News Wire: Cold-meal service coming to 'Capitol Limited,' 'Lake Shore Limited'

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Posted by Brian Schmidt on Thursday, April 19, 2018 3:13 PM

WASHINGTON — For sleeping car passengers on two Amtrak routes between Chicago and the East Coast, it appears dining innovation is a dish best served cold. In a press release issued Thursday, Amtrak announced “contemporary and fresh dining...

http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2018/04/19-cold-meal-service-coming-to-capitol-lake-shore-limited

Brian Schmidt, Associate Editor Trains Magazine

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Posted by NKP guy on Thursday, April 19, 2018 3:51 PM

   Well, this is good news!  Paying passengers will no longer have to wonder when the new Viewliner diners will finally be in service on the Lake Shore Limited because the answer is "never."  These now-unneeded dining cars may be converted at probably modest cost into coaches.

   Futher benefits:  Passengers will no longer have to endure moving to another car to eat their meals, only to find total strangers seated at their table.  The dangers of hot food will be eliminated.  Bonus:  Passengers will now enjoy contemporary cold cuisine instead of the stodgy traditional dining and hospitality.

   National benefit:  Amtrak will at last save enormous amounts of money; this will enable it to finally make a profit and earn the approval of a conservative-led Congress which has recently shown again its devotion to fiscal responsibility.

   Operational benefit:  The inevitable fewer passengers will soon obviate the need for more than one sleeper and a coach or two.  Another big savings here.

   Question:  Which pizza shops in Rensselaer deliver to the trains at the railroad station?  

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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, April 19, 2018 7:14 PM

Even the airlines can provide a warm dinner.

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Posted by Miningman on Thursday, April 19, 2018 7:54 PM

Bob Dorsch, Amtrak’s vice president of the Long Distance Service Line, is quoted in the release as saying, “Our continued success depends on increasing customer satisfaction while becoming more efficient,” and that Amtrak looks forward to hearing from its customers about the change

US Taxpayers actually pay this clown?

It's over...move to Denmark.

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Posted by Deggesty on Thursday, April 19, 2018 8:13 PM

Miningman

Bob Dorsch, Amtrak’s vice president of the Long Distance Service Line, is quoted in the release as saying, “Our continued success depends on increasing customer satisfaction while becoming more efficient,” and that Amtrak looks forward to hearing from its customers about the change

US Taxpayers actually pay this clown?

It's over...move to Denmark.

 

"Increase customer satisfaction by serving cold meals"?

My wife and I were subjected to the cold meals served on the Portland section of the Empire Builder; we did not complain for we had the hot meal service east of Spokane. (Oh, for the meal service that the SP&S provided into Portland!)

However, the idea of no longer having a diner on the New York-Chicago and the Washington-Chicago service is an atrocious idea. One of the pleasures of traveling first class has been that of eating a hot meal in the diner--in company with other diners who, often, provide pleasant conversation.

Incidentally, have all of the old single-level diners been retired? I ate on a Viewliner Diner on the Crescent on my latest trip (this month).

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Posted by runnerdude48 on Friday, April 20, 2018 1:06 PM

Deggesty
One of the pleasures of traveling first class has been that of eating a hot meal in the diner--in company with other diners who, often, provide pleasant conversation.

Deggesty, please don't refer to what Amtrak provides as "First Class".  Maybe that's what it was properly called back in the day, but now the designation "Sleeper Class" would be more appropriate.  The service on Amtrak that comes closest to true first class is offered on Acela Express First Class.  And, it includes hot meals!

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Posted by Deggesty on Friday, April 20, 2018 7:37 PM

Dude, you are right that the best Amtrak now offers is not really comparable to the former first class service. The sleeping compartments are smaller, and it is not as easy for a passenger in a roomette to get his berth down and back up as it was. The only thing going for the Amtrak bedrooms is the private shower.

Acela is the best Amtrak offers--but, to me, it does not compare well with the rotating, reclining parlor seats of old. The meal service is passable, but I found VIA's VIA 1 (which is now called "business") service much better. 

Also, no longer is there one fare from Chicago to Los Angeles no matter which route you take (a stopover in Grand Canyon did cost more); fares on the Texas Eagle are higher than those on the Southwest Chief. Incidentally, Pullman space charges were the same (except for the Grand Canyon stopover), whether you took two nights or three nights to make the trip.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Friday, April 20, 2018 7:50 PM

I'm OK with the change and to me it appears to be a innovative move financially.   Wow, I used Amtrak and "Innovative" in the same post.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Friday, April 20, 2018 10:26 PM

Any fast food restaurant and even many food trucks can get you a hot meal.  Amtrak has sunk to a new low.  Perhaps the congressional cafeteria should only serve cold food to show how financially concerned they are.

