• Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

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

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

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  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Volks, reports abound at other sites that #330XX Sightseer Lounge cars are no longer assigned to 21-22 Texas Eagle. All F&B service is now sold/provided from a #370XX Cross Country Diner-Lounge.

Apparently, Amtrak holds that the COVID pandemic has sufficiently abated so that excess capacity, including Coach seats, can be relaxed.

Really, the Diner-Lounge was much the "standard" back during the '60's when I did my riding. Any "secondary E-W train, such as NP Mainstreeter, ERIE Lake Cities, various trains through the Appalachians, et magna alia were assigned only such. The premier Coach & Pullman trains such as the Century, North Coast, Builder, Zephyr, City of xx, all had, in addition to of course a full service Diner, "econodiners" which were simply Diner-Lounges. However, some roads had unique motifs for their cars, such as Travelers Rest, GN Bar Ranch, Cable Car, and Chuck Wagon.

But it's time for experiential riders - and admittedly I was one of such; albeit before many around here were born - to accept Amtrak does not choose to provide a product to meet your wishes. Just like an airline, from which much of Amtrak's Senior Management has "spread its wings", they are in the passenger transportation business with the objective of moving you safely and efficiently between A and B.
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Fri May 07, 2021 8:49 am, edited 2 times in total.
  by lordsigma12345
 
In June will be my first trip on the Zephyr, coast starlight, and southwest chief. Traveling thru several states I have never been to and will be my first time on the left hand coast. Looking forward to the sights - I’ll deal with the flex dining food. In reality as you say it is transportation - I’ll be eating plenty of good food while I’m in California. Too many moving parts with this trip to reschedule over food on the train. Hopefully they’ll have a sightseer on the zephyr.
  by lordsigma12345
 
I wonder if the logic going forward is - two cars only for two night trains. Probably means full of dining will not return to that particular route. One car for one night trains.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Further Mr. Lord et al, reportedly the #370XX Diner Lounge has effectively been reconfigured Diner-Crew Office, and paying passengers not welcome. After all, who's about to tell 'em otherwise?

There was also a report elsewhere noting that only four Bedrooms are being sold within one of the Sleepers in consist of 21-22, Eagle. The remainder of the space is assigned for crew dorms. Funny though, the reported crew consist required by Agreement to be provided sleeping accommodations is four members. Likely the reason for four rooms only being sold is that only one (SCSA) Attendant is assigned for both Sleepers, and there is some Agreement - probably Local - saying those four rooms is "the max" without assigning an additional Attendant.
  by lordsigma12345
 
This posting from rail passengers association reference food service and the Texas eagle sight seer lounges:

Equipment Shortage’ Temporarily Removes Sightseer Lounge From Texas Eagle, Capitol Limited
Rail Passengers has confirmed with Amtrak that “equipment shortage in this car type” is forcing the railroad to drop the Sightseer Lounge -- just temporarily -- from the Texas Eagle between San Antonio and Chicago, as well as from the Capitol Limited.

“While temporary, we do not yet have a defined timeline for increasing Sightseer Lounge availability, and have placed the other five Western LD routes at a higher priority for deploying these popular cars,” Larry Chestler, the VP in charge of the Long-Distance business unit, told Rail Passengers’ CEO, Jim Mathews. “We also are maintaining the Sightseer Lounge on the City of New Orleans due to our long-standing axle count requirements in Illinois.”

Between Chicago and San Antonio, the Eagle will only have a single food-service car -- the Cross Country Cafe. When the Eagle merges on to the Sunset Limited between San Antonio and Los Angeles, it will have a Sightseer Lounge car.

Chestler emphasized that these are temporary moves driven by equipment shortages that arose due to coronavirus contingencies. While there’s no target date for restoration, the intent is to restore these cars once it’s possible -- just as Amtrak is doing with the traditional dining, which was dropped last year from Western trains in favor of the Contemporary Dining model as a response to Covid pandemic concerns and is now set to return.

