Amtrak dining

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This isn't Amtrak, but rather the Glacier Express in Switzerland. This is a tourist train, and offer some good dining (at your seat) options. However, even they are having cutbacks.
Glacier Express - Gastronomy
"Limited catering on certain trains"
Due to the current situation (e.g. the short-term nature of the business and general staff shortage in the gastronomy), we are currently unable to offer the usual catering service on all trains. For the time being, the complete catering offer according to the menu is only available on trains 902/903/904 & 905 (all trains running between St. Moritz and Zermatt).

The trains 900/901/906 & 907 operate with a limited catering service. There is no catering service on these trains between Brig-Zermatt and Chur St. Mortiz.

However we can offer you fine lunch boxes and drinks if you order in advance on these trains

The lunch boxes are CHF 25 -35 (CHF is the Swiss Franc and is about the same as the US dollar at current rates of exchange, at least when I last looked)

This you can pay $25-$35 for a lunch box, which contains dried sausage, cheese, bread and butter a dessert and "aperitif mix" (whatever that is.)
At least the cheese is real Swiss cheese! :)

On the trains that still have full catering, the menu is pretty impressive, if pricey:

GEX_Speisekarte_22.pdf (glacierexpress.ch)

Fuller dinners range from CHF40 (Salad, main dish & dessert) to CHF 52 for a 4 course meal that includes a cheese course. (Hopefully including Swiss Cheese!) Main dishes are CHF 20 -30. Booze prices are reasonable.

I wonder if an operation like this could be run in the States. I especially like the Panorama Wagon, which is sort of like a single-level Sightseer Lounge, except that all of the coaches on the train are Panorama Wagons. They should put something like that on the Lakeshore Limited, and maybe some of the NYP - ALB Empire service trains. At least.
 
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If I am not mistaken this task has been given to the DOT/FRA and not Amtrak too, though I could be mistaken. There are a few other things that have also been tasked to DOT/FRA and taken away from Amtrak including the whole issue of what to do about LD trains precisely to address the fear that is expressed above.

That is the reason I was asking whether this was part of the ICT Soft Mockup or something else. That seems more like a mockup of a food service lounge for use in a Regional service than one suitable for an overnight service with full dining.

This should give us some comfort. But the task force could still recommend changing on board dining in a way we prefer not, just after things went positive on the Western trains and may be trending the right way on some Eastern trains. We shall see as this introduces another level of government bureaucracy, which is also something that cannot be trusted.
 
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jis

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This should give us some comfort. But the task force could still recommend changing on board dining in a way we prefer not, just after things went positive on the Western trains and may be trending the right way on some Eastern trains. We shall see.
Membership of RPA designee is almost written into the regulation, not quite, but almost. And of course I don't know who RPA will designate officially for sure. So this cannot exactly run away from us completely, or well at least there is reason to be optimistic.
 
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This should give us some comfort. But the task force could still recommend changing on board dining in a way we prefer not, just after things went positive on the Western trains and may be trending the right way on some Eastern trains. We shall see.
If this task force operates like other Federal Advisory Committees, their meetings should be open, and they should be giving the public opportunity to address the issues on the meeting agendas. It would probably help for them to get lots of feedback about the bogus accounting on the cost side at the very least. I would suppose such a group is under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), which requires such things. Of course, violations of FACA don't really have any penalties, except that the advice given by the committee under those circumstances has less credibility. The other thing about FACA is that the agency asking for the advice controls the agenda of what they're asking from the committee, so having the committee report to an agency independent of Amtrak is actually pretty significant.
 

toddinde

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The money that is wasted on this committee could go directly to the dining car budgets and likely make a substantial impact on improved service.
The committee isn’t going to cost anything. It makes sense to have an RPA Rep advising on this. The committee was a very smart addition to the legislation where we believe Amtrak needs input to make a sound decision.

The food service debates may be the most absurd things I’ve ever read. I’ve read people proposing that unless their favorite menu item is on the menu, it’s hopeless. Some people insist they be seated with other people or it’s horrible. Others want the service contracted to Cracker Barrel (yuck). If somebody suggests vegan or vegetarian items, they are harassed. Food service needs to evolve. Healthy meals and snacks need to be available for all passengers. There are many concepts from Europe that would be a vast improvement. The advisory committee is an excellent idea.

From a story on Instagram by user Philmartinjr, who I believe is an Amtrak conductor
I don’t think that’s a diner; that’s a lounge.
 

zephyr17

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I don’t think that’s a diner; that’s a lounge.
That is a lounge in a Viewliner shell.

