More Diners Cut effective October 1

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by SanDiegan, Jul 13, 2019.

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

  1. Jul 23, 2019 #301

    lordsigma

    l

    lordsigma

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2017
    Messages:
    486
    I don't think this area is completely unused with contemporary dining now that hot meals are offered. The meals are stored in this area and the basic preparation and heating of the hot entrees is done in the kitchen of the Diner is it not? Word on the street is that they were also removing the microwaves In the kitchens and replacing them with large convection ovens that could heat multiple entrees at once (and the meals would also come out better in an oven than a micro.)
     
  2. Jul 23, 2019 #302

    Rasputin

    R

    Rasputin

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2019
    Messages:
    344
    Yes from my observation the contemporary dining food is stored in the kitchen area and the hot entrees are heated there. At lunch on our trip on 48, customers lined up in the kitchen doorway to place their orders and receive their bags of food. Sort of like a food pantry. Got the job done but not real classy.

    I am not clear on just how much of the kitchen area is used for the contemporary dining service.
     
  3. Jul 23, 2019 #303

    lordsigma

    l

    lordsigma

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2017
    Messages:
    486
    Amtrak has apparently told RPA that the final product that will be rolled out on October 1st to the trains will be "different" than what is offered currently on the Lake Shore and Capitol Limited. Whether just means a menu refresh with new items or if that means real improvements such as a larger amount of choices - and an improved presentation we'll have to wait and see.

    While it does not make up for the loss of the employees that will be axed, I think many passengers could accept the service if it includes some improvements such as:
    - making sure the pre-prepared meals are of good quality.
    - a couple more main entree choices and a periodic refresh of the menu like Acela first class gets.
    - more reliable stocking - opportunity to pre-select your meal before the trip would help.
    - a lunch menu that includes lighter fare options - even if its just offering some of the same items served in the café car as choices in the contemporary diner for lunch.
    - improved breakfast options - breakfast was improved in the most recent refresh but could be further improved - I think if they threw in a couple breakfast entrees like Acela first class has it would be a big improvement.
    - an improved presentation of the meals and way you are served - again a similar method to what Acela first does with the trays would be an improvement. there has to be a better way to do it
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
  4. Jul 23, 2019 #304

    Qapla

    Qapla

    Qapla

    Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2019
    Messages:
    135
    Location:
    Gator Country Florida
    While I am not a fan of many of the changes Amtrak has made and I can see, from my point of view, better ways to do some of the things, including routes and times ...

    All of these changes may not be Amtrak's fault ... since they do not own most of the tracks they run on, it could be that time slots, rate costs and even train sizes could be hampered by the track owners and Amtrak is doing the best they can under the circumstances.



    Then again -
     
  5. Jul 24, 2019 #305

    dogbert617

    d

    dogbert617

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2016
    Messages:
    634
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Who knows, maybe that $7 difference one day that another person found was based on either Meteor or Star hitting a higher price bucket quicker, than the other train? And discovering this is interesting, since I guess maybe the Star isn't always cheaper for roomettes?

    I hear you and Quapa, about this. And yeah, who knows about that other poster who posted that $7 difference somewhere on the route about fares, between the Star and Meteor? Like both of you said, I'll totally concede that could've been that one of those 2 trains had hit a higher fare bucket, while the other hadn't hit a higher bucket yet.

    Finally moving away from thinking about fare differences, I am surprised that Amtrak is only reintroducing a (contemporary) diner on Cardinal, buy not yet on Star. Maybe more equipment moves need to be done, before it's restored to Star?
     
  6. Jul 24, 2019 #306

    Katibeth

    K

    Katibeth

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2019
    Messages:
    2
    I traveled from Chicago to Seattle and returned in April/May, 2019 on the Empire Builder (roomette). It was my very first experience with Amtrak, and I was amazed at how good the food was. I had the flat iron steak at each dinner, and it was better than some restaurants. Next year, I plan to travel to Disney World in September, 2020 via Capitol Limited (bedroom - just to try it), Silver Meteor (roomette), and returning on Silver Meteor (roomette) and Cardinal (roomette). Here I thought I would get my flat iron steak again on both segments of the Silver Meteor. Oh well. I've seen the very limited menu on the Capitol Limited, and thought I wouldn't mind it, because I'd be getting a nice meal on the other trains. Mealtime will be a bit of a bummer, but I'll still enjoy the scenery.
     
  7. Jul 24, 2019 #307

    lordsigma

    l

    lordsigma

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2017
    Messages:
    486
    It may not be the exact same menu as on the Capitol right now when you ride the trains - Amtrak is saying that there will be some changes to contemporary dining along with its expansion to the other trains. Here is hoping they are improvements.
     
    dogbert617 likes this.
  8. Jul 24, 2019 #308

    tricia

    tricia

    tricia

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2011
    Messages:
    815
    Location:
    Spring Creek, NC
    All good points, to which I'd add one:
    - reducing the obscene amount of packaging waste, especially plastic waste.
     
