New dining options (flex dining) effective October 1, 2019

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20th Century Rider

Lead Service Attendant
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Jan 26, 2020
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260
Re: Getting there is half the fun... let's never forget those good old days!!! I grew up in Milwaukee after moving from New York so lost the dream of riding the 20th Century Limited. So then it was all about The Milwaukee Road. Only got bits and pieces of that dream from so long ago...
 

Green Maned Lion

Conductor
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
8,209
Having eaten more than a few MREs in my life, I can assure you that the appetizing food tastes bad, and the unappetizing food tastes worse. I think it is abhorrent the food we feed our deployed troops, especially compared to what other nations offer- even Russian rations are considerably more edible.

The fumes from the heating process are not particularly healthy; they suggest on the packaging to avoid inhaling them. I usually used a pot of boiling water to heat the things, and they honestly usually taste just as good (bad) cold.
 

railiner

Conductor
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
7,816
Re: Getting there is half the fun... let's never forget those good old days!!! I grew up in Milwaukee after moving from New York so lost the dream of riding the 20th Century Limited. So then it was all about The Milwaukee Road. Only got bits and pieces of that dream from so long ago...
NIce video, thanks for posting! That an impressive 15 car Olympian....:cool:
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
19,659
Having eaten more than a few MREs in my life, I can assure you that the appetizing food tastes bad, and the unappetizing food tastes worse. I think it is abhorrent the food we feed our deployed troops, especially compared to what other nations offer- even Russian rations are considerably more edible.

The fumes from the heating process are not particularly healthy; they suggest on the packaging to avoid inhaling them. I usually used a pot of boiling water to heat the things, and they honestly usually taste just as good (bad) cold.
Compared to C Rations they're Gourmet Fare!( especially the Lima Beans and Ham!!!)
 

Devil's Advocate

Conductor
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
11,337
The recent dining reports do not encourage me to plan another Amtrak journey. An old Cunard Line advertising slogan: "Getting there is half the fun." "Half the fun" for me are decent meals in the diner on Amtrak.
I think if Amtrak had followed the (previous) policy of the Silver Star and reduced fares to account for the substantial reduction in service it wouldn't feel like such a slap in the face.

The fumes from the heating process are not particularly healthy; they suggest on the packaging to avoid inhaling them. I usually used a pot of boiling water to heat the things, and they honestly usually taste just as good (bad) cold.
Point well made.

Field Ration Heaters are designed to be used in open areas with lots of fresh air rather than an enclosed space where the fumes can accumulate and the heat can warp or melt interior surfaces. From what I've read the guy in the video has a custom setup for recording this process that takes such factors into consideration, but that he's also gotten sick enough to require hospitalization in the past. This was most likely a result of consuming expired food but it's also possible he suffered some level of inhalation poisoning. If passengers tried to use these heaters on Amtrak it would risk creating a safety hazard or getting them booted from the train. Maybe the ideal solution is a user accessible microwave that employs a dryer-like external exhaust path with a built-in smoke detector connected to an auto shutoff circuit? 🤔
 
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NativeSon5859

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 5, 2003
Messages
934
I’m currently on the Sunset Limited in a roomette, and just after we departed New Orleans, the SA from the diner came in and said hello. He offered me the continental breakfast if I wanted it. I had already eaten because up until flexible dining started, lunch was always the first meal out of NOL. Anyway a menu was already in my room so I gave him my order. He asked me what time I’d like to have lunch and that was that. Very nice crew on this train so far.
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
19,659
I’m currently on the Sunset Limited in a roomette, and just after we departed New Orleans, the SA from the diner came in and said hello. He offered me the continental breakfast if I wanted it. I had already eaten because up until flexible dining started, lunch was always the first meal out of NOL. Anyway a menu was already in my room so I gave him my order. He asked me what time I’d like to have lunch and that was that. Very nice crew on this train so far.
Can you eat in the Diner on the Sunset or is Room delivery Mandatory?
 

20th Century Rider

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
260
Oh my! It’s really sad when the discussion turns to army field rations to escape the relentless and tasteless ‘contemporary’ dining… with 1st class sleeper accommodations costing so so so much $$$. Ridiculous! Most understand the pandemic has necessitated temporary changes but who can be blamed for deferring discretionary rail travel which over time has been a consistent progression of digression.

As for comfort, the Superliners are 50 years old and very expensive to maintain. The ventilation and temperature controls can be too hot or too cold… toilets frequently stop up and must receive ‘maintenance enroute or go without!’ Much of the bedding and folding tables are broken.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the upcoming election, and growing environmental concerns. Personally I would like to see the offensive 'flex dining' disappear on ALL the trains in favor of either better food or lower prices and [dreaming] new rolling stock. I certainly don't want to schedule any future trips until there is some glimmer of light.
 

