Amtrak Dining

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railiner

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Northern Pacific heritage diner on the Lake Shore Limited out of NYC on May 15, 2009. (sans flowers)
View attachment 22852
Thanks for that photo. I have never been in one of those rebuilds, and until now, have never even known of their existence. JMHO, they are very nice, but I think I'd prefer them in their original decor, partly for their heritage design, but also because each road used different and distinctive decor...
 

jis

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Thanks for that photo. I have never been in one of those rebuilds, and until now, have never even known of their existence. JMHO, they are very nice, but I think I'd prefer them in their original decor, partly for their heritage design, but also because each road used different and distinctive decor...
Unfortunately, the original decor was gone from them long time back during some refurbishment or the other. By the time they got HEP-ed most were already pretty bland.
 

Bostonjetset

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Dining car flowers are traditional, and even if passable fakes they are a real touch-of-class that make the diner car experience just a bit more unique. How much can it possibly cost to have a vase of flowers on the tables?
There were decent fakes on the all the tables of the Empire Builder last week. It was nice to have some kind of nicety. They were not present on the Lake Shore Limited though.
 

railiner

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Unfortunately, the original decor was gone from them long time back during some refurbishment or the other. By the time they got HEP-ed most were already pretty bland.
Didn't the glass divider's with the etched floral bouquets remain on some of the former CZ Heritage diner's?
 

jis

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Didn't the glass divider's with the etched floral bouquets remain on some of the former CZ Heritage diner's?
For a while. But by the time the Diner fleet came down to 20 or so, they were pretty bland and uniform. There were either Temoinsa or non-Temoinsa. There may have been a stray fixture here or there, but they were not really maintained. Actually there came a point when they simply stopped maintaining them, and finally as they came up for major repairs or had major failures, they were taken off line and Diners were simply removed from trains. Both the LSL and the Star were victims of this phenomenon before the VL-IIs started arriving.
 
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Just-Thinking-51

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Well in a alternate universe such as Europe, there once upon a time a cook off of dining cars. A yearly event in which several railway companies would send there best cooks and equipment. There you would see a old fashion railroad county fair. People would be able to sample food from different lines and get to watch a weird show of women in distressed wearing victoria costume getting rescued by railroaders on pump buggies. (Pump Buggies unknown correct english name. Two people pump downward one at a time cause the 4 wheel railcar to move forward.)

You know back in the day when railroads saw the quality of food they serve as something to bragged about.

I do believe it was in Poland.
 

me_little_me

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Nope. Good call. I will get her flowers today!
Too late. She already hired me as her attorney. I'm asking for everything you have - but you can keep the flowers. She didn't like those artificial ones you gave her nor the ones you stole from the neighbor's yard because they always blamed her for stealing them.
:)
 
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Danib62

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That's too early from a passenger comfort standpoint. We are just coming out of the pandemic and not everything is dropped yet and a lot of people are still uncomfortable. If it were my decision, I'd wait until late summer to start it. Communal dining should be something reintroduced late, not right off the bat.

The mask policy should be dropped first, then communal dining. This is gonna get weird, folks.

My opinion is from a PR perspective, not a scientific one.
Room service is still available as it's always been if someone is not comfortable with communal dining. It would be impossible to give everyone service in the dining car without having communal dining, there simply aren't enough tables.
 

zephyr17

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Room service is still available as it's always been if someone is not comfortable with communal dining. It would be impossible to give everyone service in the dining car without having communal dining, there simply aren't enough tables.
I know. But they managed through the pandemic without community seating. The diner remains off limits to coach passengers, too. I am suggesting that they retain limited, socially distanced diner seating, that is the current practice, until we are further into the pandemic recovery and people are again more accustomed to closer quarters. Timing it to the lifting of mask requirements makes the most sense to me.

BTW, I like community seating and want it to return.

