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Washington Post: The end of an American tradition: The Amtrak dining car

Washington Post: The end of an American tradition: The Amtrak dining car

Old Sep 21, 19, 8:35 pm
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Washington Post: The end of an American tradition: The Amtrak dining car

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local...476_story.html

...Amtrak says it is reinventing its dining service on long-distance trains, killing the traditional dining car to create more “flexible” and “contemporary” dining options.... With the transition, Amtrak is doing away with the traditional onboard kitchen, switching to serving prepackaged meals and easing restrictions on the traditional serving times. The change allows the railroad to cut costs associated with cooking aboard and keeping up with the white-tablecloth service that was once known to rival high-end restaurants and clubs....
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Old Sep 21, 19, 11:45 pm
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There’s quite a bit of info about this in a recent Rail Passengers Association blog post: Link
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Old Sep 22, 19, 12:34 pm
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Amtrak channeling Alex Cruz of British Airways and his "enhancement" program.
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Old Sep 22, 19, 12:38 pm
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Originally Posted by Weasler View Post
Another stupid decision made in consideration only of
the dumbass cell-phone glued misguided millennials.
Really dumb.
I suspect that this has more to do with costs

"The railroad anticipates the change will save it about $2 million a year."

and this is another hard to believe statement:

“Some people, especially our new millennial customers, don’t like it so much. They want more privacy, they don’t want to feel uncomfortable sitting next to people” they don’t know."

Right, do not feel comfortable sitting next to people they do not know -- so on an airplane do they go on a hunger strike? Afraid to sit at a bar? Or go to one of the big coffee chains where there are communal tables?

I consider this millennial statement the same way I do for many "enhancements" -- PR double talk.
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Old Sep 22, 19, 2:26 pm
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Originally Posted by arttravel View Post
I suspect that this has more to do with costs

"The railroad anticipates the change will save it about $2 million a year."

and this is another hard to believe statement:

“Some people, especially our new millennial customers, don’t like it so much. They want more privacy, they don’t want to feel uncomfortable sitting next to people” they don’t know."

Right, do not feel comfortable sitting next to people they do not know -- so on an airplane do they go on a hunger strike? Afraid to sit at a bar? Or go to one of the big coffee chains where there are communal tables?

I consider this millennial statement the same way I do for many "enhancements" -- PR double talk.
That has to be one of stupidest statements I've ever heard. And insulting as well to anyone with a functioning intellect. The obvious intent is to try and blame their cost-cutting by intentionally removing customer amenities on "the kids." Sounds like something out of the Nixon era.
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Old Sep 22, 19, 8:18 pm
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our new millennial customers
What about your old millennial customers, Amtrak?

signed, a millennial who has been riding Amtrak for fourteen years and would really quite like to eat a proper meal at a proper table
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Old Sep 22, 19, 8:44 pm
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On my Amtrak trip last fall, which was 8 hours and not overnight, I did not buy first class because I did not need a bed. The dining car reservations were booked up by first class, which includes meals, and people who got on at previous stops. They don't take advance reservations. Almost got no meal at all, grudgingly squeezed in for a hamburger, which was all that was left. Plain hamburger patty on a bun, no toppings at all, and potato chips. The dining car staff had a bad attitude. A prepackaged meal would have been a step up.
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Old Sep 22, 19, 8:48 pm
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Originally Posted by Tizzette View Post
On my Amtrak trip last fall, which was 8 hours and not overnight, I did not buy first class because I did not need a bed. The dining car reservations were booked up by first class, which includes meals, and people who got on at previous stops. They don't take advance reservations. Almost got no meal at all, grudgingly squeezed in for a hamburger, which was all that was left. Plain hamburger patty on a bun, no toppings at all, and potato chips. The dining car staff had a bad attitude. A prepackaged meal would have been a step up.
Instead of one or the other, and since by your own evidence the dining car is quite popular, maybe they should also have a kiosk style snack bar for quick meals and off-hours eating. These are long-distance trains after all.
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Old Sep 23, 19, 4:51 am
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Starting with its opening paragraph, the article describes the AMTK dining car experience as it was 10 -15 years ago. It doesn’t reflect current dining car conditions, I.e. throw away china or the lack of real table linens. Another example, eggs cooked to order. This hasn’t been offered since at least 2014, when AMTK began to use a processed scrambled egg mixture, and eliminated any use of fresh eggs.
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Old Sep 23, 19, 5:15 am
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Originally Posted by SCEflyer View Post
Starting with its opening paragraph, the article describes the AMTK dining car experience as it was 10 -15 years ago. It doesn’t reflect current dining car conditions, I.e. throw away china or the lack of real table linens. Another example, eggs cooked to order. This hasn’t been offered since at least 2014, when AMTK began to use a processed scrambled egg mixture, and eliminated any use of fresh eggs.
Bottom line is that this is about table linens and china, not the quality of the food. If done right, it is perfectly good to finish the meals onboard.
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Old Sep 23, 19, 5:46 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
Bottom line is that this is about table linens and china, not the quality of the food. If done right, it is perfectly good to finish the meals onboard.
I get your point about the food. I have found the breakfasts to be marginal at best. However, lunches and dinners in my experience could actually be very good, particularly when I stayed with my favorites, the cheeseburger at lunch and the steak and seafood option at dinner.

One point that was not discussed in the article is the skeletal staff in the diners, and the occasional bad attitudes that they display. This last point in particular has caused many passengers to declare “never again”, when it comes to future travel on AMTK.
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Old Sep 23, 19, 1:19 pm
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There is a photo up on the Amtrak website: https://www.amtrak.com/onboard/meals...le-dining.html

Already experienced this on the Lake Shore Limited last month, although it was served in a bento box sort of container. Curious to see if they actually will use glassware going forward... somehow I doubt it. I do not think they did on the LSL last month.

On the trip to Chicago this was "new", so at least novel and "ok", but by the return trip I had had enough of it. It might just be enough to keep me off the long distance trains in the future. Not sure, time will tell.

Last edited by schriste; Sep 23, 19 at 1:25 pm
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Old Sep 23, 19, 4:34 pm
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There is no question the dining experience could be updated and improved, but elimination of freshly prepared food in dining car is not the answer.

If Amtrak CEO actually rode the long distance trains he would discover that his clientele are (1) mostly older people (some with $$, some not) and (2) millennials with no extra $$ and (3) foreign tourists who don't know better. Most of the people in the dining car were people who booked bedrooms or couchettes not the folks traveling in the cheap seats. Hip millennials who want to eat alone at their seats - well these don't exist as they fly B6 or some hip airline, not Amtrak long distance sleepers.

I would love to see a menu update for both the dining car and the snack bar, particularly to add healthy options. I would love to see dining hours extended beyond the fixed times. But getting rid of the dining car is just plain stupid, except as a cost cutting exercise (and we all know that's the real story here).
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Old Sep 23, 19, 7:53 pm
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not to mention the food is overpriced for the quality they serve
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Old Sep 24, 19, 12:22 am
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Originally Posted by dx3003 View Post
not to mention the food is overpriced for the quality they serve
I have seen cases where coach passengers paid more for their dining car meals, than they did for their rail tickets.
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