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Will full service dining ever return to the Western trains?

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fdaley

Train Attendant
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Jan 25, 2020
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That’s $45 per bedroom/roomette if the sleepers are full on the LSL. It’s also a savings of $1.46 million per year. Not chump change.
Actually, what Amtrak claimed in news stories at the time was that it would save $3 million a year by killing the traditional dining on the Lake Shore and Capitol. That works out to a bit more than $2,000 per departure. To be sure, $3 million is an incredible sum relative to my annual household budget, but it looks a lot smaller in the context of a company that has several billion a year in revenues.

My bigger point here is that, when you break it down to $2,000 per departure, it's easy to see how much of that "savings" could be wiped out if a fair number of sleeper customers feel as I do and decide they're rather stay home (or fly/drive) than be stuck on a train for 20 hours without a decent meal. Suppose on any given departure of the Lake Shore, two $750 bedrooms and two $350 roomettes don't sell because of the change. Suddenly Amtrak is losing more revenue than it "saved" by downgrading the food service. Plus everyone in the remaining rooms gets the lousy food, and some of them, after experiencing it for the first time, don't choose the train next time. It's the beginning of a downward spiral.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Also... coach passengers lose access to the dining car as well. The Lake Shore supposedly had a higher than normal number of coach passengers eating in the diner.

While I generally ride in a sleeper, I still use the dining car when traveling in coach when it is available.
 

ehbowen

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Houston, Texas
Also... coach passengers lose access to the dining car as well. The Lake Shore supposedly had a higher than normal number of coach passengers eating in the diner.

While I generally ride in a sleeper, I still use the dining car when traveling in coach when it is available.
Agreed. Houston to New Orleans, a day trip, is one that I'm willing to do in coach but, when I do, I'll usually have two meals in the dining car!

Edit To Add: And I'm usually not the only one...
 

fdaley

Train Attendant
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Jan 25, 2020
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Also... coach passengers lose access to the dining car as well. The Lake Shore supposedly had a higher than normal number of coach passengers eating in the diner.

While I generally ride in a sleeper, I still use the dining car when traveling in coach when it is available.
That's interesting. I personally have eaten many diner meals on the Lake Shore over the years as a coach passenger traveling between New York State points. The last time I saw the train before the pandemic hit, in February, the eastbound arrived into Albany with the smallest number of coaches I have ever seen: one for Boston, two for New York. In past winters, I had never seen fewer than two for Boston and three for New York. So it does raise the question of whether the current food options are chasing away coach passengers as well.

In the past, if I had to travel from Albany to Rochester or Buffalo, the fact that I could get dinner en route was a reason to take the Lake Shore. Now I would actually have better food options on one of the corridor trains.
 

Ferroequinologist

Service Attendant
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Jan 18, 2016
Messages
148
Regarding all the styles of dining on European trains... which I've had the pleasure of experiencing many times... They are efficient... they know how to pre pack food items, then heat up and serve... with exceptional quality. The European food style also includes the main course to be served to the group from a large platter with the expertise of a skilled waiter. The rolls are always piping hot and fresh.

So what is it that's so impressive? Efficiency, quality, skill, and expertise.

That would be doable for Amtrak with the right attitude!
View attachment 18353
View attachment 18354
Are there many full service dining cars left in Europe? None in France that I know of. The Great Western in Britain and I think one in Wales. That's all. I don't think there are any in Spain or Italy. Eastern Europe seems to have some. Where else?
 

Steve4031

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Unless things have changed in Germany some of the ICE trains have full service dining cars that operate for the duration of the 6 to 8 hour trip. I’ve eaten eggs with smoked salmon on these trains. And the bread pudding was outstanding.
 

jiml

Conductor
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Toronto area
Unless things have changed in Germany some of the ICE trains have full service dining cars that operate for the duration of the 6 to 8 hour trip. I’ve eaten eggs with smoked salmon on these trains. And the bread pudding was outstanding.
Still there last summer.
 

20th Century Rider

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Unless things have changed in Germany some of the ICE trains have full service dining cars that operate for the duration of the 6 to 8 hour trip. I’ve eaten eggs with smoked salmon on these trains. And the bread pudding was outstanding.
Your comment brings to recent memory a delightful experience with Germany's ICE trains. I had been walking around Berlin throughout the day and was hot and tired. Finding lodging prices sky high there I decided to hop an ICE train and just get off at a small town along the way. The 1st class German rail pass had unlimited use for two consecutive weeks. I plopped down in the restaurant car and ordered an ice cold beer. Most enjoyable! An hour later I stepped off at some small town and found a really great comfortable pension where I slept like a log!

1570765322076.jpg
 

jiml

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Your comment brings to recent memory a delightful experience with Germany's ICE trains. I had been walking around Berlin throughout the day and was hot and tired. Finding lodging prices sky high there I decided to hop an ICE train and just get off at a small town along the way. The 1st class German rail pass had unlimited use for two consecutive weeks. I plopped down in the restaurant car and ordered an ice cold beer. Most enjoyable! An hour later I stepped off at some small town and found a really great comfortable pension where I slept like a log!

