Amtrak- Dining Car Arrangements

Discussion in 'International Transport' started by Iskra, 27 Oct 2019.

  1. Iskra

    Iskra Established Member

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    Some interesting low level changes to Amtrak's dining arrangements have been made, possibly indicating the future direction of travel on Amtrak services.

    Thought this would be of interest as everyone loves a proper meal in a dining car ...but apparently not. Is this progress? I can see how it would be cheaper to operate and it is obviously better than no train at all if it makes the service nonviable, but is it undermining the sleeper experience too much? Microwaved meals seem to work on Caledonian sleeper and on SJ.

    https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/amtrak-revamps-dining

     
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  3. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Sounds like Millennials are being blamed to give Amtrak cover for cost cutting to me...
     
  4. 306024

    306024 Established Member

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    Amtrak catering is really from a different age. I can see how their policy of getting strangers to sit with together over a meal and actually converse with each other is uncomfortable for some of today’s headphone society, but that is all part of the appeal. Had numerous wonderful conversations over the years, discussing anything from baseball to moon landings.
     
    Last edited: 27 Oct 2019
  5. Gag Halfrunt

    Gag Halfrunt Member

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  6. nlogax

    nlogax Established Member

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    Same here. Amtrak dining cars have afforded me some great times having conversations with complete strangers, many of whom have wonderful stories. The food isn't all that but you're not there for the fine dining, you're there for the people, the view and the shared experience.
     
  7. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    I see the dreaded phrase 'continental breakfast' quoted. Was there previously an American equivalent to the full English available ?
     
  8. StarCrossing

    StarCrossing Member

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    Wow! I knew they were doing this, but hadn't heard the "appealing to millennials" line before. That's the most outrageous bit of spin I've come across in a long time!
     
  9. nlogax

    nlogax Established Member

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    Not quite - but eggs are on the menu and you can order sides of sausage and bacon so it's a little bit DIY in that respect.

    Continental breakfast is already an option but this looks like it's moving towards a standard motel or cheap hotel breakfast buffet. Coffee, pastries, yoghurt, cereals, that sort of thing.
     
  10. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Ah, no substitute for a sausage and eggs then !
     
  11. sprunt

    sprunt Member

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    It's unfortunately the easiest spin in the world to sell - there are always plenty of people ready to buy it. Usually with the money from their lovely final-salary pension. :smile:
     
  12. FQTV

    FQTV Member

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    Hilarious.

    The food is, subjectively, awful, and has been for years. It's served on cheap plastic plates and the 'tablecloth' is a paper from a roll.

    As it stands, the breakfast 'egg' is a microwaved omelette, with the addition of a Kraft Slice nuked on top of it if you select 'with cheese'.

    The only thing that I have found just about edible is the 'Amtrak Burger'. And when I discovered that it's possible (for a tip, naturally) to order it from your steward who will deliver it back to your room in a polystyrene box wrapped in a carrier bag - both of which are of higher quality than the plates in the dining car - it borderline transformed the experience.

    I have shared tables on many trains in many countries, but only on Amtrak does it seem to take under eight seconds for tablemates, once they have discovered that you a) possess a passport and b) come from Europe, to turn the conversation to 1) bedbugs and/or 2) air miles and hotel points.
     
  13. 185

    185 Established Member

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    My only irk with the Amtrak Restaurant was this 'tablemates' silliness - being forced to share the table is a double edged sword, on one sitting you get the nicest people, the next some redneck nutcase with hygiene issues. If you're travelling for a quiet, romantic holiday for two, you want some peace and quiet.

    Amtrak's silly policy of squashing eight people around two tables whilst the other twelve tables go empty was just ridiculous and rubbish, and had to go.
     
  14. LesS

    LesS Member

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    I agree with FQTV. I found the food terrible. It was largely inedible. The burger was just ok. Other selections were awful. The use of paper plates/cups etc and plastic cutlery has become standard all over US. I was recently told that it has something to do with hygene. It suggests that dishwashing machines are inadequate. The Amtrak meals look good on the menus, however they are something else on the plate.
     
  15. TCDD

    TCDD Member

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    I tried the new style catering in early May on the Chicago - Washington 'Capitol Limited'. Supper was a microwave meal, breakfast was a microwaved roll, a coffee, and some other things wrapped in cellophane. It was, to put it bluntly, crap. It was even worse than on SNCF.
    It's a real shame, as the sleeping car was lovely and the journey beautiful in every other respect.
     
  16. nlogax

    nlogax Established Member

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    That's a real shame. Doesn't sound 'enhanced' to me at all.
     
  17. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    One difference between the US approach to cooked breakfast and the UK one is that in the UK the meat is the "main event" that you have other stuff (egg, beans, tomatoes or whatever) with it, whereas in the US you order the eggs "how you like them" and add what meat you want to them. So that doesn't seem overly surprising.

    Curiously the UK is the other way round when it comes to the chippy, where chips are definitely the "main event" and the meat/fish just something to accompany them, and almost nobody ever orders anything without chips, with "just chips" being a perfectly valid thing to have.
     
  18. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I'd agree that is silly (just like their policy of locking out coaches because they "don't need them" rather than letting people spread out) - but I wouldn't ban sharing - "Sorry, Sir, all the tables are taken - do you mind sharing? Or if you'd prefer you can come back later?"
     
  19. Crepello

    Crepello Member

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    "To appeal to millennial *beancounters* - there, fixed!

    Rode a number of Amtrak routes while I still lived in Europe - like others above, fond memories of great conversations over dinner aboard Amtrak - often people from vastly different walks of life, who you generally wouldn't come into contact with. Granted, this was in the days (shortly) before cellphones became widespread, so chatter was a common way to pass the journey.

    Also great chats in the bar car and smoking rooms - back when they existed. Noticed that most of the younger travelers were students - none of whom would dream of paying dining car prices but had brought there own food, or would purchase hot snacks from the snackbar.

    Food was never bad - though granted, was never the USP either. Did hear that the Empire Builder was the last Amtrak train to have actual chefs aboard - certainly, they turned out a mean flateye steak!

    Actually it's the only way to run high-demand full service - you load, service, clear and bus the tables in the order people arrive - otherwise you've a random mix of arrival times by the time the dining car's full up, and everything falls apart.

    I gather Amtrak's new(ish) CEO is from an airline background, so perhaps an inevitable move. Should we be fearful about baggage fees?
     
  20. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    No! I can believe everything else. But surely not that.
     

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