Auto Train Improvements?

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by Palmland, Aug 14, 2019.

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  1. Aug 14, 2019 #1

    Palmland

    Palmland

    Palmland

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    I know the changes on January 15 to the A-T, as posted by the link jls provided on dining car changes, have been discussed in that topic. But I thought that it might deserve its own topic since it appears to signal a shift from Amtrak's current direction of eliminating amenities including full service meals.

    Yes, I know the A-T market is different from that of other LD trains including the three mentioned by Anderson as sustainable in the long term, presumably as experiential service, whatever that is.

    According to Amtrak, the A-T will lose 5 positions for each of the 5 crews assigned to that service (total of 25). This includes 2 AT (unique to A-T and I guess in the coaches?), 1 Chef, 1 LD (LSA?), and 1 food service employee. One coach, the coach diner, and coach lounge will be become 1 CCC (with the box meals no longer included) with just 4 coaches (reduction of 1). So, I assume that all the staff reduction will be associated with those changes??

    On the other hand, for sleeping car passengers the train will gain 1 sleeper for a total of 8 (others added as demand requires), one SSL car as the lounge (I believe now it's often a diner in that service) and a full service diner with a new seasonal menu and a variety of entrees. Cocktails and wine service in the diner. Meals still included in the fare. It says both sleeper and coach passenger can purchase items in the lounge, so I guess that means the sleeper lounge will be staffed?

    It appears Amtrak has made a strategic decision to upgrade the A-T sleeper service (and downgrade coaches). Does this mean that they have decided there is a market for improved service? If so is this a test and unique to A-T? And, if successful, could it be the model for the CZ, EB, and CS?

    Lots of questions, so I hope some will have insight how this will actually go down.
     
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  2. Aug 14, 2019 #2

    Bob Dylan

    Bob Dylan

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    Interesting post, we look forward to the answers as the Snowbird Season gets underway to Florida!( and noticeably the Starvation didnt get any enhancements, and the Meteor is getting the "New and Improved Contemporary Fresh Choice Meals" for the Diner,er Sleeping Car Lounge)
     
  3. Aug 15, 2019 #3

    Thirdrail7

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    IS it an upgrade when they are merely restoring some of the things they took away?
     
  4. Aug 15, 2019 #4

    AutoTrDvr

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    And it sounds like they aren't really "replacing" much. If we see the Pre-boarding snacks and wine tasting still happen, then I'll be impressed.
     
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  5. Aug 15, 2019 #5

    jis

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    One way to view this is that the Sleeper downgrades tried in the AT did not work well and caused unacceptable fall in revenues, so changes are being made to correct that situation. Meanwhile they are also betting on Coach passengers being of the "give us a low enough fare and we will travel no matter what" mindset. If it pans out this is the way things will be going forward. If not corrections will be made to restore as much as is necessary to maintain overall revenues. I guess their hope is that at the end of the day they will not have to restore the entire pile of labor costs that they are eliminating - so net net come out ahead. This is purely an utilitarian way of looking at what is going on.

    Following the same utilitarian way of viewing all this, apparently the Silver Star experiment is not considered to be a failure and therefore things continue as is. The LSL/Cap experiment is currently not viewed as a failure and it is being expanded to all one night trains east of the Mississippi. The focus clearly continues to be on long term labor cost reduction.

    Now if all can refrain from shooting the messenger/observer and focus on discussing the unfolding unfortunate phenomenon. :(
     
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  6. Aug 17, 2019 #6

    OlympianHiawatha

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    I think it is interesting and good Amtrak will allow food trucks to position at Sanford and Lorton so pax can "load up" before hitting the rails.
     
  7. Aug 17, 2019 #7

    dogbert617

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    And on a similar note, I wish Amtrak would bring things like wine tastings, cheese tastings, etc. back to long distance trains other than Auto Train that used to have that. I.e. Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, etc. I have my doubts they'll bring back Parlour Cars, due to the fact they'd need a lot of rehabilitation to be brought back into service. Long as Anderson and Gardner and etc. are running things at Amtrak, I doubt it'll be brought back (wine and cheese tastings, etc), to those trains.
     
  8. Aug 17, 2019 #8

    IndyLions

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    ...and I’d like to see them add things like premium desserts and wine/cheese packages to all the new East Coast Sleeper Lounges that are taking the place of the diner. If the dinner isn’t great (which it isn’t) I know I for one would enjoy a pleasant wine/cheese plate or a really nice dessert with coffee even if I had to pay for it. The desserts I’m talking about would be things like real cheesecake with fresh fruit, carrot cake, etc. not the little faux dessert cups they have now.
     
  9. Aug 17, 2019 #8

    Bob Dylan

    Bob Dylan

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    Good thoughts, but Not gonna happen under the current Regime!
     
  10. Aug 17, 2019 #9

    jis

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    At supersonic speeds. :p
     
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  11. Aug 17, 2019 #10

    Palmland

    Palmland

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    I see that Amtrak has decided that the ‘improved’ Auto Train will still include a continental breakfast for coach passengers. Maybe they thought passengers’ food truck purchases might be a bit stale by the next morning. You’re still on your own for dinner- food trucks or CCC cafe. Apparently the changes are still a work in progress.
     

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