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Amtrak's New "Fresh Choices" Dining on CL & LSL


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#141 cpotisch

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 08:17 AM

Warm food is easier to do right than cold food. Amtrak meals don't have much going for them, and when you take heat out of the equation...

 

It definitely is possible that the new food is good. But I just can't say that a more limited menu only served cold is a good sign. I could be wrong, and I hope I am, but I just don't think...


Edited by cpotisch, 20 April 2018 - 08:18 AM.

Routes Traveled: Silver Meteor, Silver Star, CrescentLake Shore LimitedCalifornia Zephyr, Sunset Limited, Texas EagleEthan Allen Express, Empire Service, Maple Leaf, AdirondackAcela Express, Northeast RegionalKeystone Service, Downeaster w/ Great Dome
 
Wish List: Auto Train, Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome


#142 JRR

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 08:24 AM

Well, I’ll have a chance to compare this summer. Riding both the CONO and the CL.

It’ll be interesting to be see how they each do.

#143 JayPea

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 08:45 AM

This may be a trade I can deal with if all of the whiners that eternally claim that they are going to stop riding actually do so, and stop posting here in the process.

😂😂😂!!
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#144 spinnaker

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 09:03 AM

Maybe I  am naive but aren't the meals with diner cars made to order?   If so, how can there be any waste there?  Just keep the raw food refrigerated for the next run.    With pre-prepared meals I see a lot of potential for waste.



#145 John Bredin

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 09:08 AM

It is a cold pre-packaged  meal. That is all we need to know. Yes a good pre-packaged  meal is better than a lousy hot meal but I thought dinner on the CL was very good considering the challenges that come with preparing a meal on a train, in limited space for a large number of people.

It's been a cold pre-packaged meal on the dinerless section of the Empire Builder for years. While I haven't had the pleasure yet of riding that train, I've heard many times that the cold box meals are actually quite good. And Amtrak hasn't yet in those years taken the opportunity from passengers "settling" for cold meals on the EB to cut back even farther, as some here* have [del]leapt wildly[/del] posited.

Of course it depends on the vendor Amtrak picks for the CL and LSL. The cold meals could indeed be inferior. But we know a quality cold meal on Amtrak is possible because it's being done right now.

IMHO, the people who've set their jaw beforehand -- meal unseen much less uneaten -- that this WILL suck, it IS merely a nose under the tent for further food-service downgrades, and they WILL stop riding the trains* sound more than a little alarmist.

*Not necessarily including spinnaker; this was just a convenient post to reply to.

#146 AcrossTheOcean

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 09:12 AM

Looking at the pictures of the boxed meals, I think I am going to have to bring a lot of extra snacks when I ride the CL in late summer.  There is no way the breakfast someone took a picture of will keep my bottomless pit of a 12 year-old from going hungry before 1 in the afternoon.  Fortunately I have a few months to think about what to pack.

 

 

Do the diner cars have convection ovens?  If so, it wouldn't be hard to do hot entrees the way that airlines do on long-haul flights.  Have the entrees in single-serving foil containers in a convection oven, heat them up and put them on a tray with cold sides.  If the city where the train departs has an airport with long-haul flights, there is also at least one airline caterer nearby that is used to that set-up.


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#147 JoeBas

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 09:22 AM



 



Here's the thing. Hot meals, juice, bottled water, etc. were what made me love take Amtrak long distance. Flying is much, much, faster. A car or bus is much, much cheaper. It was that Amtrak was just much, much nicer. But with all these cuts to service and amenities, it gets difficult to justify the train at all. At a certain point, you might as well take a bus, if that's the level of service you'd be getting anyway.

 

 

Exactly my thoughts.   This just might be the tipping point for some people.  

 

MIGHT?  Damned sure is over here.  For the price we pay for the train to visit family each year, we can fly four of us round trip in first class.  What the train sold was a chance to decompress and disconnect, in a civilized environment.  No more value, no more financing from us.  Far as I'm concerned, turn out the lights.  

 

I especially like the part in the Q&A that says anyone who cancels over this is subject to the normal cancellation fees... which they conveniently changed right before they rolled out the hot poker and asked people to drop their shorts.  

 

SOOOOO glad we made that "bucket list" Zephyr/Starlight as a last minute reservation under Guest Rewards 1.0, as one could already see the writing on the wall... 



