Food Problems on Coast Starlight

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by Bob Dylan, Jul 15, 2014.

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

  1. Jul 15, 2014 #1

    Bob Dylan

    Bob Dylan

    Bob Dylan

    Conductor

    Joined:
    May 31, 2009
    Messages:
    17,753
    Location:
    Austin Texas
    According to a Post on train orders (sorry, no link) lately #11 has been running out of food in the Diner (nothing about the PPC)after leaving SLO and the crew has been closing the Diner early without serving Dinner!

    Is this part of the ongoing cuts, late trains that are full ( storage is @ a premium) or just an anolomy???
     
  2. Jul 15, 2014 #2

    the_traveler

    the_traveler

    the_traveler

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    Messages:
    25,536
    Location:
    Whatever siding I'm sitting on!
    That (not serving dinner) doesn't make sense! The dinner menu is different from the lunch menu. And even if they did cuts, there would still be the same amount of storage area. I doubt very much they took apart the kitchen, took out a frig/freezer - and just left a blank hole in the kitchen!
     
  3. Jul 15, 2014 #3

    vickinish

    v

    vickinish

    Train Attendant

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2011
    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    California
    Last Sunday they served dinner on #11 in both the diner and the PPC on day two. We ate in the PPC and all foods except some of the desserts were available. Did not hear of any problems in the diner.
     
  4. Jul 15, 2014 #4

    Bob Dylan

    Bob Dylan

    Bob Dylan

    Conductor

    Joined:
    May 31, 2009
    Messages:
    17,753
    Location:
    Austin Texas
    Must have been an anolomy then! It made no sense to me and train orders isn't always exactly the Gospel like AU! LOL
     
  5. Jul 15, 2014 #5

    seat38a

    s

    seat38a

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2014
    Messages:
    1,796
    Location:
    Orange County California
    Maybe more people in coach actually decided to eat in the diner. If it is the case, then it sounds like a good problem to have.
     
  6. Jul 15, 2014 #6

    yarrow

    y

    yarrow

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2006
    Messages:
    2,180
    Location:
    nine mile falls, washington
    not such a good problem if you were in sleeper, expecting dinner and hungry. what time does phillipe's close?
     
  7. Jul 15, 2014 #7

    William W.

    W

    William W.

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2014
    Messages:
    476
    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    I assume that they use the sleeping car manifest to decide how many meals can be served to coach passengers? I would think that once there are only enough meals left to serve the sleeping car passengers, they'd close it to coach, but not to first class.
     
  8. Jul 16, 2014 #8

    tomfuller

    tomfuller

    tomfuller

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2012
    Messages:
    803
    Location:
    Crescent Oregon (17 miles from Chemult)
    Phillipe's closes at 10PM. Unless you are off the train by 9:20, you are out of luck. The Subway is probably the quickest if you haven't eaten by the time you get off the CS.

    When OBS starts taking reservation times for dinner they generally start with the sleeper passengers. By the time they get to the coaches, the times may be later and the food choices may be very limited.
     
  9. Jul 16, 2014 #9

    Bob Dylan

    Bob Dylan

    Bob Dylan

    Conductor

    Joined:
    May 31, 2009
    Messages:
    17,753
    Location:
    Austin Texas
    If you want something a little more upscale than Subway or Starbucks, Traxx in Union Station is First Rate but Pricey White Table Cloth place!!
    If Philipe is closed , there are Mexican Joints across Olivera Street

    and China town has real Chinese restaurants right up the street from there!

    Of course the best way to have Dinner is in the PPC watching the sunset along the Coast around Santa Barbara!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 16, 2014
  10. Jul 16, 2014 #10

    tomfuller

    tomfuller

    tomfuller

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2012
    Messages:
    803
    Location:
    Crescent Oregon (17 miles from Chemult)
    Traxx closes at 9PM. Subway says "late" but is not specific.

    I don't know how the CS leaves EMY 3+ hours late and arrives at LAX a few minutes early.
     
  11. Jul 16, 2014 #11

    William W.

    W

    William W.

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2014
    Messages:
    476
    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    I believe that is the schedule padding kicking in. I think that it normally kicks in after the last stop before the terminus.
     
  12. Jul 16, 2014 #12

    VentureForth

    VentureForth

    VentureForth

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2007
    Messages:
    5,792
    Location:
    Richmond Hill, GA
    The train has nearly 13 hours to go 469 miles. That's an average of barely 35 mph. Lot's of time to get the schedule caught up. LAX is only 14 miles from Burbank and gets 29 minutes to make the run (let's call it 30 MPH).

    This really isn't a lot of padding. But the average speeds have been considered back from the many years of being the Coast Starlate. Now, if all is good and there are no delays enroute, you could end up spending an aggregate of those three hours made up, waiting in stations for the departure time all along the way. Makes for MANY smoke stops!

