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

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Posted by Deggesty on Sunday, June 10, 2018 2:59 PM

BaltACD

 

 
MidlandMike
All's I can think, is that Amtrak management must be empathy-challanged to subject a captive clientele to a 16 hour train ride with not a single hot meal.

 

Anderson will have the airline refrain - Give them another bag of pretzels.

 

To me, pretzels are a last resort--especially the little ones that are put out in the Washington lounge. No; goldfish (also available to the patorns in Washington) are the last resort.

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, June 10, 2018 3:24 PM

Deggesty
 
BaltACD
 
MidlandMike
All's I can think, is that Amtrak management must be empathy-challanged to subject a captive clientele to a 16 hour train ride with not a single hot meal.

Anderson will have the airline refrain - Give them another bag of pretzels. 

To me, pretzels are a last resort--especially the little ones that are put out in the Washington lounge. No; goldfish (also available to the patorns in Washington) are the last resort.

Never seen Goldfish when flying (however it has been 9 years since I have flown)

         

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, June 10, 2018 9:13 PM

I don't remember hearing many if any complaints on the much higher priced Rocky Mountaineer Gold Leaf Service when they served box lunches on the Icefields Parkway tour.    Everyone thought they were great.     So we'll see how Amtrak passengers react to this but just based on the FB pictures.    Boxed meal looks like a better deal than most of the crap they were cooking as Dinner.

Some of you folks have really low standards when it comes to a hot meal, if you really think the majority of the current Amtrak Dinner menu is just fabulous.   Perhaps you should try serving some to the public where you get the kind of instant feedback from regular customers who expect better.    Or better yet, go to the Amtrak homepage and start reading some of the comments about the food from the first time riders or those not in a semi-hypnotic state just because they are riding a passenger train.

Amtrak HAS to do a lot better with it's current meal offerings in the Dinning Car, they suck, others just taste bad and are badly presented.     They could charge more for the meals if they offered better tasting and better presented fare.

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, June 10, 2018 9:16 PM

CMStPnP
I don't remember hearing many if any complaints on the much higher priced Rocky Mountaineer Gold Leaf Service when they served box lunches on the Icefields Parkway tour.    Everyone thought they were great.     So we'll see how Amtrak passengers react to this but just based on the FB pictures.    Boxed meal looks like a better deal than most of the crap they were cooking as Dinner.

Some of you folks have really low standards when it comes to a hot meal, if you really think the majority of the current Amtrak Dinner menu is just fabulous.   Perhaps you should try serving some to the public where you get the kind of instant feedback from regular customers who expect better.    Or better yet, go to the Amtrak homepage and start reading some of the comments about the food from the first time riders or those not in a semi-hypnotic state just because they are riding a passenger train.

There is a big difference in the expectations for lunch and dinner.  Never have heard a good review about boxed dinners.

         

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Posted by Deggesty on Sunday, June 10, 2018 9:48 PM

I do not consider the Amtrak diner meals "fabulous," but they are a change from what is avaailable where I live.

As to box meals, I ate several in the last six years or so before Amtrak came into operation. They did make it possible to eat at reasonable times while traveling during the day. Except for ACL's day train between Waycross and Montgomery, all the trains on which I bought the box meals in that time had had diners in previous years. 

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Posted by zugmann on Sunday, June 10, 2018 11:51 PM

BaltACD
There is a big difference in the expectations for lunch and dinner. Never have heard a good review about boxed dinners.

Look up Ekibens.

 

I think too many people expect 5-star dining in a stainless steel tube when it comes to Amtrak.  Yet cheaper restaurants, fast food places, and conveninece stores usually have plenty of customers.  Food for thought.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, June 11, 2018 6:07 PM

zugmann
I think too many people expect 5-star dining in a stainless steel tube when it comes to Amtrak

Amtrak barely makes it to the two star level.    There isn't any passenger train I have been on (including pre-Amtrak) that made it to the 5 star level.   So I would disagree that is the expectation.    The highest I would rate the Rocky Mountineer Gold Leaf food service is 4 stars.    Of course for some strange reason they could include caviar on one of the dishes and get the damn meal to the table on time.   Don't know why they were so efficient.....seemed like they had the same staffing level as Amtrak.    It was obvious though on the Rocky Mountaineer they just finished preparation of most of their dishes.    They were brought on board partially prepared and just needed to be chilled or heated.    No idea what the cook in the Dining Car on Amtrak is doing or needs to do that run up the prep times so high, would be interesting to find out.    Though I suspect a major time loss is the dummy waiter between floors.

