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Oreius

Cafe Cars on Keystone Service???

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I was wondering if Amtrak will ever add a cafe car to the Keystone Service trainsets. There were a couple ladies on the train who complained because there was no food service. I really don't care about having food service, but it might be something worthwhile to think about....

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There would never be enough cafe cars to add to this service. 13 trains a day in a weekday - not happening. Also the costs would skyrocket. It's a relatively short journey.

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For the folks heading from LNC or further west, to NYP I can understand the need. But most trips are from HAR, LNC to PHL or PHL-NYP. If someone wants food service on the PHL-NYP section ride a regional train instead. PHL-HAR ride the Penny. There is no need to add cafe service on a mostly state supported route. PA won't go for paying for food service at all considering their paying $4 Million to keep the Penny alive.

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Sandwich cart or vending machines (similar to how Amtrak CA is removing some seats for more bike space) might be a worthwhile idea however.

 

Vending machines are out as the cars are rotated through the system. Sandwich cart is an idea but tell PA to pay for it..

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The layovers in PHL on most of the trips are also long enough (plus padding) on most trips that there is definitely time to run up into the station to buy a refreshment as well.

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The layovers in PHL on most of the trips are also long enough (plus padding) on most trips that there is definitely time to run up into the station to buy a refreshment as well.

 

This.

 

I'm sure one of the nerdier ones here could tell you the average farebox recovery dip when food service cars are added to trains.

 

*cue drum roll*

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The layovers in PHL on most of the trips are also long enough (plus padding) on most trips that there is definitely time to run up into the station to buy a refreshment as well.

 

This.

 

I'm sure one of the nerdier ones here could tell you the average farebox recovery dip when food service cars are added to trains.

 

*cue drum roll*

According to Boardman and some reports, Amtrak is now breaking even overall on food and beverage sales on the NEC Regionals amd Acelas. Cafe car service on the Keystones might break even as well, but PA would have to agree in advance to subsidize any losses and presumably would have to pay the capital charge for adding the cafe cars. Adding food and beverage service on the Keystones will be up to Penn DOT which is not exactly flush with funds at the moment.

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The Keystone is used more as a commuter line. It is a short trip even from Harrisburg to Philadelphia. I don't think food service is needed. As a PA resident, I think there are other state needs that money should be spent before subsidizing food service on this line.

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I'm currently writing up the stops on the Keystone Line for my website and have gone through timetables.org for most of the Keystone timetables (my goal was figuring out what stops in what is now SEPTA territory Amtrak made at one time and are technically ex-Amtrak Stations). The Keystone that originally used Silverliners MUs in its initial operations in the 1970s when trains ran basically separately from the NEC trains all the way into Suburban Station. The Broadway Limited actually skipped PHL stopping at North Philadelphia instead. There was never food service on these trains.

 

This is unlike ALB-NYP Empire Service trains that had food service until 2005-2006 and still run with an unused cafe car (except for business class) on the back of the train. This line I bet I might get food service restored over the Keystones if NY can negotiate it.

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If someone wants food service on the PHL-NYP section ride a regional train instead. PHL-HAR ride the Penny.

 

Agree on the PHL-NYP section but to tell someone to just take the Penny on the PHL-HAR section if they want food service

doesn't make sense. Regionals run hourly all day long, but the Penny only runs once a day. It's not a sufficient substitute.

 

That said, I agree with the general sentiment here that food service is not needed. Most of the heavily-used stations along the PHL-HAR

section either have coffee/sandwich shops at the station or very close by.

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I'm currently writing up the stops on the Keystone Line for my website and have gone through timetables.org for most of the Keystone timetables (my goal was figuring out what stops in what is now SEPTA territory Amtrak made at one time and are technically ex-Amtrak Stations). The Keystone that originally used Silverliners MUs in its initial operations in the 1970s when trains ran basically separately from the NEC trains all the way into Suburban Station. The Broadway Limited actually skipped PHL stopping at North Philadelphia instead. There was never food service on these trains.

 

This is unlike ALB-NYP Empire Service trains that had food service until 2005-2006 and still run with an unused cafe car (except for business class) on the back of the train. This line I bet I might get food service restored over the Keystones if NY can negotiate it.

Actually there was one Keystone train that had food service back in early 90's. It went West in the afternoon,train 643 (?), attendant overnighted in Harrisburg and came back to NYP the next morning. It was dropped, I believe, when the Albany food service was dropped. Never generated a lot of revenue, and neither did the Alb trains.

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This is unlike ALB-NYP Empire Service trains that had food service until 2005-2006 and still run with an unused cafe car (except for business class) on the back of the train. This line I bet I might get food service restored over the Keystones if NY can negotiate it.

