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rrdude

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About rrdude

  • Rank
    Engineer

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    No AGR Status anymore... Baltimore, MD Area
  • Interests
    I like riding trains, in First Class, Sleeper, or Coach. (If just a short jaunt) I expect courteous service, equipment that works, arriving close to "on time", & clean windows. Is that too much to ask for?

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  1. No, not even close, on a good day with Amtrak.
  2. rrdude

    Guess who's coming to dinner?

    Penny, JIS, Eric, RIP, Alan, RIP, Chris, several other AU'ers. Siemens employees, VPs of Amtrak, a few, very few, obnoxious-know-it-all-and-want-make-sure-you-know-they-know-it-all foamers, a couple of racists, drug dealers, Eagle Scouts, nice families. I hate the fact that the bag-dining will change that, and people will opt for an empty table, rather than sitting with a stranger. Not me, if you see me in the "diner" on the Cap or LSL, join me!
  3. Booked the Cap from WAS-TOL-ARB, on October 5th for Michigan-Maryland B1GTEN football game on the 6th. (Noon game, hope the Cap is not tooooo late!) Anyway, I'll be bringing: My own real cutlery Linen tablecloth Bud vase with carnation. Likely some Sushi Wine Glasses (plastic or backpacker) Plates, I gotta snag some Plastic Amtrak dinner plates B4 I go. I"m not packing china plates.... not this time. (traveling solo) If you are on that train, feel free to join me for dinner, community style. All told, the "extra" this stuff takes up is nothing, and I can still "feel" like I'm dining in style, even if I have to bring it myself. (did it before on the Palmetto)
  4. rrdude

    Alan Burden (AlanB)

    I think, and I must say, I am as shocked as everyone else at Amtrak Unlimited, however, I think Alan “went out” like ALL OF US would like to go out, “on a train”. I am very sure it was very tough on Penny, and Alan’s Mom, and others on the train, but remember, Alan was doing what Alan loved. Riding trains and promoting trains. The best way to honor Alan, is to “grow trains”. He was very kind, and accommodating in many, many, ways. At the “gathering“ in Kansas City several years ago both Alan and I went to pick up barbecue. Upon returning to Kansas City Union Station, it was clear we didn’t have enough for everyone at the gathering. Both Alan and I gave up our barbecue without hesitation, that was just “Alan’s way”, For the good of the group. Alan was just like that. He will be missed. Honor Alan, by GROWING TRAINS. R.I.P. Dammit, this just sux.......
  5. rrdude

    Cash Free On-Board - Open Discussion

    JIS is correct, won’t “fix” issue, but helps eliminate ONE of the sources of losses
  6. rrdude

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

    I highly doubt this is even close to true. I loved getting a private table all to myself on the PPC. I've met some wonderful fellow travelers in the Amtrak dining car, but I've also had some extremely awkward situations. Some of those awkward situations were created by mixing sleeper and coach passengers. I created quite a fuss one time by asking for a side of potatoes with my french toast... the coach passenger demanded she should also get potatoes with her french toast... it was a mess and made me wish I had just ordered the scrambled eggs. Yeah... lets keep those fun times rolling shall we? While I have some concerns about the new dining, the one thing that DOES seem to get solved is... you can eat however you like. Here's your food.. have it in your room, have it in the "sleeper lounge" or hey you can always take your boxed meal to the cafe car if you want to eat with coach passengers. I can't believe you posted that sanctimonious statement!!!! I hope I misunderstood your message! What statement? What message? ha. Your message seems to indicate you’d rather not “rub shoulders” with the coach passengers......
  7. rrdude

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

    I highly doubt this is even close to true. I loved getting a private table all to myself on the PPC. I've met some wonderful fellow travelers in the Amtrak dining car, but I've also had some extremely awkward situations. Some of those awkward situations were created by mixing sleeper and coach passengers. I created quite a fuss one time by asking for a side of potatoes with my french toast... the coach passenger demanded she should also get potatoes with her french toast... it was a mess and made me wish I had just ordered the scrambled eggs. Yeah... lets keep those fun times rolling shall we? While I have some concerns about the new dining, the one thing that DOES seem to get solved is... you can eat however you like. Here's your food.. have it in your room, have it in the "sleeper lounge" or hey you can always take your boxed meal to the cafe car if you want to eat with coach passengers. You have those choices today.... on any LD train......
  8. rrdude