    Almost all terminals have huge pads to help set arrival expectations.

    As for food, running low/out on the Silvers seem to be fairly standard practice when the trains are full.

    Sad there are no more commisaries enroute to restock.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 16, 2014
  13. Dec 8, 2018 #13

    chris319

    c

    chris319

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2014
    Messages:
    12
    According to one of the attendants, sleepers eat first on train #11 because they've already paid for their food in the ticket price. If the train runs out of food, which does happen, hope that they're not sold out of microwave Angus burgers at the snack bar.

    On Friday, December 7, 2018 attendant Val did not issue ANY lunch OR dinner reservations to business class passengers —none. Before dinner Val ran through business class calling out "dinner reservations" and disappeared into the next car without stopping to issue any. Maybe I had to stick my leg in the aisle to try to stop him and get a reservation. Having no reservation or seating group, business class was never called and they closed the dining car. Mmmm, love me them microwave Angus burgers. Just hope they're not sold out by LAX. So I paid the premium business-class fare for what, subdued lighting and an empty seat next to me? Rip off.

    Lunch was disorganized but not as disastrous. Again, NO reservations had been given out and no seating groups were called. I just happened to barge in before the dining car closed, was seated by a grinning attendant and had lunch (you guessed it, an Angus burger) served with potato chips, a pickle and tomato and onion slices on a plastic Amtrak plate. I was able to order iced tea.

    Train #14 northbound from LAX to SJC was not as disastrous. The attendant came to your seat, offered a choice of meal times and issued a paper reservation slip with your seating time written on it. No such luck on train #11. Clearly there is a difference between the service on #11 and #14. Maybe the crew on #11 is burnt out from their journey from Seattle and no longer gives a ****. It sure seems that way.

    My advice for train #11: you may not get a reservation so hover near the dining car and just barge right in when the time seems right, reservations be damned. Also smuggle some food on board even though it's against the rules (make sure the Amtrak food police don't catch you).
     
  14. Dec 8, 2018 #14

    ehbowen

    ehbowen

    ehbowen

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2011
    Messages:
    1,794
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    First, there is no restriction against bringing your own food on Amtrak. None whatsoever. You can't ask the Amtrak staff to refrigerate or heat it for you (health regulations), but you can bring it. Coolers are valid as carry-on luggage if they otherwise meet the size and weight restrictions. You have to eat your own food at your seat or, on trains with Sightseer lounges, in the upper level (non-cafe area) tables of the lounge car. And while food is allowed, carry-on alcoholic beverages may only be consumed in private sleepers.

    It does sound as though the crew on #11 was remiss; I would call Amtrak, ask for Customer Relations, and complain. They might give you a bit of compensation. That said, you do have a couple of options. First, once you realize you've been missed, go to the diner and ask the LSA if there are any open slots left. If there aren't, ask to be put on the stand-by waiting list...sometimes folks fail to respond to their call for dinner. Finally, just before the dining car closes they normally make a "last call"...often you can get in then without a reservation. Of course, if you're dealing with an unprofessional or burned-out crew that may not help. In which case Amtrak needs to know about the problem or nothing will ever be done about it.

    Finally, remember that the crews work both ways...not on the same day, of course. That lazy crew will be on #14 going north once they've had their rest period, and your good crew will be working #11. So place the blame on the specific crew, where it belongs, and not on the train (or Amtrak) as a whole.
     
  15. Dec 8, 2018 #15

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2017
    Messages:
    7,512
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Powerful stuff from someone who apparently doesn’t know Amtrak’s onboard policies. As Eric said, you are completely allowed to bring food onboard. The only consumable item coach and business passengers are not allowed to bring onboard is alcohol (sleeper pax can consume their own booze in their room).
     
  16. Dec 8, 2018 #16

    TiBike

    TiBike

    TiBike

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2015
    Messages:
    577
    Location:
    Alta California
    Service on the Starlight is highly variable. I usually bring my own food on-board – Salinas has some seriously good little restaurants with takeout options, and there are even more options in and around LA Union station. Neither the food or the experience in the dining car is appealing, and the options in the cafe are limited.

    My last trip, the cafe attendant was Sergio and he was a star. Kept everything nice and neat, the lower level tables were clear, and he stayed open through Van Nuys, a half hour or so before LA. Nice guy, too. The (southbound) trip before that, the cafe attendant had junk spread over two tables, blocked off the rest with a garbage box, closed down at Santa Barbara (3 hours from LA) and complained about how hard the job was.

    There are people working on the Starlight who are motivated, professional and high performing. Unfortunately, it's optional.
     
  17. Dec 8, 2018 #17

    chris319

    c

    chris319

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2014
    Messages:
    12
    I know I saw a sign at the snack bar about bringing food on board. Maybe I misread or misinterpreted it.