Of course, room service is more involved with actual meals instead of bowls of reheated dog food. My guess is that initially a lot more people will opt for room service rather than community seating at this early stage. So if this was an attempt to reduce room service demand, my opinion is it will backfire, increasing demand.

I still say it is yet another instance of Amtrak's tone deaf inability to "read the room".
 

crescent-zephyr

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It would be impossible to give everyone service in the dining car without having communal dining, there simply aren't enough tables.
A superliner has 18 tables. A superliner sleeper has 20 rooms that are sold. So a train with 2 sleepers could easily accommodate private parties at tables.

Especially right now when there will be more than usual who want to eat in their room.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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It sounds like you mean a handcar, although pump buggy does have a nice ring to it.
Yes that it, however at this fair they called them draisine. Which if you dig deep is a form of a handcart, but at some point one is hand powered the other has a motor.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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A superliner has 18 tables. A superliner sleeper has 20 rooms that are sold. So a train with 2 sleepers could easily accommodate private parties at tables.

Especially right now when there will be more than usual who want to eat in their room.
Side note I am head to Texas this weekend. Have to ride coach to St Louis from Chicago to pick up my roomette to Texas. So some passenger are spending big money to avoid other people it would seem. I am not ready to eat at a table myself, but think that coach passenger should have that choice.
 

crescent-zephyr

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I am not ready to eat at a table myself, but think that coach passenger should have that choice.
Oh I agree. Whenever I would ride in coach I would usually eat in the diner so I agree that it should be offered.

But since Amtrak has so far decided not to let coach passengers eat in the dining car, it would be nice if the positive was that passengers could expect to be seated at their own table.
 

zephyr17

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Oh I agree. Whenever I would ride in coach I would usually eat in the diner so I agree that it should be offered.

But since Amtrak has so far decided not to let coach passengers eat in the dining car, it would be nice if the positive was that passengers could expect to be seated at their own table.
I was really expecting that coach access to the diner would be restored with community seating.

Since it isn't, I think casual access to the diner by coach passengers is a thing of the past. I know Amtrak is thinking about offering pre paid, pre reserved plans for coach passengers for diner access, but I am afraid that the days of deciding, on the spur of the moment, what the heck, I am sick of the cafe nuke-burger, let's have lunch in the diner look to be gone.

I think it's a shame. I also think it is a mistake. It is handing the Micas of the future a club to beat Amtrak with.

The railroads never restricted coach access to the diner despite it being primarily intended for Pullman passengers.
 

crescent-zephyr

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I was really expecting that coach access to the diner would be restored with community seating.

Since it isn't, I think casual access to the diner by coach passengers is a thing of the past. I know Amtrak is thinking about offering pre paid, pre reserved plans for coach passengers for diner access, but I am afraid that the days of deciding, on the spur of the moment, what the heck, I am sick of the cafe nuke-burger, let's have lunch in the diner look to be gone.

I think it's a shame. I also think it is a mistake. It is handing the Micas of the future a club to beat Amtrak with.

The railroads never restricted coach access to the diner despite it being primarily intended for Pullman passengers.
I agree. I worry that even for sleeper passengers the expectation will be to pre-order meals a week before your trip. That’s not the dining car experience to me but we take what we get (and if it’s better than flex I guess we can be thankful!).
 

railiner

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The railroads never restricted coach access to the diner despite it being primarily intended for Pullman passengers.
Agreed. Some trains had two full diner's...one for coach passenger's, and one for Pullman. Other trains had a choice between a diner and a lunch counter type car. In those cases, both were open to all passenger's. And there were some all-coach streamliner's that had diner's, as well. Barring coach passenger's from the diner's is an Amtrak phenomenon, and fairly recent, at that...
 

zephyr17

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Agreed. Some trains had two full diner's...one for coach passenger's, and one for Pullman. Other trains had a choice between a diner and a lunch counter type car. In those cases, both were open to all passenger's. And there were some all-coach streamliner's that had diner's, as well. Barring coach passenger's from the diner's is an Amtrak phenomenon, and fairly recent, at that...
The one instance I can think of where coach passengers were barred was the Super Chief/El Capitan which Santa Fe treated as two separate trains that happened to be coupled together. El Cap passengers were strictly barred from the Super Chief section, but the El Cap had its own full diner as well as the Kachina Coffee Shop on the lower level of the lounge car.
 