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

    And use technology to keep the costs down. IE staffed by one employee who would cook/prepare like the cafe with an electronic kiosk for ordering (maybe a mobile app) and paying which would then present you with a number. When its done your order would be on a pickup counter identified by the number you received earlier. And the system could queue the orders in a way so as not to overwhelm the cook. And for the sleeping car passengers you could give them a credit towards a meal here as an option for them. This could also be a way to offer a hot breakfast as well. Key would be just having a couple quality options so that one employee can handle it. Right, and how long has Amtrak been trying to implement that POS system. Find some silicon valley company to design the app. No need. Already out there. I showed Amtrak “order and pay at table” with iPod Touch about ten years ago. Had previously sold the NCR POS for Cap, LSL snack bar... But they they disbanded business units, and wasted MORE money by not using POS units that they spent millions on..(IBM, NCR, Cache Box....) Almost any off-the-shelf POS today will allow server to input order (now) on iPad or tablet, while at the table, and order is sent wirelessly to kitchen. Back in the day, biggest problem was integration into Amtrak’s accounting s/w, (no prob today) and security of WiFi infrastructure, router, pc, etc., etc.) when train was stored at Sunnyside, or Chicago, or LAX.....
  9. rrdude

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

    I think "under-utilized" is a better description. If they sat unused, that would be a waste. I can see taking out about four 4-tops, and putting in some lounge style seating. God knows the LSA is gonna have all the room they need to spread out... And I would hope, after the initial public reactions, they will consider utilizing the convection ovens or micro-zappers, for some new, as of yet unknown, hot entree choice, even with one LSA.
  10. rrdude

    Anderson Speaks on Long Distance Trains

    I have mostly held the position that Amtrak, while being directed to be "All things to all people" (and in turn ios mediocre, at best) could indeed cater to different markets: 1) Core basic transportation. 2) Semi-luxury travelers. However, I think the optics of catering to the latter, kill the idea, tho Via Rail, in a very different environment, does "get away with it". Not sure of the demand for "First Class" anymore on Amtrak. But, I'd pay a premium above what sleepers cost now, given: Linen, China, and glassware Fresh flowers on table Turn-down service @ nite with choc or other Wine or non-alcoholic beverage upon boarding Amenity Kit Wine tasting or other local samplings Exclusive lounge car access. (PPC perfect example) Menu could pretty much stay the same, except for desserts and salads. Ice, Coffee, juice all day in sleepers etc., etc. Now, the $64K question is, at what yield or occupancy rate, do you cover your increased costs to provide the above "extras"......
  11. rrdude

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

    The superliner dining cars, when first outfitted had complete commercial kitchens. Microwave ovens, convection oven’s, regular oven’s. Commercial dishwashers. Wow
  12. rrdude

    Anderson Speaks on Long Distance Trains

    OK, my bad. Too early in AM, and don’t have my readers..... FACE PALM.
  13. rrdude

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

    Amtrak actually did try something like this, on the Broadway, in late 70’s. They didn’t remove or replace dining car, but offered ‘cafeteria style’ food offerings in a lounge car. Was staffed by LSA and one assistant. EVERYthing was simply heated up, placed in steam table, put out for patrons to select. Problems I remember: 1) Pax had BIG trouble carrying food on cafeteria-style tray, back to lounge seating area. 2) Keeping lounge clean, it was a HUGE effort. 3) Next to impossible to work food line, AND offer table service for cocktails (tips) in lounge 4) A lot of wasted food. 5) Even though I made every attempt to make the presentation and appearance of the food as good as possible, it was still “food in a chafeing dish....” We basically “competed” with the dining car... An Amtrak VP at the time, (Bill Norman??) while relaxing in the lounge car, complimented me on my service, and highly recommended that I return to college, to finish my degree. I took his advice.
  14. rrdude

    Anderson Speaks on Long Distance Trains

    His choice of the word Experimental says it all for me. Experiments are short term events, that end, and typically result in CHANGE. EDIT: Mis-read the word Experiential. Not nearly as dire, IMHO. I will give credit where credit is due. Andersons spin-masters are epic. The notification and wordiing used about the recent Dining Car changes are virtually perfect. It should be studied by university courses in marketing & public relations.
  15. rrdude

