• 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

  by CarterB
 
"Ha quite a few countries offer a “first class” that is literally the second or third tier of service anyway."

Not in Europe! First class there truly is and better than anything Amtrak has to offer, including Acela.
  by Tadman
 
I have mixed opinions on Euro first class.

First, my post was more a joke on the hilarity of the class tier names. Sometimes "first" is not first, but has platinum or some BS in front of it. In Argentina, "first" is lowest, with Pullman (bigger reclining seats) in the middle and "Camarote" (bed) at the top. And in some countries, there is first and third, but not second. In Sweden, first is the top X2000 seating but the beds on the Arctic Circle train (best ride ever) are second... my head spins.

Anyway, my euro rides are pretty comprehensive at this point. Caledonian, Eurostar, ICE, Thalys, TGV, Railjet, CD, SJ, Eurocity, Euskotren, Renfe. Anything that offered first, I tried it at least once. Most of the time, the food was comparable in style to Amtrak cafe (IE order at a bar, carry to table) but better execution. Perhaps just a bit better than Cascades food, which is much better than midwest corridor food. In ICE first, they bring you coffee. In Railjet business, they brought me dinner but it was not in the seat fare. It was comparable to US domestic airline business class food. Perhaps the best rail-based food I had was the haggis, neeps, and tatties on the Caledonian Sleeper. The best airline food, by far, was Turkish first. It's bloody amazing.

In comparison to Amtrak, is something amiss? Not really. I would appreciate more attentive midwest business class service, but that's not likely. I would appreciate better midwest corridor cafe food, and they pull it off on Cascades. But other than the Cally and some luxury trains (IE Belmond) we're not that much behind. It's not like there's a network of Panama Limited / Super Chief quality foods on revenue trains operated by SNCF or their peers.

Long ago, I made a suggestion about midwest cafe food. If you're okay paying $7 for a sub-MCD quality burger (normally $1.50), you've got some elasticity in your budget. Perhaps stocking some (not all) upscale sandwiches would allow some room for Amtrak to make money. On my expense account, I'd gladly pay $20 for a Whole Foods pre-packaged decent sandwich. I might even pay it on my own. It sure would make the Detroit run nicer.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Tadman wrote:In Railjet business, they brought me dinner but it was not in the seat fare. It was comparable to US domestic airline business class food.
The OBB changed their outside contractor caterer between '17 and '18. During '17, riding Vienna to Salzburg, they offered an excellent Veal Medallion plate (OK; that served at Sacher likely better). But last year riding same, the new caterer offered Boiled Beef (supposedly an Austrian specialty; couldn't prove it by me) which I'm being nice to call it "vile".

With hindsight, that trip actually was Graz/Vienna Miedling/Salzburg with ten minutes between trains (I played "Harry Lime" during '17, so Vienna is off my bucket list). The Graz-Miedling Rail Jet was a Czech varietal, and should have had my Dinner X-ing Semmering (sitting next to a real nice "fortysomething" English speaking Polish gal
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Tadman wrote:In Railjet business, they brought me dinner but it was not in the seat fare. It was comparable to US domestic airline business class food.
The OBB changed their outside contractor caterer between '17 and '18. During '17, riding Vienna to Salzburg, they offered an excellent Veal Medallion plate (OK; that served at Sacher likely better). But last year riding same, the new caterer offered Boiled Beef (supposedly an Austrian specialty; couldn't prove it by me) which I'm being nice to call it "vile".

With hindsight, that trip actually was Graz/Vienna Meidling/Salzburg with ten minutes between trains (I played "Harry Lime" during '17, so Vienna is off my bucket list). The Graz-Meidling Rail Jet was a Czech varietal, and should have had my Dinner X-ing Semmering (sitting next to a real nice "fortysomething" English speaking Polish gal - apparently unattached), but I was "on the bads" with the Attendant when for a "half", he brings me a bill for 235 "whatevers". Well, this "ugly American" looks it and says "What is this; Czechloslovian funny money?" (he did say "that's about twelve Euros").

Uh "not nice", Mr. Norman.
  by Tadman
 
I ate on both OBB and CD. CD was conventional rolling stock and business class passengers had to walk to the restaurant car. OBB was Railjet, which are conventional cars made to look like HST. It’s also what we’re getting soon from Siemens for corridor service. Dinner in business was at-seat. It was okay, not vile.

