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Will full service dining ever return to the Western trains?

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jruff001

Train Attendant
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Jan 23, 2020
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90
It might be convenient for some, but doing enroute switching would probably have an adverse effect on overall reliability of operations...
Doubt that Amtrak would want to experiment with that....
Plus the automobile loading and unloading process is very labor- and infrastructure-intensive, as anyone who has ridden the AT and observed the operations at Lorton and Sanford has seen.

(And anyway you can drive from Sanford to Jacksonville in less than two hours, so the AT is certainly a viable option to get from the NE to the Jacksonville area with a car.)
 

Qapla

Conductor
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Jul 15, 2019
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Location
Gator Country Florida
Since all the cars headed south are loaded at a single location (Lorton) would it really be that difficult to load the cars that would terminate at JAX on car carriers attached to the back of the train and simply uncouple those cars in JAX and unload them after the rest of the AT has departed. Car carriers could be added to the northbound trains the same way.

Have you ever driven from Jacksonville to Sanford? Google Maps may show it as 2 hours - but, with traffic it takes longer than that in actual practice. In addition to adding a minimum of two hours to the trip of anyone coming from the panhandle who would like to use the AT, it also adds considerable time to any who may come from the Savannah and Brunswick area as well as there being are Navy Bases in Jacksonville and Kings Bay, Ga.

I agree, it would take some planning and revisions to do "enroute switching" and I doubt Amtrak would experiment with it either - it was just a thought just like having additional AT's elsewhere in the system ... as has been mentioned by others.


Of course, the what the AT does may not have any impact on the food service of the western trains so I guess we should get back to discussing those 😊
 
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tgstubbs1

Service Attendant
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Mar 3, 2020
Messages
130
The Auto train seems to be the one LD train that's kept some kind of favored status, with the daily service and food service all LD trains used to have.

Do servicemen ever use the Auto train, or is it too far from Sanford?

Sometimes service people are temporarily deployed to somewhat distant bases, like Bremerton WA.
 

jiml

Conductor
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Toronto area
A lot of people don't realize how big Florida actually is. Heck, where we stay in the winter is in a different time zone.
 

Dakota 400

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A lot of people don't realize how big Florida actually is. Heck, where we stay in the winter is in a different time zone.
Your statement about the size of Florida is quite true. Driving North to South or East to West, it is a full day's drive for me. While visiting a friend in Fort Pierce, I drove to Daytona Beach to visit another friend and returned home that same day. Even having driven in Florida for several years, the trip took longer and I returned to Fort Pierce much later than I had expected.
 

me_little_me

Conductor
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Jul 16, 2010
Messages
3,265
I have met a lot of people riding long distance trains for work, but I don't see why work is any more valid of a reason to travel than leisure. People need both in their lives. However, three day per week schedules are going to make business travel virtually impossible as they won't fit the business needs of very many companies.

Perhaps Amtrak could use some schedules that appeal more to business travelers. Based on the train timings, the Capitol Limited from WAS-CHI is the only long-distance train I can think of that that's timed for business travel. There used to be a whole host of sleeper trains that would follow that type of schedule, leaving a big city in the late afternoon or early evening and then arriving in another big city the next morning.
My son used to take the Crescent from ATL to NYP because he left in the evening after a full work day, could actually get work done on the trip, have a night's rest but be in NY in time for some afternoon then next morning meetings with an afternoon return with opportunity to relax while getting post-meeting work done. He took a room. He sold his company and now can almost afford to buy his own train. :)
 

me_little_me

Conductor
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Jul 16, 2010
Messages
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The Auto train seems to be the one LD train that's kept some kind of favored status, with the daily service and food service all LD trains used to have.

Do servicemen ever use the Auto train, or is it too far from Sanford?

Sometimes service people are temporarily deployed to somewhat distant bases, like Bremerton WA.
They can't fit tanks, fighters or warships in those auto carriers.
 

toddinde

Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 23, 2015
Messages
132
Location
Sierra Vista, AZ
Part of me hopes that Congress has more important things to worry about than micromanaging what Amtrak serves in its dining cars.

