Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby bostontrainguy » Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:45 pm

Matt Johnson wrote:
mtuandrew wrote:Probably tastes good, and it’s more substantial than many fast-casual meals, but it looks like plastic in that USA Today photo.


Basically, Amtrak is going from casual restaurant quality to Marie Callender frozen dinners that you'd pick up in a supermarket.


Don't think that is the case based on the positive reviews I have read. What are you basing your comment on? Can you verify that these dinners are frozen?
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby ryanov » Wed Jul 18, 2018 11:36 pm

I'll be eating one next week, if it's edible. I can ask if you want.

Frozen is really a red herring anyway; nothing inherently wrong with freezing something.
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby Backshophoss » Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:46 am

There may be some QC issues at the various kitchens at Aramark,if they are still the vendor at the Commissaries across the system.
This drastic a change must be driving then NUTS!!
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby David Benton » Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:56 am

ryanov wrote:I’m on 42 right now. Guess what? There are a whopping two vegetarian options — pizza and the vegan noodle bowl (which last time I had it was frozen) — and neither one was loaded onto the train. Got on at 7:30a, supposed to get off at 4:35p but we’ve been moving slowly because of flash flood warnings.

I 'm not sure this is anything new, I've seen reports of the cafes running out of food early in the journey before. I believe this cafe would have been loaded in New York , so they have run out on the outward journey , rather than failed to load it .
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby JimBoylan » Thu Jul 19, 2018 11:35 am

I've also noticed cases where they fail to load food on the outbound trip, so that the On Board employees will have less work to do.
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby bostontrainguy » Fri Jul 20, 2018 8:39 am

Yeah, I think a program like this was necessary to work around some union problems. If the unions were more flexible and cooperative (e.g., Subway experiment) maybe a better alternative would have been possible. Sometimes the unions just make things worse to their own detriment. So this is what you get . . . less jobs.

Unfortunately some of my experiences in Amtrak dining cars showed quit an attitude from the crew that I'm guessing also presented itself in stubbornness and rigidity in negotiations.

I am a union guy, but some unions are just too extreme. Knew a guy once who joked about the union guys breaking tail lights on the trailers in Beacon Park so Penn Central had to pay them to replace them.

Just guessing that this was a factor in this new approach to dining car meals.
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby Matt Johnson » Fri Jul 20, 2018 10:20 am

It would be a lot easier for me to get on board the union busting movement if the middle class were gaining too much ground in this country at the expense of billionaires, but from my perspective, union busters tend to be billionaires accusing workers of being greedy for wanting $70k a year with medical and dental benefits, and maybe a couple weeks of vacation.
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Fri Jul 20, 2018 2:14 pm

The only true labor issue here is that there are insufficient revenues to cover costs. The consists that I can recall, especially those from Mr. Norman's voluminous "Consists" thread had at least six or more sleeper cars.

If there were enough passengers to "pay the bills" none of this would be happening. For the moment there are not. Maybe in some places that's due to an equipment shortage but in others it's strictly poor sales levels.

You don't see anyone suggesting cuts to Acela FirstClass. Why? Because it's almost always sold out.
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby bostontrainguy » Fri Jul 27, 2018 1:13 pm

Article in Railway age related to Amtrak's dining "service":

https://www.railwayage.com/passenger/am ... -keep-out/

We have all experienced this poor attitude and inconsistent service by Amtrak food service personnel.

This new box meal concept circumnavigates the labor problems that are probably beyond control at this point. I don't totally like the idea but I can see why Amtrak is trying it and the reviews of the food have been surprisingly good.

On one hand I don't like to see people lose their jobs but on the other, many of them didn't do their jobs very well and probably deserved it. How many food places would have allowed such poor service? None.
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby east point » Fri Jul 27, 2018 3:23 pm

Running out of food ? No excuse if it happening a lot. Restocking at WASH, Richmond. JAX. ORL for silvers. WASH , CLT. ATL for Crescent. Huntington, Cincinnati for Cardinal. Albany, Toledo for LSL Memphis for CNO, And so forth.
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby SouthernRailway » Fri Jul 27, 2018 3:41 pm

bostontrainguy wrote:Article in Railway age related to Amtrak's dining "service":

https://www.railwayage.com/passenger/am ... -keep-out/

We have all experienced this poor attitude and inconsistent service by Amtrak food service personnel.

This new box meal concept circumnavigates the labor problems that are probably beyond control at this point. I don't totally like the idea but I can see why Amtrak is trying it and the reviews of the food have been surprisingly good.

On one hand I don't like to see people lose their jobs but on the other, many of them didn't do their jobs very well and probably deserved it. How many food places would have allowed such poor service? None.


I've never had an Amtrak experience as bad as the one described in that article, but Amtrak's high school cafeteria cars (I won't insult the term "cafe" or "lounge" by using it) are closed way too often during trips, and way more than food service cars on European trains are. Why does so much time need to get spend on inventory or otherwise with the car closed?

Amtrak ought to consider getting vending machines in its high school cafeteria cars (in addition to the current counter service) so at least people could buy something when the car is closed.
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby David Benton » Fri Jul 27, 2018 5:30 pm

east point wrote:Running out of food ? No excuse if it happening a lot. Restocking at WASH, Richmond. JAX. ORL for silvers. WASH , CLT. ATL for Crescent. Huntington, Cincinnati for Cardinal. Albany, Toledo for LSL Memphis for CNO, And so forth.

Somebody that knows may be able to say for sure, but I think the trains are only stocked at the beginning of the journey. In some cases , only at the beginning of the outward trip for both legs.
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Fri Jul 27, 2018 7:18 pm

I feel as though I've heard that before but the only example I am certain of is the Downeaster. Maybe the Vermonter, the Adirondack, or the Maple Leaf?
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby eolesen » Tue Aug 14, 2018 1:01 pm

Matt Johnson wrote:It would be a lot easier for me to get on board the union busting movement if the middle class were gaining too much ground in this country at the expense of billionaires, but from my perspective, union busters tend to be billionaires accusing workers of being greedy for wanting $70k a year with medical and dental benefits, and maybe a couple weeks of vacation.


Great soundbyte but not quite borne out by the actual data. The middle class (including lower-middle, middle, and upper-middle) has been growing:

Graph --> https://fee.org/media/15400/upper-middl ... 5143769966

Two different interpretations of the same data:

https://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2016/06 ... than-ever/

https://www.urban.org/research/publicat ... ddle-class

How does this relate to Amtrak?....

Like Greyhound, the lower class and lower-middle are the most likely to be riding a train for routine transportation as opposed to discretionary travel. They've been consistently a shrinking population, which is why Greyhound is failing and with rail overlapping into the same clientele, probably part of the problem for Amtrak as well.

The middle-middle and upper-middle are more likely to value their time over experience, and have the disposable income to fly instead of take the train...
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby ryanov » Tue Aug 14, 2018 5:24 pm

It would be just as easy to find data that says the opposite, and if this were the place to have that argument, I'd bother. I am in a union job and generally doing better than my peers. My income has slipped compared to expenses, pretty consistently, for probably more than 10 years now.
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