View attachment 18370
I couldn't believe they had draft beer on tap on a train and it was served in a big frosty stemmed glass that they'd bring to you in your compartment. I'd have spilled it for sure.
 

20th Century Rider

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I'm not a beer drinker... but it hits the spot once in a great while... and I don't remember from a few years ago if it were as you mentioned and questioned... but for whatever its worth... the Germans know how to do beer. It was probably served from out of a bottle... above and beyond all... I do remember it was ice cold and absolutely delicious!

This has me remembering how wonderful those German trains are... magic carpets!

Screen Shot 2020-08-09 at 9.30.34 AM.png
 

jiml

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I'm not a beer drinker... but it hits the spot once in a great while... and I don't remember from a few years ago if it were as you mentioned and questioned... but for whatever its worth... the Germans know how to do beer. It was probably served from out of a bottle... above and beyond all... I do remember it was ice cold and absolutely delicious!

This has me remembering how wonderful those German trains are... magic carpets!

View attachment 18371
That's the small one! :D They don't have the menu on their website currently, but IIRC there were two sizes of draft and two bottled beers available. The draft tap is just to the right of the attendant in this pic:

ice3-bar2-large.jpg
 

20th Century Rider

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That's the small one! :D They don't have the menu on their website currently, but IIRC there were two sizes of draft and two bottled beers available. The draft tap is just to the right of the attendant in this pic:

View attachment 18372
Hmmm... you have me now dreaming of a trip back to Germany for more of that beer! First I'd fly on Lufthansa where they do serve draft beer in the sky... then pick up the ICE in Frankfurt for the 200mph journey to Munich then making way to the Hofbrauhaus to indulge in a few lagers, brats, dumplings, and ham hocks!

Anybody want to come along???
hofbrauhaus-in-munich.jpg
Hofbrauhaus-Rosemont-Server-credit-Johnny-Knight.jpg

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Dakota 400

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you have me now dreaming of a trip back to Germany for more of that beer! First I'd fly on Lufthansa where they do serve draft beer in the sky... then pick up the ICE in Frankfurt for the 200mph journey to Munich then making way to the Hofbrauhaus to indulge in a few lagers, brats, dumplings, and ham hocks!

Anybody want to come along???
When do we leave? I once visited a Hofbrauhaus in Berlin. What a pleasant and memorable experience!
 

railiner

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Your comment brings to recent memory a delightful experience with Germany's ICE trains. I had been walking around Berlin throughout the day and was hot and tired. Finding lodging prices sky high there I decided to hop an ICE train and just get off at a small town along the way. The 1st class German rail pass had unlimited use for two consecutive weeks. I plopped down in the restaurant car and ordered an ice cold beer. Most enjoyable! An hour later I stepped off at some small town and found a really great comfortable pension where I slept like a log!

View attachment 18370
I remember riding one of those in the NEC, when they were in competition with the X2000 for new high speed NEC trains...it featured a 'Bord' food service car.
I will say, the X2000 had a notably smoother ride on the NEC than the ICE. The X2000 had steerable axles on each truck, that better compensated for track variation's. I'm sure the ICE did very well on its home DB.....
 

pennyk

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MODERATOR NOTE: Please try to keep your comments limited to a discussion of whether full service dining will return to Western trains. Thank you for your continued cooperation.
Be safe and be well. 🙏
 

20th Century Rider

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And here I thought you were offering to pay for the trip.


Unfortunately, not only can I NOT afford the trip ... until they make a train that goes from here to Germany, I will have to put off that trip - I don't fly.
Looks like they're already talking about that Transatlantic Train! "But a transatlantic undersea maglev train would arguably make a great way to cross the pond. Amortization would indeed be a long-term proposition, requiring some sort of public-private investment scheme, but the end result would allow for seamless travel between Manhattan and central London.'


They would serve free beer all the way! Now will you want to go???
 

20th Century Rider

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Flex meals extended through December 15! If you like em you're in luck. YUCK!!!!

Service Change
Traditional dining service has been temporarily suspended on all routes with the exception of the Auto Train. Through December 15, 2020, Sleeping Car customers will be offered flexible dining service; Coach customers will be offered Café service.
 

Sidney

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
66
Unbelievable. This is the death knoll for full service dining. Good God,if they are going to keep extending this substandard food service please include sandwiches and cafe car food as choices. Gee,why did I even think there was an inkling of hope that full service dining would return in September?
 

20th Century Rider

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Unbelievable. This is the death knoll for full service dining. Good God,if they are going to keep extending this substandard food service please include sandwiches and cafe car food as choices. Gee,why did I even think there was an inkling of hope that full service dining would return in September?
Feeling your pain... and the disappointment of so many on this forum who have been so patient and hopeful that this dark cloud would just go away... better this 'feed' be given to the pigs in the barn. Such small processed food product meals are not fresh and not healthy... and in no way satisfying... and to serve the same repetitious monotonous stuff every day over and over again on these three day two night cross country runs throughout the system is just nasty to the customer. Albeit in concert with reduced service. Personally my enthusiasm to pay higher prices and get so much less is... ka'put! Very very sad. 🤢 :oops::mad:

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