Empire Builder flexible dining

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Joined
Jul 22, 2020
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The Amtrak website currently shows the Empire Builder has flexible dining through August 31. I am thinking about traveling by sleeper in September and was wondering if full dining service will be available then. Also, with either flexible or full dining service, are sleeper passengers able to eat in the dining car (with social distancing, of course) or only in their room?
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
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2,561
The Amtrak website currently shows the Empire Builder has flexible dining through August 31. I am thinking about traveling by sleeper in September and was wondering if full dining service will be available then. Also, with either flexible or full dining service, are sleeper passengers able to eat in the dining car (with social distancing, of course) or only in their room?
I’ve read trip reports stating that passengers must eat in their room, but I think that’s an east coast thing. On the empire builder I would expect to be given a choice, but with Amtrak there is nothing consistent.

I’m personally not expecting full service dining to resume for a very long time, if ever.
 

Palmetto

Conductor
Joined
May 12, 2014
Messages
1,994
This whole virus thing seems to be like an accordion. Things were awful in the Spring, and transport was cut. Then, we had an improvement and the airlines added flights--which they are now starting to cut again. Amtrak was criticized last month for its plan to cut service in the face of an improving health situation, but it might just be that with the worsening of the pandemic once again, Amtrak is responding too late by waiting until October 1, which just happens to be the start of their budget year. And using "winter" and normally reduced ridership as an excuse? Winter doesn't start until 11 weeks after October 1. What about the Thanksgiving weekend, or Christmas holiday? To my knowledge, nothing has been said about service levels during those two holiday periods.
 

Sidney

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
17
I was on the EB last month. Sleeper passengers were offered items from the cafe car in addition to the flex dining and a pizza was brought on board in Shelby. You can eat in your room or the diner. I ve been on several Western LD trains over the last month and the EB was the only route with options to eat outside of the flexible dining. Of course that could be an anomaly. It was on the train I was on.
 

Dakota 400

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
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1,916
I was on the EB last month. Sleeper passengers were offered items from the cafe car in addition to the flex dining and a pizza was brought on board in Shelby. You can eat in your room or the diner. I ve been on several Western LD trains over the last month and the EB was the only route with options to eat outside of the flexible dining. Of course that could be an anomaly. It was on the train I was on.
Interesting. If such could be done on EB, it could be done on any LD train.
 

20th Century Rider

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
469
The Amtrak website currently shows the Empire Builder has flexible dining through August 31. I am thinking about traveling by sleeper in September and was wondering if full dining service will be available then. Also, with either flexible or full dining service, are sleeper passengers able to eat in the dining car (with social distancing, of course) or only in their room?
Regarding flex on Western routes: If the reoccurring past is any indication... 'it all depends and nothing is for certain.' Those words are from an Amtrak agent I spoke with recently. Amtrak has changed it's mind several times... the flex stuff on Western routes was supposed to last until June but it was extended.

My personal opinion... maybe and hopefully, but not probable. More people are becoming infected which will continue to effect ridership. There is talk of a vaccine; but they all say it has a while to go. We'll all just have to see what happens.
 

Willbridge

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
401
I was on the EB last month. Sleeper passengers were offered items from the cafe car in addition to the flex dining and a pizza was brought on board in Shelby. You can eat in your room or the diner. I ve been on several Western LD trains over the last month and the EB was the only route with options to eat outside of the flexible dining. Of course that could be an anomaly. It was on the train I was on.
We may be back to picking up meals from local restaurants, but other than for pizza or "Chinese" food trains have to stay close to schedule for that to work with the restaurant hours of service. On this trip with the NP's ½-price Youth Fare in effect we were almost half an hour late due to making every flag stop, but with the RDC acceleration and low traffic levels pulled into Winnipeg close to on time.

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