Sleeper Car

The first sleeper cars appeared on American railroads in the 1830s and could be configured for coach seating during the day. Some of the more luxurious types have private rooms.

The Cumberland Valley Railroad pioneered sleeping car service in the spring of 1839, with a car named “Chambersburg,” between Chambersburg and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. A couple of years later a
second car, the “Carlisle,” was introduced into service.

In 1865, George Pullman created a luxurious sleeping car called Pioneer and established the Pullman Co. (originally the Pullman Palace Car Co.) in 1867. This company owned and operated most sleeping cars in the US until the mid-20th century, and they were often attached to passenger trains operated by different railroads.

In the past, certain trains had sleeping cars managed by Pullman but owned by the railroad company operating the train. At the height of American passenger railroading, there were several all-Pullman trains available, such as the 20th Century Limited on the New York Central Railroad, the Broadway Limited on the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Panama Limited on the Illinois Central Railroad, and the Super Chief on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.

Today, Amtrak operates two main types of sleeping cars: the bi-level Superliner sleeping cars, built from the late 1970s to the mid 1990s, and the single-level Viewliner sleeping cars, built in the mid 1990s.

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