Improving Acela catering?

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Re: Improving Acela catering?

Postby Jenny on a M2 » Wed Jan 16, 2019 10:03 am

Yesterday on my way home from the station I stopped at 7-Eleven and ordered two Big Bites to see if I was missing out on anything.

I went in with low expectations, and I came out with even lower.

As a gal who is known to spring for First Class on long haul flights and rail journeys of reasonable length, I will tell you right now that if I was served any of electricron's suggestions (including the BBQ, but mainly because I'd worry about stains on my blouse), I'd. Lose. My. S****. That would be my last trip in that carrier's first class accommodations.

In addition, as has been pointed out in the thread already, the First Class car in Acela has an airline style galley. I've attached photos of what JAL was able to do with an airline galley on my last trip a couple months ago.
a1.png

a2.png

a3.png


The legroom is also FAR better than what I get in AcelaFirst. :-D

I should also note that these photos were taken on JAL5, so the catering was performed in NYC and thus Amtrak could easily contract with whomever JAL uses.

Could Amtrak stand to improve their Acela catering? Absolutely. Am I expecting fine-dining on board? No, but I do at least expect a couple of fresh, healthy options in business class and something at least equivalent to transpacific first class in AcelaFirst.

PS I can also assure you as a NYC local that none of us eat street hot dogs unless we're starving and pressed for time. Those are for tourists. The other street food options that were mentioned above are mostly popular after having a few drinks. :wink:

PPS I also don't for a moment expect the government to subsidize my bougie dietary needs. I'm happy to pay its actual cost. I'm sure the other regular travelers of these services wouldn't mind as well.
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Re: Improving Acela catering?

Postby Arlington » Wed Jan 16, 2019 10:16 am

How much did you JAL trip cost, how long did it last, how long were you given for "a sitting" of a meal?
How much does the typical Acela trip costs and how long does it last?
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Re: Improving Acela catering?

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Jan 16, 2019 12:29 pm

Arlington wrote:How much did you JAL trip cost, how long did it last, how long were you given for "a sitting" of a meal?
How much does the typical Acela trip costs and how long does it last?

Irrelevant, because
Jenny on a M2 wrote:PPS I also don't for a moment expect the government to subsidize my bougie dietary needs. I'm happy to pay its actual cost. I'm sure the other regular travelers of these services wouldn't mind as well.


Bake the operating costs into food prices, problem solved. I don’t think anyone is seriously asking for at-seat meal service included in the fare, only as an extra-cost option. Free soft drinks definitely, possibly a free snack and alcoholic drink at the counter.
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Re: Improving Acela catering?

Postby SouthernRailway » Wed Jan 16, 2019 1:36 pm

I agree with Jenny in a M2.

I fly American Airlines on domestic first class flights (both via free upgrades and via cash purchases of first-class tickets), and have had delicious first class meals on trips that are similar to NYC-BOS (in time) as the Acela: around 4 hours. Meals are similar to those in Jenny in a M2's photos.

I don't think that Acela FC food is that bad, though.
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Re: Improving Acela catering?

Postby electricron » Wed Jan 16, 2019 4:50 pm

Whhy are so many limiting the discussion to First Class?
This thread is titled “Improving Acela catering?”, not “Improving Acela First Class catering”?

There are only 20 Acela train sets in the USA, 45 First Class seats per train, a total of 900 First Class seats in the entire Acela fleet. There are a total of 5280 Business Class seats in the entire Acela fleet ( note: including wheelchair spaces).
900 / 5280 x 100 = 17%, therefore 83% of all seats aboard all Acela train are not First Class seats.

I would much prefer Amtrak worry more about improving the food catering for the majority 83% than the minority 17%.
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Re: Improving Acela catering?

Postby bgl » Wed Jan 16, 2019 5:53 pm

mtuandrew wrote:
Arlington wrote:How much did you JAL trip cost, how long did it last, how long were you given for "a sitting" of a meal?
How much does the typical Acela trip costs and how long does it last?

Irrelevant, because
Jenny on a M2 wrote:PPS I also don't for a moment expect the government to subsidize my bougie dietary needs. I'm happy to pay its actual cost. I'm sure the other regular travelers of these services wouldn't mind as well.


Bake the operating costs into food prices, problem solved. I don’t think anyone is seriously asking for at-seat meal service included in the fare, only as an extra-cost option. Free soft drinks definitely, possibly a free snack and alcoholic drink at the counter.


On first class I very much assume the meal included in the ticket price and at my seat service. Business class not so much - it would be the same as it is now where one can purchase food from the cafe car if they wish.
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Re: Improving Acela catering?