Willbridge

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I was really expecting that coach access to the diner would be restored with community seating.

Since it isn't, I think casual access to the diner by coach passengers is a thing of the past. I know Amtrak is thinking about offering pre paid, pre reserved plans for coach passengers for diner access, but I am afraid that the days of deciding, on the spur of the moment, what the heck, I am sick of the cafe nuke-burger, let's have lunch in the diner look to be gone.

I think it's a shame. I also think it is a mistake. It is handing the Micas of the future a club to beat Amtrak with.

The railroads never restricted coach access to the diner despite it being primarily intended for Pullman passengers.
As I mentioned in another posting the better long-distance trains offered an economy diner for coach passengers, usually inserted in the consist where it would be a shorter walk than going back to the full-service diner. Passengers chose which they preferred.

There also were name economy trains that operated in conjunction with name first class trains. The head-end traffic that Amtrak got rid of used to make the operation of extra trains feasible. From looking at old menus I would conclude that coach passengers in the "golden age" ate better than first class passengers do now.
 

railiner

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The one instance I can think of where coach passengers were barred was the Super Chief/El Capitan which Santa Fe treated as two separate trains that happened to be coupled together. El Cap passengers were strictly barred from the Super Chief section, but the El Cap had its own full diner as well as the Kachina Coffee Shop on the lower level of the lounge car.
That was one example. The two formerly separate trains were combined due to a downturn in business from around 1968 until Amtrak day, except for peak season and holiday periods where they were separated into sections.
Another similar example was the Panama Limited and "Magnolia Star" during the same period.
A different example was the seasonal ACL and then SCL Florida Special. After coaches were added to it, they ran separate diner's for Pullman and coach passengers. The feature 'Recreation Car' was open to all.

Most of the feature western transcontinental trains had a full diner, and a separate lunch counter type diner, but both were open to all passengers.

PRR had some all-coach streamliner's that had twin-unit diner's...the Trailblazer and the Jeffersonian, on the New York to Chicago run or New York/Washington to St. Louis run, respectively...

There were many other examples of diner hospitality toward coach passenger's....
 

Willbridge

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Agreed. Some trains had two full diner's...one for coach passenger's, and one for Pullman. Other trains had a choice between a diner and a lunch counter type car. In those cases, both were open to all passenger's. And there were some all-coach streamliner's that had diner's, as well. Barring coach passenger's from the diner's is an Amtrak phenomenon, and fairly recent, at that...
In early Amtrak days the lunch counters still turned up. I ate in the Ranch car on the Empire Builder in September 1971. The Coast Starlight of course was an immediate success that swamped the diner. When Amtrak developed some management in LA they found that they had surplus Santa Fe counter-lounges that had run on trains like the Missionary, so they put them into the Starlight. They were a big hit but I was warned not to write about it because they hadn't gotten permission from DC.

I have finished reading Traveling Black by Dartmouth law prof Mia Bay and it was interesting to learn the history of Jim Crow on the rails. When the eventual Black elites and upper middle class traveled first class they could eat in the dining car but were usually seated at one end of the car. Southern railroads had a curtain in some dining cars that would screen off the Black table/s.

Amtrak has outdone Jim Crow.
 

Bob Dylan

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The one instance I can think of where coach passengers were barred was the Super Chief/El Capitan which Santa Fe treated as two separate trains that happened to be coupled together. El Cap passengers were strictly barred from the Super Chief section, but the El Cap had its own full diner as well as the Kachina Coffee Shop on the lower level of the lounge car.
When the AutoTrain still fed Coach Passengers,they had their own Diner, as did the Sleeper Passengers.
 

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