Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

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bretton88
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by bretton88 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:07 pm

SouthernRailway wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 6:51 pm
Why can’t Amtrak have a nice first class lounge on Eastern trains?

Photos of pre-Amtrak trains show such nice lounges: comfortable seats and a bar.

Eastern LD trains have a dining car and a cafe car. The cafe car in particular is like a 1970s high school cafeteria. The Viewliner diners are fantastic, for mealtime.

Maybe a hybrid sleeper-lounge car?
In today's number crunching era, it would be hard to justify another non revenue custom car. Any true sleeper lounge would probably have to be a custom car because it would have to somehow draw passengers out of their private accommodations. Amtrak would be much better off using such money to make their endpoint lounges a truly premium product instead.

Matt Johnson
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by Matt Johnson » Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:14 pm

Amtrak rolling out new food options in effort to counter 'dumbed-down' image

Now, executives of the federally subsidized rail line are here to tell you those days are over, and meals on Amtrak are not “dumbed down.”

“That was the perception but it is simply not the reality,” said Peter Wilander, the Amtrak official in charge of “product development and customer experience.”

“ There is cost savings over time, but it is absolutely not in the quality of food,” Wilander said.



Amtrak wants me to believe that a warmed up 7 Eleven style egg and sausage sandwich is the same thing as a freshly cooked omelette or french toast with bacon? Or that the new reheated tv dinners are the same quality as the freshly cooked steak that was previously available? Ok, I believe that about as much as I believe Kim Jong Un when he says that he's ending missile tests.

gokeefe
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by gokeefe » Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:13 pm

bostontrainguy wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 3:51 pm
New menus announced and the SILVER STAR DINER IS COMING BACK NEXT YEAR!
And now we have the answer to "Where are they going to use the Viewliner II Diners?"
gokeefe

David Benton
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by David Benton » Sat Sep 14, 2019 1:59 am

Kind of kills the idea that Anderson is out to kill the long distance trains outright.
Also indicates to me they think they can meet the congress requirements while still offering this flexible dining.
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Philly Amtrak Fan
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by Philly Amtrak Fan » Sat Sep 14, 2019 7:04 am

bostontrainguy wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 3:51 pm
New menus announced and the SILVER STAR DINER IS COMING BACK NEXT YEAR!

https://media.amtrak.com/2019/09/amtrak ... ve-routes/

https://www.amtrak.com/flexdining
Unfortunately this means cheaper sleeper service from the NEC to Florida will be a thing of the past once they stick the cost of meals back on. I think this is a negative.

lordsigma12345
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by lordsigma12345 » Sat Sep 14, 2019 9:20 am

A further post by the Rail Passenger Association with a letter from an Amtrak VP states that:

- pre ordering of food will be possible soon to deal with stocking. Sleeper passengers will be able to pre select meals and they will add additional meal choices when that comes into play.

- when the above system comes online, coach passengers will be able to purchase meals in advance using the same online service.

- their eventual goal is to move to a single food service car for the eastern trains - the introduction of the convection ovens to the viewliner diners is perhaps a precursor to this. Probably the diner galley preparing all meals with the seating reserved for sleeper passengers. Maybe they will reconfigure the galley with a counter setup on the end facing the coaches and a partition separating this area from the seating. I’m guessing That would probably mean coach passengers would have to eat at their seats.

gokeefe
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by gokeefe » Sat Sep 14, 2019 10:03 am

The existence of a proposal to consolidate cafe services with the diner car is a minor miracle in of itself. Anderson is fundamentally proving himself to be a pragmatist. He's deploying available resources to their highest and best use while finding new ways to cut costs. I strongly agree with these changes. Restoring some form of dining to the Silver Star is great as long as Amtrak gets a net positive cash result.

From what I could see of the photos and menus the meals being provided would easily be a "good or better" solution when compared to anything offerred to Economy class airline passengers and even some Business class passengers on certain East Coast routes.

Just for comparison I also took a look at the Auto Train menu and the Empire Builder (Traditional Dining).

There's an argument to be made here that "Flexible Dining" is an upgrade disguised as cost savings (which it legitimately is).
gokeefe

Arlington
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by Arlington » Sat Sep 14, 2019 11:23 am

Philly Amtrak Fan wrote:
Sat Sep 14, 2019 7:04 am
Unfortunately this means cheaper sleeper service from the NEC to Florida will be a thing of the past once they stick the cost of meals back on. I think this is a negative.
If you can pre-order food, maybe the ticketing system will (eventually) accommodate "with meal" and "without meal" packages.

The other part of this is de-coupling the number of sleeper passengers from the throughput of the old diner system--sleepers per train can now grow without worrying about diner throughput as a constraint.

If the same "food car" can support more meals per mile, they'd be able to add sleeper capacity without adding dinner capacity (which should allow more sleeper supply and lower prices)
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn

bostontrainguy
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by bostontrainguy » Sat Sep 14, 2019 6:47 pm

Want to see pics of new food selections?

https://media.amtrak.com/media-images/f ... ning-menu/

I guess we will just have to wait for the reviews.