Postby STrRedWolf » Wed Jan 16, 2019 9:38 pm

First of all, menus are here: https://www.amtrak.com/onboard/meals-di ... -ever.html

Second of all, what are we expecting with the Acela? Remember, the main goal of the train is faster speeds on existing rail, skipping stops that are made by other trains and tilting into the corners. Boston to DC in under 7 hours instead of 8. NYC to DC in under 3 hours, with minutes shaved off the Regional.

First Class looks like to be what I would expect out of Long Distance and airlines -- pre-made plates that are headed and served. I would do First Class if my trip took me longer than three hours (which means Baltimore to Boston)... which would be if I'm on vacation. You want a meal to spend the time. (Now, if this is how they do First Class on the train, then damn my guess is right)

Business Class is what I would expect for three hours or shorter, because you're really commuting. You're going to the next city over. You really need a quick bite to eat because you had to rush to get to the train. You're not expecting much... and a hot dog is questionable on or off a train (seriously, you have to be really craving a hot dog). Now granted, you can do Business Class for all 7 hours... but then you couldn't afford First Class for various reasons.

If you want to improve First Class dining (aka you want that steak), you have to go past pre-made heat and eat of LD and airlines. That means a kitchen car. Aka an extra car, more weight, more room taken up, and lower speeds. PHYSICS! SCIENCE! If you don't want to change the hardware, then you have to order for delivery to the train... and then we get into logistics issues.

If you want to improve Business Class dining... well, the First Class meals are limited supply, and the logistics issues with delivery-to-train goes from "a pain in the tail" to "insurmountable."

In other words, you got to spend the money.
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Re: Improving Acela catering?

Postby eolesen » Thu Jan 17, 2019 9:53 am

Electricon.... 83% of the seats might not be First Class, but what percentage of Acela revenues are coming from that 17%?... Hint: I suspect it's more than 17%....

The buy-on-board options I've had flying domestic are more than suitable for a 4 hour train trip. Not sure why so many people expect a short-order cook and something fresh to order... that's something I do at my destination, not at my seat while I'm working.
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Re: Improving Acela catering?

Postby electricron » Thu Jan 17, 2019 10:11 am

Revenues doe not equal the number of potential hungry stomachs.
I agree with your later point about food on a four hour or so trip. For such a short trip that Acela provides, why feed anyone? They could even put in vending machines like North Carolina does on the Piedmont trains. That would eliminate one employee from the train, reducing the food service costs even more.

But that was not the topic the original poster wanted to discuss here, that is not improving Acela catering.
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Re: Improving Acela catering?

Postby Tadman » Thu Jan 17, 2019 11:42 am

Jenny on a M2 wrote:The other street food options that were mentioned above are mostly popular after having a few drinks. :wink:


Hehe, in the last few years I’ve had a fair amount of one-night layovers in town and that’s exactly how that works for me. Call some old friends, have a few too many, and STREETMEAT TIME!!!
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Re: Improving Acela catering?

Postby Arlington » Thu Jan 17, 2019 5:37 pm

Jenny on a M2 wrote:PPS I also don't for a moment expect the government to subsidize my bougie dietary needs. I'm happy to pay its actual cost. I'm sure the other regular travelers of these services wouldn't mind as well.

So do you happen to know what the actual cost of the food on JAL or US airlines is? Or have a guess as to what the same would cost if priced/sold separately?
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Re: Improving Acela catering?

Postby ryanov » Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:19 am

The original poster specifically mentions First Class, which is why that’s what everyone is talking about.
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Re: Improving Acela catering?

Postby NS VIA FAN » Sat Jan 19, 2019 4:25 am

Here’s a ‘Business Class’ lunch on VIA between Toronto and Ottawa………along with complementary Beer, Wine & Liquor

Business Class which is comparable to First Class is available on just about every train in the Quebec City-Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto-Windsor Corridor…..about 60 trains a day.
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Re: Improving Acela catering?

Postby STrRedWolf » Sat Jan 19, 2019 2:22 pm

NS VIA FAN wrote:Here’s a ‘Business Class’ lunch on VIA between Toronto and Ottawa………along with complementary Beer, Wine & Liquor

Business Class which is comparable to First Class is available on just about every train in the Quebec City-Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto-Windsor Corridor…..about 60 trains a day.


A decent chunk of pot roast, mashed potatoes, carrots, green beans, and gravy, with a roll, apple cobbler, brownie, and alcoholic beverage.

The main meal itself (pot roast et all) is probably $10-$15 including labor in making it.
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