Amtrak Dining

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jis

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On Monday I took the City of New Orleans from CHI to NOL. My sleeping car attendant was a New Orleans crew base Amtrak chef who just got back on the extra board after a long furlough. He informed me that traditional dining (crab cakes, steaks, French toast, etc) will be returning to ALL of Amtrak's long distance trains this summer. This includes the CONO, LSL, Capital Limited, Cardinal, and Crescent. Any Amtrak train that runs with a diner! Hearing this news from him was a highlight of the trip, and I'm pleased to share it here.
I would caution all that the VP in charge of Amtrak LD Services, Larry Chestler spoke at the RPA Council Meeting (I attended it by Zoom as a Council Member representing Florida) last week specifically stating that traditional dining is not returning to Eastern LD trains before late Fall. Traditional dining is returning during summer to the Western long distance trains which had traditional dining before the pandemic.

According to what he said, the Eastern LDs will have to wait several months while they figure out exactly what to do, and in all likelihood what returns to the eastern LDs may be different from the traditional dining of yore. The specific decisions regarding them are yet to be made, and they are being worked on. So keep your expectation in check on the eastern LDs.

I guess I will leave it upto each individual as to whether they would rather trust the guy who holds the purse strings and makes the decisions about what will happen, or a Chef recently returned from furlough.
 

Cal

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It’s the only train with chef prepared meals! Compared to previous traditional dining - it’s completely non a l a carte -
Although the only a la carte you got in the other diners is the choice of side and desert, right? So nothing too big.

Although I'm not sure why they can't keep that.

(Edited to make my message outside the quote)
 

Cal

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I would caution all that the VP in charge of Amtrak LD Services, Larry Chestler spoke at the RPA Council Meeting (I attended it by Zoom as a Council Member representing Florida) last week specifically stating that traditional dining is not returning to Eastern LD trains before late Fall. Traditional dining is returning during summer to the Western long distance trains which had traditional dining before the pandemic.

According to what he said, the Eastern LDs will have to wait several months while they figure out exactly what to do, and in all likelihood what returns to the eastern LDs may be different from the traditional dining of yore. The specific decisions regarding them are yet to be made, and they are being worked on. So keep your expectation in check on the eastern LDs.
😭
 

me_little_me

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Late May is not summer so who is lying, Chestler or Amtrak's web site which contradicts him by showing that Traditional Dining will be on trains in late May?

Hmmm!
 

lordsigma

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Although the only a la carte you got in the other diners is the choice of side and desert, right? So nothing too big.

Although I'm not sure why they can't keep that.

(Edited to make my message outside the quote)
There was all sorts of a la carte stuff at breakfast.
 

crescent-zephyr

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I guess I will leave it upto each individual as to whether they would rather trust the guy who holds the purse strings and makes the decisions about what will happen, or a Chef recently returned from furlough.
It’s 50/50. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chef knows more about actual operations than the office guy giving a public speech.
 

joelkfla

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Although the only a la carte you got in the other diners is the choice of side and desert, right? So nothing too big.

Although I'm not sure why they can't keep that.

(Edited to make my message outside the quote)
No, you could customize things to some extent. Like getting a burger with or without bacon or cheese. IIRC, crab cakes were on the menu as surf & turf, but I asked for them by themselves and got them.
 

tim49424

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Late May is not summer so who is lying, Chestler or Amtrak's web site which contradicts him by showing that Traditional Dining will be on trains in late May?

Hmmm!
Maybe lying is a little harsh a word to use? I’d think that someone or both parties are fed the wrong information. We’ll see for sure. Everything right now IMO is speculation until we see traditional meals being served or hear first hand actual reports. Even if these dates come from reliable sources, you know how Amtrak is....the dates announced are subject to change.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Actual operations that day, especially on the route he works, sure.

The planning for several months into the future, not so much.
If full Diners are coming back on New Orleans based trains the New Orleans crew base is preparing for that change now.

I would take the New Orleans based chefs word for it, but that’s just me.
 

me_little_me

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I checked on Amtrak's site by starting a new reservation on the Zephyr in a room to see if it still says Traditional Dining for my trip in June. I select a room then add it to my cart then click on the cart then click on the city pair to show more information. The dropdown no longer shows the type of dining. So I go to my reservation on the site and select view/share details. This is a portion of what comes up:
Amtrak_2021-04-23 06-00-42.png

This is the portion from Chicago to Grand Junction. Notice the red dot and the word Canceled below SEGMENT 1 of 1 (it is actually segment 2).