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Posted by Miningman on Friday, April 20, 2018 10:39 PM

Good one Midland Mike...bravo!

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Posted by SFbrkmn on Saturday, April 21, 2018 10:08 AM

A move in the correct direction. Diner service on these trains is lousy. Meals are overpriced. As a business, one has to be adapted and open to change. What worked 20 yrs ago may no longer be useful today. With high priced meals and food that is not all that good to begin with, fewer passengers are using the dining cars. Hope this new food service method is put in use on all long distance trains.

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Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Saturday, April 21, 2018 1:01 PM

NKP guy

   Well, this is good news!  Paying passengers will no longer have to wonder when the new Viewliner diners will finally be in service on the Lake Shore Limited because the answer is "never."  These now-unneeded dining cars may be converted at probably modest cost into coaches.

   Futher benefits:  Passengers will no longer have to endure moving to another car to eat their meals, only to find total strangers seated at their table.  The dangers of hot food will be eliminated.  Bonus:  Passengers will now enjoy contemporary cold cuisine instead of the stodgy traditional dining and hospitality.

   National benefit:  Amtrak will at last save enormous amounts of money; this will enable it to finally make a profit and earn the approval of a conservative-led Congress which has recently shown again its devotion to fiscal responsibility.

   Operational benefit:  The inevitable fewer passengers will soon obviate the need for more than one sleeper and a coach or two.  Another big savings here.

   Question:  Which pizza shops in Rensselaer deliver to the trains at the railroad station?  

 

u

Hopefully the fall election's will solve some of these issues and restore funding that Amtrak needs to operate.

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Posted by PJS1 on Saturday, April 21, 2018 4:27 PM

CMStPnP
I'm OK with the change and to me it appears to be a innovative move financially.   Wow, I used Amtrak and "Innovative" in the same post. 

Sounds like Anderson is intent on managing Amtrak like a real business.  And that is innovative.

If I were Anderson I would get rid of the dining cars and sleepers.  I would convert the sleepers to business class cars with pods similar to those found on international flights and upgrade the lounge car menus to include cold meals as well as whatever can be heated up in a microwave.

I cannot think of a successful business that wants to do things just like they were done in the 1950s.   But that's what those who insist on no changes to the long-distance trains seem to be saying. 

Eighty-five percent of the long-distance trains passengers ride coach class.  I doubt that a sit-down meal in the dining car is high on their priority list. 

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, April 21, 2018 4:32 PM

Maybe the engineer can make a few bucks heating up passengers' meals on the engine block?

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Posted by Deggesty on Saturday, April 21, 2018 4:51 PM

zugmann

Maybe the engineer can make a few bucks heating up passengers' meals on the engine block?

 

And stopping so his assistant can pick road kill up and butcher it?

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Posted by chrsjrcj on Saturday, April 21, 2018 5:34 PM

This is a service downgrade, plain and simple. At least when they whacked the diner off the Star, they cut prices on the sleeping car (since meals are technically included in the fare. 

 

PJS1

 

 
CMStPnP
I'm OK with the change and to me it appears to be a innovative move financially.   Wow, I used Amtrak and "Innovative" in the same post. 

 

Sounds like Anderson is intent on managing Amtrak like a real business.  And that is innovative.

If I were Anderson I would get rid of the dining cars and sleepers.  I would convert the sleepers to business class cars with pods similar to those found on international flights and upgrade the lounge car menus to include cold meals as well as whatever can be heated up in a microwave.

I cannot think of a successful business that wants to do things just like they were done in the 1950s.   But that's what those who insist on no changes to the long-distance trains seem to be saying. 

Eighty-five percent of the long-distance trains passengers ride coach class.  I doubt that a sit-down meal in the dining car is high on their priority list. 

 

 

Are the sleeping cars a bigger money loser than coach? I would think the opposite when rooms can approach $1k on popular trains, where as a coach ticket is typically only $100-$200 for the same journey. 

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Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, April 21, 2018 5:35 PM

ROBERT WILLISON
Hopefully the fall election's will solve some of these issues and restore funding that Amtrak needs to operate.

