No diner? Might as well go by the great leaping bow-wow!  I always rode the Star; four more train-ride hours, one more meal, and at the same fare as the Meteor FTL to either BAL or PHL. One other plus: it got me there at a better arrival time than the Meteor.

Later Gator,

  Dave

 

Here comes a Yankee with a blackened soul,
Heading to Gatow with a load of coal.
......Anonymous U. S. pilot during the Berlin Airlift

You still get food if you purchase a sleeper room.   It's a flash frozen / reheated prefab meal that Amtrak says will be more consistent?   This may or may not be better than the previous dinning car meals?    A cost cutting measure to eliminate jobs and become more airline like!

Here's a link to a Washington Biz Journal article.

https://www.bizjournals.com/wa...ledges-improved.html

  Maine3Railers 

  TCA 15-71227

  1970-1985 Lionel General Mills Era.

Well, I planned on taking the Meteor to Florida again in March. The details are still a bit vague, but it looks like the food, although giving you a number of choices, will be more like first class air food...not prepared on-board. It will be served in "a exclusive lounge space for sleeping car passengers" (whatever that means). To be honest, I can't blame them. Over the past 2 years we have taken 4 overnight train trips in sleeping cars. The dining cars were NEVER filled, and a few meals, only a few tables were taken. I never personally saw any passengers entering from the coach section. This "dining" setup will also be added to the Silver Star.

What I'm not happy about is the fact that they will be starting to use Viewliner2 sleeping cars on the Eastern runs. According to Amtrak, these will not have a toilet/sink in the roomettes. 

Viewliner II sleeping cars are single level cars.  Superliner II cars are the double level cars. 

Call me nostalgic, but the dining car experience for me has always been one of the highlights of long distance train travel.  Its a shame to see the dining car disappear off the Meteor as well.  I have always enjoyed the meals and the company on Amtrak diners over the years. 

Jonathan

 

I don't have any problem with what they are proposing.  The food in the diner wasn't that good, and if they serve a meal equivalent to what I get on an overseas business class airline flight, it will be at least equivalent to what they served before. 

I wouldn't mind at all forgoing the dining car experience if it means I can have the food delivered HOT to my roomette.

I've done five Chicago to west coast trips in the last 20 years.  I'm also excited to hear of improvements in sleeping car amenities. 

Regards,

GNNPNUT

One word:  Beef Jerky.

 

(Is that one word?)

Paul  

Ship Rock Island ROCKET FREIGHT

 

2 Rails?  3 Rails?  Doesn't matter, I can't count that high in either case.

I love the smell of fresh-brewed creosote first thing in the morning.

If the government knew how much fun O-gauge railroading was, they'd outlaw it!

Common sense is my second best trait.  Nonsense is my first, of course. 

Joe Hohmann posted:

. It will be served in "a exclusive lounge space for sleeping car passengers" (whatever that means).

What it means is the "dining cars" will be exclusively  for sleeping-car passengers. Coach class will no longer have access to the diner--they'll have the café car and that's it.

Oh, and the Crescent is supposed to go the same way too.

---PCJ (did anyone expect different with an airline exec in charge of a passenger train?)

GG1 4877 posted:

Call me nostalgic, but the dining car experience for me has always been one of the highlights of long distance train travel.  Its a shame to see the dining car disappear off the Meteor as well.  I have always enjoyed the meals and the company on Amtrak diners over the years. 

I feel exactly the same way.

I have some great memories of meals in dining cars with my wife, and also engaging conversations with other passengers over dinner.

breezinup posted:
GG1 4877 posted:

Call me nostalgic, but the dining car experience for me has always been one of the highlights of long distance train travel.  Its a shame to see the dining car disappear off the Meteor as well.  I have always enjoyed the meals and the company on Amtrak diners over the years. 

I feel exactly the same way.

I have some great memories of meals in dining cars with my wife, and also engaging conversations with other passengers over dinner.

