Amtrak Dining

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jis

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Truth be told, the Lake Shore Limited requires a full length Dinette as its Cafe car instead of the half and half cafe/BC If they must provide BC they should simply use that car as a BC/Lounge with unstaffed food counter. The current situation is customer unfriendly and needs to go the way of the Dodo bird. But I suppose Amtrak has to first start caring about serving customers again beyond producing shiny marketing fluff and glowing press releases.
 

Exvalley

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Truth be told, the Lake Shore Limited requires a full length Dinette as its Cafe car instead of the half and half cafe/BC If they must provide BC they should simply use that car as a BC/Lounge with unstaffed food counter.
As much as I like the 2x1 seating, the business class seats on the LSL aren't really any better seat-pitch wise than the Amfleet II coach cars, correct?
 

jis

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As much as I like the 2x1 seating, the business class seats on the LSL aren't really any better seat-pitch wise than the Amfleet II coach cars, correct?
The 2x1 seats are considerably superior to Amfleet II Coach seats. At least that is my experience having traveled extensively by both.

It is the Amfleet I Capstone 2x2 BC seats that are inferior to the Amfleet II 2x2 Coach seats
 
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jis

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As far as seat pitch is concerned?
I have no idea. I just can pretty much lie down on a sloped surface somewhat like in previous generation airline business class seats in the 2x1, which I cannot on the Amfleet II Coaches. Also my impression is that the 2x1 seats are a bit wider too. I have never measured them. I just know which is way more comfortable.
 

lordsigma

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I think it’s important to remember that 4 of the trains did not have traditional dining when flexible dining came about - they had some measure of “diner-lite” or whatever you want to call it - and the Star had no dining whatsoever. If what I said comes to pass - there’s only really one less train with traditional dining than there was before (essentially the eagle) and largely a reset back to where we were before flexible dining came out. I do predict the Lake Shore and Star would get it before the Crescent and Cap which had it before because of the current deployment of dining cars and it just seems logical ridership wise and they seem to be favoring those trains currently over the others resource wise. I can’t see in my wildest dreams a scenario where they deploy full service dining with two food service cars on every single overnight train including the Cardinal and CONO which haven’t had it in years - and they definitely are still talking about this single food service cars - I have to think that the current deployment of food service cars is intentional and connected with future plans.
 
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lordsigma

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I think the other possibility is this revamped car concept with the modified VL2 diner comes to all the trains but the Silvers keep an unstaffed cafe for extra seating and the lake shore keeps the split BC-Cafe with the cafe counter only staffed and used between Albany and Boston. However given that north east to Florida is their biggest market for overnight passengers in the whole system - I think it makes sense for the silvers to offer a similar product to what the auto train passengers get.
 

Rasputin

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I think it’s important to remember that 4 of the trains did not have traditional dining when flexible dining came about - they had some measure of “diner-lite” or whatever you want to call it - and the Star had no dining whatsoever. If what I said comes to pass - there’s only really one less train with traditional dining than there was before (essentially the eagle) and largely a reset back to where we were before flexible dining came out. I do predict the Lake Shore and Star would get it before the Crescent and Cap which had it before because of the current deployment of dining cars and it just seems logical ridership wise and they seem to be favoring those trains currently over the others resource wise. I can’t see in my wildest dreams a scenario where they deploy full service dining with two food service cars on every single overnight train including the Cardinal and CONO which haven’t had it in years - and they definitely are still talking about this single food service cars - I have to think that the current deployment of food service cars is intentional and connected with future plans.
The diner-lite on the Lake Shore was very capable of preparing very good meals. Steak could not be prepared in the diner-lite kitchen as I recall so the steak was missing from the menu. The meals that I had on it were fine and some were excellent. It is an error to equate the meals served on the Lake Shore in the diner-lite era with flex dining.
 

lordsigma

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The diner-lite on the Lake Shore was very capable of preparing very good meals. Steak could not be prepared in the diner-lite kitchen as I recall so the steak was missing from the menu. The meals that I had on it were fine and some were excellent. It is an error to equate the meals served on the Lake Shore in the diner-lite era with flex dining.
Not saying it was the same or not better than flex - just saying it wasn’t traditional or full service dining. They are perfectly capable of providing a much better offering on any of the trains even without going all the way to the setup out west.
 

west point

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Maybe we can speculate that Amtrak is unable to know how many of the employees in training will actually become SCAs ? After what has happened to CSX with their last conductor class that speculation might be a consideration ?
You cannot say dining service will begin at a certain dat when the number of personnel are unknown at that date. It may be dining service will begin with a fairly short notice on any route ?