My ESPA friends tell me that NYSDOT has restoration of food service on NYP-ALB runs on its agenda. Apparently quite a bit of the commissary equipment at Albany was preserved through the various building moves too at Albany. In principle though, it is possible to run food service on those trains even without a commissary at ALB, and of course all Empire consists already have a Cafe/BC car in them. Apparently NY also wants to negotiate an enhanced menu of items like for example the Downeaster has, with some New York specialties thrown in. haven't heard any ore detail about it of late.

 

This is actually one reason why PRIIA 209 might work out to be good for passengers. Facilities provided on PRIIA 209 governed state funded trains do not have to blow with the whims of the federal government on which small part of Amtrak needs to make money in and of itself, beyond having state operations costs fully covered. Consequently federal strictures about Amtrak having to make money on food service does not really apply to any PRIIA 209 governed train. As long as the state is willing to cover costs they can have whatever they want, within reason of course.

Edited by jis

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The Keystone is used more as a commuter line. It is a short trip even from Harrisburg to Philadelphia. I don't think food service is needed. As a PA resident, I think there are other state needs that money should be spent before subsidizing food service on this line.

I'm a PA resident too, and I agree.

 

Clearly, someone needs to tell these two "ladies", to put THEIR MONEY where they mouth is. All they need to do, is to send a letter to their PA state rep, stating they need even more food to eat, and are willing to pay add a cafe car to the Keystone Service trainsets. Of course, they need to attach a signed blank check to fully cover PennDOT's costs too.

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The Keystone is used more as a commuter line. It is a short trip even from Harrisburg to Philadelphia. I don't think food service is needed. As a PA resident, I think there are other state needs that money should be spent before subsidizing food service on this line.

If you are going Lancaster to Philly, then, yea, you can do without the cafe car. But the Keystones take about 3:15, give or take, for a run from Harrisnurg to NYP. According to the NARP Keystone fact sheet, the 3rd busiest city pair is HAR-NYP, the 4th Lancaster to NYP, the 6th Paoli-NYP. The 2nd busiest city pair is HAR-PHL which takes about 1:45. So people are making moderately long trips on the Keystones with no cafe service while most other corridor services do offer food and beverage service.

 

But because the Keystones don't have cafe cars, Penn DOT does not appear to be of the mindset to add them since to PennDOT the cafe service would cost money. However, if Amtrak succeeds in its efforts over the next few years to improve the cost recovery for food service where the NE Regionals, Empire Service, Pennsylvanian, and other Eastern corridor trains either typically break even or generate a small surplus on food and beverage sales, that should change the mindset at Penn DOT.

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I forsee a duel of the clam chowders… Downeaster or Empire? New England or Manhattan?

New England all the way!:) Can't stand that Manhattan stuff!:(

 

New Englanders wouldn't be caught dead eating Manhattan Clam Chowder.

 

A little known fact is where Manhattan Clam Chowder originated. And it wasn't in Manhattan!:o It actually originated in Newport, RI by the chefs of the "summer cottages" (aka mansions) of the super rich, who spent a month or so "out away from The City"! And where did they come from? Manhattan!

 

So if it wasn't for little Rhode Island, there would be no Manhattan Clam Chowder!

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What are the possibilites of Amtrak licensing some independent vendor(s) to sell aboard off their own cart? It wouldn't cost Amtrak anything, they could possibly get a license fee, they could require the vendor to have government approved food service license, as well as carry some kind of liability insurance.....

Would Amtrak's labor agreements allow an outside food vendor aboard in such an operation (not using Amtrak's cafe or equipment)........

 

I don't know if it would be successful or not, but it is amazing what vendors here in NYC earn each day from a simple hot dog push-cart.......

Edited by railiner

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From the NARP reported that is posted, I would be curious of the numbers of passengers of the city pairs and percentage of total ridership.

 

Riding this route several times a year to PHL and NYP, I can say that I see over half the train empty at PHL in either direction. Then loading, over half the train gets on in PHL. That tells me that there are not that many people going the entire length of the route.

 

I also think that if PA subsidizes a cafe car, New Jersey should subsidize the cafe car on this train as well.

 

My question is, do all the states for the NEC subsidize the cafes on the regionals and Acela? Does PA pay for this?

 

I still don't think it is needed. I take stuff with me and I get stuff in PHL or NYP to take with me on the train. It is much better than the amfood from the cafe car and much cheaper.

 

The two ladies should have read the timetable to see that there is no cafe and plan accordingly.

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Also, keep in mind PA only subsidizes between Harrisburg and Philly. I believe it is Amtrak's decision to run to NYP. So PA is thinking the total subsidized trip is 1:45.

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What are the possibilites of Amtrak licensing some independent vendor(s) to sell aboard off their own cart? It wouldn't cost Amtrak anything

Remember the Subway (subs) fiasco when they served food on trains between NYP and ALB?:huh: It didn't last long.

My question is, do all the states for the NEC subsidize the cafes on the regionals and Acela? Does PA pay for this?

No, the NEC is part of the National Network and is exempt from the requirement, and Amtrak covers all costs.

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