Usage of new diners - split from v2 thread

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Re: Usage of new diners - split from v2 thread

Postby Arborwayfan » Wed Nov 07, 2018 12:22 pm

When I ride a train, it's usually the Illini. I'm usually on for two or three hours. I am almost always alone and grading papers or getting a talk ready. Since the Illini has three college-town stops, plus Chicago, I always see other people grading papers and getting talks ready. I see people doing various kinds of paperwork. I drive over from Terre Haute, but in Champaign Urbana there are two or three thousand professors and a few of them are usually on their way to something in Chicago. I try to sit in the cafe for as much of that time as I can. The one time they had a second cafe on for axles and had it open, I sat in it. There are always other people doing the same thing, often two to a table. Sometimes we talk about how nice it is to be able to work at a table all the way up to Chicago. I sit at a desk all day. I lean on the desk, not back into my chair. Same in the cafe car. Two or three hours in a low chair at a real table I can lean on and spread out papers on is a big advantage for me -- much more comfortable than trying to work.

I know a few of you really hate low-back seating. I know it's not the best for sitting and lounging (riding the Iowa Pacific Dome from Crawfordsville to Chicago was uncomfortable). I understand no one wants to invest extra money in this. But I am sure there is a market for table seating on shorter trips with lots of people who want to work on the way. For example, I really think Amtrak and Illinois should come to an arrangement to sell table seating on the Illini and Saluki, especially on busy Fridays and Sundays. I suspect that any given full Illini has a couple dozen people who would happily have shelled out an extra five or ten bucks to reserve half a table; Business is a euphemism for first class, but table seating could be called "workspace" and actually be workspace. Since they are hauling the car anyway, most of what they took in would be extra.
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Re: Usage of new diners - split from v2 thread

Postby electricron » Wed Nov 07, 2018 1:10 pm

Tables can be installed into every tradional coach car, it doesn’t have to be in an exclusive table car.
Amtrak wouldn’t even need to charge extra for it. Look at what Amtrak and California did with refurbished Arrows.
Amtrak is starting the process to replace Horizons and Amfleet coaches. Instead of advocating an all new type of car and service, how about advocating having some tables included with all the new coach cars Amtrak will be buying soon!
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Re: Usage of new diners - split from v2 thread

Postby ziggyzack1234 » Wed Nov 07, 2018 1:43 pm

The cars they ordered, if configured like the Brightline cars, would have the middle two rows sharing a table. More tables = less chairs beyond the middle row table.
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Re: Usage of new diners - split from v2 thread

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Nov 07, 2018 3:09 pm

electricron wrote:Tables can be installed into every tradional coach car, it doesn’t have to be in an exclusive table car.
Amtrak wouldn’t even need to charge extra for it. Look at what Amtrak and California did with refurbished Arrows.
Amtrak is starting the process to replace Horizons and Amfleet coaches. Instead of advocating an all new type of car and service, how about advocating having some tables included with all the new coach cars Amtrak will be buying soon!

That’s great for 2024 when the next cars get delivered, hopefully. What about 2019?
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Re: Usage of new diners - split from v2 thread

Postby Arborwayfan » Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:22 am

Sure, consider putting more tables into coaches that are being designed or rebuilt. But the point right now is that Amtrak has (a) maybe a dozen brand-new diners that it has to pay for but does not find economical to use as diners (b) trains on CN routes that need extra cars to make axle count and that have a lot of professors and students and whatnot wanting to do work on them (c) trains on other routes that routinely fill and could get more pax if they had more space and (d) a tight supply of coaches. Why not "do what you can with what you have where you are"? Especially if it means you could get press coverage by putting in a new service--"Amtrak is introducing a guaranteed table seat on the Saluki and the Illini"?
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Re: Usage of new diners - split from v2 thread

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:52 am

Indeed, or the Wolverines or the Keystones or the Empire Service. These seats would sell out even with complaints about lumbar support.
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Re: Usage of new diners - split from v2 thread

Postby electricron » Thu Nov 08, 2018 12:56 pm

mtuandrew wrote:Indeed, or the Wolverines or the Keystones or the Empire Service. These seats would sell out even with complaints about lumbar support.

