Auto Train Coach Food Being Removed 1/14/2020?

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by lordsigma, Jul 15, 2019.

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  1. Jul 16, 2019 #26

    brianpmcdonnell17

    brianpmcdonnell17

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    The SS and SM refuel in Jacksonville but the AT passes through without stopping; it refuels in Florence, SC.
     
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  2. Jul 17, 2019 #27

    lordsigma

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    Was not aware of that - I was under the impression you could but good to know. In that case I would agree with your suggestion that they should allow it. My apologies for the error.
     
  3. Jul 17, 2019 #28

    bretton88

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    Isn't the Auto Train limited in the total length it can be? Therefore by adding sleepers, it implies a cutback in coaches? Or am I wrong here?
     
  4. Jul 17, 2019 #29

    ehbowen

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    Keep in mind that the Auto Train was started, by a private concern, after Amtrak had already assumed national rail passenger service. In order not to fall afoul of the "Amtrak non-compete" requirements in the law, Seaboard Coast Line required and the Auto-Train corporation agreed that these would be treated as freight trains, would operate under freight train rules, and that the carriage of passengers would be only incidental...as in the days of "drovers" and "banana messengers" accompanying freight shipments of livestock and fresh fruit. No passengers could be carried without an accompanying automobile. To the best of my knowledge, that agreement is still active. If Amtrak were to attempt to modify it without CSX consent (which we all know is so easy to obtain) then the railroad would be justified in telling Amtrak to drop the auto carriers altogether and to treat it as a new passenger train taking up a new slot...with payment due accordingly.
     
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  5. Jul 17, 2019 #30

    dogbert617

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    I thought the only servicing stop for the Auto Train(Sanford to Lorton), was in Florence, SC? I could be wrong about this(as I'd never rode this train), but remember others mentioning this around the time the smoking lounges on the Auto Train were removed in 2013, requiring smokers to smoke on the platform in Florence during that servicing stop.

    And yes, it'd be nice if the former Auto Train route between Louisville, KY to Florida would be restored. Probably it won't though, sadly to think. A la my worry that the Floridian train probably won't come back, anytime soon. Or if say, one was ever created on the west coast.

    Ah, I see. Hearing that info, I doubt the way the Auto Train operates(that at least one driver rides on that train with his/her car, if not fellow passengers also tagging along) will ever change, then.
     
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  6. Jul 17, 2019 #31

    dogbert617

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    Here's the whole Auto Train announcement, about 'enhancements' Amtrak will do to this train over the next 6 months(copied and pasted from the alert I saw on Amtrak's website):

    Auto Train Enhancements
    Effective by 2020
    Over the next six months, Amtrak will be introducing several changes and enhancements to the Auto Train customer experience as outlined below.
    Sleeping Car Customers
    • More room availability, including Roomette, Bedroom, Family Bedroom and Accessible Bedroom
    • Upgraded bedding, towels, linens and other pleasantries added to every room
    • New sleeping car menu for dinner and breakfast
    • Complimentary red or white wine with dinner
    • Complimentary meals offered exclusively for sleeping car customers beginning January 15, 2020
    Coach Class
    • Introduction of the Cross-Country Café for Coach customer dining, offering an expanded café menu of meals, snacks and beverages for purchase
    • Effective January 15, 2020, Coach class tickets will no longer include complimentary dinner service
    • A complimentary continental breakfast will be available for Coach customers in the Cross-Country Café prior to arrival in Lorton or Sanford
    • One-way fares for Coach remain low, starting at $89 + cost of vehicle
    Updates to Service by 2020
    • For those customers traveling in small groups: Share Fares will be expanded to include Auto Train on select departures, offering discounted travel up to 35%
    • For those customers who can pack more into their car: the introduction of an ‘Oversized Vehicles’ fare for minivans, full-size pick-up trucks and SUVs with 3+ rows
    • An opportunity for complimentary priority offload: Amtrak Guest Rewards Select Executive members will now receive a complimentary priority offload coupon as part of their tier member benefits.
    All customers will now have a wider variety of food options prior to travel with the introduction of food trucks on-site in Lorton and Sanford for all departing customers.
    PSN 0719-86

    No more complimentary dinner service for coach passengers in Auto Train? Though I see breakfast is allegedly still complimentary, for coach passengers. This is a disappointing change about dinner, in my opinion!