The same conventional wisdom that led to the shock of 2016,  will lead to the shock of 2018.   It will be worth twice the snickering though if you ask me because again those that want the status quo will be again be shocked the country has changed and is tired of it.

I find it rather disconcerting that nobody was offended at how Brightline was treated by Congress this week.   Apparently Congress feels that passenger rail operations should not be privately run either.    A very clear bias that the highway lobby is in control.     I would think all railfans would jump on but was met with a rather curious silence in these forums and a ho-hum.

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Posted by runnerdude48 on Saturday, April 21, 2018 6:33 PM

CMStPnP
 I would think all railfans would jump on but was met with a rather curious silence in these forums and a ho-hum.

Oh CMStPnP, they're still all worked up over not being able to go down to the station and get a timetable or able to get hot pancakes in the diner.  They haven't gotten to the things that really matter.  And I doubt they ever will.

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, April 21, 2018 8:15 PM

They need a pancake machine like at Holiday Inn Express.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Saturday, April 21, 2018 8:36 PM

PJS1

 

 
CMStPnP
I'm OK with the change and to me it appears to be a innovative move financially.   Wow, I used Amtrak and "Innovative" in the same post. 

 

Sounds like Anderson is intent on managing Amtrak like a real business.  And that is innovative.

If I were Anderson I would get rid of the dining cars and sleepers.  I would convert the sleepers to business class cars with pods similar to those found on international flights and upgrade the lounge car menus to include cold meals as well as whatever can be heated up in a microwave.

I cannot think of a successful business that wants to do things just like they were done in the 1950s.   But that's what those who insist on no changes to the long-distance trains seem to be saying. 

Eighty-five percent of the long-distance trains passengers ride coach class.  I doubt that a sit-down meal in the dining car is high on their priority list. 

 

Didn't the railroads run their passenger trains like a business?  How did that work out for them?

So you cannot think of a successful business that wants to do things just like they were done in the 1950s.  Is Greyhound still in business?  

Cruse lines cerentainly have changed since the 50s.  Passengers used to be happy with a porthole, but now they want a sliding glass door to a veranda.  And passengers no longer have to dress up for dinner in the main dinning room, but have the option to go to the buffet in their shorts.  Of course they can still get hot food.  Maybe the cruse lines should act like a business and just serve cold food and make people sleep on deck chairs.

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, April 21, 2018 8:37 PM

MidlandMike
Maybe the cruse lines should act like a business and just serve cold food and make people sleep on deck chairs.

As long as the passengers are drunk, teye'd be happy with that.

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Posted by PJS1 on Saturday, April 21, 2018 9:42 PM

MidlandMike
 So you cannot think of a successful business that wants to do things just like they were done in the 1950s.  Is Greyhound still in business?  

Cruse lines cerentainly have changed since the 50s.  

Greyhound completely revamped its business model, thanks in no small part to the influence of First Group, which is the UK based firm that owns it.

Cruise ships have changed dramatically since they first appeared on the scene.  They feature more amenities, in part because they are huge compared to their predecessors, and they carry lot more paying passengers. 

The Carnival Valor, which I returned on today from a five day cruise, has a gross weight of 110,000 tons and carries 2,980 guests.  But it is not Carnival's largest ship, which is the Vista class at more than 133,500 tons.  They can carry more than 3,900 paying guests.  

Cruise ships today don't look anything like they did 25 years ago when 70,000 tons and 2,000 guests was considered huge.  That's the point.  They have changed dramatically to meet a changing market.

Interestingly, the Carnival Vista's displacement at 133,500 tons outstrips the Gerald Ford class carrier at 100,000 long tons and 110,000 short tons.  

Revamping the long-distance trains may be the best hope of keeping them around. 

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, April 21, 2018 9:59 PM

zugmann
They need a pancake machine like at Holiday Inn Express.

Sleep Inn and Comfort Inn and a number of other motel chains offer a 'real' brealfast of your chosing.  Bacon, Sausage, Eggs, Cereal, Fruit, Waffles - doing it on a train is more difficult, however, it could be done with one attendent and the proper supplies.

         

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, April 22, 2018 11:44 AM

chrsjrcj
Are the sleeping cars a bigger money loser than coach? I would think the opposite when rooms can approach $1k on popular trains, where as a coach ticket is typically only $100-$200 for the same journey. 

Yup, they lose more money because they haul less passengers plus Amtrak wants to stick with a pricing model that attracts the most people to the train vs a pricing model that attempts to recover the actual costs.     So even if Amtrak sold out the Sleeping car for 4-5 consecutive nights in a row on some runs, it would still lose money.    