The more I think back, it really never was about the food.  It was about the getting to know your neighbors at the table.  A few times when traveling solo on the long gone NotSoBroadway Limited, the conversations were so interesting they moved to the lounge car after dinner was done. 

You never will get that experience flying domestically.

Jonathan

 

GG1 4877 posted:

The more I think back, it really never was about the food.  It was about the getting to know your neighbors at the table.  A few times when traveling solo on the long gone NotSoBroadway Limited, the conversations were so interesting they moved to the lounge car after dinner was done. 

You never will get that experience flying domestically.

I agree, which is why my wife and I enjoyed the 5 Viking river and sea cruises we have taken. No "assigned" tables, so you could sit with different people at each meal if you chose to. In fact, I think you are better off not going with a group of friends. We noticed that those people had little contact with other travelers during the 8-15 days.

Joe Hohmann posted:

 ...snip... This "dining" setup will also be added to the Silver Star.

What I'm not happy about is the fact that they will be starting to use Viewliner2 sleeping cars on the Eastern runs. According to Amtrak, these will not have a toilet/sink in the roomettes. 

I thought that the diner had already been taken from the STAR about a year ago.

As for the second statement: yuck!

Later Gator,

  Dave

 

Here comes a Yankee with a blackened soul,
Heading to Gatow with a load of coal.
......Anonymous U. S. pilot during the Berlin Airlift

Amtrak may be going to Toronto, Canada via Michigan Depot 🇨🇦

An excellent project that Mr. Anderson is taking on…….

Midwesterners may have a one-seat ride to Canada if Amtrak gets federal funding to add passenger service between Detroit and Toronto — a move that could take cars and buses off the roads and strengthen ties between the industrial Midwest and our neighbor to the north.

Amtrak floated its proposal to extend its 304-mile Wolverine Line into Ontario last Thursday during the Michigan Rail Conference at Michigan State University. The new line would give Michigan business leaders, commuters, and tourists another option to get to Toronto beyond driving four hours on Canadian highways.

“For many of our regional routes, our primary competition is the automobile,” Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told Streetsblog. “As anyone who has driven between here in Chicago and Toronto over the years including me knows, there has to be a better way than slogging across I-94 (and I-69) and then the 401 (or 402).”

The initiative, which does not yet have a price tag, would consist of the construction of a new facility to process passports at the Michigan-Canadian border and track upgrades on the Canadian side. Once the train crossed the border, it would run as a Via Rail Canada corridor line to Toronto, according to the plan.

Source Google News, AP & Streetsblog USA: https://usa.streetsblog.org/20...-detroit-to-toronto/

Amtrak%20Chicago%20Toronto

Yes: Train Room Gary will still be riding the Amtrak......

6 Tomorrow Together

Here I am on September 10, 2019 - Rail-fanning at the Michigan Central Station

See you on an Amtrak: Gary

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The food service cuts at Amtrak were mandated by congress. Richard Anderson and the board are just following the directive.  With a diner staff of four, five or six, the train had to dedicate that many sleeper rooms for the employees in addition to salary and benefits. Now Amtrak can sell those room to the public to generate revenue. While I will miss the full diners, if they do it right, the pre-prepared reheated meals can be satisfactory for an overnight trip where one employee heats up and serves everything. . The Cardinal has done it this way for years and while the food isn't great it's  satisfactory.

Builder of the Hill Lines ( New Delta Lines). Recreating history for the model RR community.

Dennis LaGrua posted:

  With a diner staff of four, five or six, the train had to dedicate that many sleeper rooms for the employees in addition to salary and benefits. Now Amtrak can sell those room to the public to generate revenue. While I will miss the full diners, if they do it right, the pre-prepared reheated meals can be satisfactory for an overnight trip where one employee heats up and serves everything. . The Cardinal has done it this way for years and while the food isn't great it's  satisfactory.

