Amtrak Dining

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Cal

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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.
If not all trains can come back with your version of full traditional dining, the TE and Crescent need it. They are both 30+ hours. The Cardinal is also 26. The LSL, CL, and CONO are all under 20 and much of it is overnight but on the 20+ hour trains, a full diner and cafe should be a thing.
 

Cal

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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.
Cardinal is on it's way to being daily?
 

jis

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Cardinal is on it's way to being daily?
Upon questioning Harris said that they were committed to work towards that goal. That is more than what any Amtrak executive has said before. This time lack of money is not going to be an available excuse if the Appropriation and Authorization passes in its present form, and STB appears to be more friendly too when it comes to it. So who knows? We'll see. Fingers crossed.
 
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crescent-zephyr

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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.
How are you choosing which trains should get what service? Why would the lake shore get full dining and not the Capitol for example?
 

jis

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That one is probably just ridership. Capitol has always been a poorer performer of the two. Of course that can be fixed pronto by adding a New York section to the Capitol :D Hey there is even a fully worked out plan for doing so in the PIPs circular file at Amtrak HQ ;)
 

crescent-zephyr

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That one is probably just ridership. Capitol has always been a poorer performer of the two. Of course that can be fixed pronto by adding a New York section to the Capitol :D Hey there is even a fully worked out plan for doing so in the PIPs circular file at Amtrak HQ ;)
Well if we are going by ridership the Star and Meteor should have it back over any of the western trains.
 
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Cal

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Upon questioning Harris said that they were committed to work towards that goal. That is more than what any Amtrak executive has said before. This time lack of money is not going to be an available excuse if the Appropriation and Authorization passes in its present form, and STB appears to be more friendly too when it comes to it. So who knows? We'll see. Fingers crossed.
Amazing. Anything on the Sunset? Or is that still a non-starter?
That one is probably just ridership. Capitol has always been a poorer performer of the two. Of course that can be fixed pronto by adding a New York section to the Capitol :D Hey there is even a fully worked out plan for doing so in the PIPs circular file at Amtrak HQ ;)
How would that work out at Washington? They would have to do some interesting switching maneuvers. Although they could just pull in with P42's and have the electric engine be coupled at the rear, now front. I guess it's simpler than I thought

Of course, using viewliners.


Wait, I realize you mean the New YOrk section would split off at Pittsburg.
 

20th Century Rider

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If not all trains can come back with your version of full traditional dining, the TE and Crescent need it. They are both 30+ hours. The Cardinal is also 26. The LSL, CL, and CONO are all under 20 and much of it is overnight but on the 20+ hour trains, a full diner and cafe should be a thing.
Of course they can bring back full service dining to Eastern trains with quality meals... they can do anything they want to do... and are motivated to do... but this thing with Amtrak... a national rail system with practically no competition... should reflect the pride of the nation. Those ridiculous flex meals that are an insult to all of us.
 
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Sorry maybe this has been answered (I don't have time to read every message): is there a date as to when the NYC-Florida trains will get full dining cars? Also can someone tell me if ice is available in CZ sleepers?
 

Cal

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Sorry maybe this has been answered (I don't have time to read every message): is there a date as to when the NYC-Florida trains will get full dining cars? Also can someone tell me if ice is available in CZ sleepers?
Nope, might not even get full dining cars. But a dining upgrade is expected before spring.
 

lordsigma

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How are you choosing which trains should get what service? Why would the lake shore get full dining and not the Capitol for example?
Was going to respond saying current ridership trends but someone already did. Would certainly say if ridership booms on others and they add sleepers then all bets are off… but I think all of us would agree that we would accept at least some higher quality food even if it doesn’t come with the full table service/tablecloths/flowers. Kind of going off how those are the trains currently running with two food cars.

As for the western trains…the dining experience is an absolutely essential part of the experience on western trains with their long length and attracting many experiential passengers for the views and it’s not really just pure ridership it’s really more about sleeper passengers riding long distances. When I say ridership I mean ridership from the perspective of the Eastern trains…I think out west is a different animal.

Am I going to cry foul if they put it on other or even all trains? Absolutely not. Just trying to look at it from a business point of view and somewhat putting myself in management shoes.
 
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Mr.Technician

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I'm curious, have the flex meals gotten that much worse? I remember having it in 2018 and it was excellent... Not the same experience as traditional dining, but still good food.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Was going to respond saying current ridership trends but someone already did. Would certainly say if ridership booms on others and they add sleepers then all bets are off… but I think all of us would agree that we would accept at least some higher quality food even if it doesn’t come with the full table service/tablecloths/flowers. Kind of going off how those are the trains currently running with two food cars.

As for the western trains…the dining experience is an absolutely essential part of the experience on western trains with their long length and attracting many experiential passengers for the views and it’s not really just pure ridership it’s really more about sleeper passengers riding long distances. When I say ridership I mean ridership from the perspective of the Eastern trains…I think out west is a different animal.

Am I going to cry foul if they put it on other or even all trains? Absolutely not. Just trying to look at it from a business point of view and somewhat putting myself in management shoes.
Yeah I looked up the ridership numbers, I’m surprised the Lake Shore is that much ahead of the Capitol but that would make sense.

