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Mon Sep 23, 2019, 01:13 PM

The end of the Amtrak dining car

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.

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. 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.

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.

New dining options Amtrak will be serving aboard their updated train service
include Creole shrimp and andouille sausage.
(Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post)


https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/the-end-of-an-american-tradition-the-amtrak-dining-car/2019/09/21/d63cca3a-d888-11e9-bfb1-849887369476_story.html

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Response to left-of-center2012 (Original post)

Mon Sep 23, 2019, 01:19 PM

1. I love the train and used to love the dining car, I will miss it.

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Response to left-of-center2012 (Original post)

Mon Sep 23, 2019, 01:27 PM

2. The dining car is one of the few things I've loved and used in almost seventy ...

years of life. Everything else is or gone. The dining car is always busy on every trip I've taken. And was priced affordably. I will miss it very much.

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Response to left-of-center2012 (Original post)

Mon Sep 23, 2019, 01:37 PM

3. You'll eat your frozen, microwaved meals in plastic bowls and like it!

That's what they're saying. This is going to annoy the crap out of long-distance train travelers. I just finished lunch in one of those black plastic bowls. 5 minutes 30 seconds on high in my 1100 watt microwave.

It's not bad, but I eat it because it's convenient and quick. I won't eat something like that in a restaurant, though.

Cheap for Amtrak, lousy for customer approval.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #3)

Mon Sep 23, 2019, 02:14 PM

6. Yeah the short-haul trains I've been on, the microwave food is like a science experiment.

The burger I had on a Surfliner one time tasted like microwave cardboard, that can't be good.

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Response to Initech (Reply #6)

Mon Sep 23, 2019, 03:04 PM

10. I'm not surprised. Yuck.

It's like on planes. I buy a nice sandwich in the airport and eat that in flight. I've been doing that for years. You have to look around the restaurants in the gate area until you find something that looks appetizing. But wait until near boarding time to buy it. You don't want to wait more than a couple of hours to eat it.

I've also found bento boxes in some airports. If you like sushi and other Japanese food, they're great, but the same two hour thing applies to them, too. They're refrigerated when you get them. Don't wait too long.

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Response to left-of-center2012 (Original post)

Mon Sep 23, 2019, 01:40 PM

4. Amtrak is union-busting and blaming millennials.

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Response to left-of-center2012 (Original post)

Mon Sep 23, 2019, 01:43 PM

5. If we had any sense..

...we'd be developing high-speed rail networks and cutting back on medium-range air travel. But we don't. So we're not.

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Response to left-of-center2012 (Original post)

Mon Sep 23, 2019, 02:39 PM

7. But they're keeping the bar car right?

Right?

Or is that already gone?

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Response to mahina (Reply #7)

Mon Sep 23, 2019, 02:40 PM

8. I took the Southwest (Chicago yo L.A.) in 2014

There was no bar car.

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Response to mahina (Reply #7)

Mon Sep 23, 2019, 02:48 PM

9. I took the Amtrak Texas Eagle to Mo in July, and the bar made a nice trip nicer.

As far as I know, the bar/snack car is still there.

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