Amtrak Dining

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OBS

Conductor
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In the past the Crescent and LSL diners were definitely New York based. That may have changed with flex dining of course.
Actually the Crescent Diner jobs went to NOL about 4 years ago. The LSL changed to a Chi job with flex dining, but may have reverted back with the tri weekly service.
 

TEREB

Train Attendant
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Apr 5, 2009
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Just had the Flex dinner. Beef for hubby and Shrimp for me. Although the beef had the highest sodium content, it wasn’t nearly as salty tasting as the shrimp. Very bad. 31ABE692-EFFA-467E-B150-84F5AF475EA9.jpegF13DD4C2-0957-46E7-A2F0-084E40E28713.jpeg31ABE692-EFFA-467E-B150-84F5AF475EA9.jpegF13DD4C2-0957-46E7-A2F0-084E40E28713.jpeg
 

Bob Dylan

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IndyLions

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Nov 6, 2016
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For me, the shrimp/sausage is the best of the Flex. I think out of 6 meals to/from FL, I had it 3 times. The only thing I had more frequently was the Brownie / Blondie...My wife had everything once, so I got at least a taste of it all...

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daybeers

OBS Chief
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Jan 6, 2016
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HFD/POU
You are right. The Bos section is crewed from CHI. But until recently the Diner attendant was Chi based as well. Must have changed with tri weekly service. The NY Sleepers/Coach attendant are NY jobs.
Yeah, he was a nice guy, Tim. He mentioned he was moved from the other Empire Service/Niagara Falls corridor trains since the frequency was reduced on those.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Actually the Crescent Diner jobs went to NOL about 4 years ago. The LSL changed to a Chi job with flex dining, but may have reverted back with the tri weekly service.
That seems about right. That’s about the last time I rode the Crescent - had to say goodbye to the heritage diners :)
 

me_little_me

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What's with the "bring back the flowers". As I recall, the tables barely had room to hold our place settings, drinks and the condiments. A flower vase just takes up room on the table without providing nutrition. (waiting for the "eat the flower" comments :D )
I'll bite! [Pun intended]

Add as much salt as is in the flex dinners, as much sugar as in the flex breakfasts, and as much artificial ingredients as in the flex lunch and the flowers will taste better than all of them (after microwaving, of course). And probably healthier, too. That's why I never threw out the flex packaging - it was the healthiest part of the meal!
 
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lordsigma

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Polenta is just an option on the steak for full service dining - you can still get the good old baked potato. I’ve tried the following flex meals so far: shrimp with lobster sauce, pasta with meatballs, chicken Marsala, and the manicotti (which has been a “special” at times on the eastern trains.) I liked the manicotti the best. But I thought the others were all ok so far. I’d say in order of preference: manicotti is my favorite followed by shrimp with lobster followed by chicken marsala with the pasta taking up the rear (I didn’t think it was disgusting but was the most bland.) disclaimer: I like salt and don’t mind salty foods so I can handle these meals for the most part. I will be eating a whole bunch more of these things on my upcoming trip - probably going to try the braised beef and Cajun shrimp meals.
 

TEREB

Train Attendant
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Apr 5, 2009
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81
For me, the shrimp/sausage is the best of the Flex. I think out of 6 meals to/from FL, I had it 3 times. The only thing I had more frequently was the Brownie / Blondie...My wife had everything once, so I got at least a taste of it all...

Last time I had it, it was good. This time I needed to eat the bread to get rid of the salty taste. I keep shaking my head.
View attachment 22841
 

TEREB

Train Attendant
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Apr 5, 2009
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Yeah - the Polenta was very, very poor. I sound like my Dad (God rest his soul and cue up the Progressive commercial) - but thank God the Steak & Baked Potato are coming back...
Returning to the Silvers?????
I want my veggie burger back. The enchiladas for lunch was beyond bad.
 

Michigan Mom

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Jan 28, 2012
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We just returned from a trip that included legs on the Crescent and the CONO. It is clear from the situation in New Orleans and Chicago that the service/hospitality industry is still reeling from changes brought about by Covid. So many restaurants are shut down still, and others are working with short staff, or new inexperienced staff. Even our nice hotel in Chicago had no daily housekeeping, no restaurant, coffee stand operating very limited hours. It is a very tough situation and we realized that our expectations when we travel had to adjust.

This was our first Amtrak trip, so I have no "before" to compare with, but I think that the covid situation must be affecting Amtrak as well. I heard a staffer handling baggage in New Orleans sigh that he "wasn't ready for this." I don't know if they are short staffed, or if it is just a shock to go back to full trains, but all staff seemed to be struggling. Cafe car and dining car on CONO were staffed by one person. I don't know if that's normal, but she was struggling (although with a pleasant, cheerful attitude). Cafe car on the Crescent was closed most of the time, and that lady did NOT have a nice disposition. She was so rude to an elderly gentleman that I almost said something, but I feared it would embarrass him more than she already had.