Plus, if they do, I think there is a very good chance you might not like what the mandate is. It probably won't be to spend more money.
The House did in the most recent legislation passed. This is not a new issue. The ICC struggled with regulating service quality back in the railroad days. That’s how the diner and sleeper returned to the Sunset. The Congress does this sort of thing routinely. Since the Government funds Amtrak, this is exactly what they need to be doing.
 

toddinde

Service Attendant
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Apr 23, 2015
Messages
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Location
Sierra Vista, AZ
I completely agree that this needs to be the standard, and I'm OK with achieving it by congressional mandate if necessary. But I'd like to think that Amtrak's management would be smart enough to realize that good food is essential attracting and retaining customers for its long-distance trains.



I am not at all certain that the current management will ever get serious about running the long-distance trains. Do you think that they'll shape up when they get direction from Congress? Or do we need a new management team?
I’m optimistic about Bill Flynn. He seems to get it aside from the tri-weekly train thing. I think a pro-Amtrak DOT and Congress can work with him. The Board is a different story.
 

Sidney

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Jul 12, 2020
Messages
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I am currently on the Texas Eagle heading to LA. We arrived in Texarkana at 6:30 this morning and will arrive in El Paso by 3 tomorrow afternoon. That includes the almost five hour stop in San Antonio. Indeed,Texas is a huge state. Getting back on topic,the flex dining is getting old. They didn't have any milk this morning so I couldn't get any cereal. I still love riding but there is no anticipation for meals anymore. I went to a convenience store before I left and got six blueberry and cherry cheese danish. Better than anything Amtrak serves. We will be early into Dallas. An hour layover. Hopefully I can get a good sandwich somewhere. Sad,but that's what riding Amtrak has come to.

I'm heading to LA,then San Luis Obispo then back on a Surfliner to LA and the Southwest Chief to Chicago. I bought two roomettes Chi LA and LA Chi in July during a points sale. 32,0000 points round trip. Couldn't pass that up.
 

Qapla

Conductor
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
1,215
Location
Gator Country Florida
It would be interesting to know what Amtrak costs the portion of a sleeper ticket for the meals. How much would it reduce the cost of a sleeper if they either quit serving food and/or allowed you to purchase a "non-meals" sleeper ticket and subtracted the meal cost from the ticket.

I know they ran the Star for a while without included food service for a while - can't remember what the difference in Star and Meteor tickets for sleepers were back then.

Of course, it is a catch-22 for them. If the difference between the Meteor and the Star was not very much then no wonder they were not making any "profit" from the meals. If they cost out the meals so they are profitable it should reduce the non-meal sleeper cost further than they had it priced.

If you go by the menu prices they had in the diner when they allowed coach to eat in the diner - it would have drastically reduced the price of a sleeper without the food included.

I wouldn't mind having to provide my own food for a trip in a sleeper if the cost of the sleeper was more affordable by bringing my own food rather than overpaying for what they presently offer.
 

Sidney

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
66
I am currently on the Texas Eagle heading to LA. We arrived in Texarkana at 6:30 this morning and will arrive in El Paso by 3 tomorrow afternoon. That includes the almost five hour stop in San Antonio. Indeed,Texas is a huge state. Getting back on topic,the flex dining is getting old. They didn't have any milk this morning so I couldn't get any cereal. I still love riding but there is no anticipation for meals anymore. I went to a convenience store before I left and got six blueberry and cherry cheese danish. Better than anything Amtrak serves. We will be early into Dallas. An hour layover. Hopefully I can get a good sandwich somewhere. Sad,but that's what riding Amtrak has come to.

I'm heading to LA,then San Luis Obispo then back on a Surfliner to LA and the Southwest Chief to Chicago. I bought two roomettes Chi LA and LA Chi in July during a points sale. 32,0000 points round trip. Couldn't pass that up.
Strike one zero 32,000 points
 

tgstubbs1

Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 3, 2020
Messages
130
It would be interesting to know what Amtrak costs the portion of a sleeper ticket for the meals. How much would it reduce the cost of a sleeper if they either quit serving food and/or allowed you to purchase a "non-meals" sleeper ticket and subtracted the meal cost from the ticket.