Amtraks meals are far below the quality that a First Class passenger should expect and the only reason there is not more complaining in that area is because meals are perceived to be "free" to First Class.    Charging First Class passengers extra for wine and beer is just plain marketing stupidity.    What is the cost savings vs percieved benefit of charging First Class for Beer and Wine?   Very marginal on the General Ledger if you ask me.    Asking people to pay for those two items at meal time lowers the travel experience a lot more than it gains in revenue.    Mixed drinks different story.

 

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Posted by NorthWest on Monday, June 11, 2018 9:01 PM
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Posted by PJS1 on Monday, June 11, 2018 9:11 PM

NorthWest

Written by someone who has a vested interest in putting the best possible spin on the outcomes.

Where are the numbers, i.e. incremental revenues, costs, etc.? 

There is no independently verifiable supporting data for any of the claims made by the author.  If he made claims like these in a real business, he would be required to put up or shut up.  Or he would have been shown the door.  And it would not have been the door to the executive dining room.  

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Posted by NorthWest on Monday, June 11, 2018 9:17 PM

I'm not sure that the author really has anything to personally gain from this as he's no longer with Amtrak, but I am a bit suspicious of the stated reason why the project was cancelled.

Worth at least an experiment again though. If it doesn't work just cancel it and move on.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, June 11, 2018 10:12 PM

NorthWest

I'm not sure that the author really has anything to personally gain from this as he's no longer with Amtrak, but I am a bit suspicious of the stated reason why the project was cancelled.

Worth at least an experiment again though. If it doesn't work just cancel it and move on.

So my take having run a fast casual sub shop with cooked to order subs.    Some of what is said is true.   Night Chef doing morning prep and the Day Chef can sleep in.   That was true for the place I ran and I started service at Lunch and only served Lunch and Dinner.     Breakfest is break even at best because the prices are so low the margins are slim so the franchise I worked for said serving breakfest was optional but they recommended against it, particularly if you were in a shopping mall because most malls open around 9-10 a.m. and your mostly leaving the breakfest time by then.

So basically with Joe Public and meal times just based on my experience in a shopping mall (lifestyle mall).     Majority of clients ate at fixed meal times of 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.......and 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.    Outside of those times almost a ghost town.    I was open from 10:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.     Now sometimes when there was a good movie on at the Mall Cinema we could potentially get a small crowd at 9:00 to 9:30 p.m. but it was too rare to pay the labor to extend the hours.    Every once in a while we would get a handful of mall workers show up right at 10 or 10:15 to grab a early lunch and we would open early for them.     So the part about the Diner being more profitable if opened 24 by 7 I find highly doubtful with a largely fixed clientele on a moving passenger train. 

So if we opened at 10:30 a.m. I wanted the crew in at 9:00 to 9:30 a.m. to prep most of the food for the day so it was fresh.    Some food could be done the night before and would keep (onions, carrots and if you know how to cut Lettuce it would keep as well......otherwise it turns to mush).    Tomatos, Green Peppers and the rest that was fresh had to be prepped the day of.     After the dining room closed it took another 1.5 hours to cleanup to Health Department standards.

BTW, best way to cut Ice Berg and Romaine Lettuce is to chill first in Ice Water, dry the head off with a towel and cut with a very sharp knife in 1 inch squares.    It would keep for several days that way and taste fresh like you just cut it each day.....because that method limits the moisture release over time.   Romaine you of course had to de-vien (the large viens) it first before cutting the leafs smaller.   Anyhoo, off on a tanget but that little trick of knowing how to cut lettuce saved boku bucks in avoiding spoilage.     Some kitchens you'll notice use a food processor, it is faster but you pay for it in spoilage because you have to use everything you send through a food processor the in 1-1.5 days or it's crap.

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Posted by oltmannd on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 10:26 AM

zugmann

They need a pancake machine like at Holiday Inn Express.

 

Yes.... Exactly.

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Posted by zugmann on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 10:36 AM

oltmannd
Yes.... Exactly.

Those things take alot to set up and break down.  (I was lost on youtube-land one night and was watching the instructional video on them).

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Posted by oltmannd on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 2:20 PM

Most HIX have exactly one person handling the breakfast....

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Posted by zugmann on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 3:01 PM

oltmannd
Most HIX have exactly one person handling the breakfast....

Those cinnamon buns, though.  Your waist size increased just by walking past them.

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 3:07 PM

oltmannd
Most HIX have exactly one person handling the breakfast....

Same as I have observed at various Quality Inn's and Ramada's

         

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 4:35 PM

BaltACD

 

 
oltmannd
Most HIX have exactly one person handling the breakfast....

 

Same as I have observed at various Quality Inn's and Ramada's

 

Ditto with Hampton Inns, La Quintas and Country Inns.

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Posted by PJS1 on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 4:41 PM

Here is a link to the new menu being introducted on the NEC:  

https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/projects/dotcom/english/public/documents/menus/routes/Corridor-Cafe-Menu-061318.pdf

So, if Amtrak dropped the dining cars on all of its trains, and implemented this menu or a variation of it in the lounge car, what percentage of the passengers do you think would really be unhappy?  

