Budd Slumbercoach Masterclass

By Craig Walker

Painting of Northern Pacific’s NORTH COAST LIMITED at Easton WA courtesy of artist David A. Oran - www.davidaoram.com

Painting of Northern Pacific’s North Coast Limited at Easton WA courtesy of artist David A. Oram - www.davidaoram.com


A Sleeping Car at an Economy Price

By the 1950s, American railroads were seeing the effects of competition from airlines and the new Interstate Highways (a boon for both buses and private automobiles). In an effort to recapture some of the business lost to lower cost alternatives, the Budd Company reimagined the economy sleeping car, as the Pullman open section sleepers were falling out of favor with passengers.

Budd’s new Slumbercoach (originally to be named “Siesta Coaches”) featured a higher capacity. Where the sixteen roomette-four double-bedroom cars had accommodations for 24 passengers, and the sixteen-section tourist Pullman provided space for 32, the Budd Slumbercoach was designed with room for 40 passengers to sleep in comfort. All Slumbercoaches were built with a stainless-steel corrugated exterior.

This higher capacity was accomplished by featuring both single and double rooms. A center aisle separated single-occupant rooms and double-occupancy rooms. Six-foot-long fold-out beds, a bit narrower than on other sleepers, were utilized, with the double rooms also having a fold down upper bed. A fold-away wash basin and private toilet were included in each room as well. The single rooms were constructed in a staggered arrangement, with every other room being accessible by a short flight of steps, so the beds on this side of the car overlaid or underlaid each other.This resulted in the Slumbercoach’s most distinctive exterior spotting feature: alternating high and low windows. The slight reduction in space (and comfort) was offset by the ability to charge a small room accommodation charge on top of a coach ticket’s spruce for privacy and sleeping accommodations.

Budd’s Slumbercoaches were the final new Pullman cars to be constructed.

Slumbercoaches had an innovative design, offering long-distance passengers a new, alternate form of accommodation. While passengers liked these new cars, thanks to the lower cost, by this point American railroads were no longer eager to purchase new equipment, and Budd leased or sold only eighteen of these cars. In 1971 Amtrak took over most of the passenger train operations as the railroads, by and large, had given up trying to attract the public.

CBQ 4901 Silver Slumber.jpg

Chicago Burlington & Quincy 4901, Silver Slumber, was the second of the first four Budd Slumbercoaches built, for use on the railroad’s Denver Zephyr.  Budd Company photograph


The Slumbercoach Fleet

Chicago Burlington & Quincy was the first customer for the new Slumbercoach, purchasing four of them from Budd in 1956 when the railroad’s Denver Zephyr was equipped with new equipment. The Burlington’s cars featured that railroad’s distinctive full-skirting along the bottom of the car bodies.

In 1958 and 1959, more Slumbercoaches were leased to the Baltimore & Ohio (2 cars for the Columbian, and 3 cars for the National Limited) and Missouri Pacific (1 car for use on their Texas Eagle).

Also in 1959, the Northern Pacific leased 4 cars for use on their flagship train the North Coast Limited, assigning them the names of Scottish lakes (Lochs) to suggest thrift. These cars were placed in service on the railroad’s North Coast Limited in December 1959, and they operated in a pooling arrangement in which a Slumbercoach arriving in Chicago on CB&Q’s Denver Zephyr would depart later the same day on the North Coast Limited, with the process reversed for the eastbound North Coast Limited/westbound Denver Zephyr combination, resulting in a short layover in Chicago for passengers. This arrangement ended in 1964.

New York Central also leased 4 Slumbercoaches (10800-10803) from Budd in 1959 for use on their iconic 20th Century Limited. These cars broke with sleeping car tradition and were unnamed, possibly due to NYC having ended Pullman operations on their intra-line sleeping cars the previous year, so these cars were not operated by Pullman. While not a large fleet, the NYC felt the Slumbercoach concept was strong and in 1962 they contracted with Budd to rebuild 10 older sleepers (10810-10819) into similar cars, called Sleeper Coaches, with staggered windows (although in a different pattern than on Slumbercoaches), to create economy sleepers for use on a variety of trains.

