but even if you board the train at about 7:45pm could this be one of those crew discretion thingies?Dinner: Available: 5:00 - 9:30 pm; board by 8:30 pm
I wouldn't count on it. Given that it is flex dining anyway I would avail myself of one of the many fine restaurants in downtown Chicago before boarding.
The "board by" refers to meals that started at their regularly scheduled time (eg dinner started at 5 pm)
Dinner was offered when I took CONO in Sept.
It's Heat and Eat Flex Meals in the CCC, this Train hasn't had Traditional Dining in Years!The last time I road the CONO (and only the time the full legth leaving Chicago), they served a 'light dinner' of Sandwiches and dessert leaving Chicago, that was at the end of 2016, no idea whats going on today.
Reminds me of the TSA's claim that if they were consistent in their policies, the bad guys would be able to take advantage of them!While this sounds highly reasonable...[no meal at that time] ...there's also this..[got a meal at that time]. ...which makes it a toss-up.
Problem with making it a day train is you lose the possibility of connections instead requiring an overnight stay on Chicago. The current evening departure allows for these connections.I'm almost a bit surprised Amtrak hasn't tried to make the CONO into a train that departs Chicago at 6 am, and arrives into New Orleans at 12 midnight - thus making it a coach/cafe train over a "costly" overnight train with sleepers and some sort of special sleeper car passenger food service. The CONO once had this type of schedule. Not saying that this is the best plan or schedule, just saying.
This is assuming the current schedule with a pair of "Banks," one in each direction, for Long Distance trains...Problem with making it a day train is you lose the possibility of connections instead requiring an overnight stay on Chicago. The current evening departure allows for these connections.