Amtrak Transition Sleepers

Amtrak transition sleepers connect single-level cars with Superliners.

transition sleeper floor plan via Craig Mashburn

Transition Sleeper floor plan by Crag Mashburn.

Connection cars with transition sleepers

Superliner II transition  sleeper car

Transition Sleeper bringing up the rear of the City of New Orleans.

AMTK 39008, a “transition sleeper” car, running on train #59, the City of New Orleans.The car’s design includes end vestibules at different levels. The car connects with the car in front of it on the upper level. These are “Superliner II” cars manufactured by Bombardier in the 1990s. They operate on Amtrak routes outside the Northeast Corridor (NEC). So, two of the trains that originate in New Orleans, the City of New Orleans and the Sunset Limited, operate Superliners. The third train, the Crescent, operates Viewliner II single-level cars. The Crescent travels to New York (Penn Station). The Crescent enters Manhattan via a tunnel. So, it uses the single-level cars.


amtrak transition sleeper car connected to a baggage car

Transition Sleeper car, connected to a single-level baggage car on the Sunset Limited.

Superliner II Sleeper, with high vestibule unlike the transition sleeperSuperliner II Sleeper, with high-level vestibule.

Amtrak normally runs the transition sleeper cars on routes also using standard baggage cars. Long-haul routes like the Sunset Limited require more baggage space than what’s on the lower level of Coach cars. So, the railroad uses the single-level cars that can travel the NEC. To ensure access to baggage, staff can move through the train on the upper level. When they reach the end of the transition car, they return to the lower level and through the vestibule. Since the transition connection is on a sleeper, engine crews use its roomettes for rest and sleep.


transition sleeper connected to heritage car

Transition sleeper connected to “heritage” car on the Sunset Limited.

Prior to Amtrak, most passenger rail operators ran single-level equipment. When the national rail corporation took over in 1971, it inherited seventy-three “Hi-Level” cars from Santa Fe. Passengers loved these cars, with their all-window roofs. When Amtrak moved to replace the “heritage” equipment, it ordered 235 two-level cars, which became the “Superliner I” rolling stock. Those cars reached the fleet by the late 1970s. They ran on the Sunset Limited starting in 1981.

A decade later, Amtrak upgraded the Superliner I cars with a new generation of two-levels. While the first-gen Superliners were manufactured by Pullman-Standard, that company was out of business at that time. They sold the designs and patents for the Superliners to Bombardier. That company delivered 140 cars to Amtrak. That total included forty-seven transition sleepers. Unlike the standard sleepers, which included full both full bedrooms and roomettes, the transitions only have roomettes. There are sixteen roomettes per car. The railroad sells the roomettes closer to the upper level door to passengers.

Future Cars

Amtrak began the process of replacing the Superliners in 2022. They anticipate having new cars in place by 2032.




Dash-8 on the Crescent 20 #TrainThursday

Dash-8 on the Crescent 20 #TrainThursday

A Dash-8 on the Crescent is an uncommon sighting.

Dash-8 on the Crescent

Amtrak Crescent #20, 29-December-2022, departing New Orleans. AMTK 164, a GE P42-DC “Genesis” in the lead, with AMTK 514, a GE P32-8WH (commonly referred to as a “Dash-8”) behind. Crescent #20 departs Union Passenger Terminal (NOL) at 0915CST. It runs parallel to I-10, which was a navigation canal until 1949. The track continues trough Mid-City New Orleans, turning east when it reaches the Norfolk-Southern “Back Belt.” this connection is directly behind Greenwood Cemetery. Prior to the opening of UPT in 1954, Southern Railway operated the Crescent. That train operated from the L&N terminal at Canal Street and the river.

Once on the Back Belt, there are no grade crossings through the city. The train crosses Lake Pontchartrain on the NS “five-mile bridge” to its first stop in Slidell, LA. From Slidell, it’s off through Mississippi and Alabama to Atlanta, then on to DC, ending at New York’s Penn Station (NYP).