Getting employees in any job has become somewhat difficult. I could get a job tomorrow at my age if was able to put in a full 8 hours without a break as I have been offered 3 different jobs.
 
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fdaley

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This is my prediction for further revamp of LD dining besides the western trains and what’s coming. Amtrak will continue to run a separate dining and cafe car only on the Lake Shore Limited, Silver Meteor, and Silver Star with those trains receiving a more traditional dining car type experience with traditional communal table service dining - possibly attempting to staff it with just two employees instead of the three that VL2 diners previously did - the current VL2 diners deployed to those trains will remain in traditional dining car configurations to serve those trains. Amtrak will then announce a revamp of flexible dining that could be something like the original cross country cafe concept that will combine cafe service and sleeper meal service and possibly a return to some onboard preparation of some items staffed with a cook and LSA and would utilize the CCC on Superliner trains and a new single level CCC like car using the currently stored and unused VL2 diners modified for that purpose and replace current split Amfleet cars. This concept will be used on the Texas eagle, City of New Orleans, capitol limited, Cardinal, and Crescent. That’s my theory - feel free to poke holes in it!
Your prediction certainly seems plausible to me, though I hope you're wrong about the Crescent.

Of course I'll be happy if the Lake Shore gets traditional dining service, given that it's my easiest connection from upstate New York to everywhere west, and I've pretty much sworn off using it for the past three years because of the food situation. But I think Amtrak will run into trouble if it tries to get by with a staff of two. I can recall a number of trips on the Lake Shore in the heritage-diner era when the staff of three seemed barely able to keep pace with the demand, with resulting long delays in getting food prepared and served.

As for the Crescent, it's now scheduled for 32 hours from New Orleans to New York. That is a long time to ride without a real meal. The train already suffered from low ridership south/west of Atlanta. Killing the diner is a good way to drive away the remaining through business to/from New Orleans.

It would be nice if the ghost of Graham Claytor would pay a visit to the current Amtrak management and help them to see the light, but I somehow doubt it will happen.
 

20th Century Rider

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As for the Crescent, it's now scheduled for 32 hours from New Orleans to New York. That is a long time to ride without a real meal. The train already suffered from low ridership south/west of Atlanta. Killing the diner is a good way to drive away the remaining through business to/from New Orleans.
The same can be said for the TE which has been critically downgraded with its lounge car gone. I kind-a think that if the Amtrak admin is fully committed to bringing back quality and comfort throughout the system... all these trains will be upgraded; let's be optimistic because that seems to be the direction Flynn want to go... good for all passengers! Let's hope!
 

fdaley

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The same can be said for the TE which has been critically downgraded with its lounge car gone. I kind-a think that if the Amtrak admin is fully committed to bringing back quality and comfort throughout the system... all these trains will be upgraded; let's be optimistic because that seems to be the direction Flynn want to go... good for all passengers! Let's hope!
Agreed. The Texas Eagle is another one that's 30-plus hours from end to end, and of course often significantly longer if it runs late. If there's no dining service and now no Sightseer Lounge, in my book it's another train to be avoided unless something improves.

I don't understand the continued focus on trying to cut and consolidate the food service now that the Mica amendment is gone. It seems to me that Amtrak has tried a whole series of experiments for doing this -- Silver Starvation, flex food, diner lite, cross-country cafe -- and they've all been flops. And they all seem to be based on the idea that ridership on the LD trains is more or less fixed and that food-service costs need to be "right-sized" to whatever metric someone considers sustainable given the ridership. I would much rather see the management focus on procuring more equipment, expanding capacity and building ridership to better support a level of onboard service that in turn helps to retain and attract more travelers.
 

20th Century Rider

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Agreed. The Texas Eagle is another one that's 30-plus hours from end to end, and of course often significantly longer if it runs late. If there's no dining service and now no Sightseer Lounge, in my book it's another train to be avoided unless something improves.

I don't understand the continued focus on trying to cut and consolidate the food service now that the Mica amendment is gone. It seems to me that Amtrak has tried a whole series of experiments for doing this -- Silver Starvation, flex food, diner lite, cross-country cafe -- and they've all been flops. And they all seem to be based on the idea that ridership on the LD trains is more or less fixed and that food-service costs need to be "right-sized" to whatever metric someone considers sustainable given the ridership. I would much rather see the management focus on procuring more equipment, expanding capacity and building ridership to better support a level of onboard service that in turn helps to retain and attract more travelers.
And in continuing along this line... Flynn knows that good service is a must for increased ridership... he has stated that if Amtrak is to charge exorbitant prices they must provide a level of service that complies. The other issues are management and management priorities. The quality level of full service on Western routes took those of us who have been skeptical as a pleasant surprise. Intuition tells me that management is well aware of what's going on and are working behind the scenes with what resources they now have... to surprise us once again.