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

    Just saw this on FB, and I do not know the source, so if something thinks it's "Fake News" feel free to remove. But it goes with this topic, supposedly it's an internal communications FAQ page regarding this topic. Program Overview: Amtrak will offer contemporary, fresh dining choices for sleeping car customers onboard its Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited trains, starting June 1. On-board meal preparation will be replaced with a small variety of quality, fresh and ready-to-serve boxed meals. The service model for both routes will include an onboard food & beverage staff of two (2) LSAs using two (2) food service cars, one (1) LSA in each car. In the initial phase of the presentation, which is subject to refinement as we move forward, sleeping car customers can continue to be served in their Bedrooms or Roomettes or use a private area aboard these trains when they choose from the following entrees, as examples: • Lunch & Dinner: Chilled beef tenderloin, Vegan wrap, Chicken Caesar salad, Turkey club • Breakfast: Assorted breakfast breads with butter, cream cheese and strawberry jam; Greek yogurt and sliced seasonal fresh fruit plate This change will contribute to improved financial performance and more contemporary service delivery on these overnight routes between the East Coast and Chicago at an estimated annual savings of $3.4M across both routes, some of which will be reinvested in the product. Program Details: During the summer on the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited, • The Capitol Limited will operate with 2 coach cars, 1 baggage coach, 2 sleepers, 1 sleeper lounge, 1 sightseer café/lounge (Superliner I or II), 1 transition dorm, & 1 baggage car. • The Lake Shore Limited will operate with 6 coaches, 2 baggage cars, 3 sleepers, 1 sleeper lounge (new CAF car) and 1 café/lounge car (Amfleet I split club). The café/lounge includes 18 business class seats and the standard Amfleet Café module and 24 booth seats. • After boarding, sleeper attendants will ask passengers to select a preferred time for in room dining. Reservations will continue to be available in frequent intervals consistent with today’s standards • Sleeper car passengers who do not wish to dine in their room will have the option to dine at available seating in the sleeper lounge. Sleeper passengers will have exclusive access to tables in sleeper lounge. Seating will be on a first come basis and there will be no at-table dining service. • Sleeper and business class customers will also be offered unlimited soft beverages, 1 complimentary serving of beer, wine or a mixed-drink and an amenity kit. • Meal service continues to be included as part of the sleeping car accommodation charge. • These meals may be available for purchase by business and coach customers on a limited basis. • The existing café menu will continue to be available to all passengers through the café/lounge. Breakout of service by class is below. Sleeper Class​ • Food: Fresh ready-to-serve and pre-packaged meals • Beverages: 1 Alcoholic beverage and unlimited soft beverage • Other amenities: 1 Complimentary amenity kit Business Class (Lake Shore Limited) • Food: A la carte purchases from Café/Lounge menu • Beverages: 1 Alcoholic beverage and unlimited soft beverage • Other amenities: 1 Complimentary amenity kit Coach Class • Food: A la carte purchases from Café/Lounge menu • Beverages: A la carte purchases from Café/Lounge menu Note: Pre-packaged meals may be available for purchase by business and coach customers on a limited basis. Q:​What is the time frame of the program? The first phase of the program will begin June 1. Q: ​Will meal service hours remain the same? ​Yes, meal service will continue to be provided during normal hours. Meal Service & Reservation Hours Breakfast 6:30 am – 10 am Lunch 11:30 am – 3 pm Dinner 5 pm – 9:30 pm ​ • The attendant in the Sleeping Car Lounge will be on duty from 6:30 am to 10pm with the exception of allotted breaks. • The Sleeping car Lounge will be available for passenger use for the duration of the journey. Q: ​What are the anticipated benefits of the program? The revamped meal offerings will be a more sustainable approach for F&B meal items producing less waste and providing a more contemporary food service model and product (with in room service) for our premium passengers. In future phases, our customers will be able to pre-order/pre-select meal options prior to departure. The anticipated cost savings are an annualized $3 million reduction in operating costs on these two routes. Some of which, will be reinvested in the product. Q: ​If passengers currently holding reservations on the Capitol Limited or Lake Shore Limited wish to postpone or cancel, will additional fees be imposed? Passengers wishing to modify or cancel existing reservations will be subject to standard Amtrak cancellation or change fees. Q: ​Are fares being changed on these trains to account for the lower food service costs? Ticket prices / fare structure will remain the same. Q: ​If a passenger chooses to receive in room service but then s/he decides later s/he needs an additional item, will s/he need to walk all the way to the sleeper lounge for service? Sleeper attendants continue to be on call to support customer requests (within reason, of course!) With safety as our first priority, our objective is to ensure customer onboard experience is enjoyable and worth repeating. Each ready-to-serve meal comes completely packaged with necessary condiments, napkins and cutlery. If a customer finds something missing from their package, needs another beverage or needs assistance moving from their bedroom or roomette to another car on the train – the sleeper car attendant or other employees can provide assistance. Q: ​Have the impacted employees been notified? Crew base management has been notified and will be reviewing the changes with the crews as we roll out the program. Communications will be ongoing. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Bolding, underlining, and italics by me.
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