The Crescent operates “Viewliner” equipment, rather than the “Superliners” used on the City of New Orleans and Sunset Limited. The current consist is 3 coaches, 1 cafe car, 2 sleepers, and a bag-dorm. It’s used this consist since vaccinations for COVID-19 became wide spread. Prior to vaccinations, the route went down to 3-day-per-week operations with two coaches and a single sleeper. Amtrak discontinued dining car service on the Crescent prior to the pandemic.

GE P32-8WH

Illustration of Amtrak Dash-8 locomotives in "Pepsi Can" livery by JakkrapholThailand93 on Deviant Art.

Illustration of Amtrak Dash-8 locomotives in “Pepsi Can” livery by JakkrapholThailand93 on Deviant Art.

Amtrak replaced their EMD F40PH units with Dash-8s. GE delivered this locomotive to Amtrak in 1991. They wore the “Pepsi Can” livery for years.

AMTK 514 is based here at NOL. The NOL crew operate 514 as a switcher to stage the Crescent, City of New Orleans, and Sunset Limited. The Dash-8 steps in for a run to NYP when weather and scheduling messes up the Genesis count.

AMTK 164, a GE P42DC "Genesis" locomotive, pulling the Crescent #20, 29-December-2022. Edward Branley photo.

AMTK 164, a GE P42DC “Genesis” locomotive, pulling the Crescent #20, 29-December-2022. Edward Branley photo.

By the mid-1990s, Amtrak replaced the Dash-8s with GE P42DC “Genesis” locomotives like AMTK 164, shown here.

Union Pacific 6310 Heritage unit on the #BackBelt #TrainThursday

Union Pacific 6310 Heritage unit on the #BackBelt #TrainThursday

Union Pacific 6310 is a “heritage” engine operating in the New Orleans area.

union pacific 6310

Union Pacific 6310

This engine, Union Pacific 6310, is a General Electric (GE) AC4400CW unit. UP 6310, on the BackBelt at Canal Blvd, Monday morning. This unit was built in 1995 for the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP), and delivered as SP 264. The roster lists don’t mention that it was re-numbered when UP acquired SP. It also explains why I couldn’t find photos of it in yellow/UP livery. This isn’t a “heritage” unit, in the sense that it was painted to look like a previous railroad. It’s always been SP.

Southern Pacific in New Orleans

The New Orleans, Opelousas and Great Western Railroad (NOO&GW) operated 83 miles of track, from Algiers (on the west bank of the Mississippi) to Morgan City, into the 1890s. At that time, SP acquired NOO&GW. By 1921, NOO&GW (then known as Morgan’s Louisiana and Texas Railroad and Steamship Co) merged into the Texas and New Orleans Railroad. T&NO operated as part of the SP system. NOO&GW operated a passenger station in Algiers, beginning in 1857. SP expanded that facility into a large freight yard. After the opening of the Huey P. Long Bridge in Jefferson Parish, SP moved its Algiers yard to Avondale, LA, on the western side of the Huey. UP and BNSF currently operate the Avondale yard.

So, SP maintained a large presence in the city. Additionally, SP operated (through the T&NO originally) three “name trains” out of New Orleans. The Sunset Limited and the Argonaut provided service from New Orleans to Los Angeles. The Alamo ran from New Orleans to San Antonio, TX. Amtrak retained the “Sunset Limited” name for their New Orleans to Los Angeles route.


When I researched the provenance of this engine, I thought 6310 was purchased originally by UP. The number fit in the range of the UP AC4400CWs. I posted the image to a railroading Facebook group. The members know a lot more about local railroading than I. I appreciate their patience!. While UP has a set of “heritage” engines, 6310 isn’t in the list. That’s because it’s not a UP unit, repainted. It’s always worn SP livery.