Northern Pacific purchased cars 325-328 from Budd in 1964. Also in 1964, NP extended Slumbercoach service to the Mainstreeter, made possible by the acquisition of eight additional cars: Four from NYC, and eight from the Budd Co. (the previously leased MP 699 Southland and B&O’s 7702-7704 (Restland, Sleepland and Thriftland), becoming NP 329-336.  Along with NP numbers, they were also assigned new names (Loch Katrine, Loch Long, Loch Lochy, Loch Talbot, Loch Tay, Loch Rannoch, Loch Arkaig and Loch Awe). NP 335 Loch Arkaig and 336 Loch Awe were then sold to the CB&Q in March 1965, retaining the large letterboard’s Northern Pacific lettering but adding CB&Q reporting marks in the small letterboard adjacent to the vestibule.

CB&Q 335 Slumber Coach 005.jpg

CB&Q 335 Loch Arkaig appears to be a Northern Pacific car but, despite the large NP roadname in the letterboard, it is actually a Chicago Burlington & Quincy car:  Note the CB&Q reporting marks in the small letterboard next to the vestibule door, indicating the car’s actual owner.  (This same configuration was found on other NP two-tone green-painted cars, as well as Great Northern-painted cars and, on the California Zephyr [which never had Slumbercoaches] Pennsylvania Railroad cars.). These cars were often found in pool service on the other railroads’ trains.  CB&Q 336 Loch Awe was the other car with this lettering arrangement, unlike the four original CB&Q cars (4900-4903) which had Burlington lettering in the large letterboards.  CB&Q 335 and 336 retained this look into the Amtrak era.  Dale Martin collection


Most of these cars ended up in Amtrak service (AMTK 2020-2034), and several were later rebuilt with Head-End Power (HEP) and renumbered into AMTK 2080-2095. Amtrak’s Slumbercoaches were found on Amtrak’s Broadway Limited (Chicago IL to New York NY), Empire Builder (Chicago IL to Seattle WA), Lake Shore Limited (Chicago IL to New York NY/Boston MA), Montrealer (Washington DC to Montréal QC), Night Owl (Boston MA to Washington DC), North Coast Hiawatha (Chicago IL to Seattle WA) and Silver Meteor (New York NY to Miami FL).

We know this all gets a little confusing, so we also included a roster that should make things easier to understand … if we did it right!

Seven examples of these cars still exist:

  • B&O 7701 Dreamland (later AMTK 2096) at the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum (Baltimore MD)
  • CB&Q 4901 Silver Slumber (later AMTK 2021/2085 Silver Slumber) at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum (Miami FL)
  • CB&Q 4903 Silver Repose (later AMTK 2023/2095 Silver Repose) at the Tennessee Central Railway Museum (Nashville TN)
  • NP 325 Loch Sloy at the Illinois Railroad Museum (Union IL)
  • NP 328 Loch Ness ais now owned by John Webb III’s Webb Rail LLC (as WEBX 801046)
  • NYC 10802 (later NP Loch Arkaig) at the Southeastern Railway Museum (Duluth GA)
  • MP 699 Southland (later NP 329 Loch Tarbet) at the Museum of the American Railroad (Frisco TX)


