Posted 03 June 2017 - 04:35 PM
I've had mixed experiences in the dining car. I would say I've had 75% bad/awkward experiences and 25% good. The best was when I traveled on the Coast Starlight. The PPC attendant didn't force people to sit with others (perhaps because there weren't very many of us).
Overall, I detest the communal seating, but it's not to a point where I feel like asking my car attendant to serve me in my room. I know it's part of their duties, but I feel strange requesting the service when I'm perfectly capable of walking to the dining car. Plus, it's nice to get out of my room for a bit. Even if the small talk (or lack thereof) is bothersome or awkward, I still enjoy having a meal in the dining car. I feel like it's part of the train experience.
Breakfast is almost always enjoyable because people are generally sleepy and more interested in enjoying their coffee in peace. So even if the table is completely quiet, it doesn't feel strange to me because I feel like it's a "polite" quiet. When people do speak, it's usually in hushed tones. For that reason, plus the food, breakfast is my favorite meal on Amtrak.
Amtrak Miles: 39,318
Amtrak Routes: Blue Water, California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, Carl Sandburg, City of New Orleans, Coast Starlight, Crescent, Empire Builder, Hiawatha, Illinois Zephyr, Lincoln Service, Southwest Chief, Texas Eagle, Wolverine
Metropolitan Rail: Chicago Metra, Chicago L, Dallas TRE, Detroit People Mover, New Orleans RTA, San Francisco MUNI, Seattle Monorail, South Shore Line (NICTD), Toronto Subway & RT, Washington DC Metro