Disillusionment with Amtrak sleeper perks

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tommylicious

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I refuse to ride the CONO or any other Amtrak long distance route which doesn't have cooked to order proper diner service with a chef.
 

jis

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Considering that there is very little that is cooked to order you may be on precarious grounds as far as any LD train goes
 

Thirdrail7

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What about LSL, has anyone rode that recently? Is that also being misadvertised?
That depends on what you cal "misadvertised." While there a clearly different levels of service at this point, the menus have been updated and what is available is online. Unless there is a last minute substitution, you know what you're in for.

Now, if you're argument is that there is no way to tell what is pre-plated vs made on the train, I can understand that. But as Jis stated, what is actually made on the train vs what is prepared in advance is blurred line.
 

JohannFarley

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What about LSL, has anyone rode that recently? Is that also being misadvertised?
That depends on what you cal "misadvertised." While there a clearly different levels of service at this point, the menus have been updated and what is available is online. Unless there is a last minute substitution, you know what you're in for.

Now, if you're argument is that there is no way to tell what is pre-plated vs made on the train, I can understand that. But as Jis stated, what is actually made on the train vs what is prepared in advance is blurred line.
Well does the LSL have pre-plated or made on train meals. I know it sports a shorter menu than it used to, but what is the status of how the food is prepared on the LSL?
 

Thirdrail7

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What about LSL, has anyone rode that recently? Is that also being misadvertised?
That depends on what you cal "misadvertised." While there a clearly different levels of service at this point, the menus have been updated and what is available is online. Unless there is a last minute substitution, you know what you're in for.

Now, if you're argument is that there is no way to tell what is pre-plated vs made on the train, I can understand that. But as Jis stated, what is actually made on the train vs what is prepared in advance is blurred line.
Well does the LSL have pre-plated or made on train meals. I know it sports a shorter menu than it used to, but what is the status of how the food is prepared on the LSL?
It is definitely of the preplated/microwaved variety, similar to the Silver Starvation, the Pigeon, the Capitol Punishment in the winter and the (insert pet name for the City Of New Orleans here).

I have the feeling that unless the new CEO reverses course, things will get worse before (and if) they get better.
 

Philly Amtrak Fan

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Amtrak needs to update its section on meals,

https://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?c=Page&pagename=am%2FLayout&cid=1241305537990

"On long distance trains, Dining Cars feature seasonal menus created by our team of award-winning chefs. You can even choose from one menu on your outbound trip and make different selections on your return trip.

Start your day onboard with a selection of hot and cold breakfast entrees including eggs and French toast or continental selections such as yogurt or cold cereal. For lunch, choose from a selection of burgers, salads, specialty sandwiches and seasonal entrees.

At dinner, savor steaks and seafood, chicken or vegetarian pasta, accompanied by a fresh salad and rolls. Complement your meal with our selection of cocktails, beer and wine as well as coffee, tea or soft drinks.

Be sure to leave room for dessert. Whether you opt for chocolate or cheesecake, Häagen-Dazs ice cream or Cio Bella Sicilian lemon sorbet, there's something to satisfy every sweet tooth after lunch and dinner."

How much are these quotes accurate? They do have menus for each train that clearly show certain items or lack of certain items (no Amtrak steaks on LSL for example) but there's no note of chef or lack of in any menu I can see. And the opening page is clearly outdated.
 

neroden

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What about LSL, has anyone rode that recently? Is that also being misadvertised?
Yes. The chefs are doing their best, but the menu is appalling, and some of the cuts are incomprehensible. It's definitely false advertising because it's below the standards I'd expect from the worst diner or hotel buffet I've ever been to. And I'm talking breakfast!

You can still get an "omelette" but they have no filling: no vegetables and no cheese. I can't imagine that cutting the bags of precut vegetables saved them *anything*.

Obviously as far as I'm concerned the dining cars don't serve any food for lunch or dinner on any trains, because they are incapable of determining whether there is any particular ingredients (unlike nearly every restaurant in the world). It's gross and bizarre that they can't fix this information problem, which isn't difficult to fix.

I just have to take a third carry-on for my food. Which I am allowed to do for free as it is a disability accomodation. But it's super annoying, because this is entirely down to Amtrak's stupidity.
 
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Gulfwind2

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At this point it seems frivolous to advertise dining car service on long distance trains when all it really boils down to is that Aramark makes a killing putting sodium-packed cafeteria food onto dining cars with kitchen equipment (i.e. the soup warmers in the Superliner diners) that hasn't been used in years. At which point the "food" is scooted in and out of the microwave and served at exorbitant prices to a handful of coach pax and to sleeper pax who are paying terrifically high fares. TWA used to serve some pretty amazing 6-course meals in first class back in the 1970's-80's using convection ovens similar to what Amtrak uses today. What's the difference? Aramark.

VIA Rail uses Sysco to equip the Hudson Bay train's diner when it gets a chef for the high season. The Sysco food served in the Hudson Bay's diner during the summer season requires minimal on-train preparation with the exception of the cooked-to-order eggs and the chicken parmesan, and also is far more appetizing and cheap for coach pax than Amtrak's LD train fare. Amtrak has the ability to clean up its act to some degree but the root of the problem is Aramark in my view.
 