If I were Anderson, I would discontinue the dining cars in one fell swoop.  The gradualism approach suggests a company that does not know what it is doing.  Amtrak should be all in on this issue.  

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Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 6:04 PM

PJS1

Here is a link to the new menu being introducted on the NEC:  

https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/projects/dotcom/english/public/documents/menus/routes/Corridor-Cafe-Menu-061318.pdf

So, if Amtrak dropped the dining cars on all of its trains, and implemented this menu or a variation of it in the lounge car, what percentage of the passengers do you think would really be unhappy?  

If I were Anderson, I would discontinue the dining cars in one fell swoop.  The gradualism approach suggests a company that does not know what it is doing.  Amtrak should be all in on this issue.  

Immediate improvements I noticed:

1. Appetizing pictures on front of menu and inside menu of offerings.

2. Boars Head Premium meat brand displayed.

3. "Made fresh daily" listed in the Sandwich Section.

4.  Two price points on wine and beer both.

Huge Marketing improvement over the cartoonish images and plain text with no pictures on the Superliner Diner menus.     Smartly done.    Obviously no longer a "we have always done it this way in the past" person in charge.

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 9:13 PM

CMStPnP
 
PJS1

Here is a link to the new menu being introducted on the NEC:  

https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/projects/dotcom/english/public/documents/menus/routes/Corridor-Cafe-Menu-061318.pdf

So, if Amtrak dropped the dining cars on all of its trains, and implemented this menu or a variation of it in the lounge car, what percentage of the passengers do you think would really be unhappy?  

If I were Anderson, I would discontinue the dining cars in one fell swoop.  The gradualism approach suggests a company that does not know what it is doing.  Amtrak should be all in on this issue.   

Immediate improvements I noticed:

1. Appetizing pictures on front of menu and inside menu of offerings.

2. Boars Head Premium meat brand displayed.

3. "Made fresh daily" listed in the Sandwich Section.

4.  Two price points on wine and beer both.

Huge Marketing improvement over the cartoonish images and plain text with no pictures on the Superliner Diner menus.     Smartly done.    Obviously no longer a "we have always done it this way in the past" person in charge.

I wonder if Amtrak is collecting a royalty for displaying the trademarks for the products that are being featured?

         

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Posted by oltmannd on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 9:36 PM

PJS1

Here is a link to the new menu being introducted on the NEC:  

https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/projects/dotcom/english/public/documents/menus/routes/Corridor-Cafe-Menu-061318.pdf

So, if Amtrak dropped the dining cars on all of its trains, and implemented this menu or a variation of it in the lounge car, what percentage of the passengers do you think would really be unhappy?  

If I were Anderson, I would discontinue the dining cars in one fell swoop.  The gradualism approach suggests a company that does not know what it is doing.  Amtrak should be all in on this issue.  

 

I don't think there's any gradualism going on.  I think they are moving as fast as they can. They've been asleep a while.  They have the new diners.  Might as well use them for a first class lounge until you figure out what your longer term plans are...

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by oltmannd on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 9:39 PM

BaltACD

 

 
CMStPnP
 
PJS1

Here is a link to the new menu being introducted on the NEC:  

https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/projects/dotcom/english/public/documents/menus/routes/Corridor-Cafe-Menu-061318.pdf

So, if Amtrak dropped the dining cars on all of its trains, and implemented this menu or a variation of it in the lounge car, what percentage of the passengers do you think would really be unhappy?  

If I were Anderson, I would discontinue the dining cars in one fell swoop.  The gradualism approach suggests a company that does not know what it is doing.  Amtrak should be all in on this issue.   

Immediate improvements I noticed:

1. Appetizing pictures on front of menu and inside menu of offerings.

2. Boars Head Premium meat brand displayed.

3. "Made fresh daily" listed in the Sandwich Section.

4.  Two price points on wine and beer both.

Huge Marketing improvement over the cartoonish images and plain text with no pictures on the Superliner Diner menus.     Smartly done.    Obviously no longer a "we have always done it this way in the past" person in charge.

 

I wonder if Amtrak is collecting a royalty for displaying the trademarks for the products that are being featured?

 

I'll bet it's all part of the deal. It sure looks a modern marketing deal.  

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by oltmannd on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 9:43 PM

CMStPnP

 

 
PJS1

Here is a link to the new menu being introducted on the NEC:  

https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/projects/dotcom/english/public/documents/menus/routes/Corridor-Cafe-Menu-061318.pdf

So, if Amtrak dropped the dining cars on all of its trains, and implemented this menu or a variation of it in the lounge car, what percentage of the passengers do you think would really be unhappy?  