Hugo Kahn City Council Proclamation

Hugo Kahn City Council Proclamation

Hugo Kahn City Council Proclamation recognized the President of the Krauss Corporation.

hugo kahn city council proclamation

Hugo Kahn City Council Proclamation

In the waning days of Krauss Department Store, appreciations and tributes poured into the store. Mr. Hugo Kahn, President of the Krauss Corporation, accepted most of these on behalf of the store. The New Orleans City Council went one step further, recognizing Hugo personally.

Hugo Kahn

Mr. Hugo Kahn came to New Orleans in 1967. Mr. Jimmy Heymann was President of Krauss at the time. He succeeded his father, Leon Heymann, who died in 1963. Heymann hired Kahn as Controller of Krauss Department Store. Since Jimmy’s son, Jerry, indicated he wasn’t interested in joining the family business, Jimmy sought to bring someone in to take over the store when he retired.

Hugo and his family came to the US in 1938. He told me that, after Kristallnacht, his father packed up the family and they left Germany. Hugo likes to tell people he got his Master’s from UNO. When a University of New Orleans alum like me says, “oh, I went to UNO, too,” Hugo then adds, “I went to University of Nebraska, Omaha.” Or, as both schools say, “the other UNO.” So, Kahn was working in Omaha, and a headhunter called. The headhunter inquired if he would be interested in a position at a department store in New Orleans. He accepted. That began his 30+ year relationship with Krauss.

The Proclamation

Kahn and the Heymanns announced they would close Krauss in October, 1997. Many people and organizations recognized the almost-century run for the store. This proclamation recognizes Kahn, “…with commendations for the exemplary business and civic contributions he made to the community.”

The proclamation is signed by:

  • Peggy Wilson, Council President
  • Jim Singleton, Council-At-Large
  • Suzanne Haik Terrell, District A
  • Oliver Thomas, Jr., District B
  • Troy Carter, District C
  • Roy E. Glapion, Jr., District D
  • Ellen Hazeur-Distance, District E

Hugo Kahn continued on as President of the Krauss Corporation after the store closed. He supervised the sale of the property at 1201 Canal and other locations.

Phunny Phorty Phellows Begin Carnival

Phunny Phorty Phellows Begin Carnival

Phunny Phorty Phellows begin Carnival on Twelfth Night.

Phunny Phorty Phellows begin carnival

Members of the Phunny Phorty Phellows prepare for their uptown ride on January 6, 1994. (Infrogmation photo)

Phunny Phorty Phellows begin Carnival

While the “society” folk attend the bal masque of the Twelfth Night Revelers, the Phunny Phorty Phellows begin carnival on the streets of New Orleans. The PPP ride streetcars, announcing the start of Carnival. The title of one of Erroll Laborde’s books says it all: I Never Danced with an Eggplant (on a Streetcar Before): Chronicles of Life and Adventures in New Orleans.

The Original PPP

On Mardi Gras in 1878, a group of men followed behind the Rex parade, mocking the King of Carnival and his procession. These “Phunny Phorty Phellows” continued to follow Rex until 1885, when they disbanded.

In 1981, group of New Orleanians desired to form a new Carnival organization. Some were part of the original “Krewe of Clones,” the spiritual predecessors of what is now the Krewe du Vieux. A bit older at that point, this group wanted to revive the whimsy of the Clones. To keep costs reasonable and make the outing a ride rather than a march/walk, they decided to charter a NOPSI streetcar. They chose to revive the name, Phunny Phorty Phellows, even though the new group included women.

The Route

On the evening of January 6th, the PPP gather at 6:30pm at NORTRA’s Carrollton Station. At 7pm, they  roll out of the streetcar barn on Willow Street in a pair of arch roof streetcars. They roll down S. Carrollton and St. Charles Avenues, announcing the start of Carnival. The streetcars circle around Leah Chase Circle, then return to the barn.

The Ride

The PPP do not have an annual theme, as do many krewes. They don costumes of their choosing, mask up, and have a good time. While NOPSI (and later, NORTA) allowed consumption of alcohol on “party car” rides in the early years of the PPP, risk management rules changed this in recent years. A good time is had by all, nonetheless, as seen in this 1994 Infrogmation photo.