    Hadn't read Texas Eagle in ages, and hadn't yet CONO, so can anyone say for sure if Cross Country Cafe has more menu options vs. a typical cafe car? I'll guess it does, but not sure by how many additional menu items vs. a typical Amtrak long distance train cafe car(for long distance, and regional Midwest trains with them)
     
  7. Jul 17, 2019 #32

    ehbowen

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    The Cross-Country Cafe on the Texas Eagle is essentially operated as a standard dining car, albeit with the use of only half of the table space (the other half is used by the lounge). These cars were converted from Superliner diners and as far as I know they retain their full set of cooking equipment. So the potential quality of the meal service ranges from top-notch to barely edible, depending on how the cars and kitchens are stocked and staffed. It's entirely in Amtrak's hands...which means, unfortunately, that I'm expecting something at the lower end of the spectrum.
     
  8. Jul 17, 2019 #33

    me_little_me

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    Anderson would do it on the Chief with "caritution". You and your car get off the train, then you drive yourself on the proposed bustitution route to ABQ then you and the car get back on the train to California. It will be called "Contemporary Training".
     
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  9. Jul 17, 2019 #34

    bretton88

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    I should note, with the inclusion of things like the share fares and sale fares (which mostly excluded the AT), Amtrak does appear to be cutting coach fares to go with the downgrade. So I'm not too upset about the changes.
     
  10. Jul 17, 2019 #35

    lordsigma

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    I will admit I do feel a little bit different about the auto train compared to other long distance trains. It is a purely leisure train that you can't really make the essential travel argument for - one could make a reasonable argument that it should probably make a profit (or that they should at least try to make it break even.) The Auto Train probably could break if they attracted younger people with the lower fares combined with the likely significant cost reductions with eliminating the coach meal service. As of the performance reports this May the Auto Train is closer than ever to breaking even with a lower deficit than even the Palmetto and this is WITH coach dining still on board. I am cautiously optimistic the new sleeper menu is an upgrade and not contemporary dining - AT is not a train that should be on Anderson's hit list - it makes a ton of revenue with the car hauling and there is likely a world where it could break even or even in the black and performs better financially than some of the state supported corridors - this should be a route that Amtrak wants in its portfolio regardless of what happens with the other LD trains.
     
  11. Jul 17, 2019 #36

    crescent-zephyr

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    The cross country cafe hasn’t operated as such in like 10 years. On the eagle it is operated as a full diner. On the city they now offer barely edible food.

    The original cross country cafe cars offered food that was cooked in the full diner kitchen. It lasted for like... 6-12 months?

    The original goals of the CCC are long gone. Extended hours of meal service, lounge service until arriving at the terminal, regional food, and even “fresh scrambled eggs and the return of ice cream” - these were all advertised as “enhancements” of the CCC cars.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2019
  12. Jul 17, 2019 #37

    toddinde

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    The Auto-Train is a niche and presumably profitable. Why not just improve the Silver Meteor and Star? They’re already connected to the Amtrak system, new diners and sleepers have been delivered, and the stations are in the cities and not in the boondocks? The improvements to Auto Train are good. It shows Amtrak has the creativity to do good things. Overnight trains in Europe and the UK are having a renaissance. The Meteor, Star and Crescent are prime for upgrades.
     
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  13. Jul 18, 2019 #38

    HGSCS

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    Has Amtrak ever thought of an express train that stops in New York, Philly, Baltimore and DC with no other stops until Orlando and perhaps Miami? I’m assuming there is a reason why they don’t have one. But one can always dream.
     
  14. Jul 18, 2019 #39

    crescent-zephyr

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    If Iowa Pacific had gotten off the ground I'm sure Ed Ellis would have tried something like that. I think there is a market there for a premium product.... but Amtrak doesn't seem capable of providing it.