If I were Anderson, I would discontinue the dining cars in one fell swoop.  The gradualism approach suggests a company that does not know what it is doing.  Amtrak should be all in on this issue.  

 

 

Immediate improvements I noticed:

1. Appetizing pictures on front of menu and inside menu of offerings.

2. Boars Head Premium meat brand displayed.

3. "Made fresh daily" listed in the Sandwich Section.

4.  Two price points on wine and beer both.

Huge Marketing improvement over the cartoonish images and plain text with no pictures on the Superliner Diner menus.     Smartly done.    Obviously no longer a "we have always done it this way in the past" person in charge.

 

 

I'm impressed!  This didn't happen overnight.  Not just ordering up any old thing from Gate Gourmet.  This took time, thought and planning.

It reminds me a lot of the NZ trains I rode.

Which gives us hope that the long term solution for the LD trains could be pretty decent.  

And, I agree, someone at Amtrak is alive and thinking.

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Posted by Enzoamps on Thursday, June 14, 2018 1:39 AM

Boars Head is currently doing a lot of marketing and advertising, I see their ads on TV a lot.  I am sure they pay for the mention.  The menu with photos of the food do look like a nice local diner menu.  I am not sure in the old diner that a $28 steak warrants a photo.  Photos make me think lower cost places.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, June 14, 2018 8:58 AM

PJS1
If I were Anderson, I would discontinue the dining cars in one fell swoop.  The gradualism approach suggests a company that does not know what it is doing.  Amtrak should be all in on this issue.  

Your comment suggests you were never employed in the public side of a company, such as retail sales or marketing.  What you call gradualism is simply trying out a new strategy on a limited basis. It's commonplace in successful companies.

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Posted by PJS1 on Thursday, June 14, 2018 9:06 AM

charlie hebdo
 PJS1 If I were Anderson, I would discontinue the dining cars in one fell swoop.  The gradualism approach suggests a company that does not know what it is doing.  Amtrak should be all in on this issue.   

Your comment suggests you were never employed in the public side of a company, such as retail sales or marketing.  What you call gradualism is simply trying out a new strategy on a limited basis. It's commonplace in successful companies. 

Amtrak has had the Silver Star experience to leverage off of for more than a year.  

I understand the concept of test markets.  I am a certified facilitator.  I have facilitated customer focus groups.  You don't know anything about me. 

Texas deregulated the electricity market straight out of the chute.  Bingo!  All the customers in the regulated service areas, except for those prisioners of public power and co-ops, about 15 percent of Texans, were given the green light at essentially the same time.

Another post suggested that Amtak is moving as fast as it can.  Yep!  For a government agency.  Why not?  It does not have any real competition.  So, it does not have any compelling drivers to do things better, faster, cheaper.  This is the reason why government should not be involved in any commercial enterprises. 

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Posted by oltmannd on Thursday, June 14, 2018 9:26 AM

PJS1
Another post suggested that Amtak is moving as fast as it can.  Yep!  For a government agency.   

Actually, "for a railroad" would be more accurate.  It's really hard and time consuming to get through the current day's disasters, and the culture rewards those who are good a fire-fighting.  There is also the interdepartmental in-fighting and protectionism.  Operations will always have a million reasons why you can't change a thing.  One or two of them might actually have some validity, but usually it's just risk-aversion.  

To see some actual changes make it from a marketing group that suddenly appears awake to implementation is encouraging.

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by PJS1 on Thursday, June 14, 2018 9:35 AM

oltmannd
 Actually, "for a railroad" would be more accurate.  

You are correct.  Railroad would be more accurate. 

Unlike a truly competitive business, which goes out of business if it makes enough bad decisions, Amtrak is propped up by the taxpayers.  If it does not get it right, they will bail it out.  

Part of the problem is politics.  Amtrak is overburden with it; it has to respond to every politician with a modicum of clout in the country.  Which is another reason why having the government involved in running a commercial enterprise is a bad idea.

But as I have said in other threads, we are where we are.  So, I guess we just have to make the best of a bad decision, which was setting up Amtrak in the first place. 

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, June 14, 2018 2:10 PM

PJS1
Amtrak has had the Silver Star experience to leverage off of for more than a year.   I understand the concept of test markets.  I am a certified facilitator.  I have facilitated customer focus groups.  You don't know anything about me. 

An electric power utility is very different than retailing or a passenger railroad. Grapes, apples and oranges.  And test marketing and focus groups are also very different breeds of cat, both best managed by marketing folks, not accounting pros.

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Posted by zugmann on Thursday, June 14, 2018 2:36 PM

PJS1

Non-alcoholic drink selection kind of sucks.  If you're going to carry Lipton Pure Leaf tea, at least have a few flavors.  Maybe they will in practice.  Same with the cold starbucks coffee.

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