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If you could add any amenities to Amtrak, what would they be?

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I'm just pondering what would make train travel even nicer. Not speaking to the larger issues of track ownership/on time performance, but rather, amenities for the onboard experience.

 

I'd say having an espresso maker in the dining car, so that espresso drinks can be had with breakfast, and after lunch.

Memory foam pillows.

What do you all think?

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  • Comfortable pillows. Pullman Company practice, to the best of my understanding, was to provide each berth with one thick and one thin pillow. You could use either, or both, as you chose.

Warmer blankets. Again Pullman used to use good-quality wool.

Decent food. Not necessarily five-star gourmet quality, but the dining cars were designed with real kitchens optimized to cook real food. Staff them properly and give the crew the freedom to use them. I know ingredient consistency is a real thing, but I think that the menu could feature standard items which are to be cooked exactly the same way with the same ingredients every time, and "chef's specialty" items where the crew could be creative. The two are not mutually exclusive...a diner could feature the "Amtrak Lamb Chop" with known (and published) ingredients and consistent preparation techniques, and "Chef Dale's Cajun Lamb Chop" which used the same base ingredients but with the chef tweaking it in his own preferred way.

Coffee and tea are cheap. No reason they shouldn't be available to sleeper passengers 24/7.

Travel pillows in coach. Rent them out for $2 if you're really being cheap.

Arm rests in all newly purchased/installed/renovated coach seats. They can fold away if not wanted by both passengers.

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When they added Business Class to the LSL what was there before hand? I believe there was business class on one side of the area where you purchased snacks and beverages and the other area was very limited seating (maybe six booths, one was for crew and the other was for the staff). Very little area and you couldn't consume your own outside food/drink there. By contrast the Superliner cars had the whole upper level Sightseer Lounger Car for that purpose with a lot more seating, great views, and you can consume outside food/drink so it's way better. They need something like that on Viewliner Cars. Was there something like that before the business seating came in and now you have to pay extra for that luxury? Of course on the Superliners there isn't Wi-Fi so it's six of one and half dozen of the other. Speaking of amenities, how about Wi-Fi on the Superliners? Not every Superliner has the scenery of the CZ. Try being stuck on the TE between Longview and Dallas waiting for freight trains.

Edited by Philly Amtrak Fan

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Full lounge cars with just seating (sofas, chairs, small tables) and a bar used to be common on premium trains before Amtrak.

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  • Comfortable pillows. Pullman Company practice, to the best of my understanding, was to provide each berth with one thick and one thin pillow. You could use either, or both, as you chose.
  • Warmer blankets. Again Pullman used to use good-quality wool

I'm bringing my memory foam pillow, and a duvet on my next trip for this reason.

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Here a some of mine:

 

-Putting a diner car back on the Silver Star

-Allowing sleeper passengers to get food and (some) drinks for free from the cafe car (if a particular train has one, whether a diner is also present or not).

-If a train has a diner car, giving coach passengers the option to upgrade their fares to include their meals. I dare say that some people want included meals but don't necessarily want sleeper accommodations. Coach pax get meals included on Auto Train, but no other trains offer that.

-Different types of lighting to be used during quiet hours, which would allow for emergency use yet make it easier for coach passengers to sleep.

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I'm just pondering what would make train travel even nicer. Not speaking to the larger issues of track ownership/on time performance, but rather, amenities for the onboard experience.

 

I'd say having an espresso maker in the dining car, so that espresso drinks can be had with breakfast, and after lunch.

Memory foam pillows.

What do you all think?

 

Memory foam pillows? I used to sell those, on a traveling basis. Shredded memory foam with bamboo (viscous rayon) covers. I hate them. They are poisonous. I used to load them into the back of my SUV for sales runs, and then when I got into my car in the morning, my head would start spinning. I stopped being able to "sell" them- its hard to sell a product you don't believe in.

 

What makes train travel nicer, besides a few creature comforts mostly covered, is meeting people. Strangers in the night; I met my closest friend on the train. Its easier to interact with somebody if you know you will never see them again if it doesn't work out. As for blankets, the AmBlankets, which are modacrylic, aren't wool, but they are quite warm- and fire proof. You can always ask for another. Actually, I have one in my linen closet my wife uses when its winter, and I turn the heat off in the bedroom.

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Reading all of the above suggestions....well it seems like what everyone would like, would be for Amtrak to turn back the clock a few decades, when most of what was mentioned was standard on Amtrak, in the so-called "Camelot" era.... New Superliner's on transcon routes, new Amfleet or Turboliner's on shorter routes, freshly rebuilt HEP converted Heritage cars on Eastern long haul routes, good dining car menus of freshly prepared meals, with differences on different routes, real china, silverware, glassware, flowers on linen covered tables...(later period), .chef's sent to the Culinary Institute of America for customized courses... all until the notorious budget cuts ended most of that....(sigh)... :(

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I'd be happy if they just cleaned the cars. Especially inside, but also outside/windows. The rooms are dirty and shabby most of the time, with just a minimum level of cleaning.

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Cheap:

-- reliable food with ingredients lists available

-- WiFi on the Superliners

 

Expensive but within Amtrak's control:

-- cafe/lounge/observation cars for the Eastern single-level fleet

-- level boarding at all platforms

 

Difficult:

-- run the trains on time (probably requires purchasing the tracks)

Edited by neroden

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Already mentioned, but the very first amenity I'd like to see is included/bundled meals for coach passengers, either on an optional basis (pay extra for a "meal plan") or perhaps tied to length of trip and thus time on the train (ie., basic ticket or just a snack for short to medium distance trips; Full dining-car meals for overnight and all-day journeys, all figured in the ticket price). This doesn't really give the passengers anything they can't have now, but contributes needed revenue for Amtrak and potentially improves the economics and utilization (and hence justification) of the dining car.