  9. Jul 24, 2019 #309

    Mystic River Dragon

    M

    Mystic River Dragon

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2014
    Messages:
    2,496
    I agree with lordsigma and tricia on all those points.

    The one thing that nobody seems to have mentioned, and the whole point of a dining car to me, is that we will no longer be randomly seated with other people we don't know in a nice setting and be able to have good conversations with people from all over the country and around the world.

    I do understand that not everyone liked this, and once in a while a dinner companion could be annoying. But for many of us, it was a window on different worlds and opinions, and one of the rare places where people could come out of their phone-driven, claustrophobic, insular little silos and actually talk, with real speech, with real and intelligent people about all sorts of topics. I had many, many wonderful conversations and meal companions, and only a couple of duds.
     
    dogbert617, railiner, mitako and 4 others like this.
  10. Jul 24, 2019 #310

    Rasputin

    R

    Rasputin

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2019
    Messages:
    344
    That is not true in my experience. The table cars do not have the capacity for everyone to have their own table. When we went to the table car on 48 for breakfast we had to invite ourselves to share a table with some other passengers as there was no open table. At lunch we seated ourselves at an open table but then invited other passengers to join us at our table. We enjoyed meeting and talking with other passengers just like old times.
     
  11. Jul 24, 2019 #311

    crescent-zephyr

    c

    crescent-zephyr

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2015
    Messages:
    1,587
    I would also think that in between meal times passengers would have a chance to talk with fellow passengers like in the PPC.
     
  12. Jul 25, 2019 #312

    bretton88

    b

    bretton88

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2009
    Messages:
    1,017
    We've heard rumors of Amtrak installing high capacity convection ovens in their diners, so it's quite possible that the next product will be different, the LSL and CL contemporary dining systems where pilot projects, after all. We really won't know until Amtrak puts something out there from their end.
     
  13. Jul 25, 2019 #313

    neroden

    n

    neroden

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2014
    Messages:
    7,297
    Location:
    Ithaca, NY
    That would be great, but once again, they aren't listing the full ingredients list. I've written to the Board of Amtrak about this before.

    I'm allergic to additives. I can't eat any of this stuff without a full ingredients list.

    I think I am going to have to sue them. The full ingredients list is a reasonable accomodation. I will try to start the lawsuit before my next planned trip in September.
     
  14. Jul 25, 2019 #314

    bretton88

    b

    bretton88

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2009
    Messages:
    1,017
    2 questions I have about that. Since most of amtraks dining is equivalent to a restaurant, are they required to post the full ingredient list, since product may vary? I might be wrong, but most restaurants aren't required to post that information. Secondly, I find the board usually to be the least responsive to the day to day things like this. Is there a better contact for those type of things?
     
  15. Jul 29, 2019 #315

    IndyLions

    I

    IndyLions

    Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2016
    Messages:
    147
    I just finished a round trip on the CL and had a very different contemporary experience than my last trip on the LSL just a few months ago.

    There are many more choices now, and the food is better than it was - although still not great. You definitely won’t starve, so there’s no worry about that unless you are very picky or have dietary issues which many people do.

    I would put the breakfast at a level just below a Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Express or something of that nature. Not the same amount of choices – but about the same quality of food.

    On the dinner side – most people said the food was quite tasty although bland. I had the antipasto plate, so I can’t comment directly on anything other than that. The antipasto plate and a bit of wine was actually a pleasant dinner for a person who has just spent four days overeating on vacation. However – it sure as heck is not a New York strip circa 1995 – which believe me I enjoyed!

    The CL was sold out both directions and I will say the car was heavily used. It was at least half full for most of the trip, and it was pretty much full during meal times at breakfast and dinner.

    There was a little bit more of the traditional “getting to know you” type activity happening with people sitting with strangers than on my previous Contemporary Dining trips.

    The staff was also much more organized than previously. The sleeping car attendant took everyone’s dinner orders in advance and asked about desired seating times, and to my knowledge everyone’s food was ready for them when they walked up to the attendant at the appointed hour. And yes, there was an awful lot of paper. Two or three (or 5 or 6) extra trash bags to hold it all.

    Overall - yes the food was better than my other recent experiences – but in my opinion they’ve pretty much taken an experience that was pretty special and turned it into something bland and generic . It is now on par with the dozens of airline/budget hotel experiences that everybody forgets about before they finish eating. Totally practical – and totally forgettable.