I'm willing to try this, even after 4 "overnight" trips with a "real" dining car. I'm sure there will be some "good old days" hand wringing about this, but I ordered the steak dinner, medium rare, on all four trips: 1. Perfect, 2. Almost raw, 3. Overdone, 4. Tough with gristle. I have no problem with the meals we get flying first class, but I'll be surprised if Amtrak will use real "silverware" and plates. From the photo I saw, it will be a plastic tray, with areas for the meal and salad built in. According to Amtrak, this "dining car" will also be added to the Silver Star, which up to now, only has cafe car.

Which leaves me with a interesting choice: Up to now, I've taken the Meteor because it has a real dining car, and also because the Star has a longer trip...taking 28 hours vs the Meteor's 24. Since they will now both have the same "dining" set-up for sleeping-car-only passengers, why not just take the Star and save $236. on the one-way trip? (or 8,000 points from my Amtrak credit card). As far as the 4 extra hours go...the Star leaves Philadelphia around 12:30 pm, the Meteor around 5 pm. Yet the Star gets to Ft. Lauderdale a half hour sooner. The earlier leave time gives me daylight to see D.C. monuments as well as Virginia towns, that I miss due to darkness on the earlier train. Upon waking up, all there is to see are Georgia pines, then Florida trees, until you get to Sebring and some orange groves. In any event, Amtrak has not given a "start" date for this.

Here's the story folks. This guy is doing just what many Railroads did to save money. WRONG! 

The end of an American tradition: The Amtrak dining car

  • Travelers dine on the Amtrak Crescent as it rolls through Catlett, Va., on Sept. 9. Photo: Harrison Keely / Harrison Keely
Photo: Harrison Keely
 
Image 1 of 5
Travelers dine on the Amtrak Crescent as it rolls through Catlett, Va., on Sept. 9.

Harrison Keely's most fond memories of riding Amtrak all include snapshots of the dining car. The shiny silverware and white linens. Enjoying thick slices of French toast covered with powdered sugar and drenched in syrup while taking in the scenery. The friends made over a slice of cheesecake.

"There's something fantastic about dinner in the dining car," said Keely, 32, a writer from Brasstown, North Carolina, who swears by the Amtrak crab cake and steak dinner. "You get to meet other people and hear so many great stories. It is to me one of the best parts about traveling."

That experience is about to change. 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.

The carrier says the change, starting this fall on the one-night routes east of the Mississippi River, is driven by the desire to save money and lure a younger generation of new riders - chiefly, millennials known to be always on the run, glued to their phones and not particularly keen on breaking bread with strangers at a communal table.

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.

Amtrak isn't labeling the change the end of the dining car, but rather an evolution more in line with the demands of this era.

"It is part of an evolution," said Peter Wilander, who oversees Amtrak's customer experience. "The concept is to provide service the way our customers want rather than have everybody conform to one service delivery.

"Some people really like (the dining car) and view it as sort of a nostalgic train experience," Wilander said. "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.

It's that demographic, he said, that Amtrak wants to attract with more contemporary car designs and food options.

For now, the changes are only on Amtrak's one-night routes on the East Coast. The "flexible" dining service for sleeping car customers starts Oct. 1 on the Cardinal (New York-Chicago), City of New Orleans (Chicago-New Orleans), Crescent (New York-New Orleans) and Silver Meteor (New York-Miami). The shift will happen next year on the Silver Start - a 1,500-mile route from New York to Miami.

For passengers, it will be the end the freshly prepared meals aboard. No more eggs over easy or the favorite Railroad French toast. No more steak cooked to their liking. Travelers will no longer need to make reservations for the breakfast, lunch and dinner service hours.

Passengers in roomettes and bedrooms, considered premium riders, will have the choice to have meals delivered to their rooms. If desired, they will be able to use a new version of a dining car, open exclusively to them, with booths, but no white linens. Eventually, Amtrak said, it may get rid of the booths altogether and create a more contemporary lounge setting.