I am heavily booked for three large transcontinental jaunts all in sleepers... in October, November, and then again in December... with the goal of finally have experienced all Amtrak routes in the system. But whoa's me! That includes the presently cancelled CS for all three itineraries, the TE for two of them... and the illusive Crescent for two of them as well.

My attitude is that Amtrak will be there if and when there are cancellations and misconnects. I talk really nicely and respectfully with customer service... and they've never disappointed. I remain personally adaptable and optimistic.
 
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lordsigma

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Of course They don’t need to necessarily provide two food service cars and table service dining on all routes to provide something better than flex. If they went with a combined food service car on routes as I stated in my prediction that doesn’t mean they can’t serve something better than flex dining - rather I think it could be better if you have one crew member preparing meals and the LSA dealing with the passengers. Lake shore and silvers I think justify two cars and table service which is why I wouldn’t be surprised if they get it.
 

jis

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Of course They don’t need to necessarily provide two food service cars and table service dining on all routes to provide something better than flex. If they went with a combined food service car on routes as I stated in my prediction that doesn’t mean they can’t serve something better than flex dining - rather I think it could be better if you have one crew member preparing meals and the LSA dealing with the passengers. Lake shore and silvers I think justify two cars and table service which is why I wouldn’t be surprised if they get it.
Specially when the Silver and LSL get their full complement of Coaches, there is no way that a single food service car with a single staff will work. Even with two staff a single car will be very very tough. So yeah, I do agree with you.

Also going forward it would seem likely that some of these would get an additional Sleeper if and when the full complement of Sleepers are deployed and enough staff becomes available I suppose.
 
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me_little_me

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As for the Crescent, it's now scheduled for 32 hours from New Orleans to New York. That is a long time to ride without a real meal. The train already suffered from low ridership south/west of Atlanta. Killing the diner is a good way to drive away the remaining through business to/from New Orleans.
you forgot to mention having the train depart Atlanta northbound at 11PM instead of 8PM Without Atlanta, there is no Crescent. That's going to kill a lot of traffic on that train IMHO.

Better to make two trains. ATL<-->NYP and ATL<-->NOL and run them independently at their own best time.
 

west point

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The problem causing the late departure from NOL is simple. The crew is based in Meridian. There fore they need a required rest break in NOL. Change the crew to NOL based and lay over in Meridian. Depart NOL at 0600 then the times at ATL, WASH, and NYP are reasonable.
NOL 0600, " MEI - 1017, ' ATL - 1945 ( 7:15 PM ), WASH - 1030'' NYP - 1430
 

fdaley

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But the same Graham Claytor also ran the Southern Crescent only thrice a week between Atlanta and New Orleans. Be very careful what you wish for from the genie that appears after you rub the bottle! :D
Well, I'm no fan of less-than-daily scheduling. But I can honestly say that if I wanted to plan a trip to New Orleans, I'd be much more likely to use a thrice-weekly Crescent with dining service than a daily Crescent with a "refreshed" flex menu served from an Amfleet lounge. The latter I would be almost certain not to ride. Based on what has happened on the western routes, though, I am still hopeful that Flynn will surprise us and come up with something better for most or all of the eastern trains.
 

anumberone

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I think if anyone is scared to eat in diner, thats fine. Eat in your room. Or just stay home.
Last week I would have accepted that complimentary alcoholic beverage, bought and shared a bottle of wine with our table mates and enjoyed the meal. This week I’m thinking about canceling a trip.
 

NativeSon5859

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The problem with the Crescent south of ATL is not NOL, it’s that the only city that provides meaningful patronage in between the two is BHM. It’s a shame that it can’t be rerouted to via MGM and MOB like the original Crescent. In any case, no one needs to worry about ridership anymore with only two coaches running. When I worked on the train, it wasn’t uncommon for two coaches to be filled leaving NOL. Atlanta was always good for another coach and a half easily.

I’ll be riding the train again next month for a birthday trip from N.O to N.Y... it’ll be a year since my last ride on 20, and though I really truly miss the Dining Car, the current meal situation isn’t bad enough to keep me away. I’d prefer if traditional dining was restored, obviously, but I think the meals are OK for a one night ride. I do wish the menu was refreshed though... they can definitely do better.
 
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