No doubt, any use of them in daily service would be preferable than just taking up space being idle in coach yards.
But suppose you were the administrator of a DOT of any state subsidizing Amtrak regional trains, would you allow Amtrak to swap one of these diners instead of a coach which your contract with Amtrak states they must provide. For example, a six car train without providing food service? I suppose if your contract with Amtrak specifies a food service car, it might be acceptable to include a diner in lieu of a cafe car, depending upon the specific language in the contract, but what about swapping a food service car instead of a coach car? I doubt it.
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Re: Usage of new diners - split from v2 thread

Postby Tadman » Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:21 pm

Amtrak certainly couldn't just swap the diner for a coach unannounced, but this could be a potential value-add cooperation between the states and the carrier. Three corridor states elected a democrat governor, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Maine. Perhaps that governor would make a move to expand state services.
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Re: Usage of new diners - split from v2 thread

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:40 pm

Tadman wrote:Amtrak certainly couldn't just swap the diner for a coach unannounced, but this could be a potential value-add cooperation between the states and the carrier. Three corridor states elected a democrat governor, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Maine. Perhaps that governor would make a move to expand state services.

It really would be a win-win for Amtrak to just unlock the door between business class and the Viewdiner on their Illini/Saluki service trains, and charge $xx for a business lounge pass. Maybe plug in a few $50 power strips if you feel generous. I’m sure Anderson could appreciate a no-cost profit center like that, regardless of what he wants to happen with the V-II diners.
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Re: Usage of new diners - split from v2 thread

Postby jp1822 » Sat Nov 10, 2018 7:42 pm

Tadman wrote:Amtrak certainly couldn't just swap the diner for a coach unannounced, but this could be a potential value-add cooperation between the states and the carrier......


THANK YOU! MY POINT EXACTLY! Who said to take the Amfleet cafe car out? That stays.... You ADD the Viewliner II Diner as a value-added car and actually use MARKETING strategies to market the heck out of 1) Brand New VIewliner II DIner added to train and 2) it's part of your "business class fare" now called "custom class" or "economy plus" or "touring class."

New coach cars with table seating like Acela Express or Brightline, GREAT! But what do you do with 14 Viewliner II Diners RIGHT NOW in 2019 to get them OUT on the road and used. If Amtrak thought about it - they could generate and actually make money off of the equipment, rather than leaving them parked or even operating them as regular diners. Look, in a perfect world, all long distance overnight east coast trains get outfitted with these Viewliner II Diners and we re-live the 1950s diner car all over again and no questions asked about losses in diner cars. But that's not the current stage that is set.

So how to MOVE FORWARD with the cards being dealt with!!!!
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Re: Usage of new diners - split from v2 thread

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Sat Nov 10, 2018 8:48 pm

Tadman wrote:Amtrak certainly couldn't just swap the diner for a coach unannounced, but this could be a potential value-add cooperation between the states and the carrier. Three corridor states elected a democrat governor, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Maine. Perhaps that governor would make a move to expand state services.

Don't forget MI, though Snyder has had service improvements as well.
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Re: Usage of new diners - split from v2 thread

Postby Matt Johnson » Sun Nov 11, 2018 7:49 pm

I have some soon to expire reward points and I think I may use them to take a joyride on the Lake Shore and try out the new Viewliner "lounge" dining car without dining car service. What are the rules - basically it's open seating for sleeping car passengers for the duration of the journey (or at least daylight hours)?
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Re: Usage of new diners - split from v2 thread

Postby ryanov » Mon Nov 12, 2018 5:25 pm

It's basically handled like the dining car was, except the food now sucks and you can't use it if you're in coach. There's still an attendant, I believe you still pick a time (I can't remember that part -- I generally pick late times and there's no need for a reservation), and when there's no meal being served or no need for the seating, you can more or less hang out in there.
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Re: Usage of new diners - split from v2 thread

Postby Alco FA » Tue Nov 13, 2018 8:52 am

You may still select a time to either go to the "sleeper lounge" or have your meal in your room. I have experienced the "contemporary" diner service on both the Capitol Limited (twice) and the Lake Shore Limited (once). I never saw more than 10 people in the "sleeper lounge" at one time.
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Re: Usage of new diners - split from v2 thread

Postby DutchRailnut » Tue Nov 13, 2018 12:04 pm

seems food service may very well be in jeopardy :


Title 49 U.S. Code § 24305 - General authority
(c)Miscellaneous Authority.—Amtrak may—
(1) make and carry out appropriate agreements;
(2) transport mail and express and shall use all feasible methods to obtain the bulk mail business of the United States Postal Service;
(3) improve its reservation system and advertising;
(4) provide food and beverage services on its trains only if revenues from the services each year at least equal the cost of providing the services;
(5) conduct research, development, and demonstration programs related to the mission of Amtrak; and
(6) buy or lease rail rolling stock and develop and demonstrate improved rolling stock.
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

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