The new menu offers a variety of prepackaged meals; for example, red wine braised beef and chicken fettuccine. In the morning, passengers will be able to pick up a pastry and coffee from a buffet-style continental breakfast.

Coach riders will eventually be able to buy the meals offered to premium riders, but in the cafe car.

Wilander said the food standards aren't taking a hit, but rather, he said, the meals will be more consistent while the ingredients remain of "high quality." He said the process of preordering and preselecting meals will allow Amtrak to maintain tighter controls of inventory, resulting in savings.

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

Amtrak began testing boxed meals on its Crescent trains. Last year it eliminated full meals and introduced the "more contemporary" dining menu on the Capitol Limited (D.C.-Chicago) and Lake Shore Limited (Chicago-New York). Since then it has tweaked the menu based on customer feedback. Officials, learned, for example, that the public's perception of food boxes wasn't as favorable as it hoped, and that passengers wanted more hot food options.

So, as it expands the new dining concept, there will be five prepackaged hot meal choices and no boxes. Eventually, Wilander said, riders will be able to pick their meal online, ahead of their trip.

The new dining options are part of Amtrak's larger vision for long-distance trains. In coming months it will be refreshing train interiors, replacing old cloth-covered seats with faux leather cushions that provide lumbar support. It will update bedding, towels and linens for sleeping cars, and debut new Viewliner II sleeping cars for trains on the East Coast, the first addition to its sleeper fleet in more than 25 years.

"We haven't forgotten the long distance," said Roger Harris, executive vice president of marketing and revenue, citing improvements he said will enhance the overnight travel experience.

But the decision to scrap the traditional dining car has drawn criticism from rail aficionados, and inspired a petition - signed by about 400 people as of Thursday - urging the railroad to keep the dining car service on all long-distance trains.

These travelers say the dining car is iconic to the rail experience. While it has changed over the decades, becoming more casual with the transition from fancy china to disposable plastic plates and bowls, it remains a favorite of many.

Keely's mother, Sherrie Keely, who grew up traveling by train, said she still remembers the days when Amtrak had cloth napkins, flowers on the table and a little silver teapot.

"It is probably one of the few places that you can travel and sit down and talk to people," she said. While some may find the prepackaged meals convenient, she says they encourage people to seclude themselves in their roomettes and discourage one-on-one time with other travelers at the dining table.

"Of course with those boxed lunches there is no waiting time in between," she said. That takes away the quiet time to sit down and enjoy a meal with friends.

Her son Harrison took his first Amtrak trip when he was a baby in a stroller.

The memories of every trip - from the 1996 trip to his grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary in Philadelphia to this summer's trip to Washington, D.C., for his grandmother's 93rd birthday - all include a meal in the dining car.

"When I was a kid, I loved having the Railroad French toast for breakfast on Amtrak. ... My favorite meal aboard Amtrak now is the crab cake," he said. "It comes with a steak, but I don't eat much red meat, so I give it to another diner at the table. Recently another diner offered to order the same thing and swapped with me so I could have two crab cakes."

But his fondness for the dining car isn't about the food as much as the experience, he said. The time to sit down for a formal meal with views of America that can't be seen while flying, and socializing with other travelers.

"It's just an amazing American tradition," Keely said.

"There's a beautiful rhythm in clacking down the tracks and an excitement in traversing a moving train," he said. "There's something that feels special, unique, romantic even about having dinner in the diner, sleeping on the tracks and traveling America the way it used to be seen."

Scale Rail

Thanks for the post. I guess the cell phone generation that sits and just stares at their phones when dining with friends just can't deal with the idea of possibly interacting with a "stranger" except via the web.

The dining car and siting with folks you didn't know before was the best part of the trips we took to FL on the Star. Of course that train lost the diner a few years ago with the argument that people now had a choice of a diner on the Meteor or a cheaper fare on the Star. As we were going to Lakeland, a stop on the Star, taking the Meteor would mean an hour plus bus ride to conclude the trip. Not my idea of pleasant long distance travel.

