Amtrak Dining

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priller

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I've never been on the Acela. How do they cook those meals? Is there a real kitchen, or is it also convection/microwave ovens?
Acela 1st is reheated, just like airline service.

short-ribs.jpeg
Beef Short Ribs (not recent photo)
 
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Triley

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I've never been on the Acela. How do they cook those meals? Is there a real kitchen, or is it also convection/microwave ovens?
They are meals that are made at and brought in from 3 airports along the corridor, in the same kitchens that make first class meals for airlines. They are then reheated onboard if necessary, typically using an oven. Almost everything in the galley of First Class on the Acela is a clone of an airline galley. Same refrigeration system and carts, storage cabinets, oven, etc.
 

Cal

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They are meals that are made at and brought in from 3 airports along the corridor, in the same kitchens that make first class meals for airlines. They are then reheated onboard if necessary, typically using an oven. Almost everything in the galley of First Class on the Acela is a clone of an airline galley. Same refrigeration system and carts, storage cabinets, oven, etc.
Didn't realize how closely they mirror airlines there. I wonder if they could (and if it would be viable) to someday establish a similar situation on the Surfline and Capitol Corridor.
 

lordsigma

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While I hope to see some kind of sleeper meal improvements in the east - I'd like to see them finish reversing the pandemic cuts first. The cafe car menus remain quite spartan and have not had any pandemic-cut menu items restored including out west where they have brought back traditional dining for sleeping car passengers - they definitely could use some attention to give coach passengers a few more choices. I think this is where Amtrak should focus their attention next - then revisit flex dining in the east.
 

joelkfla

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They've posted openings for OBS jobs in Miami. Hopefully, the graduates of that class will be the ones to enable enhanced dining on the Silvers. Anyone know how long the onboarding and training takes?

I don't think expanding the café menu requires any additional staffing, so that and the enhancement of Eastern dining should be able to proceed independently of each other.
 

Cal

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They've posted openings for OBS jobs in Miami. Hopefully, the graduates of that class will be the ones to enable enhanced dining on the Silvers. Anyone know how long the onboarding and training takes?
I doubt it, because I don't see any OBS positions open for Chicago, New York, or New Orleans. Although maybe I'm wrong as people could've been contacted privately.

Training takes, I am guessing, no more than a few months
 

jruff001

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Apologies if I missed it, but I haven't seen a mention of recent Auto Train meal service experiences.

I rode it last week and was disappointed that we were told upon check-in that we would be served in our room, period. I found out later from our SCA that you can apparently get a seat in the diner only if you check in very early because they are still doing social distancing, but everyone else (who seemed to be the vast majority) still have to be served in their rooms. So we were, on plastic / styrofoam. At least it wasn't Flex Meals but it was still disappointing.

Does anyone know why they are doing it this way only on the AT but not the other trains that don't have Flex Dining? It is hardly "traditional" dining car service.

And the continental "breakfast" was also disappointing - all cold bread & carbs (& yoghurt) grab-and-go in the lounge; nothing hot. (Although I think this is how it has been for a while pre-Covid on the AT due to the early arrival, but I hadn't ridden it in ten years so I am not sure.)

I have seen posts on here before saying how the AT seems to always get the best of the best and dining car services were not changed because of Covid, but that is not the case.
 
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AmtrakBlue

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Apologies if I missed it, but I haven't seen a mention of recent Auto Train meal service experiences.

I rode it last week and was disappointed that we were told upon check-in that we would be served in our room, period. I found out later from our SCA that you can apparently get a seat in the diner only if you check in very early because they are still doing social distancing, but everyone else (who seemed to be the vast majority) still have to be served in their rooms. So we were, on plastic / styrofoam. At least it wasn't Flex Meals but it was still disappointing.

Does anyone know why they are doing it this way only on the AT but not the other trains that don't have Flex Dining? It is hardly "traditional" dining car service.

And the continental "breakfast" was also disappointing - all cold bread & carbs (& yoghurt) grab-and-go in the lounge; nothing hot. (Although I think this is how it has been for a while pre-Covid on the AT due to the early arrival, but I hadn't ridden it in ten years so I am not sure.)