The railroad is still working out the timing on restoring full dining on the Western trains as they work to recall and requalify crews, but the target is now June. Once traditional dining returns to the Western trains, the Eagle’s traditional dining will also be restored between San Antonio and Los Angeles. The contemporary/flexible dining will remain in place, for now, between Chicago and San Antonio, but once the traditional dining is brought back on Western trains in June Amtrak management tells Rail Passengers’ Mathews that they will begin work on “improvements to dining services on other [long-distance] routes, including the Eagle.”
  by electricron
 
Great, during the pandemic when Amtrak took half the cars out of service because they killed half the trains, they did not take the opportunity to repair them as they sat idle. Disappointing to say the least. What did they do with all the "Cares Act" funding they got last year because of the pandemic, pad their personal pockets? How stupid can anyone be? Did they really believe the pandemic would last forever?
  by Rockingham Racer
 
What a bunch of double-speak, especially: "..equipment shortages that arose due to corona virus contingencies". Just say what those were--if there really WERE any. Totally disingenuous.
Last edited by Rockingham Racer on Sat May 22, 2021 7:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
What kind of advocacy group is this Rail Passengers Association outfit if they simply accept that tripe from Amtrak regarding Full Service Dining and the "temporary" withdrawal of Sightseer Lounges.

Doesn't look like those who "sign up and pony up" with them; apparently those who want the "experiential" product preserved and even expanded, are getting their $$$$ worth.
  by lordsigma12345
 
While I agree this sounds more like they parked a bunch of cars and let them rot and did nothing to keep them road worthy, trying to take a more glass half full attitude. I'm willing to wait and see what this restored full service dining looks like before judging. In fairness - while I do not know the extent as to how much of it was because of the RPA's lobbying - legislation has been fairly favorable to Amtrak in the last few years in terms of funding, and items like restoring station agents, and daily LD service and lobbying on the hill for passenger rail service in general is their main purpose. They should criticize Amtrak when they make OBS cuts that the membership doesn't agree on (or at least put pressure on management even if behind the scenes) but that can't consume all the oxygen. While I don't think they should be apologists for Amtrak management, they've pushed quite a bit on the long distance return to daily service issue which is becoming a reality in just two days - and the train actually running is kind of an important thing.

A lot of advocates that gripe about flex dining praise the VIA rail Ocean about how they do a much better job on that train with F&B......but they aren't even running the train right now (and may never again.) Amtrak went tri weekly during COVID....VIA dropped the trains altogether so I'll take the current Amtrak situation over that any day. There's also a lot of other important passenger rail issues that need to be addressed that require political action like Gateway and some of these other NEC needs. It can't (and shouldn't) be just all about the long distance network.
  by lordsigma12345
 
"Once traditional dining returns to the Western trains, the Eagle’s traditional dining will also be restored between San Antonio and Los Angeles." This quote is certainly a bit misleading....as we all know what they're really saying here is the Sunset Limited is getting full service dining back and the Texas Eagle is not.
  by gokeefe
 

electricron wrote:Great, during the pandemic when Amtrak took half the cars out of service because they killed half the trains, they did not take the opportunity to repair them as they sat idle. Disappointing to say the least. What did they do with all the "Cares Act" funding they got last year because of the pandemic, pad their personal pockets? How stupid can anyone be? Did they really believe the pandemic would last forever?
Where to begin ...

1. There was no money to make repairs (if they were even needed) because there were no revenues.

2. CARES Act funding paid for crews paychecks not "padding pockets".

3. Amtrak is not stupid.

4. No they knew it would end and have done a good job of stewarding their agency through the worst travel market since the Great Depression.

Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk

  by BitterOldRRExec
 
gokeefe wrote: Sun May 23, 2021 8:55 pm Where to begin ...

1. There was no money to make repairs (if they were even needed) because there were no revenues.

2. CARES Act funding paid for crews paychecks not "padding pockets".

3. Amtrak is not stupid.

4. No they knew it would end and have done a good job of stewarding their agency through the worst travel market since the Great Depression.
Yes. I am getting a kick here out of the people criticizing the withdrawal of the lounge car and flexible dining but still point to VIA's Ocean service as how Amtrak should be doing things instead - when the Ocean ISN'T EVEN RUNNING!

How's the lounge and food situation on the Ocean these days? :-)
  by jonnhrr
 
Seems bizarre to me that they don't allow coach passengers to buy dining car meals. Even if it was pre-order so that they would know how many meals to stock in advance. You have all that fixed cost of running the dining facilities, seems like it would make sense trying to get as much revenue as possible out of it.

Jon
  by lordsigma12345
 
The word is that portion of flexible dining will be applied to the new traditional dining out west. The dining car will remain a sleeper only amenity when traditional meals return.
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