• 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 Tadman
 
SouthernRailway wrote: Sat Apr 25, 2020 5:34 pm See the drinks menu from the Caledonian Sleeper:

https://www.sleeper.scot/wp-content/upl ... 19-Web.pdf

Why doesn’t Amtrak have something remotely comparable?
So the Caley is heavily supported by the Gov't of Scotland to promote not just riding to Scotland, but Scottish products and Scottish vibes. You can pretty easily google the documentation and powerpoints when Serco, the current operator, bid for it. They were required to submit a "very scottish" concept. Not just run a sleeper train toward Glasgow and north. The menu is very Scottish-oriented, as are the whiskys aboard. The uniforms were tailored by a local tailor that is known for making sporting (hunting) suits in traditional fashion. They even created and registered their own tartan. I've written to the lot of them asking to buy a tie, cufflinks, etc... and nobody will sell anything.

This model is a bit similar to the Cascades having local fare and libations aboard that is far better than the stuff on the Detroit trains, which is basically a rolling 7-11.

It would also be a good model for a state wishing to promote tourism by train. Perhaps a new concept for the Adirondack, or a Traverse City sleeper. Local wine, local foods, etc... You're selling a lifestyle of the north, not just passage.
rohr turbo wrote: Sun Apr 26, 2020 3:06 pm
gokeefe wrote: Sat Apr 25, 2020 8:51 pm Because if Amtrak sold a single glass of sparkling wine for £60 (better known in this country as $74.22) while still receiving taxpayer operating support the howls from Congress would be heard all the way down on Peachtree Street in Atlanta.

Note that is the price for a full bottle (75cl=750ml=1 wine bottle).

While I agree those 2 champagne bottles are expensive, the rest of the drinks menu seems very very reasonable.

And alcoholic drinks tend to be the most profitable thing you can sell, especially to a locked-in customer base. So the responses to any congressional howls should be, 'drinks are a net contributor to the bottom line, thereby reducing the subsidy.' That should shut them up!

The food was pretty reasonable and so was the drinks. Two little mini-bottles of scotch made me sleep like a baby. Also, I don't know why Congress would freak about on-board food being expensive if it helps defray the costs of running a diner. I've long said that (a) if you have $1000 for a longer sleeper trip, you probably have $100+ for a meal; (b) there's more money to be made when the food is more expensive.
  by SouthernRailway
 
It would be wonderful if, when I board at night on the northbound Crescent, to go ahead and give my breakfast order and preferred time for breakfast, and just have breakfast appear then the next morning.

Staff members are generally really nice and helpful, but dealing with a bad apple in the café car, and then starving for the rest of the trip (as breakfast is the last meal served on the northbound Crescent, despite arriving in NYC mid-day), is just unpleasant.
  by Tadman
 
On a few night trains across the pond, the pre-order is the exact procedure. A door tag is found upon boarding, with instructions to leave it out by X hour (2am?) so that breakfast is ready north of Edinburgh or the like. I've never done so, as I enjoy waking up slowly and walking to the restaurant car (as if I have anywhere else to be...) and choosing something last minute. But that's a very personal thing and shouldn't affect the pre-order practice.

Frankly the pre-order would probably be best for the evening meal, which in the US and northern europe is the main meal of the day.
  by west point
 
To get good dining Amtrak must lengthen and sell all its LD trains. That way enough demand for 24 hours a day service and ability to staff diners and lounges continuously. Trains with 400 - 500 passengers will have enough dining demand to upgrade food and beverage services and get closer to break even.

That means a large number of coaches and sleepers be in service. Will need intermediate locations for restocking F & B.
  by SouthernRailway
 
Agreed. On trains like the Crescent, since Amtrak can sell out two or sometimes three high-priced but not really elegant sleeping cars, surely it could sell out four or five sleeping cars at a range of price levels with some marketing.
  by west point
 
SouthernRailway wrote: Tue May 12, 2020 8:04 pm Agreed. On trains like the Crescent, since Amtrak can sell out two or sometimes three high-priced but not really elegant sleeping cars, surely it could sell out four or five sleeping cars at a range of price levels with some marketing.
How true that is. Crescent carries way too few cars. Cut off cars are needed at Atlanta. However even some cut offs at CLT are also needed. Once new CLT station is constructed that could be easily scheduled. Once the Lynchburg service started average length of travel increased by not having to carry as many local travelers especially CVS <> WASH.
  by SouthernRailway
 
Amtrak ought to also just not bother with including the Flexible Dining breakfast in the ticket price.

Just lower the ticket price by $5. I’ll just stop at the grocery store on the way to the train station and get a few items. It’ll be cheaper for Amtrak and less hassle for me than dealing with the cafe car.