I know they ran the Star for a while without included food service for a while - can't remember what the difference in Star and Meteor tickets for sleepers were back then.

Of course, it is a catch-22 for them. If the difference between the Meteor and the Star was not very much then no wonder they were not making any "profit" from the meals. If they cost out the meals so they are profitable it should reduce the non-meal sleeper cost further than they had it priced.

If you go by the menu prices they had in the diner when they allowed coach to eat in the diner - it would have drastically reduced the price of a sleeper without the food included.

I wouldn't mind having to provide my own food for a trip in a sleeper if the cost of the sleeper was more affordable by bringing my own food rather than overpaying for what they presently offer.
If you calculate the 'per diam' for meals it could get close to $100, I would think.
Maybe not quite, but probably at least $70-80.
 

Qapla

Conductor
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
1,215
Location
Gator Country Florida
For a single overnight train like the silvers? How much for a longer train? What would each meal be "per diem"?

Currently, a trip from JAX to NYP is $121 coach and $477 sleeper - making the sleeper cost $356 ... reducing that by $100 would make it a little more affordable to more people - although, even $256 for a single night stay in a room no larger than a sofa could still be considered a bit costly.
 
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Nick Farr

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 25, 2019
Messages
264
Location
Michigan
The Auto train seems to be the one LD train that's kept some kind of favored status, with the daily service and food service all LD trains used to have.
The AT has the highest utilization of any of the LD trains and runs at a very slight subsidization.

They could probably raise fares slightly and make it break-even.
 

Sidney

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
66
For a single overnight train like the silvers? How much for a longer train? What would each meal be "per diem"?

Currently, a trip from JAX to NYP is $121 coach and $477 sleeper - making the sleeper cost $356 ... reducing that by $100 would make it a little more affordable to more people - although, even $256 for a single night stay in a room no larger than a sofa could still be considered a bit costly.
$356 for one a one night trip with the flex dining? Very pricy. However if people are willing to pay...even more outrageous if that is for a roomette
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
2,720
$356 for one a one night trip with the flex dining? Very pricy. However if people are willing to pay...even more outrageous if that is for a roomette
That’s about what I paid for my last trip on the Meteor (with flex dining) and I thought the value was ok. The train delivered me to my destination in comfort. A single overnight meant 3 flex meals (lunch, dinner, breakfast), plus I had a second breakfast compliments of the Philadelphia club Acela Lounge.

$356 is about what you would pay to fly first class from Florida to the northeast.

The prices make less sense out west especially with flex dining. October 1 sees a $623 price for a roomette from Chicago to LA vs. $343 for first class, non-stop on the same day via united.
 

Qapla

Conductor
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
1,215
Location
Gator Country Florida
Since I don't fly I don't compare my travel prices to the cost of a train ticket. Besides, the cost of the proposed trip was $477 - the $356 is the difference between coach to sleeper. Both fares are getting you there at the same time on the same ticket.
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
2,720
Since I don't fly I don't compare my travel prices to the cost of a train ticket. Besides, the cost of the proposed trip was $477 - the $356 is the difference between coach to sleeper. Both fares are getting you there at the same time on the same ticket.
Ohhh that’s different. It was like $412 or something for my roomette. $477 is getting a bit high, I agree.
 

Sidney

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
66
That’s about what I paid for my last trip on the Meteor (with flex dining) and I thought the value was ok. The train delivered me to my destination in comfort. A single overnight meant 3 flex meals (lunch, dinner, breakfast), plus I had a second breakfast compliments of the Philadelphia club Acela Lounge.

$356 is about what you would pay to fly first class from Florida to the northeast.

The prices make less sense out west especially with flex dining. October 1 sees a $623 price for a roomette from Chicago to LA vs. $343 for first class, non-stop on the same day via united.
The $623 from Chicago to LA is two nights,three if taking the Eagle and several meals. With the current flex dining it is a bit high. It was the same price with full service dining...You can get to Florida from Baltimore for example on Southwest for under $100.Flying to LA,a little more,but I take the train for the journey.
 
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