Some acedemic exercises for you to prove to yourself that Amtrak is undercharging for Sleeping Car Passengers.

1. See if you can find some old tarriffs from Class I Sleeping Car service for approx equal sized accomodations and bring the rates up to today using an inflation calculator.

2. If you find #1 too challenging, hell just compare the VIA Rail Canada Sleeping Car rates to Amtrak and make the appropriate dollar adjustments and see if VIA Rail is not charging more, for older equipment. 

3. Sleeping Car passengers provide the bulk of the Dining Car's patronage yet most do not tip for the service nor do they pay much in the Dining Car because meals are free and included in the fare (which means Sleeping Car charges are even less than what you state above, if you subtract the meals included).

4. See any difference in price in the Viewliner Sleepers vs the Superliner Sleepers?    Viewliner can carry less than a Superliner, is a lot newer, but should have approx the same single car running costs as a Superliner or close to it.    But less passengers so what does Amtrak do?     Well, um it is part of the Sleeping Car fleet......and the rooms are similar.......lets charge the same or similar rate as we do on a Western Train.     Thats how Amtrak runs a business.

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Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Sunday, April 22, 2018 11:59 AM

CMStPnP

 Nothing has chsnged for the better.

 
ROBERT WILLISON
Hopefully the fall election's will solve some of these issues and restore funding that Amtrak needs to operate.

 

The same conventional wisdom that led to the shock of 2016,  will lead to the shock of 2018.   It will be worth twice the snickering though if you ask me because again those that want the status quo will be again be shocked the country has changed and is tired of it.

I find it rather disconcerting that nobody was offended at how Brightline was treated by Congress this week.   Apparently Congress feels that passenger rail operations should not be privately run either.    A very clear bias that the highway lobby is in control.     I would think all railfans would jump on but was met with a rather curious silence in these forums and a ho-hum.

 

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Posted by zugmann on Sunday, April 22, 2018 12:14 PM

BaltACD
Sleep Inn and Comfort Inn and a number of other motel chains offer a 'real' brealfast of your chosing. Bacon, Sausage, Eggs, Cereal, Fruit, Waffles - doing it on a train is more difficult, however, it could be done with one attendent and the proper supplies.

Holiday Inn Express has those "gain 5#s by looking at them" cinnamon buns, though.

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Posted by zugmann on Sunday, April 22, 2018 12:17 PM

CMStPnP
I find it rather disconcerting that nobody was offended at how Brightline was treated by Congress this week. Apparently Congress feels that passenger rail operations should not be privately run either. A very clear bias that the highway lobby is in control. I would think all railfans would jump on but was met with a rather curious silence in these forums and a ho-hum.

So why not start a topic?

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, April 22, 2018 2:32 PM

zugmann
So why not start a topic?

It's in the Trains Magazine Newswire section.    Everytime I start a topic and link to that part of the website someone tells me I should have waited for Brian Schmidt (Trains Editor) to do the link.

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Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Sunday, April 22, 2018 4:00 PM

zugmann
I think  partially that we want to keep politics out of here. You here the retoric for all sides all day long till it becomes numbing.

In the case of bright line, is the flak coming from the highway lobbist? Between miami and cocoa beach I 95 is 8 laned for the majority of the trip and parallel to it  the florida turnpike is 6 lane. The same goes for  I 4 between tampa- Orlando and Daytona. We are talking like California grid lock with no more room for concrete.

From what I read bright line is exceeding expectations, so Floridians have begun to embrace it. Maybe it's a little fear.

 

 
CMStPnP
I find it rather disconcerting that nobody was offended at how Brightline was treated by Congress this week. Apparently Congress feels that passenger rail operations should not be privately run either. A very clear bias that the highway lobby is in control. I would think all railfans would jump on but was met with a rather curious silence in these forums and a ho-hum.

 

So why not start a topic?

 

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Posted by PJS1 on Sunday, April 22, 2018 5:16 PM

CMStPnP
 chrsjrcj  Are the sleeping cars a bigger money loser than coach? I would think the opposite when rooms can approach $1k on popular trains, where as a coach ticket is typically only $100-$200 for the same journey. 

Well, I'll be damned.  This is the second time in this thread that I agree 100 percent with CMStPnP's analysis.  It is largely in line with the IG's 2005 study of sleeping car subsidies vs. coach subsidies. 

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

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