Yes, thanks for posting this. I had to laugh at the statement, "(this) will enhance the overnight travel experience". Yeah, no more dining car or toilet and sink in roomettes. I'm surprised they say the savings will be only $2 million. They may be loosing a lot of customers like me...not afraid to fly, willing to pay $567. one-way for a 24+ hour trip (on the Meteor), just to ride the rails. That $2 million equals only 3,528 paying customers not showing up.

2 mil. In a billion dollar budget..  What is that 2 bucks.

Spend a billion to save 2 million.  Government as usual.

The dining car should be open seating. Not set up by Amtrak.

Both first class and coach. They would put me with a family with kids .. The kids. Who's that. The kids would act up and they. Parents would have to remove the kid.s. 

It sucked. Single passengers should have a choice . not forced to share a table.

I don't mind waiting for the crowd to finish. Let families eat first. Then singles..

Amtrak is a threat to the airlines.  So it will go. No different than. Oil verses coal.

 Coal is a threat to oil. So it's consistently being attacked .

Riki

I have never rode on a long distance train and have no plans to. Too slow, boring. As Rich said Amtrak is being killed by a thousand cuts. Amtrack should not even exist, it IS nothing more than a money pit. 

The food cuts are only the beginning, it would be cheaper if they just ended Amtrak as we know it, LET IT GO.

DAVE

I can understand the economics of removing the toilets from all of the roomettes in a car although when I used to take one to FL it really beat going "down the hall" three times a night.

We book early and use the handicapped bedroom these days. Still an upper for my wife but so room to move around and an enclosed bathroom (with a shower sort of).

 

I have been an Amtrak advocate and regular rider systemwide for decades.  I have seen the "We're Making The Trains Worth Traveling Again" era, and in spite of weak funding and an inherited system of decay, they generally provided great trips for me over the years.  

Now, Anderson, a Northwest Airlines, then Delta Airlines reject, is making the trains not worth traveling.  My "millenial" friends who have been regulars on Amtrak all report that they hate the cardboard box "meal."  

Scotie posted:

I can understand the economics of removing the toilets from all of the roomettes in a car although when I used to take one to FL it really beat going "down the hall" three times a night.

 

On the Sunset Limited (New Orleans to LA) we had no toilet in our roomettes, but I did not find it as big a pain as I thought, since it was only used by the people in our sleeping car. I seemed to be the only one up at 1 am ( and 3 and 6).

However, the toilets in the NE Regional coaches can get a bit gross fairly fast on some of our Phila.-Boston trips. Since I'm a 77 year-old guy, I tend to use these a lot. 

Eddie, did they say when the new "meals" thing will take place on the Star and the Meteor?

We have taken a number of long trips on Amtrak and really enjoy it. If available we get the first class room with a bathroom and shower. We also like meeting new folks in the dinner.  Much like a ship. It's a way to meet some interesting people. If you don't feel like eating in the dinner you can have your meals brought to your room. I've never been bored watching the world go by through your windows. For us it's the most relaxing way to travel. A note to Dave: I don't thing this is boring at all. DonDSC_0231DSC_0186DSC_0227

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Scale Rail, your pictures remind me of an railroad ad from years ago which went something like "those purple mountains majesty don't look so majestic at 30,000 feet."

Stuart

 

The light at the end of the tunnel is the headlight of an on coming train!

Richard Anderson has nothing to do with removing the diners on the Eastern routes. That directive was mandated by congress during the Boardman era where the budget required the dining cars to make a profit that they can never do.  At roughly 3% of the transportation budget (about $2 billion) Amtrak is not a burden on the taxpayer. They get 95% of their revenue from ticket sales. The real large expenses in the transportation budget are the Federal Highway ( $100 billion) and Aviation sectors (about $16 billion) who do not, and will never produce a profit. People who have no knowledge of Amtrak believe otherwise.

Builder of the Hill Lines ( New Delta Lines). Recreating history for the model RR community.

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