I do agree trains like the City could use a CCC car and be fine (again, actual ccc car as originally intended with a chef).
 

lordsigma

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I'm curious, have the flex meals gotten that much worse? I remember having it in 2018 and it was excellent... Not the same experience as traditional dining, but still good food.
I don’t personally hate flex dining I can live with it for like a single dinner. But I think it could be much better both in terms of presentation and quality. I personally can live with it but I think upgrades would improve customer satisfaction as many don’t agree with me on being ok with it.
 

me_little_me

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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?
Based on my view of Amtrak's recent history, it's probably in storage for they day when they are forced to bring it back by a threat from congress. But since there is more than a slim chance that the country will go back to the dark ages, Amtrak might be better off abandoning it now rather than in 2 or 4 years. I don't foresee Amtrak ever getting all the money the infrastructure bill promises.

Oh well! It sounded good while it lasted.
 

Mr.Technician

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Yes that was “Contemporary Dining” the current flex dining is a huge step down.

(All of these contemporary, flex, simplified and cross country dining terms are just silly!)
Oh dear, that is quite confusing...

What are the flex meals like?

And I've never even heard of simplified or cross country. o_O
 

jis

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Well if we are going by ridership the Star and Meteor should have it back over any of the western trains.
First condition was Western trains for whatever reason - mainly two night journeys, though strictly speaking the Starlight does not fall under that. Then comes Eastern trains. The discussion currently is about criterion used for single night journey trains other than the Starlight, which essentially are all the so called Eastern trains. So while your point has merit, it is not really relevant given how the discussions within Amtrak has progressed.
 
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Rambling Robert

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If your train is full and traveling Coach on the LSL be sure to go to the cafe before the yuuuuuge line that forms into the next car. I was lucky,



===========•••=========



BOS to NYP I passed on food but a kind woman vending drinks (lower level) and pastry sold me a killer danish for half off. I then went directly from the same platform but different escalator. I waited until my return to see the Moynihan.



I was pleased to see LIRR senior was about 50% off like Boston CR.



=======••••=======



ON the return to Boston I checked out Monihan. The very front of the westbound LIRR makes it EZ to get to the escalator up to the Moynihan.



I didn’t feel like finding anything to eat because I was pleasantly surprised by the Moynihan Train Hall and watching the Amtrak folk do crowd control.



Image.jpeg



One Amtrak guy put on a little comedy show for our very long line. He was funny. He explained how you file a complaint with Amtrak office / funny.



I was hovering at the gate (the down escalator) when a pleasant Amtrak employee told me about the very nice waiting-area.



Image_1.jpeg







Not only does Moynihan look better in person but the Amtrak folk earned high marks on a Friday morning.



I was up for juice and the pretty good breakfast sandwich. The Jimmy Dean sausage makes it a descent breakfast sandwich.



We ran 40 minutes late to New London but the ferry held the boat and about ten people got off for NLC or The Fisher Island Ferry. I was lucky to have a private contact to visit there.



New London Union Station was old school Amtrak-folks but somehow I got the coke machine to work... concluding my Amtrak dining experience.

Oh
 

20th Century Rider

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Here's a picture I found on my phone (Capitol Limited):
View attachment 24555
When they first introduced the concept of 'Flex Dining' it seemed to be a respectful replacement of the restaurant service... and don't forget... they re-introduced amenity kits in each sleeper room as well. [mimicking what Amtrak provided years ago. Each meal was in a balsa wood box which may have been flimsy but had a qualitative feel about it. It also included a reusable green bag for which the contents could be transported to the room.

I am so offended by the changes to downgrade the concept to LESS THAN NOTHING! Food service simply doesn't qualify as food service... is disgustingly distasteful, and totally unrealistic.

I have lost confidence in Amtrak management because they have absolutely no respect for the customers! 😖 :confused:🤣🤑👽
 

fdaley

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From my limited experience (because I basically have sworn off any trains with this service), what distinguishes the "contemporary" and "flexible" meals from the dining service that existed previously:
-- Pre-packaged meals with no food preparation on board other than reheating (and in the case of "contemporary," no reheating as all of the choices were served cold or at room temperature).
-- No effort at plating or presentation, with the food served in its as-delivered tub or packaging.
-- No place settings and no table service, unless the attendant opts to deliver the reheated tub to your table. Otherwise, pick up your own plastic cutlery, napkins, drinks.

My fear from reading the Trains article is that Amtrak management is still thinking at some level that the flexible model can be "substantially improved" by doing things like adding a wider selection of entrees rather than by going back to something more in the tradition of restaurant-style presentation and service.

If it's necessary to have some trains have less than full dining service, it certainly makes sense to have the best service on the western trains. But I'm not seeing why it's necessary to have two tiers of meal service, given that the Mica rules are gone and the political environment is now quite supportive of good rail service, even on the LD routes.

Good on-board food service is an amenity that will help to build and maintain ridership, so it's still pretty important on an 18- or 25-hour trip, not just on a 40-hour ride.

Even with flex meals, the Lake Shore Limited could probably sell out an additional sleeper at busy times. But that ridership would be easier to attract and retain throughout the year with high-quality meal service.
 
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crescent-zephyr

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One Amtrak guy put on a little comedy show for our very long line. He was funny. He explained how you file a complaint with Amtrak office / funny.
If it’s the same guy who I’ve encountered at New York Penn he is HILARIOUS. I’d pay to watch his stand up show.
 

Tlcooper93

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My fear from reading the Trains article is that Amtrak management is still thinking at some level that the flexible model can be "substantially improved" by doing things like adding a wider selection of entrees rather than by going back to something more in the tradition of restaurant-style presentation and service.
this is a very important take-away.
Amtrak, in an oddly genuine and convincing way, seems utterly against restoring any semblance of what they had before, almost as if there were a good reason not to: on the other hand, they seem convinced the only issue we have with flex dining is a lack of variety...
 
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