I have always thought a Viewliner lounge would be a good thing, the double row of windows make viewing almost as good as a wraparound window.

It is a good thing if that is a new lounge car (unlikely since Amtrak has pretty clearly said it is done with CAF and Viewliners).

It is a bad thing if they are going to rip up the Viewliner diners to do it.
 

jis

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That is a lounge in a Viewliner shell.

I have always thought a Viewliner lounge would be a good thing, the double row of windows make viewing almost as good as a wraparound window.

It is a good thing if that is a new lounge car (unlikely since Amtrak has pretty clearly said it is done with CAF and Viewliners).

It is a bad thing if they are going to rip up the Viewliner diners to do it.
What makes you think that just because it has a second row of windows it must be Viewliner shell? Inquiring minds want to know ;) Is there any reason that a car with two rows of windows would be impossible to produce on any other platform?
 

Cal

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What makes you think that just because it has a second row of windows it must be Viewliner shell? Inquiring minds want to know ;) Is there any reason that a car with two rows of windows would be impossible to produce on any other platform?
Shape of the body and the paneling between the windows suggest it's a viewliner II shell, although hopefully they were just using it for whatever they're planning. That would be an actual upgrade.
 

zephyr17

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Well, the relative size of two rows of windows to each other plus the angle of the shell wall make it a dead ringer for a Viewliner.

If starting from scratch, personally I'd go for something like a Seaboard Sun series lounge with large wraparound windows.
 
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jis

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It looks like a Viewliner from the inside, but it says nothing about what the actual car shell that does not exist yet, is going to be.

I am almost certain that one thing they will not do is start from scratch. They will more likely start with the basic frame of a Venture (or something of the shelf of that nature) and then figure out which panels will hold windows instead of body skin. You would be amazed how incredibly varied window patterns can be incorporated into one of these basic frames.

Indeed, I would not be surprised if they had not already been talking about such possibilities in the context of LD fleet replacement.

But @zephyr17 I do agree that it would be nice to get something like:

210813181858-rocky-mountaineer-near-arches-national-park-large-169.jpg


Incidentally these cars were produced by Alstom using the original Red Leaf Canadian Car and Foundry standard Coach frames which originally had just one row of smaller windows like any other standard American Coaches. So at least theoretically one could finagle something like this or something like Viewliner window layout on a standard Venture frame if one choose to do so and spend the money on such.

This is what it looked like from inside with the original window layout as Alstom started the conversion work leading to the car shown above:

21032016---rockymountaineer4.jpg
 
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That looks like a mockup, with models of seats and fixtures, not actual ones.

Unfortunately that is a Viewliner II dining car that was ripped apart to test this new cafe car conversion nonsense. Very unfortunate after all of the effort and money that went into designing and building the new dining car fleet to see money wasted on destroying brand new equipment.
 

jis

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Unfortunately that is a Viewliner II dining car that was ripped apart to test this new cafe car conversion nonsense. Very unfortunate after all of the effort and money that went into designing and building the new dining car fleet to see money wasted on destroying brand new equipment.
The original Anderson's folly in action! I guess that is not happening now?

I guess that may be why one Viewliner Dining Car appears to be not in service, leaving aside the mothballed ones for the moment. Which car was it? Anyone know? Was it the original prototype, prototyping again?
 
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I guess that may be why one Viewliner Dining Car appears to be not in service, leaving aside the mothballed ones for the moment. Which car was it? Anyone know? Was it the original prototype, prototyping again?

It's not the 8400, but one of the new ones. Other than that, I don't know.
 
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From the picture, it's hard to say whether it's just been Photoshopped or whether those white fake tables are actually full scale models of the proposed concept. It actually doesn't look that bad to me, assuming the final table design fits into the decor of the car. Lots of people here complained about the CCC cars on the superliner, but I find them perfectly fine. And they are going to need to develop a design for the lounge/cafe car on the next generation of single level long distance cars.
 

zephyr17

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The problem I have with the Superliner Diner/Lounges (aka "CCC") is the fact that the lounge end is too small and the lounge end and the dining end are separated. The "lounge" end has only four tables and is isolated from the rest of the car. More successful, traditional diner lounge designs, like SP's "Pride of Texas" coffee shop cars or their Lark Club triple units, basically the lounge and lounge service service counter was at was at one end of the car, facing in and the car could be set up with a varying amounts of lounge versus diner seating. For example, there was not much demand for dinner on the Lark and the Lark Club was mostly lounge during evening hours. Breakfast was huge and the lounge seating of the evening before became diner seating. Plus, the interior of the car was much more open. I realize that the dumbwaiter and service set up area of what is basically a kit-bashed diner presented design issues of the Superliner diner lounges.