I have seen posts on here before saying how the AT seems to always get the best of the best and dining car services were not changed because of Covid, but that is not the case.
I've read recently that the Empire Builder is back to social distancing in the diner, so I suspect the other western trains are also doing limited seating.
 

fillyjonk

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I've read recently that the Empire Builder is back to social distancing in the diner, so I suspect the other western trains are also doing limited seating.
FWIW, the trip on the Chicago to SAS Texas Eagle I took last week, they were STRONGLY discouraging eating in the diner. I do not think they permitted it at dinner, and at breakfast the word was "at your own risk" according to the (SOLE!) CCC attendant (who had to close down sales to coach passengers when it was time to prepare/deliver food to the sleepers)

Frankly at this point I'm hoping it will be OK to travel at Thanksgiving. I bought tickets but warned my mom and my brother's family that if this "wave" is worse then, I won't be traveling, DESPITE being vaccinated. I am probably being overly cautious but I have immune compromised friends here and have only me to rely on if I get sick....
 

20th Century Rider

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FWIW, the trip on the Chicago to SAS Texas Eagle I took last week, they were STRONGLY discouraging eating in the diner. I do not think they permitted it at dinner, and at breakfast the word was "at your own risk" according to the (SOLE!) CCC attendant (who had to close down sales to coach passengers when it was time to prepare/deliver food to the sleepers)

Frankly at this point I'm hoping it will be OK to travel at Thanksgiving. I bought tickets but warned my mom and my brother's family that if this "wave" is worse then, I won't be traveling, DESPITE being vaccinated. I am probably being overly cautious but I have immune compromised friends here and have only me to rely on if I get sick....
I guess the next pandemic thing will be the booster shot... hopefully coming soon.
 

joelkfla

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I doubt it, because I don't see any OBS positions open for Chicago, New York, or New Orleans. Although maybe I'm wrong as people could've been contacted privately.

Training takes, I am guessing, no more than a few months
I was just talking about the Silvers, which I assume have Miami-based OBS (because what other train would?). I think the Meteor was the only eastern train (excluding Auto Train) to have full traditional dining at the start of the pandemic, so it makes sense the Silvers would be the first to get it back.
 
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Triley

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@Triley is it still Gate Gourmet? Or is it some other vendor?
Last I knew, it was. But admittedly, it's been almost 4 years now since I transferred off the corridor. I haven't even stepped on a Regional for leisure travel for almost 3 years now.

Didn't realize how closely they mirror airlines there. I wonder if they could (and if it would be viable) to someday establish a similar situation on the Surfline and Capitol Corridor.
It's only the Acela (both First Class and Cafe) that does this, currently. I'm assuming/hoping that the new Venture sets will do the same. It makes it SO much easier to load/offload stock, get setup, and be able to open. The Talgo Series 8s were suppose to be able to use similar equipment, but they backed out of the plans for some reason.

I could see the idea rolling out (ha!) to other local/regional type services in the future. Whether they also use it to provide a First Class type service or not, would be interesting to see. I'm sure there are other services besides the Acela that would be able to support the service.

They've posted openings for OBS jobs in Miami. Hopefully, the graduates of that class will be the ones to enable enhanced dining on the Silvers. Anyone know how long the onboarding and training takes?

I don't think expanding the café menu requires any additional staffing, so that and the enhancement of Eastern dining should be able to proceed independently of each other.
It depends on the position. SAs and TAs are about 2 weeks of class based training. LSAs are 3.5 weeks. There is also on-the-job training, which can be a be a few weeks to over a month, depending on how many services the person will work (LSAs in Seattle use to get at least 3 training trips on the Cascades, and 2 on the Builder).

I doubt it, because I don't see any OBS positions open for Chicago, New York, or New Orleans. Although maybe I'm wrong as people could've been contacted privately.