The PPP aren’t rolling in 2021. We look forward to their return next year.


NOLA History Guy Podcast 1-June-2019 – Baseball in New Orleans

NOLA History Guy Podcast 1-June-2019 – Baseball in New Orleans

Talking baseball! Derby Gisclair conversation on NOLA History Guy Podcast 1-June-2019

NOLA History Guy Podcast 1-June-2019

NOLA History Guy Podcast 1-June-2019

NOLA History Guy Podcast 1-June-2019

We have a LONG “long-form” podcast today! It’s our second conversation with S. Derby Gisclair, author and historian, about his book, Baseball in New Orleans. I had a great chat with Derby, up at the French Truck Coffee Shop on Magazine Street in the Garden District.

New Orleans Pelicans Baseball

NOLA History Guy Podcast 1-June-2019

Pelicans manager Jimmy Brown with two Loyola players, Moon Landrieu (l), and Larry Lassalle, 1948.

Most of Baseball in New Orleans focuses on the old New Orleans Pelicans. The club was around, in one form or another, from 1887 to 1977. The New Orleans Zephyrs arrived in 1993. So, the AAA-level club in Denver had to leave that city when they got a team in The Show, the Colorado Rockies. These professional teams anchored baseball interest in New Orleans for over 150 years.

Early ballparks

New Orleanians played baseball at several locations in the 1800s. The early Pelicans teams played at Sportsman’s Park. So, this ballpark sat just behind what became the “Halfway House,” later the Orkin Pest Control Building, on City Park Avenue. The ballpark operated from 1886 to 1900. The Pelicans moved to Athletic Park on Tulane Avenue in 1901.

Pelican Stadium

NOLA History Guy Podcast 1-June-2019

Heinemann Park/Pelican Stadium

In the early years of the Pelicans,Alexander Julius (A.J.) Heinemann, sold soft drinks at Pelicans games. Heinemann eventually joined the board of the club. He acquired the land at the corner of Tulane and S. Carrollton Avenues. So, Heinemann displaced a small amusement park called “White City.” Therefore, the Pelicans had a “serious” home. While the Pels were in the off-season, they moved the bleachers up Tulane Avenue to the new ground. The Pelicans played at Heinemann Park, later named Pelican Stadium, until its demolition in 1957. Derby has lots of stories about the ballpark in NOLA History Guy Podcast 1-June-2019.

Other Baseball Leagues

NOLA History Guy Podcast 1-June-2019

St. Aloysius and Loyola star (later Brother Martin and UNO coach) Tom Schwaner

Numerous leagues played in New Orleans. While the Pels played, amateur leagues also organized. They included workers at stores and businesses. So, these leagues played at local parks. High School and college teams also played. Derby’s books chronicle those teams. Special shout-outs to the “Brothers Boys! So, several BOSH young men appear in the book. So, one of them was St. Aloysius and Loyola Grad Tom Schwaner. Schwaner also coached Brother Martin and UNO. So, Gisclair also mentions the strong teams at Brother Martin High School in the early 1980s.

The Books of NOLA History Guy Podcast 1-June-2019

nola history guy podcast 1-june-2019

Baseball in New Orleans (Images of Baseball) (Paperback)

ISBN: 9780738516141
ISBN-10: 0738516147
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing (SC)
Publication Date: March 24th, 2004
Pages: 128
Language: English
Series: Images of Baseball

Baseball at Tulane University (Images of Baseball) (Paperback)

ISBN: 9780738542089
ISBN-10: 0738542083
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing (SC)
Publication Date: January 2007
Pages: 128
Language: English
Series: Images of Baseball

Early Baseball in New Orleans: A History of 19th Century Play (Paperback)

ISBN: 9781476677811
ISBN-10: 1476677816
Publisher: McFarland & Company
Publication Date: March 15th, 2019
Pages: 271
Language: English

Last Week’s Podcast, where we talk with Derby about Early Baseball.