    I guess I’ll just have to be happy with the experiences I’ve had in the past - as well and hurry up and experience the Canadian before it goes away as well.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2019
  16. Jul 29, 2019 #316

    Devil's Advocate

    Devil's Advocate

    Devil's Advocate

    Conductor

    Joined:
    May 24, 2010
    Messages:
    10,600
    Location:
    Америка
    I find this part rather confusing. Why does a boxed meal need to be scheduled ahead of time? I would think that flexible ordering would be one of the benefits of simplified meals.
     
    zepherdude likes this.
  17. Jul 29, 2019 #317

    PVD

    P

    PVD

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2015
    Messages:
    4,086
    Location:
    NYC/Queens
    Unfortunately, with the reduced complexity came reduced staff. The first few boxed meals trains I rode, If a whole bunch of people showed up at once it overwhelmed the LSA. They still have to do drinks and clean off tables to order even with the box. Plus with the addition of entrees that require heating, you really fully can't prep them too far in advance.
     
  18. Jul 29, 2019 #318

    Rasputin

    R

    Rasputin

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2019
    Messages:
    344
    It happened in May on our trip on the Lake Shore. A lot of people showed up for lunch at once and there was a line at the "kitchen" doorway of people waiting for their foodbags. Since the line extended back through the car, this wasn't a very great experience for those people seated at the tables nearest the kitchen since they sort of had people standing beside them while they ate. A real class act.
     
  19. Jul 29, 2019 #319

    Winecliff Station

    Winecliff Station

    Winecliff Station

    Train Attendant

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2019
    Messages:
    47
    Location:
    Hudson Valley
    This is looking more and more like we will probably be getting there early and taking our feed bags back to our room to eat leisurely rather than deal with crowds and noise. Or choosing from the cafe car menu if the choices are worth the cost.
     
  20. Jul 29, 2019 #320

    jis

    jis

    jis

    Conductor AU Lifetime Supporter Gathering Team Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2003
    Messages:
    24,415
    Location:
    Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
    If you are going to eat in your room, why wouldn't you simply have your SCA bring it to your room? They are supposed to do that if so desired by Sleeper passengers.
     
  21. Jul 29, 2019 #321

    Winecliff Station

    Winecliff Station

    Winecliff Station

    Train Attendant

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2019
    Messages:
    47
    Location:
    Hudson Valley
    Granted all of my knowledge of sleeper cars thus far has been from the forums here, but the feeling I am getting is that they are very busy and add that to the reported congestion in getting contemporary dining meals it seems like it would be asking a lot.
     
    Rail Freak likes this.
  22. Jul 29, 2019 #322

    Devil's Advocate

    Devil's Advocate

    Devil's Advocate

    Conductor

    Joined:
    May 24, 2010
    Messages:
    10,600
    Location:
    Америка
    Yeah, but couldn't they simply say "it'll be ready in a half hour" instead of expecting you to know several hours in advance when you might be hungry again?

    Personally I wouldn't have much trouble carrying a snack box and canned cocktail to my room, so I don't really see the problem. That being said, knowing Amtrak I wouldn't be surprised if they continue to insist that the SCA be involved in every little task for whatever reason.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2019
  23. Jul 29, 2019 #323

    PVD

    P

    PVD

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2015
    Messages:
    4,086
    Location:
    NYC/Queens
    I don't see any problem with what you are suggesting. I guess it's possible on a packed train to be short seating, where you would want to space it out, but that would be the exception, not the norm. On the trains I've been on, I didn't see anything that precluded you from going back to the room if you wanted to. They would put the meal in a cloth tote bag for you. The SCA's I had did offer to bring the meals back, but I preferred staying in the diner.
     
  24. Jul 30, 2019 #324

    Qapla

    Qapla

    Qapla

    Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2019
    Messages:
    135
    Location:
    Gator Country Florida
    Giving it a little thought ... and thinking about ALL the people on the train, not just those in sleepers -

    Seems to me that, instead of getting rid of the diner car for the sleeper people, why not add a lounge car for the coach class? However, how about remodeling that second coach car to be fitted with several vending machines offering cold canned drinks as well as juices, etc. Also, some with snacks and other room-temp or chilled things to eat. Allow the "normal" lounge car to keep serving the "hot" foods, coffee and alcohol. Doesn't seem like it would be that difficult (costly) to rip out the so-called kitchen from the lounge car to allow for vending machines

    Not sure how to arrange the consist for this - but I'm sure it could be done.
     
  25. Jul 30, 2019 #325

    crescent-zephyr

    c

    crescent-zephyr

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2015
    Messages:
    1,587
    I'm not sure what you gain....

    Honestly the best case scenario was keep the chef and 1 LSA per train (so Cross Country Cafe Style) and have Sleeping Car Attendants take orders and serve the guests.

    So.. if I'm a sleeping car passenger my Sleeping Car Attendant takes my order and asks what time and where I would like to eat. The food is prepared on board by the chef, and either delivered to my room or to my seat at certain times.

    The Coach passengers could order from the same menu, but they would order at the Lounge Window... maybe it's a smaller menu for the Coach passengers, but you get the idea.

    While the Coach passengers would still lose the dining car space, they would still have access to better food than the basic microwave menu.

    This wouldn't use any more employees than the current model either... 1 LSA and 1 Chef per train.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2019
    dogbert617 likes this.

Share This Page

arrow_white