The Siemens cars were also okay. I liked the older CD set better. This leads to a genuine concern for ride quality on crummy American tracks. Germany we are not...
  by R36 Combine Coach
 
STrRedWolf wrote:Well, this makes a bit of sense, because we have:
[*]Commuter trains (Keystone): No diner service.
[*]Daylight/short haul trains (ex Pennsylvanian, Acela, NE Regional): Cafe service
[*]Overnight trains (AutoTrain, Capitol Limited, Cardinal, City of New Orleans, Lake Shore Limited): Limited kitchen service
[*]Long distance (multi-day) trains: Full kitchen service
The Capitol Corridor is quasi-commuter and still has food service. Springfield/Hartford service does not, neither does Hiawatha.
  by STrRedWolf
 
R36 Combine Coach wrote:
STrRedWolf wrote:Well, this makes a bit of sense, because we have:
[*]Commuter trains (Keystone): No diner service.
[*]Daylight/short haul trains (ex Pennsylvanian, Acela, NE Regional): Cafe service
[*]Overnight trains (AutoTrain, Capitol Limited, Cardinal, City of New Orleans, Lake Shore Limited): Limited kitchen service
[*]Long distance (multi-day) trains: Full kitchen service
The Capitol Corridor is quasi-commuter and still has food service. Springfield/Hartford service does not, neither does Hiawatha.
Lets hash it out, then:

Capitol Corridor is 3 hours 15 minutes end to end. NE Regional is 3 hours WAS to NYP. That's a short hauler. But the Keystone is also 3+ hours to New York. (Springfield/Hartford and Hiawatha is 1.5 hours max -- think Metro-North, or even a feeder Amtrak to the NEC).

Capitol Corridor has 15 trains per direction. Keystone, 14.

There's now two reasons that I can think of:
  • Passenger traffic on the Keystones does not lend itself to having a cafe car (not enough people going to NYC from Harrisburg)
  • You need the endpoints to restock, and Harrisburg can't restock a train!
  by electricron
 
Which regional trains get food services really depends upon what the subsidizing government entity is willing tp pay to have it.
If Pennsylvania is willing to subsidize food service on the Pennsylvanian but not on the Keystones, that is what happens. If North Carolina is willing to subsidize food service using a cafe on the Carolinian but just using vending machines on the Piedmonts, that is what happens. If Illinois is willing to subsidize food service on its regional trains and Wisconsin is not, that is what happens.
None of the food services break even, they all loose money, and they all need someone to subsidize them. With various governments asked to subsidize food service on different trains, different trains are going to have different levels of food services - including none.
  by R36 Combine Coach
 
electricron wrote:Which regional trains get food services really depends upon what the subsidizing government entity is willing tp pay to have it. If Illinois is willing to subsidize food service on its regional trains and Wisconsin is not, that is what happens. None of the food services break even, they all loose money, and they all need someone to subsidize them.
It has been mentioned Metro-North's bar cars were in the black and did earn. Without actual MNCR/MTA records posted, it seems unclear exactly the amount of cost and profit.
  by electricron
 
R36 Combine Coach wrote:It has been mentioned Metro-North's bar cars were in the black and did earn. Without actual MNCR/MTA records posted, it seems unclear exactly the amount of cost and profit.
Metro North bar cars were not ran by Amtrak!

They did not earn what might have been at a profit serving food. Any profits they might have made was be serving over-priced alcoholic drinks.
  by BandA
 
I've read somewhere around here that the Downeaster Cafe basically breaks even and is run by a private contractor
  by R36 Combine Coach
 
gokeefe wrote:Correct on both counts.
Epicurean if the contractor did not change. Their menu includes many local "made in Maine" items.
  by STrRedWolf
 
Hmmm... compare the Amtrak Cafe Car menu with the DownEaster menu (NexDine)...

Amtrak: limited selection, more name brands, more expensive

NexDine: more selection but more generic and cheaper prices...

It looks like they’re using Viewliner equipment... something is very wrong there.
  by gokeefe
 
NexDine replaced Epicurean ca. 2016/2017
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