I know I am kind of in the minority, but I do like the table arrangement in the diner end of the diner/lounges.

I do hope they pay more attention to the "lounge" aspects of new cafe/lounges than they did with the AmCafes and make a more welcoming environment with better viewing. The picture shown is not a bad start. And from direct experience, hanging out in the Viewliner Diner in its "Sleeper Lounge" capacity is a lot more pleasant than being in an AmCafe. Now, if only the crews don't homestead in them...
 
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I saw another photo of that car a while back, where someone photographed the interior through the window from outside. It is an actual Viewliner II that was stripped inside to test this new (and hopefully now abandoned) cafe/lounge conversion layout.
 

west point

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Moved my post to here.
21 minutes ago
There are several factors that meet the desire of passengers to want or need meal service.
1. The first item to consider is average number of passengers on the train. If a train only has 100 passengers and another has 500 which train has the possibility to come closer to a breakeven of costs?
2. To cover demand peaks enough OBS in snack cars have to be on duty to allow quick service. Enough stock as well. No cash
3. Quick service means the originating station of a train has the train snack bar & diner open 20 minutes before departure. Passengers at mid points already have that advantage as soon as they board. The exception of course will be where power changes happen mainly WASH or PHL keystones. Sometimes there are mid route power changes.
4. Both lounge / snack cars and diners need to have 24/7 hours when exceeding a certain number of passengers for that train.
5. Stocking of the cars has to meet the demand even it means restocking at mid points. Maybe the way would be for extra meals to be stored in baggage cars. That way not as much worry for very late trains at restocking locations. Meals could be stored in dry ice.
6. Passengers have to have limits when in lounge or diner cars those times which will be limited during rush periods. They can have right to return if car has spaces at off rush times for that train.
7. Sleeper passengers can make meal choices at reservation. Can change until about 5 days. Prevents earlier choices backs up meal supplier. Reservations 2-5 days can make choice. If Amtrak changes choices, then anyone can change choice.
8. Coach passengers can make choice and pay when making reservations.
9. Any meals not eaten offered sale to coach passengers once all paid (inc sleeper) not claimed.
10. All these changes may require a major IT upgrade to arrow.
 
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If this was the one from before that they had been playing around with as a concept I don’t think they did anything super permanent that would have prevented them from putting everything back to how it was (like I don’t believe they removed the kitchen or anything from it.) would be a matter of putting tables back in (and it appears some of the lighting fixtures and finishes?) it kind of seemed like they were thinking of a CCC like car rather than completely removing the food prep area. Obviously I don’t know for certain but I specifically remember someone saying they did not remove anything from the kitchen.
 

toddinde

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That is a lounge in a Viewliner shell.

I have always thought a Viewliner lounge would be a good thing, the double row of windows make viewing almost as good as a wraparound window.

It is a good thing if that is a new lounge car (unlikely since Amtrak has pretty clearly said it is done with CAF and Viewliners).

It is a bad thing if they are going to rip up the Viewliner diners to do it.
This was part of the mock up for new long distance cars. My understanding is that both the Siemens cars and more Viewliners are options for the long distance car replacement order. A Viewliner lounge would be quite nice.
 
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This was part of the mock up for new long distance cars. My understanding is that both the Siemens cars and more Viewliners are options for the long distance car replacement order. A Viewliner lounge would be quite nice.


I thought that viewliners were not going to happen. I do like the design of them. I prefer the beds that are parallel to the window rather than those that are horizontal to the window like those in bedrooms on Amtrak and those in european sleeping cars.
 

jis

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I thought that viewliners were not going to happen. I do like the design of them. I prefer the beds that are parallel to the window rather than those that are horizontal to the window like those in bedrooms on Amtrak and those in european sleeping cars.
Viewliner interior layout and even double windows can indeed still happen. It is just that they are unlikely to happen in a custom shell platform. They can be built on a common platform shell if there is such a desire.
 

Rambling Robert

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I’ll be on the CS in a sleeper to visit a special friend. She wants to know if they’re still called Pullman? She’s funny.

But in the 40s to 60s did Coach get to reserve a seat in the dining car) If in a Pullman did you get a seat and a bunk? We’re they bunks stacked in threes? Twos?

When did dual level dining cars go in service?
 
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