Long Train Runnin'

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At this point it seems frivolous to advertise dining car service on long distance trains when all it really boils down to is that Aramark makes a killing putting sodium-packed cafeteria food onto dining cars with kitchen equipment (i.e. the soup warmers in the Superliner diners) that hasn't been used in years. At which point the "food" is scooted in and out of the microwave and served at exorbitant prices to a handful of coach pax and to sleeper pax who are paying terrifically high fares. TWA used to serve some pretty amazing 6-course meals in first class back in the 1970's-80's using convection ovens similar to what Amtrak uses today. What's the difference? Aramark.

VIA Rail uses Sysco to equip the Hudson Bay train's diner when it gets a chef for the high season. The Sysco food served in the Hudson Bay's diner during the summer season requires minimal on-train preparation with the exception of the cooked-to-order eggs and the chicken parmesan, and also is far more appetizing and cheap for coach pax than Amtrak's LD train fare. Amtrak has the ability to clean up its act to some degree but the root of the problem is Aramark in my view.
I kind of disagree here. It's more about what the company ordering is willing to pay for. You can see Aramark or Sysco food trucks unloading at some very high end places. Along with your state penitentiary. These companies can provide you with incredibly high end options or deliver the food for people behind bars.
 

the_traveler

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And, yes, I have contacted customer service.
I did the same thing after my most recent trip on CONO. I got a nice reply in "corpspeak" that said nothing, other than acknowledging the fact that they got my letter.
Sadly, I think our complaints, though heard, will have little impact on what Amtrak actually does.
I hope you contacted Customer RELATIONS, as that is the department who should be contacted - not Customer Service (i.e. phone reservation agents).
 

Gulfwind2

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At this point it seems frivolous to advertise dining car service on long distance trains when all it really boils down to is that Aramark makes a killing putting sodium-packed cafeteria food onto dining cars with kitchen equipment (i.e. the soup warmers in the Superliner diners) that hasn't been used in years. At which point the "food" is scooted in and out of the microwave and served at exorbitant prices to a handful of coach pax and to sleeper pax who are paying terrifically high fares. TWA used to serve some pretty amazing 6-course meals in first class back in the 1970's-80's using convection ovens similar to what Amtrak uses today. What's the difference? Aramark.

VIA Rail uses Sysco to equip the Hudson Bay train's diner when it gets a chef for the high season. The Sysco food served in the Hudson Bay's diner during the summer season requires minimal on-train preparation with the exception of the cooked-to-order eggs and the chicken parmesan, and also is far more appetizing and cheap for coach pax than Amtrak's LD train fare. Amtrak has the ability to clean up its act to some degree but the root of the problem is Aramark in my view.
I kind of disagree here. It's more about what the company ordering is willing to pay for. You can see Aramark or Sysco food trucks unloading at some very high end places. Along with your state penitentiary. These companies can provide you with incredibly high end options or deliver the food for people behind bars.
Point taken, but how bad do things need to get for Amtrak to at least consider jumping ship to a different caterer? They won't seem to follow VIA Rail's lead (in no way am I advocating for 4 star dining akin to what one might see on the Canadian), and Iowa Pacific is making a stand-out of itself in how it handles the Hoosier State's food service. If Amtrak wants to ignore the examples of IPH, VIA, and instead follow a pattern of resistance towards providing good service, and if they won't seek out a higher-quality catering service, then there might as well be no attempt to advertise dining car service as being a feature of service on most LD trains.
 

OBS

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The only food that Aramark is directly involved in preparing (AFAIK), is the First Class Acela meals, prepared in the airport flight kitchens. Everything else is just purchased and distributed by Aramark based on Specifications and contracts arranged by Amtrak F&B dept.
 

AlanB

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Well does the LSL have pre-plated or made on train meals. I know it sports a shorter menu than it used to, but what is the status of how the food is prepared on the LSL?
It is definitely of the preplated/microwaved variety, similar to the Silver Starvation, the Pigeon, the Capitol Punishment in the winter and the (insert pet name for the City Of New Orleans here).

I have the feeling that unless the new CEO reverses course, things will get worse before (and if) they get better.
To my knowledge, the Silver Star only offers traditional cafe car food. That is nothing like the meals currently being served on the LSL. Yes, the LSL meals are downgraded some from what one got in the dining cars of late. But, while preplated, the meals are still a bit above traditional cafe car foods. I've never seen an half a chicken or a fish dinner on a cafe car menu, but I've had both on the LSL in the full length cafe cars that now run in place of the old dining cars.
 

jis

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I noticed that the Silver Star has also a few additional items now.
 

crescent-zephyr

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I noticed that the Silver Star has also a few additional items now.
Would it be possible to get a Diner Lite on the SS? Would that make much of a difference?
Do you want one? I would rather have just the cafe car than the current version of diner lite.