Then I tried to email it by putting in an email address and the system said "Something wrong with our System. Please try again". Same thing when I tried again and when I tried later..
 
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lordsigma

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I checked on Amtrak's site by starting a new reservation on the Zephyr in a room to see if it still says Traditional Dining for my trip in June. I select a room then add it to my cart then click on the cart then click on the city pair to show more information. The dropdown no longer shows the type of dining. So I go to my reservation on the site and select view/share details. This is a portion of what comes up:
View attachment 21902

This is the portion from Chicago to Grand Junction. Notice the red dot and the word Canceled below SEGMENT 1 of 1 (it is actually segment 2).

Then I tried to email it by putting in an email address and the system said "Something wrong with our System. Please try again". Same thing when I tried again and when I tried later..
System still shows May 21st.
 
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Cal

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Just checked on Arrow for the SWC departing LAX on June 7th. Shows traditional dining for me
 

PaTrainFan

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I would caution all that the VP in charge of Amtrak LD Services, Larry Chestler spoke at the RPA Council Meeting (I attended it by Zoom as a Council Member representing Florida) last week specifically stating that traditional dining is not returning to Eastern LD trains before late Fall. Traditional dining is returning during summer to the Western long distance trains which had traditional dining before the pandemic.

According to what he said, the Eastern LDs will have to wait several months while they figure out exactly what to do, and in all likelihood what returns to the eastern LDs may be different from the traditional dining of yore. The specific decisions regarding them are yet to be made, and they are being worked on. So keep your expectation in check on the eastern LDs.

I guess I will leave it upto each individual as to whether they would rather trust the guy who holds the purse strings and makes the decisions about what will happen, or a Chef recently returned from furlough.
The most likely backstory is that while Amtrak may begrudgingly accept that "experiential" rail travel will continue to exist in the west, it eventually sees most overnight eastern trains being replaced by the shorter day time "corridor" type of travel. Thus they have no incentive whatsoever to improve the overnight rail experience in the east even in the short term.
 

Exvalley

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I would caution all that the VP in charge of Amtrak LD Services, Larry Chestler spoke at the RPA Council Meeting (I attended it by Zoom as a Council Member representing Florida) last week specifically stating that traditional dining is not returning to Eastern LD trains before late Fall.
Since I have a reservation on the LSL in late October, I am hoping that Mr. Chestler is under-promising and hoping to over-perform. But let's be honest. "Over-perform" and "Amtrak" are seldom uttered in the same sentence.
 

jis

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Since I have a reservation on the LSL in late October, I am hoping that Mr. Chestler is under-promising and hoping to over-perform. But let's be honest. "Over-perform" and "Amtrak" are seldom uttered in the same sentence.
Likewise. Me too, though for me it is the Silvers and the Cardinal.
 
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Dakota 400

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Late May is not summer so who is lying, Chestler or Amtrak's web site which contradicts him by showing that Traditional Dining will be on trains in late May?

Hmmm!
Maybe a case of the "right hand not knowing what the left hand" is doing.

But, as another poster mentioned, maybe Mr. Chestler is "underpromising" while hoping to exceed expectations. If so, that's smart PR in my opinion.
 

jis

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But, as another poster mentioned, maybe Mr. Chestler is "underpromising" while hoping to exceed expectations. If so, that's smart PR in my opinion.
That is quite possible for the Western trains since Amtrak also promised to restore service by the end of June, but is doing so by the end of May for them.

However, from what Mr. Chestler desribed as things that have to be completed before Viewliner trains get traditional food service restored was accurate, it seems unlikely that they will get traditional dining in any form restored before late Summer at the earlies,t even though he said late Fall.

New Orleans base will have to be upto speed for providing tradional service in the May/June timeframe at least on the Sunset Limited and maybe with a little bit of additional luck on the CONO. Anyway. I suspect the Crescent will come later since what he described that needs to happen at the Sunnyside facility is unlikely to be completed in a month or two from now.
 

jis

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Was he specific as to what was needed to happen?
No. But he said it should take several months. Also the OBS for Eastern trains’ food service were apparently not furloughed when they moved away from traditional dining. Apparently very few are still around. So they have to start from scratch with new hires and training for significant part of the necessary staff. That is the primary difference from the Western trains. The Eastern trains were permanently destaffed and downgraded, not temporarily like the Western trains.
 

me_little_me

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System still shows May 21st.
That's not the issue. My question was moved to this thread involuntarily but it has nothing to do with dining (I was only explaining why I went back to Amtrak's site). Rather what does CANCELED mean on my reservation?
 
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