On the CONO we took our meals in the roomette except for breakfast which they asked us all to take in the dining car. We did not have to share with other passengers as she was able to spread us out. There were no omelettes offered. She was struggling to get the microwavable stuff out.

Reading about the coming return to traditional dining is interesting, and I realize it is not coming to CONO or the Crescent, but it seems like a fantasy world compared to the real dining situation on the ground right now.
Thanks for this report. I am getting the impression that for this summer's travel season, while operators are trying to handle increased demand with less employees... how did that happen anyway, weren't they supposed to keep staff in order to receive the bailout funds? Anyway... looks like we can all expect to pay more, and should probably expect less. No one said life is fair.
 
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What's with the "bring back the flowers". As I recall, the tables barely had room to hold our place settings, drinks and the condiments. A flower vase just takes up room on the table without providing nutrition. (waiting for the "eat the flower" comments :D )
Fresh flowers are very affordable and the tall slender vase take nearly no space at all. They are very much a touch of class. One more thing Amtrak can claim that airlines can’t.
 

lordsigma

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Check your reservations anyone traveling the week of the traditional dining return to see what you’re getting. It may take a couple days for it to phase in fully for each train as OBS crews typically originate from one base. It may not be available from the opposite terminal until the first full crew takes their return trip.
 

Ferroequinologist

Lead Service Attendant
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Jan 18, 2016
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I'm not trying to argue here but I have sailed and know how packed ships are.
While you are on the Cunard ship you are sailing with how many thousands of other passengers? Who knows how many haven't had the shot. That table wouldn't ease my mind of not getting around infected passengers that don't know they are. Every one has their own steps with what the CDC says is save and letting their confidence take them there.
There are 2,620 passengers on the Queen Mary (19 decks) which I believe is quite low compared to most ships. Anyway my point is that it really makes no difference whether there are 2,620 (there won't be as they are limiting the number of passengers they accept) or whether there are sixty in a dining car. It only takes one Covid+ plus passenger to cough your way, shout germs your way etc. That's why Amtrak needs to continue some social distancing and why allowing coach passengers in the dining-car is not a good idea. Incidentally, Cunard passengers must be Covid tested prior to boarding, not so on Amtrak so your chance of infection on Amtrak is greater - especially in a dining-car.
 

Ferroequinologist

Lead Service Attendant
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Jan 18, 2016
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And do the other transportation companies, the airlines, allow you to sit by yourself (aka social distance yourself from others
Amtrak was and may still be doing it limiting where people could sit in the diner. They also offered in room service. In fact, they offered in room service before the pandemic.

If you're not comfortable with their policy, then don't take the train.
Air travel presents risks. That's obvious. Of course for international flights a PCR test is required. That is not the case on Amtrak. There are ways of reducing risks. One is social distancing in the dining-car. This option is not possible in the air but it is on Amtrak - and room service to your compartment guarantees even greater safety. Has Amtrak set a policy regarding dining-cars? Will they socially distance? I don't know if they have yet established a policy.
 

AmtrakBlue

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Has Amtrak set a policy regarding dining-cars? Will they socially distance? I don't know if they have yet established a policy.
Uh, yeah. They’ve been blocking off tables and seating people by themselves or with their travel companions since sometime last year. On the Cardinal we had to eat in our rooms since it has a diner lite car (1/2 for diner, 1/2 for cafe).
I do not know if this will still be the case when traditional dining returns.
 
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jiml

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I am getting the impression that for this summer's travel season, while operators are trying to handle increased demand with less employees... how did that happen anyway, weren't they supposed to keep staff in order to receive the bailout funds? Anyway... looks like we can all expect to pay more, and should probably expect less. No one said life is fair.
Correct, and you need look no further than the airlines:


There are several accounts of this in mainstream media as well.
 

Exvalley

OBS Chief
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Jul 7, 2020
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The headline about the airlines employees volunteering could be misleading to some. Minimum wage rules require an employee to be paid if they are working on behalf of the company. The airlines are asking salaried (and presumably exempt) employees to volunteer to perform duties at the airport that they would not normally be doing. They are still getting paid their salary. They are just being asked to work in a different area or to work more hours.

Still kind of lousy, but at least the person making $20 per hour is not working for free.
 

PME

Joined
May 27, 2021
Messages
8
Location
NY
Uh, yeah. They’ve been blocking off tables and seating people by themselves or with their travel companions since sometime last year. On the Cardinal we had to eat in our rooms since it has a diner lite car (1/2 for diner, 1/2 for cafe).
I do not know if this will still be the case when traditional dining returns.
My experience over that last 10 days was mixed. On the EB and CS, diner seating was as you describe - blocked off tables and seating by traveling group. On the SWC (which was the first train i took that originated after June 1), seating was not blocked, although we still sat alone or with our traveling group. Maybe something changed then.

Masks were strictly enforced except when in your sleeper accommodations or dining car. Anywhere else masks were required except when actively eating or drinking. So, in the sightseeing car - mask down, take a sip, mask up until next sip.
 
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