Amtrak Dining Car service

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I'm traveling from DC to Savannah in December. Assuming that the Silver Meteor is running, it's scheduled to leave Washington DC at 7:24 pm and Savannah at 7:45 pm. Is that too late to get supper on board, and what might that meal look like? Or is that too long in the future to prognosticate?

I am fairly certain that dinner will be available when you leave Washington; that is when I was able to be seated when I traveled on the Silver Meteor after boarding in Washington. Do not know about Savannah, though.
 

JWM

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On the Eagle last month there was one sitting. 5PM. Lunch was at 12PM. The lounge/cafe car was closed to Coach passengers from 11 to1 and 4 to 6.

There is nothing appealing about flex dining The term "flexible" I thought meant you could eat when you wanted. Everytime I had flex I was assigned a certain time.
Sidney, 5pm is the start of my cocktail hour not dinner.
 

Ispolkom

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I am fairly certain that dinner will be available when you leave Washington; that is when I was able to be seated when I traveled on the Silver Meteor after boarding in Washington. Do not know about Savannah, though.
Thanks for the data point. It seems that 7:30 isn't too late, but what do I know?
 

Rasputin

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I'm traveling from DC to Savannah in December. Assuming that the Silver Meteor is running, it's scheduled to leave Washington DC at 7:24 pm and Savannah at 7:45 pm. Is that too late to get supper on board, and what might that meal look like? Or is that too long in the future to prognosticat
Unless traditional dining is suddenly restored by December, I would be very tempted to have a nice dinner at one of the many fine places in DC before boarding the train.
 

Lonnie

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I will join Rambling Robert in dreading the Lake Shore, esp. the Boston section, except for the scenery which can be very good.

To me the Boston section of the Lake Shore is akin to a gauntlet or a penance through which you must pass in order to reach the much more enjoyable western trains.
I've ridden the LSL several times, years ago Syracuse to Boston, and lately Springfield to Chicago. Whether in coach or roomette, I've found the ride enjoyable, particularly through the Berkshires. Since I would never take Amtrak to actually be somewhere on time, I don't mind the slow pace. After going through "the noses" next to the Mohawk River, a lot of it is just a pleasant reminder of why I moved out of Syracuse. Flex dining is pretty bad, but it's food, more than what a lot of people are getting today. And I've got my "defensive eating" bag of yummy snacks and that little bottle of Maker's Mark. 😁20221004_152842.jpg
 
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I've learned to tolerate flex dining. I eat the pasta dish for dinner and pay for a hamburger or hot dog at lunch. Breakfast is tolerable too. I can work with it on the eat coast trains. I will not tolerate it on the Texas Eagle. That train has a diner on it. Amtrak could find the people to staff it. Same for the CONOL.
 

Sidney

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I've learned to tolerate flex dining. I eat the pasta dish for dinner and pay for a hamburger or hot dog at lunch. Breakfast is tolerable too. I can work with it on the eat coast trains. I will not tolerate it on the Texas Eagle. That train has a diner on it. Amtrak could find the people to staff it. Same for the CONOL.
If you want food from the cafe car on the trains with flex dining you should be able to get it without having to pay for it. if you are on from Chicago to Florida,that's a long haul with nothing but reheated TV dinners. One flex meal a day is enough. For breakfast I'll go with the cereal and the improved breakfast sandwich.
 

zephyr17

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I've learned to tolerate flex dining. I eat the pasta dish for dinner and pay for a hamburger or hot dog at lunch. Breakfast is tolerable too. I can work with it on the eat coast trains. I will not tolerate it on the Texas Eagle. That train has a diner on it. Amtrak could find the people to staff it. Same for the CONOL.
The Lake Shore, Silvers, Capitol and CONO all have diners, too. Equipment seems to have little to do with the decision to offer flex.

Unfortunately, the Crescent lost its diner somewhere during the current mess.
 
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I've learned to tolerate flex dining. I eat the pasta dish for dinner and pay for a hamburger or hot dog at lunch. Breakfast is tolerable too. I can work with it on the eat coast trains. I will not tolerate it on the Texas Eagle. That train has a diner on it. Amtrak could find the people to staff it. Same for the CONOL.
Hasn't the CONO had mediocre food for ages? I didn't think that one had full traditional dining with a chef before "flexible dining" came about.

