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Devil's Advocate

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

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While I am trying to reserve judgement until we actually see the meals, it most likely means that my trip on the Lake Shore Limited next week will be my last. A meal in the dinning car is one of the pleasures of traveling by overnight train. It was a good run while it lasted, 30 plus trips on the Lake Shore and Capitol.

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I love the corporate spin that Amtrak always does --- instead of the headline being "Dining Cars being Pulled"... it's "Fresh, New Contemporary Choices Coming Soon".

 

It's yet another Amtrak DOWNGRADE that we have seen time and time again with "America's Railroad" since around 2010 --- newspapers, wine tastings on the Coast Starlight and Empire Builder, trains with their own different menus, juice choices, Silver Star-vation, ready-to-heat meals on the City of New Orleans and Cardinal, Pacific Parlour Cars, giving private car owners a hard time, and on and on.

 

We haven't taken the train east very much in recent years, and certainly won't anymore.

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So.... where do all the new Viewliner diners wind up then?

 

Brightline! :blink:

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Looks like coach passengers will not be able to purchase these meals and will only have the current cafe menu available according to a response from Amtrak customer service posted on another forum. And it looks like they are all cold anyway! The idea that this is a short trip and doesn't need decent meal service is false in my opinion. When I have taken the train east from Chicago, I would be awake by 6 or 7 am which leaves a full 12 hours on the train until new york. Vice versa I always have a meal in the diner westbound out of new york. And the social factor shouldn't be overlooked. I have always found it a lot of fun to meet and share a meal with fellow travelers whether they are in coach or sleeper.

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I’ll miss breakfast the most. All of these choices look and sound like they will taste like crap. I will skip both trains until there is a return to decent food.

Edited by pennyk
changed a possibly objectionable word with permission of Steve

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Cut it out Anderson! And to think I was hoping for improved meals on the LSL, with the delivery of the V-II diners. But now we've got the removal of dining cars, cold meals, and a much more limited selection. I can appreciate the free booze and unlimited soft drinks, but for me, that's just not worth it. I definitely am wondering what the options will be for coach pax (I'm not optimistic). Fortunately, the LSL and Cap aren't particularly long routes, but this kind of thing really strikes me as unacceptable for ANY overnight route.

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There is no way of saying that without seeing what the meals are like. Unlimited soda and (limited) free booze are an upgrade.

 

Soda and free booze are not an upgrade to those of us who don't drink soda or liquor. I want my eggs! (Although, to be fair, Amtrak's eggs don't compare with a real breakfast cooked in a real breakfast restaurant or--you knew this was coming--a south Jersey diner! :P .)

 

 

 

Yes but the free booze should keep you feeling nice and warm until your destination ;)

 

Not sure that a single nightcap will keep me warm all the way to my destination. :ph34r:

I firmly exercise my privilege as a sleeping car passenger and stop at BevMo before boarding :P

What is BevMo?

Its a west coast thing. They specialize in wine/beer/alcohol. Think Liquor Store but big bright and the size of a supermarket.

So it’s the same as a Total Wine.

 

Back on topic any chance they will roll this out on the Star?

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New consists:

29/30 Capital Limited:

Diesels - P42s

Baggage - 61000 series

TransDorm - 39000 series

Sleepers - 32000 series

*Sleeper Lounge

*Sightseer Lounge - 33000 series

Coaches - 31000/34000 series

 

48/49 Lake Shore Limited:

Diesels - P42s/P32

Baggage(BOS) - 61000 series

Sleeper(BOS) - 62000 series

*Cafe/Business(BOS) - 48100 series

Coaches(BOS) - 25000 series

Coaches - 25000 series

*Sleeper Lounge - 68000 series [New CAF diner operating as a sleeper lounge, something that has been foreshadowed here for some time now]

Sleepers - 62000 series

Baggage - 61000 series

 

(*) staffed with one Lead Service Attendant(LSA)

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A sleeper lounge that serves limited cold meal options. Sounds like dead weight.