The initial diner lite years ago on the cardinal was ok... But the current "selections" are just sad.
 

MARC Rider

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At this point it seems frivolous to advertise dining car service on long distance trains when all it really boils down to is that Aramark makes a killing putting sodium-packed cafeteria food onto dining cars with kitchen equipment (i.e. the soup warmers in the Superliner diners) that hasn't been used in years. At which point the "food" is scooted in and out of the microwave and served at exorbitant prices to a handful of coach pax and to sleeper pax who are paying terrifically high fares. TWA used to serve some pretty amazing 6-course meals in first class back in the 1970's-80's using convection ovens similar to what Amtrak uses today. What's the difference? Aramark.

VIA Rail uses Sysco to equip the Hudson Bay train's diner when it gets a chef for the high season. The Sysco food served in the Hudson Bay's diner during the summer season requires minimal on-train preparation with the exception of the cooked-to-order eggs and the chicken parmesan, and also is far more appetizing and cheap for coach pax than Amtrak's LD train fare. Amtrak has the ability to clean up its act to some degree but the root of the problem is Aramark in my view.
I kind of disagree here. It's more about what the company ordering is willing to pay for. You can see Aramark or Sysco food trucks unloading at some very high end places. Along with your state penitentiary. These companies can provide you with incredibly high end options or deliver the food for people behind bars.
I second that. My daughter went to a college where the education was very good, but the food (at least in the cafeteria) was horrible. Worst institutional food I ever had. It was the worst food of all of the different colleges to which she applied. I won't give the name of the foodservice company, but it was a French company, and they should know better than to serve lousy food.

On the other hand, when time for graduation rolled around, they had a reception one evening for the graduates and their parents, and the food was excellent! So if they wanted to serve good food to the students, they could have. My daughter, however, became a connoisseur of the Sheetz MTO offerings as a supplement to what they dished up in the cafeteria.

Of course, it's possible that Aramark is not giving Amtrak good value for the lower end stuff Amtrak is ordering. We would need a lot more detailed information to really know what's happening. As far as I can tell, the quality and selection of the offerings have gone down somewhat over the ;last couple of years, but it's not quite the inedible swill that some people here complain about.
 

AlanB

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I noticed that the Silver Star has also a few additional items now.
Would it be possible to get a Diner Lite on the SS? Would that make much of a difference?
Do you want one? I would rather have just the cafe car than the current version of diner lite.

The initial diner lite years ago on the cardinal was ok... But the current "selections" are just sad.
I wouldn't want a diner lite if it were the only food service car on the SS. But as long as it is in addition to a regular cafe car, it would be a welcome addition IMHO. Yes, it will never compare to a full dining car, but the diner lite car still has some advantages over a cafe car when it comes to preparing meals that aren't just microwaved hamburgers and pizza's.
 

Philly Amtrak Fan

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And this is why we chose VIA over Amtrak for our fall trip. Being forced to eat prison food is not our idea of a vacation.
Have you ever been in prison before Tommy? I haven't but comparing cafe car food to prison food is really an exaggeration IMO.I can't help it if some people here are too good for microwaved food. I'm not saying the food on Amtrak couldn't be better (for a reasonable cost) but still.

I just wish Pullman still ran on the CONO.
I get why the SS and LSL lost their diner cars because the Heritage diners are old and shouldn't be running. But why is the CONO (a Superliner) not able to have a full diner? Should we be worried about Superliner cars losing diner service next (based on previous precedence, the CL would probably be the first to lose its diner among the Superliners)?
 

Bob Dylan

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The CONO had its Chef removed as part of the "Cut your way to Prosperity" program.

The CCC is still able to turn out full meals as in previous times, but

is being run as a Diner Lite like the Cardinal. It sucks!
 

crescent-zephyr

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Do you want one? I would rather have just the cafe car than the current version of diner lite.

The initial diner lite years ago on the cardinal was ok... But the current "selections" are just sad.
I wouldn't want a diner lite if it were the only food service car on the SS. But as long as it is in addition to a regular cafe car, it would be a welcome addition IMHO. Yes, it will never compare to a full dining car, but the diner lite car still has some advantages over a cafe car when it comes to preparing meals that aren't just microwaved hamburgers and pizza's.
I guess it depends on your definition of "Diner Lite" - When I rode the Cardinal years ago I thought the Diner Lite was pretty decent. And then I would agree with you.

But currently what is offered on the City of New Orleans is pretty dismal. I've eaten in the Diner once since the changes. It sounds like the Cardinal now has a similar menu. I personally see no positives to what is currently offered on the City of New Orleans.
 

trainman74

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My daughter went to a college where the education was very good, but the food (at least in the cafeteria) was horrible. Worst institutional food I ever had. It was the worst food of all of the different colleges to which she applied. I won't give the name of the foodservice company, but it was a French company, and they should know better than to serve lousy food.
Sodexo? They ran the cafeteria at my former job, which was pretty good -- I'm sure it helps when they don't have a "captive audience" (i.e., students who are on a meal plan).
 
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