Marriott food on pre Amtrak Auto Train

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AU Lifetime Supporter
Jul 16, 2010
As lifetime Gold, 8 years as platinum and a member since the '80s, I look forward to 2 more years of platinum to get lifetime then there won't be any reason to "have" to stay with them. I could just stay when they have the best deal or the best hotel in town and still get platinum service.

Devil's Advocate

Sarcastic Misanthrope
May 24, 2010
They were already sliding a bit when they acquired Starwood (Sheraton et al), the slope got slipperier when they farmed out their customer service and they gutted their program even prior to the pandemic problems.
That experience matches so many other travelers. Much of the "Marriott Magic" was in the form of staff training and unpublished discretionary benefits extended in response to routine travel and service failures. The program terms as written were below industry standards but since Marriott was willing to bend their own rules most members could find a way to be satisfied. After they bought out Starwood they were big enough to no longer care and it shows.
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AU Supporter
Nov 24, 2009
Hillsborough, NJ
If Amtrak wishes to improve the food service on the Eastern routes they should consider what was previously done on the Cardinal. The menus on that route were similar to what was used on the Amtrak LD system but not having a diner, similar food items were loaded on the train and reheated in a convection oven and served in an expanded cafe. The food may have even been plated beforehand. I can't say that the food was great but it was far better than the so called "contemporary dining" that we now have. As for the LD routes full dining service must return. That is key to keeping the ridership strong.


Lead Service Attendant
Mar 2, 2017
Boston, MA (Eastie)
Back to the topic at hand, The original Auto Train Corporation service was popular from the get go, and initially profitable.

One thing that Auto Train was not known for was it's food. The service for most of it's existence was a buffet style dinner, served in one of the converted dining cars it purchased. Purple Plum was the name given to the buffet cars, the food was often described as mediocre.

There was a great article on the original Auto Train that ran in Trains, about 15, or so, years ago, and the author talked about the various venders that were used for food service, Marriot being one of them. With Senior Citizen snow birds among it's most loyal riders, any change in food vendors could set off issues, and the author goes into detail on the results.

In the later 70's, there was an attempt to upgrade dining services, and a switch to table service was made (see menu), I do not know if this
was the Marriot period, or not.

Ken Iauto2020.jpg