This is the company being used for the current temporary meals on the CONO. The reason for the shift is because these meals are meant for microwave preparation which is all that's available in the SSL cafe. The "New Horizons industries" flex meals served on the other trains are meant to be reheated in a regular or convection oven to get the proper result (yes I realize some LSAs heat them in a microwave but technically they aren't supposed to):

 
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Bob Dylan

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Hasn't the CONO had mediocre food for ages? I didn't think that one had full traditional dining with a chef before "flexible dining" came about.

This is the company being used for the current temporary meals on the CONO. The reason for the shift is because these meals are meant for microwave preparation which is all that's available in the SSL cafe. The "New Horizons industries" flex meals served on the other trains are meant to be reheated in a regular or convection oven to get the proper result (yes I realize some LSAs heat them in a microwave but technically they aren't supposed to):

The Downstairs in the CCC ( which the CONO has)is a fully equipped Kitchen just like the ones in the Superliner Diners.

Since the SSL is not Staffed, and only being used as an Axle Count Car on the CONO, the Convection Oven in the CCC should be used to heat the Flex Meals, NOT a Microwave!
 
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The Downstairs in the CCC ( which the CONO has)is a fully equipped Kitchen just like the ones in the Superliner Diners.

Since the SSL is not Staffed, and only being used as an Axle Count Car on the CONO, the Convection Oven in the CCC should be used to heat the Flex Meals, NOT a Microwave!
The CCC car was pulled from the CONO it's only operating with the SSL staffed at the moment. Reason cited was a shortage of SL dining cars. They are serving this menu:


Those dinner entrees are Torn Apron meals.
 
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Rasputin

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Hasn't the CONO had mediocre food for ages? I didn't think that one had full traditional dining with a chef before "flexible dining" came about.
I don't believe the CONO has had traditional dining for some time. It seems to have had a rather limited menu for some time. When I last rode it in May 2019 it had car 37014 as a food service car but I don't recall the configuration of that car. The dinner entree that I had (beef stroganoff as I recall) was the same entree that I had had for dinner a year or two before in the cafe car of the Boston section of the eastbound Lake Shore (before the Lake Shore got contemporary or flex dining).

The beef stroganoff entree was not great but was acceptable. The breakfast sandwich the next morning on the CONO was a bit soggy but very tasty. I know from other comments on this site that some did not like it at all.

While the CONO food left much to be desired we found it preferable to the contemporary dining entrees on the Lake Shore a couple days later.

Of course neither the CONO nor the Lake Shore could hold a candle on that trip to the wonderful food prepared by the chef in one of the new dining cars on the Crescent during the first part of the trip. A nice memory but I guess we won't be re-living that anytime soon if ever.
 
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Does this make it the only "flex" train where lunch isn't the same as dinner?

It’s a temporary setup due to the shortage supposedly it’s supposed to get the normal flex deal back when they can get a diner or CCC back on it. You get cafe car item selections for breakfast/lunch and they have those torn apron meals for dinner. It sounds like it’s basically run as a normal SSL cafe car with these extra dinner meals for the sleeper passengers.
 

Bob Dylan

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If and when Amtrak "Staffs up" with new hires will traditional dining cars ever come back to long distance Eastern trains? Or is Flex dining here to stay and all you can hope for is better quality and selection.
 

zephyr17

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If and when Amtrak "Staffs up" with new hires will traditional dining cars ever come back to long distance Eastern trains? Or is Flex dining here to stay and all you can hope for is better quality and selection.
Nobody knows. There is a committee at Amtrak on food services improvements that the RPA has a seat on is about the most definite piece of information out there.

Rumor has it that some improvement, perhaps a somewhat less elaborate version of traditional dining, may return to the Silvers in the fairly near future. But there is certainly nothing definite announced. Also, a plan to gut the galleys in the Viewliner II diners and replace them with banks of convection ovens has been halted, which is a good development, as that would have made flex or an equivalent, permanent and irreversible.
 
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