cars) may have been what I read in "Popular Science" with vinyl tile floors - wonder what that sounded like at high speed - and the aisle side sealed shoe compartment! It now rings a bell.

SCL must have started the "Budget Room sleeper" merely to get a few more passengers to spread out their fixed costs on, although the cost of running the "Bird" cars must certainly have made them uneconomic, but better perhaps than just parking them.

Of the three SC's that did not make it to Amtrak, I presume that the one NP car was wrecked, as well as the B&O's 7700 Slumberland and 7701 Dreamland. If so, these two SC's and the three "Bird" cars (Kingfisher,Mockingbird and Quail) wrecked on the B&O make me wonder if the B&O had roadbed problems in those days. Also, many of the NYC conversion Sleepercoaches made it to Amtrak and ran on various routes until it was determined not to convert SC's to HEP (and retention toilets?)

I am sorry to see the SC's gone, and the study of their introduction and use certainly shows that some RR managements tried to maintain quality and innovative passenger service in the face of crippling taxation and competition from the new airline services. Thanks for your replies and input. Joel McEachen

-- Joel McEachen (, December 01, 2000.

I went home and checked through my various SAL timetables to confirm that the SAL never advertised a sleepercoach type of service. Having confirmed that, I then checked the same series of ACL timetables. ACL did advertise a Budget Room Sleeper service, initially using 21 roomette sleepers. If you recall, ACL purchased a series of 21 roomette sleepers in 1949 from P-S and named them in the "Island" series. After the drastic decline of business travel on Pullman, these cars had little use, and most were used by Pullman for special trains, etc. Use of 21 roomette cars for budget service was tryed by several railroads, including UP/Milw to counter CB&Q's Slumbercoaches on the Chicago-Denver route.

The costs associated with using these cars killed any cost savings. The next cars assigned to the Budget Room service were the ex B&O Bird series cars in 1968-69 after SCL was formed. These cars were 16 duplex roomette 4 bedroom cars built by Budd under Plan 9536 Lot 9658- 137 and delivered to B&O May-June 1954. Of the eleven cars built, SCL purchased 8:

6700-Bobolink, 6701-Cardinal, 6702-Gull, 6703-Oriole, 6704-Robin, 6705-Swan, 6706-Thrush, 6707-Wren.

All of the above cars made it to AMTRAK. Three cars- Kingfisher,Mockingbird and Quail were wrecked on the B&O and never made it to SCL or Amtrak.

As to the true Slumbercoaches, Budd built a total of 18 cars with a configuration of 24 single rooms 8 double rooms. B&O had 5, NYC had 4, MP had 1, CB&Q had 4 and NP had 4. Three of the 5 B&O cars were sold to the NP, as were the four NYC and one MP car. Of these 18 cars, 15 made it to AMTRAK, the three missing cars all being of B&O ancestry-2 which were never sold to NP and one which was sold to NP.

After NYC had the first 4 cars delivered by Budd, it liked the concept so much that it went back to Budd and had them rebuild 10 of its 22 roomette sleepers into 10 double room 16 single room cars. Of these cars, 7 made it to AMTRAK.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak, November 29, 2000.

First of all the Seaboard Air Line never had any "Slumbercoaches". There was no SCL in 1960,that did not happen until July 1,1967. All the "slumbercoaches" on the SCL went to Amtrak.

-- J.Oates (, November 28, 2000.

You are right-the B&O Budd built Bird series cars were used by ACL for Budget Rooom service. SCL purchased 8 of these cars 1968-69, the remaining three cars were either wrecked on the B&O or kept for company service. More info on this service can be found in Larry Goolsby's ACL Passenger Service book or Joe Welsh's To Florida by Streamliner book. Interestingly, when ACL was running the Bird cars as Budget Room cars, it did not regularly run its 10-6 cars. Instead, it ran PRR 12 duplex room 4 bedroom cars in the "Creek" series. The Duplex Room was somewhat bigger than a duplex roomette, while the bedrooms were basically identical.

True Slumbercoaches were built by Budd for the CB&Q, NP, MP, B&O, and NYC. All of these original cars eventually ended up with the NP. NYC had ten of its 22 roomette Budd built bars rebuilt by Budd in 1962 as Sleepercoaches. Seven of these cars were purchased by AMTRAK.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak, November 28, 2000.

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