Or better yet, just give each sleeping car passenger a voucher for $15, redeemable for breakfast or at any other time on Amtrak. I'd just stock up at the grocery store for my sleeping car trip and use the $15 for 2 drinks on my next Acela or Northeast Regional trip.
  by Wash
 
Not sure how hot of a take this is, but Amtrak is still running two-unit diners on most of its long-distance trains: one of those units is just named the cafe car and isn't always coupled up to the dining car. It's a food service model that works, even if it could use a few tweaks here and there.
  by Rockingham Racer
 
Wash wrote: Wed May 13, 2020 4:21 pm Not sure how hot of a take this is, but Amtrak is still running two-unit diners on most of its long-distance trains: one of those units is just named the cafe car and isn't always coupled up to the dining car. It's a food service model that works, even if it could use a few tweaks here and there.
Not for too long; a single food service car scenario is in the cards, they say.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Regarding Mr. Rockingham's immediate thought, ring up some of the several videos at YouTube depicting overnight travel on the State operated (as distinct from private sector "Luxotrains") LD's in Eastern Australia. One Food Service, zero waitstaff.

This is where the Simplified Dining initiative (dubbed Diner-Lite by the advocacy/railfan community) from the Bush43 administration started to go. Plan was to convert all Superliner Diners and Lounges to all-purpose Food and Beverage Cars. They would be assigned, one or two per train, as requirements of service dictated.
  by David Benton
 
Not how I recall the Queensland Rail tilt train , one food service car yes , but the meal is brought to your seat. THe NSW ones are probably of the Amtrak cafe type fare, but they ae more day than nite trains , very limited sleepers.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Mr. Benton, I looked at a video of the QLD Tilt Train; looks like Narrow Gauge to me.

When I was reviewing the evermore remote possibility of visiting my Niece in Sydney (not sure at my age the wisdom of doing such - and that was pre-CV), I only looked at the NSW rail system and the possibility of a side trip to Melbourne.

But, "meanwhile back in the States...." (let's talk about this over at your Worldwide Forum).
  by SouthernRailway
 
I usually to be positive, but I've had it with the junk breakfasts that Amtrak serves with "Flexible Dining" on Eastern long-distance trains:

1. The food is just a limited selection of stuff from the regular cafe car menu- or maybe slightly better, but still unappealing. The only hot items are oatmeal in a cardboard bowl with hot water, and a microwaved Jimmy Dean Egg McMuffin-type thing. All served in a cardboard tray.

2. The coffee station in the sleeping cars isn't available, so you get just one cup of coffee when you get breakfast.

3. The service is confusing. Whenever I go to pick up the Flexible Dining breakfast from the cafe car, I'm always "wrong" about something. Recently, I started ordering from the side of the car towards the sleeping car. That was wrong. Most recently, I the cafe car attendant asked if I wanted breakfast, and I was then told that the sleeping car attendant would get it. No matter what, the service is inconsistent, and it's pointed out that I'm wrong, on top of having cr$p food.

For the expensive tickets that Amtrak sells, there should be something better. At least have oatmeal made with milk, served in a real bowl, or more than one cup of coffee.

When the train stops in Washington for 20-30 minutes to change locomotives and passengers can detrain, can passengers go into the station and run to Starbucks?

As I've stated before, Amtrak should just give $7.50 vouchers instead of the Flexible Dining breakfast. I could stop at a gas station on the way to the train station and get the same food for less, and with less hassle.
  by Tadman
 
SouthernRailway wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 1:31 pm 3. The service is confusing. Whenever I go to pick up the Flexible Dining breakfast from the cafe car, I'm always "wrong" about something. Recently, I started ordering from the side of the car towards the sleeping car. That was wrong. Most recently, I the cafe car attendant asked if I wanted breakfast, and I was then told that the sleeping car attendant would get it. No matter what, the service is inconsistent, and it's pointed out that I'm wrong, on top of having cr$p food.tead of the Flexible Dining breakfast. I could stop at a gas station on the way to the train station and get the same food for less, and with less hassle.
This this this this!

It's not bad enough that the food is awful and the train is late. It's like they delight in telling you that you're wrong. Very officious people, this is how we do it, except we do it differently tomorrow, don't ask questions, sit down where I tell you!

At this point I'd just hope for food trucks at major stations. I'd gladly go pay $20 for a breakfast burrito outside STL station on the ride north from Dallas to Chicago.
  by bostontrainguy
 
Rockingham Racer wrote: Thu May 14, 2020 5:50 am Not for too long; a single food service car scenario is in the cards, they say.
If Congress can mandate that Amtrak reinstate station agents then they can mandate Amtrak reinstate real dining service.

The idea that one Viewliner II diner can adequately serve an entire LD train is insanity and insulting to us passengers.
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