Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby Railjunkie » Wed Aug 15, 2018 9:14 am

David Benton wrote:
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.



I can only speak for the Empire service trains on this issue. I hired out as a LSA when Albany had an actual commissary run by Amtrak with Amtrak employees. The two places to put off in enroute order were Albany and NYP. The way trains used to turn you had to rely on the person in front of you to restock the train if it was going through. You learned to be "sold out" of product to be able to offer it on the return trip. You have to remember there is only so much space to store your cold food beverages and lock your product up on your layover. The stock "belongs" to the cafe car attendant if product is lost or stolen it comes out of his or her pocket period. No ifs and or buts. Once lost 125 coffee cups due to the misplacing of a grey tote. So that was 125x$1.25=$156.25. Here is your debt slip pay the remit clerk.
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby bostontrainguy » Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:04 pm

WASHINGTON — Claiming to look for “transformational service models and industry best practices for Managed Food and Beverage Service,” Amtrak issued a request for information on Aug. 31 that could lead to outside providers of onboard food. The request is for information the company may utilize “to develop a request for proposal to solicit new model(s) .. .to create an environment to improve Amtrak’s financial outcome with [sic] providing services and enhancements to the passenger experience.”

Management seems intent on continuing — or even exacerbating — the sequestered class trend by noting that the models “should offer different levels to include luxury service options that are similar to the Rocky Mountaineer in Canada and VIA Rail’s Canadian.” The fact that the information request also mentions stratospherically-priced European tourist trains like the Royal Scotsman and Venice Simplon Orient Express reflects President and CEO Richard Anderson remarks during the past year to the effect that Amtrak’s current onboard service doesn’t do a good job of creating an “experiential” environment.

http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/20 ... -providers
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby Dcell » Thu Sep 13, 2018 1:53 pm

I applaud Anderson’s vision to revise food service on Amtrak. first, Amtrak loses money on its food service. The old ways of doing business - a full service dining car and chefs and waiters - harkens back to the golden days of rail travel but it makes no sense today. The thrifty folks who ride Amtrak bring their own food to eat at their seats. Those who want to splurge on dining cars meals are often disappointed in the quality of fare. Amtrak should follow the lead of the airlines and end onboard food service. traditionalists will moan but Anderson is facing the realities of today. No US airline today provides Pan Am level food service Circa 1960 and Amtrak should stop its attempts at good service aka the Santa Fe in the 1950s.
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby ExCon90 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 3:15 pm

As previously noted by others, the idea of eliminating all forms of food service on LD trains seems inappropriate for such services as Chicago-West Coast, encompassing a minimum of 5 meals over 40+ hours, assuming on-time arrival at destination. I wouldn't want to eat a McBreakfast leaving San Bernardino that I brought on board in Chicago two days previously. (I don't think PanAm, with its worldwide network, had any flights lasting 40 hours--did their round-the-world flight even take that long?)
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Thu Sep 13, 2018 3:30 pm

It's worth noting that this will be the second time in 10 years that Amtrak will consider a "luxe" service option. Pullman Rail Journeys by Iowa Pacific was the last notable attempt. I am quite impressed that it appears they are going to try and do it themselves this time (via a subcontractor) as opposed to the "arm's length" relationship with PRJ.
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby David Benton » Thu Sep 13, 2018 6:40 pm

I don't think Amtrak can do luxury to be honest. Even the dining car felt more like a diner than a restaurant.
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby SouthernRailway » Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:44 pm

Dcell wrote:I applaud Anderson’s vision to revise food service on Amtrak. first, Amtrak loses money on its food service. The old ways of doing business - a full service dining car and chefs and waiters - harkens back to the golden days of rail travel but it makes no sense today. The thrifty folks who ride Amtrak bring their own food to eat at their seats. Those who want to splurge on dining cars meals are often disappointed in the quality of fare. Amtrak should follow the lead of the airlines and end onboard food service. traditionalists will moan but Anderson is facing the realities of today. No US airline today provides Pan Am level food service Circa 1960 and Amtrak should stop its attempts at good service aka the Santa Fe in the 1950s.