#148 JoeBas

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 09:24 AM

 

This may be a trade I can deal with if all of the whiners that eternally claim that they are going to stop riding actually do so, and stop posting here in the process.


Might as well support dismantling the whole national system and shut this side down, then youd never have to read any whining again.

 

 

Exactly.  This is exactly the attitude that will get the whole system shut down.  

 

The above quote could be summarized as "The last thing we need is more people supporting funding for this network.  It's not like it's in any danger or anything".  



#149 John Bredin

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 09:35 AM

If every experiment is going to be slapped down and chicken-littled to death before it even begins, the message sent to Amtrak is that anything other than preserving the exact status quo in a specimen jar or amber is unacceptable.

The message announcing this makes it clear that this plan is not set in stone. We all know of experiments that Amtrak has tried and then withdrawn when they didn't work. Feeding back that an experiment once tried is a failure for particular reasons is right and proper. Feeding back that experiments should never be tried and have failed before they even begin is easily and rightly discounted as unhelpful.

IMHO, Amtrak leadership is not sitting Simon Legree-like cackling at the prospect of making the passenger experience as uncomfortable as possible, as if that's their goal. They are trying to balance what attracts passengers to ride and keep riding against very real financial and political constraints. Exploring where that balance lies by putting an ounce weight on one side, always able to pick it up again OR add another depending on what happens, is good management. But some people seem to equate it with blunderingly and maliciously tipping over the scale altogether.


Edited by John Bredin, 20 April 2018 - 09:48 AM.

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#150 bretton88

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 09:38 AM

To be honest, Anderson has the right ideas. these are concepts seen in other train systems around the world. Execution and PR has been clumsy though. Just remember this it's like a beta test. They'll make refinements and changes based on customer feedback and not all the features (I.e. hot meals) are present yet. They want to make sure the program functions first.

Edited by bretton88, 20 April 2018 - 09:38 AM.

If I won the lottery, I'd probably build a passenger from nowhere to nowhere.


#151 jis

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 09:45 AM

This bit about "no hot items" intrigues me. Even the airlines sell hot items in boxed meals in US domestic Y. What makes Amtrak stand out as being unable to do so given they have a whole kitchen capable of heating a few items available, puzzles me. Heck even the Cafe is able to handle that!

 

Thirdrail, any insights on that? Is it just a pure cost equation? Does a Hamburger and chips pack cost more than the ones that are shown as example on the menu? Afterall they do carry pre-packaged Burgers, Hot Dogs and Pizzas, as well as Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sandwiches in the Cafe. What gives?


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#152 Paul Dow

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 09:46 AM

If you purchased a reservation on one of these trains with downgraded service and want to cancel, I would register a complaint with your credit card to remove any fee. Amtrak has no intention of providing the service you contracted with them. Since they clearly state they will save millions of dollars with this, they are obviously not providing the service you paid for.

The breakfast choices look horrible too. Your choices are high carbohydrates, or high sugar. Thats what they hope will keep you on Amtrak. By making you obese, you won't fit in a 17" X 28" airline seat.

I've never had an Acela 1st class meal, but I would think that would make a much better meal with not much extra effort than the cold MREs that they're going to distribute.

Actually MREs are better since they come with a heating packet to get the food hot. Too much salt in most of those though.

#153 spinnaker

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 09:48 AM

Can you imagine how the employees feel about getting a "fresh" "choice" everyday. ;)



#154 cpotisch

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 09:49 AM

The message announcing this makes it clear that this plan is not set in stone. We all know of experiments that Amtrak has tried and then withdrawn when they didn't work. Feeding back that an experiment once tried is a failure for particular reasons is right and proper. Feeding back that experiments should never be tried and have failed before they even begin is easily and rightly discounted as unhelpful.

The most recent significant meal "experiment" occurred on the Silver Star. We all know how that turned out. Under this administration and in this climate, any experiment that doesn't completely fail, will generally stay. We are reaching the tipping point for service and amenities, only time will tell what's next.


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Routes Traveled: Silver Meteor, Silver Star, CrescentLake Shore LimitedCalifornia Zephyr, Sunset Limited, Texas EagleEthan Allen Express, Empire Service, Maple Leaf, AdirondackAcela Express, Northeast RegionalKeystone Service, Downeaster w/ Great Dome
 
Wish List: Auto Train, Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome


#155 spinnaker

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 09:50 AM

If you purchased a reservation on one of these trains with downgraded service and want to cancel, I would register a complaint with your credit card to remove any fee. Amtrak has no intention of providing the service you contracted with them. Since they clearly state they will save millions of dollars with this, they are obviously not providing the service you paid for.

