Amtrak Dining

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lordsigma

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They all had full traditional dining at one time.
Of course - but CONO and Cardinal have not for quite a while. Of course there are enough Viewliner II diners to do it everywhere and they could also on the CONO and CL and TE....but I just don't see it happening....but I think most of us would agree that there could be an acceptable middle ground if they went with something of higher quality and acceptable presentation along with a better mix of options and better choices for vegan/vegetarian etc. It doesn't have to be what they are doing out west or bust.
 
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Tlcooper93

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It looks pretty good and I think a couple of the items are ported over from the menu on the western trains like the lobster crab cake - I'm supposed to be trying it in a week - will let you know. They are working with that vendor but that doesn't mean it will be an identical menu to Acela. I'd expect more options. While we'd all love traditional dining on every single train - I'm not sure that's really feasible - remember several trains did NOT have full traditional dining even before contemporary/flex dining showed up. I can only really see the Silver service and maybe Lake Shore considered for all out traditional dining like out west. I can't imagine any situation where a train like the Cardinal and CONO will receive the western style dining. But they do not have to go as far as out west to vastly improve the offerings in the east.
Yeah, I get what you're saying but I don't buy it.
Amtrak is fully capable of figuring out how to run full dining service on all eastern LD trains, they just wont do it.
Certainly Silvers and LSL should have full traditional dining. Silvers are eastern trains that feel like western trains, and the lacking meal service provided makes the ticket a ripoff.

Remembering how nice the meal service would sometimes be on the LS 'before Anderson.' Out of BOS there were choices of large prepackaged salads with cold meat if desired... or generously stuffed sandwiches. No doubt these were sourced out or BOS and could be brought back again if vendor is still operating.

Prepackaged meals can be very tasty... as can be seen on YouTube /// amazingly good prepackaged bento boxes perfected in the Orient. Sometimes rather silly and 'cheeky' at times, and high in sodium... check this out... shows the potential of food technology and creativity that could be modified for use with Amtrak...

I agree with this.
There are so many ways to cheaply prepare pre-packaged food that actually tastes good and is healthy to an extent. Providing a real continental breakfast as well (not the garbage they serve on the Night Owl), would be nice for some of the longer eastern trains.
Moreover, many overnight trains in Europe have prepackaged options that more than satisfy customers.

Of course - but CONO and Cardinal have not for quite a while. Of course there are enough Viewliner II diners to do it everywhere and they could also on the CONO and CL and TE....but I just don't see it happening....but I think most of us would agree that there could be an acceptable middle ground if they went with something of higher quality and acceptable presentation along with a better mix of options and better choices for vegan/vegetarian etc. It doesn't have to be what they are doing out west or bust.
Whats the point of getting fancy new diners that won't even be used....
 
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lordsigma

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Whats the point of getting fancy new diners that won't even be used....
they'll be used - but possibly in a different configuration to replace the split AmCafes where they are doing half cafe seating and half sleeper seating - they've been hinting the last couple years they may modify these cars to serve both cafe/sleeping car meals in the east. currently only the silvers/lake shore are running with separate amfleet cafe and Viewliner II sleeper dining cars. The fact that they are doing that is why I am thinking that only those trains may see the same setup as out west. Maybe we'll see a handful left unmodified for the Silvers/Lake Shore with the rest converted into something new (I know at least one or two diners have been modified into a concept where some of the seating was removed and replaced with a counter.) Something like that is what I'd expect if they modify them - remove some of the seating and replace with an order counter - probably more like a grab and go concept with some limited seating.
 
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neroden

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What I got out of that article was "Boy, were we stupid!" and my only comment is "You just figured that out? That means you still have not cured stupidity and incompetence in upper level management."
I'll give Roger Harris credit for admitting their stupidity. He said that the ridership resurgence after the Covid drop in ridership was much quicker, higher and faster than Amtrak's internal modelling had predicted -- and we all know that those of us outside Amtrak predicted this. RPA explicitly warned him that the ridership was going to come back hard and fast, and so did I, and they ran with a stupid underestimate instead. And they admitted that they were wrong. Admitting it is better than not admitting it.
 

Rasputin

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The eastern trains should be operated as the premier trains of the system, not as cast-offs. They should feature those amenities which compel customers to divert from airlines and highways. At present they seem to appeal only to die-hard railfans and those who are hesitant to fly.
 

lordsigma

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The eastern trains should be operated as the premier trains of the system, not as cast-offs. They should feature those amenities which compel customers to divert from airlines and highways. At present they seem to appeal only to die-hard railfans and those who are hesitant to fly.
Well they're also getting some new sleeper customers due to COVID. Those who are freaked out by traveling in close quarters.
 

20th Century Rider

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Yeah, I get what you're saying but I don't buy it.
Amtrak is fully capable of figuring out how to run full dining service on all eastern LD trains, they just wont do it.
Certainly Silvers and LSL should have full traditional dining. Silvers are eastern trains that feel like western trains, and the lacking meal service provided makes the ticket a ripoff.



I agree with this.
There are so many ways to cheaply prepare pre-packaged food that actually tastes good and is healthy to an extent. Providing a real continental breakfast as well (not the garbage they serve on the Night Owl), would be nice for some of the longer eastern trains.
Moreover, many overnight trains in Europe have prepackaged options that more than satisfy customers.



Whats the point of getting fancy new diners that won't even be used....
This was the object of much frustration and criticism from Amtrak patrons - those beautiful new restaurant cars on the Eastern routes were so magnificent... then they sidelined them... and that makes no sense at all! 😖
 

lordsigma

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That’s not a reason for them not to.

