Please Mr. Anderson (sleeping suites in coach?)

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railiner

Conductor
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My apologies, you are correct about the seating capacity of the Railbed cars.

However,
The economy (coach) cars on this train only hold 51 seats, as compared to a V-2 that holds 60 seats. I suspect that the cars are smaller than Amtrak cars, as the Queensland service is 3'6" narrow gauge. Thus, a V-2 sleeper shell would fit more than 19 Railbed seats. The problem with 2-bed private rooms is that beds are taken out of sale if you don't have enough couples to fill the rooms. Open-plan lie-flat seating allows the operator to keep every bed available for sale right up until departure.
Then in that case, I would rather have open section sleepers.
 

Night Ranger

Train Attendant
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I've been in favor of unbundling sleeper fares and meals for a long time. Including meals in the sleeper fare essentially forces sleeping car passengers to pay for meals whether they want them or not. I live in Atlanta, and when the northbound Crescent is running several hours late, questions arise about whether the diner will still be serving dinner as the train departs. I'd like the option of getting dinner at a restaurant before I get on the train. There's also another issue. The bundled meals essentially transfer dining car losses to the sleeping cars. Unbunding would presumably make it easier for sleepers to show a profit, which ultimately could make it easier to justify sleeper service.
Your comment regarding the "iffyness" of meal service if the Crescent is running late describes exactly what happened to us years ago. (It was the Southern Crescent back then.) We were headed to NYC and the train was several hours late. No one could or would tell us for sure if dinner would be served that late so we ate a small meal just in case. Dinner was served after all. I wondered then and still do why no one in the station could tell us one way or the other. No way were we willing to gamble on an over night ride on an empty stomachs. That experience made us huge fans of unbundling sleeper fares and meal service.
 

ehbowen

Conductor
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Your comment regarding the "iffyness" of meal service if the Crescent is running late describes exactly what happened to us years ago. (It was the Southern Crescent back then.) We were headed to NYC and the train was several hours late. No one could or would tell us for sure if dinner would be served that late so we ate a small meal just in case. Dinner was served after all. I wondered then and still do why no one in the station could tell us one way or the other. No way were we willing to gamble on an over night ride on an empty stomachs. That experience made us huge fans of unbundling sleeper fares and meal service.
In fairness, when the Crescent was still the Southern Crescent, there was no such thing as a cell phone. They had radios, yes, but I'm not sure that the portable walkie-talkies now carried by Amtrak conductors were universal in those days...may just have been the locomotive radio. I occasionally visited a tower in that time frame and still saw "hoops" and flimsies stashed for use if needed. Today, though...no excuse.
 

railiner

Conductor
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I'm not surprised the station agent would not say with certainty one way or the other...he or she could only quote the standard hours of diner service, and what the crew did was beyond his control or knowledge. He certainly did not want to commit one way or the other, only to be found wrong later, and possibly suffer repercussion's from an angry passenger that was assured one way or the other. Even if he could contact the crew on board, (unlikely for that type of communication), things could change after that for one reason or another.
 

Ziv

OBS Chief
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Oct 25, 2011
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TGS, I don't know about the Rock Island train, but back in around 1975 I got to ride on the Empire Builder from Glasgow Montana to Seattle and I got to order whatever I wanted for dinner so I ordered the fish special. It was either roasted halibut or flounder and it was phenomenal! My Dad was a good cook and my Mom a fair one, but this fish was outstanding! I got a couple pieces of my Dad's steak and it was pretty good, as well. Breakfast was a real 3 egg omelet, western style omelet with hot rolls. Again, just a well prepared fresh meal, much like you would get at a good cafe or an excellent diner.
The wait staff was really skillful as well, I remember them coming out with all those plates as we bounced down the Hi Line of Montana wondering how they kept them from spilling.
The porter was an older black guy (in Montana in 1975 that would have been unusual) and he was on point as well, coffee for my Dad and icey cold pop for me. I think my Dad commented that some of the Builder people were Great Northern hold-overs from the days when he worked for Great Northern as well. He was a GN then a BN brakeman, but worked the freight side of the business.

I once rode on a Rock Island train (in the 60's) that had a real diner. It was just about like a JB Big Boys or Denny's. You could order almost anything and they would make it.
 

railiner

Conductor
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The diner menu on the Rio Grande Zephyr, IIRC, used to have a small blurb that stated they would prepare any dish not listed that you desired, "as long as it was available"(!)....whatever that meant...🤔
 

ehbowen

Conductor
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Mar 22, 2011
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The diner menu on the Rio Grande Zephyr, IIRC, used to have a small blurb that stated they would prepare any dish not listed that you desired, "as long as it was available"(!)....whatever that meant...🤔
That wasn't unusual in the streamliner era; the disclaimer usually meant "if we have suitable ingredients on board." So if you wanted ragout of lamb but no lamb was loaded at the commissary then you were out of luck, but if you had a hankering for off-menu peppercorn steak they could probably fix you up.
 

railiner

Conductor
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That wasn't unusual in the streamliner era; the disclaimer usually meant "if we have suitable ingredients on board." So if you wanted ragout of lamb but no lamb was loaded at the commissary then you were out of luck, but if you had a hankering for off-menu peppercorn steak they could probably fix you up.
That makes sense...imagine seeing that today? Even in a restaurant...
Brings to mind that the Amtrak chef would often prepare a special delicacy, only for members of the crew, after the meal time for passenger's ended...
 

Bob Dylan

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May 31, 2009
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When the Diner Crews on the Texas Eagle used to Overnight in Austin instead of San Antonio( Last Call for Dinner in the Diner on #21/#421 was 5PM), they would shop @ Whole Foods (close to the Station) and HEB( Biggest Texas Grocery Chain) before boarding #22/#422 the Next Morning.

Then on the turn back to Chicago the Next Day, the Chef ( there were several Outstanding Veteran Diner Crews)would cook up "Specials " for the Crew and Selected Regular Passengers they knew!( I was Lucky to be one of those!😁)
 
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