American Airlines, on a recent 4-hour domestic first-class trip, had unlimited alcohol flowing plus a multi-course meal, served in stages, including warm nuts to begin, steak and shrimp, a hot fudge sundae dessert and a warm cookie, all served on China, and even a bread basket with multiple types of bread offered. Plus drinks and unlimited finger food in the lounge before. Can’t top that. People who pay a premium for premium-class travel expect more than a meal in a box or even the Applebee’s-style dinner. I’m glad that Amtrak is wising up to the possibility of enhancing its premium class, which will result in higher revenues. Now if the Crescent could also be in time, I’d take it more often.
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby Rockingham Racer » Fri Sep 14, 2018 7:09 am

You'll have to talk to NS on that last request. :wink:
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Sep 14, 2018 2:25 pm

Food service has lousy margins, lousier when on a moving train with Unionized employees, but prepared beverages like espresso drinks, blended stuff, and alcohol can make up a lot of the difference. Also, microwave-convection ovens are a wonderful labor-saving device that will perfectly heat parcooked/sous vide items like a sandwich, bowl of soup, side of veggies, or even a steak, breast, or chop. Amtrak is overthinking its meal offerings something fierce, and ignoring choices that would be really popular.
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby David Benton » Fri Sep 14, 2018 5:23 pm

I agree, Andrew. Or at least getting those basics right. and not run out of them. Kiwirail manage to do it in a lot smaller restricted space. However , their trick is to have a large chest freezer in the baggage car, filled with all the frozen stuff, plus stores of nonperishable beverages etc locked away there. You'll see a staff member make several trips to get more supplies on a busy train .
I thought having the Viewdiners , with a lot more storage space would improve the situation, but reports make it sound lie they still run out .
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Sep 14, 2018 6:37 pm

I wonder how much is running out, and how much is running out of the popular items. Sounds like the beef and the vegan options are much more popular than the others. Also, a lot of restaurant food can’t really be taken straight from the freezer to the customer, it needs significant thaw time in the refrigerator - and once thawed you have to either use it or lose it. Could be the staff doesn’t have the fridge space, doesn’t want to potentially waste the food, isn’t given proper guidance on how much food to pull from the freezer, or possibly couldn’t be bothered to run the restaurant up to full capacity.
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby David Benton » Fri Sep 14, 2018 7:41 pm

Actually, I don't know if the items are frozen , or just chilled. It appeared to be a standard chest freezer when I saw it, but it could be run as a chiller easy enough.
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sat Sep 15, 2018 8:53 am

Now wait a minute; are these 77yo eyes reading this right?

..all aspects of its Food and Beverage operations, including management of its warehouse operations ON BOARD ITS TRAINS and in support of its intercity train operations.....


Sounds like a rerun of the Subway debacle; only this time Systemwide!

Well, Mr. Anderson succeeded with a "de-cert" of several Northwest crafts on Delta such as Attendants, so I guess it's time to try it out on Amtrak.

This could be war!!
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby John_Perkowski » Sat Sep 15, 2018 4:30 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:Now wait a minute; are these 77yo eyes reading this right?

Well, Mr. Anderson succeeded with a "de-cert" of several Northwest crafts on Delta such as Attendants, so I guess it's time to try it out on Amtrak.

This could be war!!


IF Mr Anderson decertifies the OBS crafts ...
IF they strike...
WOULD the T&E crafts honor the picket line?

AND

If Amtrak OBS crafts strike, and T/E honor, would other railroads unions honor THOSE picket lines?
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Postby BandA » Sat Sep 15, 2018 5:17 pm

I think they would honor the picket lines. Amtrak dispatches the NEC in MA, so MBTA south-side services would be hosed in addition to Acela / NE Regional.

What you could do is offer boxed lunches, lay off all the chefs & servers, then wait six months or a year and hire a non-union or weaker union workforce. No way they would try that, right?

Maybe Anderson just wants to break their work rules & force them to run the diners longer hours for the same pay.
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