With the formation of Amtrak in the early 1970s, the new carrier purchased a large number of passenger cars from the various railroads that would no longer be needing them for their own use.  Of the 18 Slumbercoaches built by Budd, 16 became the property of Amtrak when it began operating most of the country’s passenger trains on May 1, 1971.  Eventually, the last two Slumbercoaches would also find their way onto Amtrak’s roster.  Amtrak 2029 Loch Kartrine, photographed in Seattle, Washington, on June 19, 1973, illustrates the initial paint scheme used on these cars.  This car was originally Baltimore & Ohio 7702 Restland, which was sold to the Northern Pacific in the mid-1960s, becoming NP 330 Loch Katrine.  The car was to become Burlington Northern 330 with the merger of CB&Q/GN/NP/SP&S, but it was never relettered or wore its new number before Amtrak was formed.  As an Amtrak car, it retained the Loch Katrine name, but was renumbered 2029.  It would be renumbered again, to 2093 (and retaining its name) when converted to Head End Power (HEP) along with the rest of the fleet in 1980-81. Withdrawn around 1996, Loch Katrine would officially be retired by Amtrak in 2001.  Ron Hawkins photograph


Budd Slumbercoach Roster


As-Built NP CB&Q (lettered for NP) BN AMTK (Ph1, lettering) AMTK (Ph1, no lettering) AMTK (HEP - Ph3) Disposition
CB&Q 4900 Silver Siesta > > > > > > BN 4900 Silver Siesta* AMTK 2020 Silver Siesta > > > AMTK 2086 Silver Siesta  
CB&Q 4901 Silver Slumber > > > > > > BN 4901 Silver Slumber* AMTK 2021 Silver Slumber > > > AMTK 2085 Silver Slumber Gold Coast Railroad Museum
CB&Q 4902 Silver Rest > > > > > > BN 4902 Silver Rest* > > > AMTK 2022 Silver Rest AMTK 2094 Silver Rest  
CB&Q 4903 Silver Repose > > > > > > BN 4903 Silver Repose* AMTK 2023 Silver Repose > > > AMTK 2095 Silver Repose Tennessee Central Ry Museum
B&O 7700 Slumberland > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > AMTK 2096  
B&O 7701 Dreamland > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > AMTK 2097 B&O Railroad Museum
B&O 7702 Restland NP 330 Loch Katrine > > > BN 330* > > > AMTK 2029 Loch Katrine AMTK 2093 Loch Katrine  
B&O 7703 Sleepland NP 331 Loch Long > > > BN 331* > > > AMTK 2035 Loch Long AMTK 2081 Loch Long  
B&O 7704 Thriftland NP 332 Loch Lochy > > > BN 332* > > > AMTK 2030 Loch Lochy AMTK 2091 Loch Lochy  
MP 699 Southland NP 329 Loch Talbot > > > BN 329* AMTK 2028 Loch Tarbet > > > AMTK 2090 Loch Tarbet Museum of the American Railroad
NYC 10800 NP 333 Loch Tay > > > BN 333 > > > AMTK 2031 Loch Tay AMTK 2089 Loch Tay  
NYC 10801 NP 334 Loch Rannoch > > > BN 1489 AMTK 2032 Loch Rannoch > > > AMTK 2082 Loch Rannoch  
NYC 10802 NP 335 Loch Arkaig CB&Q 335 Loch Arkaig BN 335* AMTK 2033 Loch Arkaig > > > AMTK 2092 Loch Arkaig Southeastern Railway Museum
NYC 10803 NP 336 Loch Awe CB&Q 336 Loch Awe BN 336* AMTK 2034 Loch Awe > > > AMTK 2083 Loch Awe Wrecked 07-84
NP 325 Loch Sloy > > >   > > > AMTK 2024 Loch Sloy > > > AMTK 2080 Loch Sloy Illinois Railway Museum
NP 326 Loch Leven > > > > > > > > > AMTK 2025 Loch Leven > > > AMTK 2088 Loch Leven  
NP 327 Loch Lomond > > > > > > > > > AMTK 2026 Loch Lomond > > > AMTK 2084 Loch Lomond  
NP 328 Loch Ness > > > > > > > > > AMTK 2027 Loch Ness > > > AMTK 2087 Loch Ness WEBX 801046 Loch Ness

 *No confirmation that the car was repainted.


Thanks to David A. Oram, John Frantz, Josh Anderchek, Ron Hawkins and Dale Martin for their assistance!

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