    The "value" coach fare from SJC to LAX on #11 is $95. Business class is $125. So what did I get for this $30 premium besides subdued lighting and an empty seat next to me? Maybe a bottle of water is going for $30 nowadays? $30 is about the cost of gasoline to drive this route and you can stop at a McDonald's or the Harris Ranch or Casa de Fruta on the way, or any of 100 gas-station mini marts. However, I don't like to negotiate SR 152 between I5 and Gilroy after dark. That's a white-knuckled experience.

    During the summer there is more daylight and you can buy cherries at the Merry Cherry roadside fruit stand.

    I don't know if I'd be so formal about it because at that stage I don't think they're even bothering with reservations or waiting lists. Just barge in and ask when they'll be serving business class. If they say the train is out of food, well that's that and enjoy your microwave Angus burger. Yeah, you could bring bread, mayonnaise, salami and cheese and make sandwiches on board but that's more stuff to lug and it doesn't rival a signature steak.

    Service on #14 from LAX to SJC has always been impeccable; it runs like clockwork. #11 seems to be the problem case.
     
  18. Dec 8, 2018 #18

    Ryan

    Ryan

    Ryan

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2008
    Messages:
    16,649
    Location:
    OTN
    You seem to be hung up on this business class thing.  There is no set time for them to serve business class.  Get yourself a reservation, or present yourself in the dining car and ask for a slot as has already been mentioned.
     
  19. Dec 8, 2018 #19

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2017
    Messages:
    7,512
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    You’re not allowed to eat your own food in the lower level Cafe area of the Sightseer Lounge (you can upstairs), so that’s probably what you saw.

    It’s interesting that you’re going from recommending that people bring their own food onboard and being angry about the fact that “it’s against the rules”, to being angry that it can be a pain to bring your own food onboard. Pick a side. I get that you’re not happy that you weren’t offered a lunch reservation, but it’s been made clear that you had the option to go to the dining car and ask for a reservation. And the fact that Business Class is or isn’t worth the premium is a completely different discussion.

    As that old joke goes, “The food at this restaurant is terrible. And the portions are so small!”. ;)
     
  20. Dec 8, 2018 #20

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2014
    Messages:
    2,635
    Location:
    South Carolina
    My most recent Amtrak dining car experiences they've not done reservations for any of the services. But the last time I took normal Amtrak was in February on the LSL (before diner removal), and the CZ.
     
  21. Dec 8, 2018 #21

    chris319

    c

    chris319

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2014
    Messages:
    12
    No reservations were taken or issued for lunch an hour or two after departing SJC. Several hours later, before dinner, attendant Val came running down the aisle calling, "dinner reservations" but did not stop and issue any before disappearing into the next car.  I don't know what it would have taken to get his attention and a reservation short of sticking my leg in the aisle. He was in a hurry to get out of there.

    At dinner, the first time I went to the dining car the attendants ignored me. The second time, "the dining car is closed" was as far as I got, which is why I recommend hovering near the door and barging in when they start to seat other passengers.

    On train #14 they come to your seat, offer you several meal times, give you a written reservation slip and call you by reservation time. Like clockwork, lunch and dinner both. On train #11 it's a different story. They may or may not give you a reservation, they may or may not call you and you may or may not eat anything other than an Angus burger from the snack bar.

     
  22. Dec 9, 2018 #22

    Triley

    T

    Triley

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2008
    Messages:
    1,387
    Location:
    Somewhere between VAC and EUG
    Again, the same crews work both 14 and 11, so getting hung up on that is...yeah.

    Also, reservations are not taken for lunch, just for dinner. Is it possible you had headphones in and/or simply missed the announcement that the diner was open for lunch, and that it's first come first serve? And the last call announcement?

    Maybe on the Starlight they make reservations for lunch for the sleeper passengers, but I highly doubt that is true, and I will verify with an attendant on that train.
     
  23. Dec 9, 2018 #23

    Maglev

    Maglev

    Maglev

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2016
    Messages:
    635
    Location:
    Orcas Island, Washington
    When I was on Starlights in May, there were reservations for both lunches we ate on the trains (at least from the sleepers).
     
  24. Dec 9, 2018 #24

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2017
    Messages:
    7,512
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Actually, almost every time I’ve gotten lunch in an Amtrak dining car, they have taken reservations (though I admit I haven’t taken the CS yet). Seems like it really depends on the crew.
     
  25. Dec 9, 2018 #25

    Triley

    T

    Triley

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2008
    Messages:
    1,387
    Location:
    Somewhere between VAC and EUG
    Maybe if the train is busy enough they do so for lunch as well, then. It's only required for dinner.
     

Share This Page



arrow_white