Training takes, I am guessing, no more than a few months
Can't be contracted out at this point, due to our contract. The union would have a field day with penalty claims.
 

crescent-zephyr

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I think the Meteor was the only eastern train (excluding Auto Train) to have full traditional dining at the start of the pandemic, so it makes sense the Silvers would be the first to get it back.
No, the meteor went to flex dining October 1, 2019 along with all other Easter trains.
 
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joelkfla

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I doubt it, because I don't see any OBS positions open for Chicago, New York, or New Orleans. Although maybe I'm wrong as people could've been contacted privately.

Training takes, I am guessing, no more than a few months
Can't be contracted out at this point, due to our contract. The union would have a field day with penalty claims.
That was contacted, not contracted.
 

TEREB

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I was just talking about the Silvers, which I assume have Miami-based OBS (because what other train would?). I think the Meteor was the only eastern train (excluding Auto Train) to have full traditional dining at the start of the pandemic, so it makes sense the Silvers would be the first to get it back.
We had Flex Dining on our Oct 2019 south bound Meteor. And the food was terrible. Except for the bowl of fresh fruit, which we did not get on our June 2021 northbound trip. I doubt we’ll get traditional dining on our October southbound trip. 😡
 

Dustyroad

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Can anyone one that has been on the Southwest Chief in the last couple weeks tell me if they are still having open dining? Or are they recommending eating in your room?
Also I read some where that they had apple juice for breakfast, but I don't see it on the menu. I can't drink orange juice. Any answers would be helpful.
 

Cal

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Can anyone one that has been on the Southwest Chief in the last couple weeks tell me if they are still having open dining? Or are they recommending eating in your room?
Also I read some where that they had apple juice for breakfast, but I don't see it on the menu. I can't drink orange juice. Any answers would be helpful.
I'm afraid on my trip I didn't ask about apple juice. During my trip, a little over two weeks ago, they had open dining.
 

Bob Dylan

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I
Can anyone one that has been on the Southwest Chief in the last couple weeks tell me if they are still having open dining? Or are they recommending eating in your room?
Also I read some where that they had apple juice for breakfast, but I don't see it on the menu. I can't drink orange juice. Any answers would be helpful.
I don't drink Orange Juice either, and have always been able to get Apple or Cranberry in the Diner for Breakfast unless they're out.
 

OBS

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Apologies if I missed it, but I haven't seen a mention of recent Auto Train meal service experiences.

I rode it last week and was disappointed that we were told upon check-in that we would be served in our room, period. I found out later from our SCA that you can apparently get a seat in the diner only if you check in very early because they are still doing social distancing, but everyone else (who seemed to be the vast majority) still have to be served in their rooms. So we were, on plastic / styrofoam. At least it wasn't Flex Meals but it was still disappointing.

Does anyone know why they are doing it this way only on the AT but not the other trains that don't have Flex Dining? It is hardly "traditional" dining car service.

And the continental "breakfast" was also disappointing - all cold bread & carbs (& yoghurt) grab-and-go in the lounge; nothing hot. (Although I think this is how it has been for a while pre-Covid on the AT due to the early arrival, but I hadn't ridden it in ten years so I am not sure.)

I have seen posts on here before saying how the AT seems to always get the best of the best and dining car services were not changed because of Covid, but that is not the case.
AutoTrain has never served a hot breakfast....only similar versions of the continental that you received...
 

Dustyroad

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Thanks for the reply's. I forgot to ask if there was coffee in the sleeper cars on the Chief. Also how far back from the engine are the sleepers on the Chief?
 
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Nick Farr

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I've never been on the Acela. How do they cook those meals? Is there a real kitchen, or is it also convection/microwave ovens?
It's all pre-made and some kind of rapid oven tech. I'm not aware of any HSR service in the world that has a traditional kitchen on board.

The irony is that on the Acela, they could just take meal preferences prior to travel and serve these meals essentially fresh from the station, without a need for reheating anything other than the bread.
 

Nick Farr

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Pullman Dining on the Great Western is one.
I was unaware of that service, but it appears to be a select one available only on a few trains that qualify as "Higher" speed rail. It's slower than the Acela by a bit.

They haven't even electrified that entire route yet.
 
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