 

The press release is confusing because I read it as being delivered to the actual rooms.

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A sleeper lounge that serves limited cold meal options. Sounds like dead weight .

Compared to a diner that serves limited hot meals but requires triple or quadruple the staff?

The Cardinal serves hot meals with one person.

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The groundwork for all this F&B downgrade was laid in the authorization bill that required Amtrak to balance the budget of F&B as a separate line item, as absurd requirement in and of itself. That is currently the statute and as Anderson said, right or wrong, he will deliver per the statute. One obvious way, and the only fully legal way, to fix this is to change the statute. We have started the discussion going on how and when to change the statute, at the RPA Meeting this week, and with Senators and Reps on the Hill too.

 

And before anyone jumps up and says that Anderson should ignore the statutes selectively, be careful what you wish for. Currently, there is a significant possibility that the current administration will simply ignore the appropriations statutes, and simply not spend the money that has been appropriated by withholding its disbursement using one excuse or the other, even though that would certainly be against the spirit if not the letter of the law.

 

But this post should probably move over to the Advocacy section rather than be here. I leave it to the Mods to decide.

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The press release is confusing because I read it as being delivered to the actual rooms.

That has been an option all along, albeit not well advertised. My impression has been that the communal dining experience is not really an attraction to either the crew or a growing percentage of passengers, so it makes sense that they would emphasize the availability of room service.

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A sleeper lounge that serves limited cold meal options. Sounds like dead weight.

 

The press release is confusing because I read it as being delivered to the actual rooms.

 

Read it again, Sleeping car customers will choose meals delivered to their Bedrooms or Roomettes – or eaten in a private café or lounge car – and entrees such

So looks like they will retain the diner, or CCC, or one of the new CAF single level diners for Card/LSL/Silvers

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Looks like coach passengers will not be able to purchase these meals and will only have the current cafe menu available according to a response from Amtrak customer service posted on another forum. And it looks like they are all cold anyway! The idea that this is a short trip and doesn't need decent meal service is false in my opinion. When I have taken the train east from Chicago, I would be awake by 6 or 7 am which leaves a full 12 hours on the train until new york. Vice versa I always have a meal in the diner westbound out of new york. And the social factor shouldn't be overlooked. I have always found it a lot of fun to meet and share a meal with fellow travelers whether they are in coach or sleeper.

According to the internal Atk memo, Coach passengers will be able to purchase these meals "based on availability".....

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Wait.... So we are losing a "full service diner" but adding a "staffed sleeper lounge" ???

 

Honestly this may come out as a wash in my book. If done right maybe even a positive.

Yup, this actually gives me hope that the CS might, just might get a Parlor Car replacement. After my last two LD train trips, quite frankly the dinning car crew really did absolutely nothing to put me on the side of advocating for their continual existence.

 

I maybe way over reading into this but for all of the scorn everyone has laid on Anderson for being an airline guy and not knowing anything regarding the RR business. Some of the changes such as exclusive lounge, amenity kits, 1 free drink are things lifted right out of the airline books. Now if he turned those sleeper lounges into something like the Sky Club lounges with continental breakfast and snacks throughout the day, I'm all for the changes.

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Well, I'm now going to be packing an MRE if I end up on one of these trains, and heating it on the platform in Cumberland, and likely refusing breakfast. I would actually seriously suggest this as a reaction...

Of course, none of this excuses the fact that they can't even be arsed to offer the Acela meals out of NYP/WAS and kludge something similar out of Chicago. Nor does it excuse the fact that I can get better out of Delta on a three-hour flight on a regular basis.

Hades take whomever designed this.

Edited by Anderson

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Again.... This makes sense. The LSA can take the orders and ask where they would like to eat their meal. (Similar to how it was done on the starlight).

 

After they know how many of each meal has been ordered, they can offer the rest to coach passengers.

 

Really hard to see how this doesn't make tons of business sense and could easily improve the customer experience.

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