20th Century Rider

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
260
I’m currently on the Sunset Limited in a roomette, and just after we departed New Orleans, the SA from the diner came in and said hello. He offered me the continental breakfast if I wanted it. I had already eaten because up until flexible dining started, lunch was always the first meal out of NOL. Anyway a menu was already in my room so I gave him my order. He asked me what time I’d like to have lunch and that was that. Very nice crew on this train so far.
Sounds like you have a good SA... that makes a big difference! Lots of nostalgic views as you leave NOL. Despite my rant about flex meals and the old rolling stock... there is nothing like a train. Have a great trip!!!:)
 

Green Maned Lion

Conductor
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
8,209
I think if Amtrak had followed the (previous) policy of the Silver Star and reduced fares to account for the substantial reduction in service it wouldn't feel like such a slap in the face.


Point well made.

Field Ration Heaters are designed to be used in open areas with lots of fresh air rather than an enclosed space where the fumes can accumulate and the heat can warp or melt interior surfaces. From what I've read the guy in the video has a custom setup for recording this process that takes such factors into consideration, but that he's also gotten sick enough to require hospitalization in the past. This was most likely a result of consuming expired food but it's also possible he suffered some level of inhalation poisoning. If passengers tried to use these heaters on Amtrak it would risk creating a safety hazard or getting them booted from the train. Maybe the ideal solution is a user accessible microwave that employs a dryer-like external exhaust path with a built-in smoke detector connected to an auto shutoff circuit? 🤔
Oh, Steve? I find his videos fascinating but he belongs in a looney bin. Eating 80 year old field rations, it’s amazing he isn’t dead.

me, I’d be dead fromthe heartache of spending thousands on such a thing and then destroying it.
 

Devil's Advocate

Conductor
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
11,337
Oh, Steve? I find his videos fascinating but he belongs in a looney bin. Eating 80 year old field rations, it’s amazing he isn’t dead. me, I’d be dead fromthe heartache of spending thousands on such a thing and then destroying it.
I can't speak to his willingness to suffer multiple hospital visits with serious food poisoning but spending thousands on old rations is how he makes money rather than loses it. The vast majority of his reviews are at least somewhat favorable and very few of his meals are sold to consumers. So his content is considered advertiser-friendly (for now) and he has previously indicated that many of his meals come from trades and donations so I'd imagine the overall expense ratio is quite favorable. I can't say he's not crazy but he does seem to be getting a bit more careful over time. Some items he leaves alone and others he only taps with his finger before tasting. I've even seen him get out a microscope to look for evidence of spoilage.
 

Green Maned Lion

Conductor
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
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I can't speak to his willingness to suffer multiple hospital visits with serious food poisoning but spending thousands on old rations is how he makes money rather than loses it. The vast majority of his reviews are at least somewhat favorable and very few of his meals are sold to consumers. So his content is considered advertiser-friendly (for now) and he has previously indicated that many of his meals come from trades and donations so I'd imagine the overall expense ratio is quite favorable. I can't say he's not crazy but he does seem to be getting a bit more careful over time. Some items he leaves alone and others he only taps with his finger before tasting. I've even seen him get out a microscope to look for evidence of spoilage.
I’m sure he makes good money; it would still give me indigestion. He might be crazy like a fox with the way he runs his business, but still crazy.
 

niemi24s

Conductor
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
2,221
This is a 1917 era USGS Topo Map showing, I believe, what's seen beginning at 19:09 of the above video:

IDAveryTaft1917d.jpg

This 27 mile portion of the now-abandoned route lies between Avery ID and Taft/Saltese MT and had 17 tunnels and 9 bridges. I imagine it was quite an eye-popping segment of the journey.

[edited to add] Unfortunately, its timetable... The Olympian Hiawatha - July, 1956 - Streamliner Schedules ...indicates it would be kind of dark if on time.
 
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Green Maned Lion

Conductor
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
8,209
This 27 mile portion of the now-abandoned route lies between Avery ID and Taft/Saltese MT and had 17 tunnels and 9 bridges. I imagine it was quite an eye-popping segment of the journey..
It depends on whether not any of them were Lloyd Bridges.
 

20th Century Rider

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
260
This is a 1917 era USGS Topo Map showing, I believe, what's seen beginning at 19:09 of the above video:

View attachment 17676

This 27 mile portion of the now-abandoned route lies between Avery ID and Taft/Saltese MT and had 17 tunnels and 9 bridges. I imagine it was quite an eye-popping segment of the journey.

