A report a few years ago on the cost of food service for Domestic First Class showed the average Dinner cost the airlines over $100 per passenger. The airline catering companies still charge those same rates or even higher. A flight with 16 first class seats pays out over $1600 for meals up front. In Coach meals for purchase, i have not seen a report of the cost verses revenue. I do know that when a full meal was served the airlines paid approximately $35 per passenger. So cutting meals saved each flight $3500 or more depending on the number of passengers. The number of flight attendants is based on safety standards based on the number of passengers so eliminating food service did not save anything in wages. So if Anderson is looking at Amtrak with airline glasses, he sees the Dining Car as unnecessary. Just have the SCA bring the heat and serve meal to each room at meal time. Let the Coach passengers purchase Cafe items from the Lounge, therefore the DC can be eliminated totally.
This reeks of some mixture of bad contract negotiation or poor cost control on the part of the airlines.
It also ignores the fact that on Amtrak something like 40-50% of the diner meals are sold to coach passengers (with some variability based on capacity, etc.; sleeper pax have to be served, so if there's a constrained mealtime such as dinner out of LA on the Chief then the sleeper share is going to go up by default)...but then again, Amtrak management seems to be continally caught off guard by this given the fact that any time this comes up in a report, there is somehow a tone of surprise at it. Practically speaking, a respectable share of your long-haul coach pax are going to buy one or two meals in the diner if space is available; two or three days on cafe food is simply not a workable proposition for more than a few folks (even if they can't afford a sleeping car).