I would like to add that Amtrak should experiment with a 24 hour cafe car on the Lake Shore Limited along with these other food service changes.

lordsigma12345
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by lordsigma12345 » Sat Sep 14, 2019 6:52 pm

The letter also stated that the western trains and auto train will be getting a menu refresh. Auto train will also be the first train to get upgraded bedding/linens/etc.

The current cash conscious admin undoutedly sees Auto Train as the flagship of the long distance line so I’d expect the best amenities there.

mtuandrew
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by mtuandrew » Sat Sep 14, 2019 7:39 pm

lordsigma12345 wrote:
Sat Sep 14, 2019 9:20 am
A further post by the Rail Passenger Association with a letter from an Amtrak VP states that:

- pre ordering of food will be possible soon to deal with stocking. Sleeper passengers will be able to pre select meals and they will add additional meal choices when that comes into play.

- when the above system comes online, coach passengers will be able to purchase meals in advance using the same online service.

- their eventual goal is to move to a single food service car for the eastern trains - the introduction of the convection ovens to the viewliner diners is perhaps a precursor to this. Probably the diner galley preparing all meals with the seating reserved for sleeper passengers. Maybe they will reconfigure the galley with a counter setup on the end facing the coaches and a partition separating this area from the seating. I’m guessing That would probably mean coach passengers would have to eat at their seats.
Not at all thrilled with having coach passengers eat at their seats with no true lounge area, but I think the move to a single food service car with a grill counter is rather overdue. Glad to see the V-II diners aren’t going to sit under-utilized for long.

Matt Johnson
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by Matt Johnson » Sat Sep 14, 2019 8:25 pm

mtuandrew wrote:
Sat Sep 14, 2019 7:39 pm

Not at all thrilled with having coach passengers eat at their seats with no true lounge area, but I think the move to a single food service car with a grill counter is rather overdue. Glad to see the V-II diners aren’t going to sit under-utilized for long.
How is the loss of the cafe car a good thing? It will put undue stress on the Viewliner diner or make it virtually impossible for coach passengers to grab a snack or a drink. Everything about these changes seems designed to make service worse. And I know enough millenials to know that they like going out to good restaurants to eat. Not sure how replacing freshly cooked food with prepackaged convenience store/airline style food is supposed to make millenials flock to the rails.

mtuandrew
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by mtuandrew » Sat Sep 14, 2019 9:13 pm

Matt Johnson wrote:
Sat Sep 14, 2019 8:25 pm
mtuandrew wrote:
Sat Sep 14, 2019 7:39 pm

Not at all thrilled with having coach passengers eat at their seats with no true lounge area, but I think the move to a single food service car with a grill counter is rather overdue. Glad to see the V-II diners aren’t going to sit under-utilized for long.
How is the loss of the cafe car a good thing? It will put undue stress on the Viewliner diner or make it virtually impossible for coach passengers to grab a snack or a drink. Everything about these changes seems designed to make service worse. And I know enough millenials to know that they like going out to good restaurants to eat. Not sure how replacing freshly cooked food with prepackaged convenience store/airline style food is supposed to make millenials flock to the rails.
I don’t think prepackaged food is a good idea nor do I want the cafe/lounge to disappear. What I’d like is a dining car that is less formal, so it can serve full meals at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and serve a more limited cafe menu the rest of the day. I’d also like a cafe cart service. The V-II would make an excellent lounge, so I propose using it as one.

Amtrak is getting partially there with this plan, but I think it is still too focused on heat-and-serve meals and exclusivity of use. I maintain that coach passengers deserve a lounge space too, rather than having to be trapped at their seats for the full trip.

bretton88
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by bretton88 » Sat Sep 14, 2019 10:08 pm

Matt Johnson wrote:
Sat Sep 14, 2019 8:25 pm
mtuandrew wrote:
Sat Sep 14, 2019 7:39 pm

Not at all thrilled with having coach passengers eat at their seats with no true lounge area, but I think the move to a single food service car with a grill counter is rather overdue. Glad to see the V-II diners aren’t going to sit under-utilized for long.
How is the loss of the cafe car a good thing? It will put undue stress on the Viewliner diner or make it virtually impossible for coach passengers to grab a snack or a drink. Everything about these changes seems designed to make service worse. And I know enough millenials to know that they like going out to good restaurants to eat. Not sure how replacing freshly cooked food with prepackaged convenience store/airline style food is supposed to make millenials flock to the rails.
Many european trains have operated with combined diner/cafe setups for a long time. Usually they're called "bistro cars." So I don't think it will be as bad as you fear. Even the Czechs who have some of the best diner cars in the continent are transforming their diners into Bistros. My guess is once they combine the food service cars, the "exclusive sleeper lounge" will become a general seating area for everyone, though Amtrak hints at possibly a complete interior redesign of the cars, so maybe it will become something completely different.

David Benton
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by David Benton » Sat Sep 14, 2019 11:35 pm

The Europeans often have at seat cart service as well , though. Something worth trying on Amtrak too .
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The only train trips I regret are the ones I didn't take.

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