 

When they added Business Class to the LSL what was there before hand? I believe there was business class on one side of the area where you purchased snacks and beverages and the other area was very limited seating (maybe six booths, one was for crew and the other was for the staff). Very little area and you couldn't consume your own outside food/drink there. By contrast the Superliner cars had the whole upper level Sightseer Lounger Car for that purpose with a lot more seating, great views, and you can consume outside food/drink so it's way better. They need something like that on Viewliner Cars. Was there something like that before the business seating came in and now you have to pay extra for that luxury? Of course on the Superliners there isn't Wi-Fi so it's six of one and half dozen of the other. Speaking of amenities, how about Wi-Fi on the Superliners? Not every Superliner has the scenery of the CZ. Try being stuck on the TE between Longview and Dallas waiting for freight trains.

 

Prior to business class, the Lake Shore Limited carried an Amfleet II lounge car, just as the other overnight single-level long-distance trains still do. This is, of course, the same car which is currently employed as a "diner lite". With the advent of business class, you have an Amfleet I with tables to one side only and the business seating on the other. Hence, no more full lounge.

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At one time, the Amfleet II lounge cars had lounge tables and seats on one side and booths on the other; for a period the lounge area was converted into a smoking cubicle. Then it was converted into Diner Lite cars that had booths on both sides and a slightly more capable food prep area (convection ovens were installed).

 

However, the winter consist of the LSL had 3 food service cars, one unstaffed- a Diner, and Amfleet II lounge on the New York section, and an Amfleet I or Horizon club-Dinette (with BC 2-1 seating) on the Boston section- whose seats were not in inventory, but could usually be sat upon.

 

Way before all this, Amtrak actually ran Dome lounge cars on the Boston section. And I remember the Heritage lounges from Florida service. The windows were bigger, but the layout was basically the same as the Amfleet II lounges.

 

The really nice lounges everyone has weltschmerz for have been gone 30 years at least.

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Prior to business class, the Lake Shore Limited carried an Amfleet II lounge car, just as the other overnight single-level long-distance trains still do. This is, of course, the same car which is currently employed as a "diner lite". With the advent of business class, you have an Amfleet I with tables to one side only and the business seating on the other. Hence, no more full lounge.

And which Viewliner trains have business class seating, LSL I know and my personal enemy train. Crescent yes and Silver no? Then do the Silvers have more lounge space? Can you consume your own personal food in the lounge space on the Silver Star/Meteor then? I'm not sure that is so bad but the fact that the space was so limited on the LSL bothered me.

Edited by Philly Amtrak Fan

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I think Philly means the LSL is the enemy train. (There's a period at the end of the phrase mentioning the LSL, and "Crescent" starts a new phrase.)

 

Which brings me to the amenities I would like the most--bring back the paper newspapers and the paper timetable. Some of us still like to read paper. More of us than you would think.

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Crescent is your enemy? how come?

 

 

I think Philly means the LSL is the enemy train. (There's a period at the end of the phrase mentioning the LSL, and "Crescent" starts a new phrase.)

 

Which brings me to the amenities I would like the most--bring back the paper newspapers and the paper timetable. Some of us still like to read paper. More of us than you would think.

No, not the Crescent or the LSL. His enemy is the Cardinal.

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Ah, yes, you are right as usual, AmtrakBlue. I see now he is talking of two trains in that phrase. I thought perhaps he had added another enemy train in addition to his archenemy, the Cardinal. The business class car on the Cardinal is a lovely addition. When I was on the Cardinal going to Chicago, I saw quite a few people taking the business class for short stretches. I ran into two ladies who got on in the morning and were going to Chicago for a shopping trip. They were raving about the addition of the business class car.

 

Just thought of another amenity I miss: having the SCA put the blanket on the bed. It's ridiculous to have it in plastic and make you put it on yourself--how many of us would return to a hotel that said oh, by the way, you are paying a lot of money for your room but we aren't going to put the blanket on the bed for you--do it yourself?

 

And real silverware and china and flowers and real tablecloths.

Edited by Mystic River Dragon

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I have no reason to hate the LSL. The LSL is one of my favorite trains and going forward will be my predominant Chicago-NEC train (I have a feeling I won't be taking the CL that often). But the idea of business class taking away lounge car space in general sounds like a negative.

Edited by Philly Amtrak Fan

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I've traveled on several trains since the "blanket wrapped in plastic" started, and I have yet to actually see a blanket wrapped in plastic. My bedding has always been placed and tucked in as normal.

 

Are the wrapped blankets only used on certain trains?

 

Speaking of blankets, I say no to wool. People tend to be allergic/sensitive to it.

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I've seen it for sure on the Empire Builder and the California Zephyr. I think I've seen it on the Coast Starlight too, and maybe the Lake Shore? Not 100% sure on that last one. I don't think it's a huge deal either way, although the bags seem wasteful since they're not recycled.

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So the one thing that I would honestly change is the bedding on LD trains.

 

For those of you who have ridden on Via's Canadian in their sleeping accommodations you'll know what I'm referring to.

 

But 10 years ago when I rode the train from Jasper to Vancouver the Roomettes had amazing bedding. Real pillows and a down comforter. The sheets were clean and comfortable as well.

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