    DC to Florida is all CSX right? (with a little bit of Amtrak thrown in now unless you cut a deal with Brightline once they open their track). I mean you'd have to fund the start-up but if you had the money CSX might talk to you. You wouldn't even need more than one train set at the start.
     
  15. Jul 18, 2019 #40

    chrsjrcj

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    During early Amtrak, there was an express trains from the Northeast to South Florida.
    1971-72 winter season: http://timetables.org/full.php?group=19720116&item=0060
    1972-73 winter season: http://timetables.org/full.php?group=19721029&item=0046
     
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  16. Jul 18, 2019 #41

    Seaboard92

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    DC to Florida is all CSX except the silver star which is on NS from Selma connection to scary, NC.
     
  17. Jul 18, 2019 #42

    iliketrains

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  18. Jul 18, 2019 #43

    cocojacoby

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    Someone please help me here. How was there a thru-service from Boston leaving at 9:40 AM that continued on the Champion leaving NYP at 3:40 PM and the Silver Meteor leaving NYP at 2:55 PM? And somehow the reverse was possible northbound. Two sets of through cars carried on a corridor train that were separately switched to the Florida trains in NYP? Were they coaches and sleepers?

    I wish through cars to Boston return someday. Now that the diners will soon be reduced to prepackaged meals, the argument of not being able to supply diners in Boston is moot.
     
  19. Jul 19, 2019 #44

    jis

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    DC (CP Virginia) to JAX is all CSX. Within Florida it is no longer all CSX. There is SFRTA, CFRC and now even a bit of Amtrak.
     
  20. Jul 19, 2019 #45

    Cho Cho Charlie

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    One of the problems is that the tax payers who will be subsidizing that new express Amtrak train, will complain loudly to their congressional representatives if their town is bypassed.

    Its like many high speed train proposals. Yea, it is high speed until it has to stop every 5 miles.
     
  21. Jul 19, 2019 #46

    Thirdrail7

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    There is a maximum length but steps have been in the works over the last couple of years to extend the length by a handful of cars.

    The things that are on my mind:

    How much room do you have in cross country cafe to stock enough food to combat a lengthy delay?

    If the Auto Train is in one of its death cycles and is ping ponging back and for 5 hours+ late at its initial terminals, will the food trucks still be out there at 10pm?

    Finally, if there is a push for more sleeping car capacity, what train (or trains) will sacrifice their equipment to fill in? Will someone use those diminished numbers on that particular (right sized) train to declare " ridership is down on that train" and/or "long distance trains are dying?"
     
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  22. Jul 19, 2019 #47

    Rasputin

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    The auto train uses superliner equipment if I understand correctly so in a cross country café, wouldn't the entire lower level be available for storage (unless I have some basic misunderstanding of the configuration of the cross country café.) You could store two elephants down there not that I am suggesting that for the menu.
     
  23. Jul 19, 2019 #48

    Thirdrail7

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    I'm not well versed on Superliner equipment so I'm assuming the lower level can handle snacks, sodas and other items that don't require refrigeration.

    I was thinking more on along the lines of items that require refrigeration or freezing. Is there enough capacity to have enough readily available in case of a disruption(which would at least bring in revenue) or is this the ol' (non revenue) Beef Stew territory?

    I suppose if the current Auto train is late enough, they break out the stew anyway?
     
  24. Jul 19, 2019 #49

    neroden

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    I wouldn't worry about the food supply; you can fit an elephant in the lower level of a Superliner.

    The real question is, what train are they stealing the extra Superliner sleepers from? There are no extra Superliner sleepers. During the summer season, there are no Superliner trains which can make do with less. (On the other hand, the Auto Train is less popular in the summer -- maybe they'll do something sane like putting the sleepers on the Transcons in the summer and the Auto Train in the winter.)
     
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  25. Jul 19, 2019 #50

    ehbowen

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    The Cross-Country Cafes retain the normal food handling equipment of a Superliner diner, so storage space is not an issue. They sacrifice half of the table space upstairs in order to create a small lounge.
     

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