The breakfast choices look horrible too. Your choices are high carbohydrates, or high sugar. Thats what they hope will keep you on Amtrak. By making you obese, you won't fit in a 17" X 28" airline seat.

I've never had an Acela 1st class meal, but I would think that would make a much better meal with not much extra effort than the cold MREs that they're going to distribute.

Actually MREs are better since they come with a heating packet to get the food hot. Too much salt in most of those though.

 

I would first read the fine print on your ticket.   Bet it says they reserve the right to make changes at any time.



#156 PVD

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 09:50 AM

The minefield surrounding food service has been laid by Congress over a number of years. Dancing around the issue has accomplished very little. Like or not, with the attitudes towards funding what they are, it  should be increasingly obvious that the current system is unsustainable. I really enjoyed "community dining" particularly at breakfast when it was more likely to be seated with coach passengers (Amish, foreign tourists, young people on a budget), but in general, people's eating habits and preferences are changing, just look at the upheaval in the restaurant business, it has been very difficult for many chains to adopt. Blaming the person at the helm at this moment for things that were in the works for quite a while, or doing what is in essence inevitable show a lack of understanding of how large businesses operate.  When you include the drinks and amenity kit, you may come up pretty close in cost to the food items served now, but you are looking at eliminating 1 if not 2 positions on each trip. Using the DC as a lounge at other times is actually a big plus for a train like the LSL, because of the split car for BC there was very little "hangout" space if you didn't want to stay trapped in your room or seat.


Edited by PVD, 20 April 2018 - 09:57 AM.


#157 cpotisch

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 09:51 AM

The breakfast choices look horrible too. Your choices are high carbohydrates, or high sugar. Thats what they hope will keep you on Amtrak. By making you obese, you won't fit in a 17" X 28" airline seat.

Indeed. Particularly since I hate cream cheese and dislike yogurt, meaning my breakfast would be a cold bagel with butter (I hate cream cheese), and some fruit. Compare that to the hot buttermilk pancakes or french toast with powdered sugar that I was offered before.


Edited by cpotisch, 20 April 2018 - 09:51 AM.

Routes Traveled: Silver Meteor, Silver Star, CrescentLake Shore LimitedCalifornia Zephyr, Sunset Limited, Texas EagleEthan Allen Express, Empire Service, Maple Leaf, AdirondackAcela Express, Northeast RegionalKeystone Service, Downeaster w/ Great Dome
 
Wish List: Auto Train, Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome


#158 Skyline

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 09:52 AM

Amtrak's spinsters aka the Marketing Department clearly need an award for being able to turn a clear downgrade of service (especially towards coach passengers) into an exciting, "fresh new development. That is an incredible level of spinning that even I haven't obtained yet. And I thought my degree helped me out a lot

 

Well, they get that award if they are successful in convincing people it's raining, not a dog pissing on their legs (with credit due Judge Judy).

 

From the comments here, they don't get the award. Let's see what the wider public thinks. They vote, and they vote with their wallets.



#159 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 09:55 AM

 

 

This may be a trade I can deal with if all of the whiners that eternally claim that they are going to stop riding actually do so, and stop posting here in the process.

Might as well support dismantling the whole national system and shut this side down, then you'd never have to read any whining again.

 


Nope. We literally have no idea what this food is like, and we have chicken little running around like the world is ending. God forbid we wait and see how this plays out before passing judgement. The litany is things that turn out better than the torches and pitchforks crowd makes them out to be is nearly endless.

 


So what level of criticism are you willing to allow before you bring out your own pitchfork? I've never understood why you get a pass for attacking people's opinions as if you have any more right to judge them than they have to judge Amtrak.


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#160 cpotisch

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 09:56 AM

Holy crap, a lot of people are posting here. There are 10 posts in the last 20 minutes.


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Routes Traveled: Silver Meteor, Silver Star, CrescentLake Shore LimitedCalifornia Zephyr, Sunset Limited, Texas EagleEthan Allen Express, Empire Service, Maple Leaf, AdirondackAcela Express, Northeast RegionalKeystone Service, Downeaster w/ Great Dome
 
Wish List: Auto Train, Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome





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