There isn’t a good reason not to have dining cars on all long distance trains.
You won't see me complain if they do - just trying to be a realist. While Mica is gone we do have the same Amtrak management that is fixated on costs.
 

crescent-zephyr

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The eastern trains should be operated as the premier trains of the system, not as cast-offs. They should feature those amenities which compel customers to divert from airlines and highways. At present they seem to appeal only to die-hard railfans and those who are hesitant to fly.
Agreed. The Silver Trains, Lake Shore and Capitol especially and probably the Crescent as well since it’s the only connection between the NEC and Atlanta.

I would give them a pass on the city of New Orleans and Texas Eagle, a proper CCC would be adequate for those trains. (As originally intended CCC with a chef).
 

jis

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If the new Authorization is ever adopted by Congress and becomes the law, then Amtrak will not have its last remaining excuse to clobber food service on eastern trains. They will be required to prioritize service quality over profitability and gratuitous cost reduction. Once that becomes law it will be time to go after Amtrak.

Until then their excuse is that they are still supposed to be run like a for profit business, and they get to choose what they will or will not prioritize. This was explained in an internal communication within RPA over the last several weeks. That is why they have been dragging their feet in the east.

But with these things, when you have a management that is unwilling to do anything beyond the bare minimum to keep their posteriors out of fire and nothing more, you can never tell what new excuse they might discover that will require further application of two by fours to their rear ends.

Of course all of this is further complicated by labor shortage and related COVID driven issues. But hopefully those will ease after it can be arranged so that enough people get vaccinated or get immunized through infections or just die so that they cannot participate in infecting more people.
 
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lordsigma

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Where did you see this?
Was quite a while back before covid. They did some sort of concept car thing with one or two of the VL2s. I seeing on a facebook group. Wish I could go back and find it. Basically they had stripped out a few seats closest to the kitchen and installed an ordering counter or something along those lines. Will try to find it somehow.
 
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lordsigma

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1632515330371.png

Here it is - was 68008. They did this mockup with it - whether the car is still like this or whether they reverted after doing whatever demo they did I don't know.
 

Sidney

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The Silver trains should never have dropped traditional dining. The sleeper prices are outrageous considering you are getting flex "dining". A full run takes two full days. When Flex dining was introduced on the CL and LSL way before Covid,I could almost understand the reasoning because they are shorter routes. Installing Flex on the Silvers and the Crescent,again pre covid was a slap in the face.
 

jis

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The Silver trains should never have dropped traditional dining. The sleeper prices are outrageous considering you are getting flex "dining". A full run takes two full days. When Flex dining was introduced on the CL and LSL way before Covid,I could almost understand the reasoning because they are shorter routes. Installing Flex on the Silvers and the Crescent,again pre covid was a slap in the face.
Well, actually Silver Star lost Dining completely in yet another Mica driven experiment way before Covid. I am not sure it ever got Flex, until it got its Diner back mid-Covid. It is Silver Meteor that maintained traditional dining until it got Flex.

LSL actually got something called Contemporary Dining before it got Flexed, initially with only cold meals. Nothing hot at all.
 

joelkfla

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View attachment 24525

Here it is - was 68008. They did this mockup with it - whether the car is still like this or whether they reverted after doing whatever demo they did I don't know.
That appears to be purely a mockup. Even the seats and tables in the background look fake. My guess is it was done before the car interior was installed, just to see how things might fit.

So the question is not whether the car was reverted, but rather whether a real installation of this setup ever actually occurred.
 

Cal

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Those who are freaked out by traveling in close quarters.
Well wouldn't that be people who are hesitant to fly (and ride busses)? As flying requires one to be travelling in close quarters with many others.
 

lordsigma

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That appears to be purely a mockup. Even the seats and tables in the background look fake. My guess is it was done before the car interior was installed, just to see how things might fit.

So the question is not whether the car was reverted, but rather whether a real installation of this setup ever actually occurred.
If one looks at the "Just the facts" thread 68008 operated in revenue service prior to this so they would have removed the tables and seating to do this mockup. So did they get reinstalled and this car go back in service, or is it sitting in storage somewhere?
 

lordsigma

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That would be a very poor use of the new dining cars in my opinion.
I think you're going to see something like this on some trains. Doing full traditional dining means having to have two food service cars. Just don't know if such is justified on trains like the CONO and Cardinal that haven't had the full deal in years - yes it can be done but does it have to be?... Don't get me wrong we need improvements - I think something like the original CCC concept with a chef or food specialist working with an LSA serving both coach and sleeper passengers with carry away and some seat yourself in one car is probably a good option on the Cardinal/CONO/Capitol Limited/Crescent/TE - you can throw the SSL back on the TE/CL as an unstaffed car like it is on the CONO - I don't think you need what they are doing out west on every single train - I think you can have a simpler option but with decent selection/similar food quality - just not waiter service, flowers, white table clothes, etc.. I think Lake Shore/Silvers should go back to traditional - western trains style with the fancy presentation....with separate dining/cafe cars.
 
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jis

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What Cardinal will look like when it becomes daily, something that the Amtrak management folks who attended the RPA meeting appeared to be committed to, will inevitably have an effect on what it ridership will become and what services will be provided on it. So I would refrain at this time from writing it off as a train forever relegated to its current purgatory status.

I am also dubious about treating Crescent between New York and Atlanta as a second class train. Crescent's ridership problems are mostly south of Atlanta and even more so south of Birmingham at present. It has always been weak south of Atlanta even in the Southern Crescent days. So maybe it is time to rethink Crescent and restructure it as two trains, one high class New York or even Boston to Atlanta train and another New York to New Orleans secondary train if that is what it takes.

Of course every improvement requires more equipment and staff. One cannot get something for nothing. Conversely if Amtrak was shut down it would not require any equipment or staff, but that does not make it a reasonable thing to do - just to throe in a ridiculous strawman that is :D
 
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