[edited to add] Unfortunately, its timetable... The Olympian Hiawatha - July, 1956 - Streamliner Schedules ...indicates it would be kind of dark if on time.
THANKS for the info... this is a great site; also like to route map of all the era the streamliners!
 

Attachments

tricia

Conductor
Joined
Aug 23, 2011
Messages
1,030
The recent dining reports do not encourage me to plan another Amtrak journey.

An old Cunard Line advertising slogan: "Getting there is half the fun." "Half the fun" for me are decent meals in the diner on Amtrak.
Amtrak REALLY needs better and more "flex dining" choices for the western trains. Multiple days of nothing but what's currently on offer is truly awful to contemplate (let alone eat). I've booked a trip Memphis to NOL to Tucson and then Winslow to Chicago to DC to Toccoa in September, in roomettes. Hope the selection improves by then. If not, I'm going to need to bring quite a pile of food along with me.
 

stx

Joined
Jul 30, 2019
Messages
9
Two of the common sources of poor customer experiences mentioned in this thread are the frequency of the food items being sold out early, and the ability of an Amtrak employee with a "difficult" personality to put a damper on a trip. Both of these often result in vouchers being given to customers as compensation for Amtrak not meeting basic expectations, and many of the commenters point out Amtrak's limited budget. I recognize that Amtrak has plenty of wonderful employees, but I can't think of any other business that wastes so much money due to what seem to be poor inventory management and the almost-expected poor attitudes of so many customer-facing employees. The grumpy employees must also have a huge morale impact on the numerous friendly employees. Just imagine how much Amtrak could save financially in terms of revenue lost via vouchers, and in terms of revenue gained via repeat customers, by simply planning ahead for a better supply of meal items and finding a way to improve employee attitudes. Maybe I'm oversimplifying these issues or their solutions, though.
 

railiner

Conductor
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
7,816
I haven't heard of Amtrak giving out voucher's for the reasons outlined above...I have gotten them for very late (3-5 hours) arrivals....
 

20th Century Rider

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
260
Two of the common sources of poor customer experiences mentioned in this thread are the frequency of the food items being sold out early, and the ability of an Amtrak employee with a "difficult" personality to put a damper on a trip. Both of these often result in vouchers being given to customers as compensation for Amtrak not meeting basic expectations, and many of the commenters point out Amtrak's limited budget. I recognize that Amtrak has plenty of wonderful employees, but I can't think of any other business that wastes so much money due to what seem to be poor inventory management and the almost-expected poor attitudes of so many customer-facing employees. The grumpy employees must also have a huge morale impact on the numerous friendly employees. Just imagine how much Amtrak could save financially in terms of revenue lost via vouchers, and in terms of revenue gained via repeat customers, by simply planning ahead for a better supply of meal items and finding a way to improve employee attitudes. Maybe I'm oversimplifying these issues or their solutions, though.
I agree with every word of what you said... your service attendant can make or break the trip. I travel often on the Empire Builder and breathe a sigh of relief when I get a good attendant... and then tip generously. Conversely when I get a grouch who refuses to serve dinner in my H compartment I complain. Wide variances of attendant service and attitudes have long been an issue with Amtrak. Haven't been riding since the pandemic but can well imagine riding for days with those tiny tasteless 'flex' meals can be a drag. Even the prior full menu got monotonous with 30+ days of riding each year. I wonder what things will look like when full service returns. I also wonder if the pro Amtrak presidential candidate is elected will he boost needed funding??? 🤠
 

Green Maned Lion

Conductor
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
8,209
Imagine you work for Amtrak. Positions are being cut left and right. There is a high likelihood the long-distance network will not be here a year from now, and if it is there will be much fewer positions to fill. How positive would your employee attitude be?
 

IndyLions

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Nov 6, 2016
Messages
321
Imagine you work for Amtrak. Positions are being cut left and right. There is a high likelihood the long-distance network will not be here a year from now, and if it is there will be much fewer positions to fill. How positive would your employee attitude be?
That would be a valid point if this were a recent phenomenon. We all know it’s not.
 

20th Century Rider

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
260
Imagine you work for Amtrak. Positions are being cut left and right. There is a high likelihood the long-distance network will not be here a year from now, and if it is there will be much fewer positions to fill. How positive would your employee attitude be?
Certainly there is upset and there is plenty of sympathy from passengers... who might want to discuss, console, and talk... with empathy. But the passenger is a positive... the passenger is revenue; and most passengers care about the survival of Amtrak, and most want to appreciate the staff with a nice tip. To underserve, be rude, or to abuse an innocent passenger is not ok, regardless.
 
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