RATING AMTRAK DINING

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, August 9, 2020 12:45 PM

York1
My wife's favorite when we're on the road is Cracker Barrel.

OK so there is some hope at least via your wife.   I would rate Cracker Barrel definitely acceptable for coach but probably a little below what First Class standards should be.

BTW, on the Texas Eagle at least the Amtrak employees did not like the new meals either, most of them packed their own lunch and when I complained to the sleeping car attendent about the food she did apologize and insisted it was only temporary until the pandemic was over.    So I am not sure if that was what she was told or if that is the actual plan.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, August 9, 2020 2:44 PM

York1
My wife's favorite when we're on the road is Cracker Barrel.

Have you ever tried their trout with lemon butter sauce?  WOW!  I had it in three different CB's and it was great in all three!  

Staff altercations?  Well, Lady Firestorm and I were VERY entertained by a waitress fight in a Shoney's in Maryland!  If I remember right there were six involved!  No fisticuffs but a lot of screaming.

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Posted by York1 on Sunday, August 9, 2020 3:16 PM

Flintlock76
Have you ever tried their trout with lemon butter sauce?  WOW!  I had it in three different CB's and it was great in all three!  

I usually have breakfast, no matter the time of day, but my wife loves the spicy grilled catfish.

Actually, the main reason for her to stop at Cracker Barrel is so she can buy stuff at the store.  You can't get into the restaurant without walking through the store.  The designer of that system had my wife in mind.

York1 John       

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, August 9, 2020 3:20 PM

Flintlock76
...

Staff altercations?  Well, Lady Firestorm and I were VERY entertained by a waitress fight in a Shoney's in Maryland!  If I remember right there were six involved!  No fisticuffs but a lot of screaming.

The 'entitled' are everywhere and resent being informed that they are not as special as they think they are.

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Posted by York1 on Sunday, August 9, 2020 3:34 PM

I think I'm the one who may have gotten this thread off-topic again.

I love the idea of the 1940s-1950s dining car with first-class meals.  However, I think in this day and age, it's out of the question.

Unless I'm going on a rail cruise, I'm not going to worry about the food.  I will use the train for the same reason I use the plane -- transportation.

That doesn't mean Amtrak should just serve junk.  They can make compromises, just as the airlines do.  No one (that I know) gets on a plane because of the food.

York1 John       

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, August 9, 2020 7:00 PM

York1
I think I'm the one who may have gotten this thread off-topic again.

Don't feel bad, we've all done it!  Some more so than others!  Whistling

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, August 9, 2020 8:11 PM

Flintlock76
 
York1
I think I'm the one who may have gotten this thread off-topic again.

Don't feel bad, we've all done it!  Some more so than others!  Whistling

In face to face conversations among friends and acquaintances does the conversation ever stay 'totally on point'?  Why should a forum thread be any different?

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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, August 11, 2020 3:51 PM

BaltACD
My understanding is that no passenger service in the world is fare box profitable - why does the US think Amtrak should be fare box profitable?

Agree for regular conveyance passenger trains but the cruise passenger train niche is largely profitable in several countries and doing well.     I am not sure we need to preserve the entire LD train network but it makes sense to preserve a few.    Not just out of nostalgia but our National Parks are overcrowded and our population as a country continues to increase.    Most of the older generation does not have the means to access the scenic areas of this country cheaply outside a National Park or Cruise Train, IMHO.    I think if you converted the Empire Builder and Califorinia Zephyr to cruise trains you could preserve both routes and spin them off to a private operator.     

As for the Texas Eagle.    It is more an overnight train and is becomming increasingly a two corridor train as population increases and the roads congest  (Chicago to St. Louis) and (Dallas to San Antonio) I would tighten it's schedule more with the 125 mph capable equipment that is on the way and retain it as an overnight train.   Perhaps tweak it's schedule a little more and drop a few tiny stations stops as well.    I still think overnight trains have potential probably more so than the three day West Coast trains as they can use the night sleeping hours to run across two corridors at convienent times vs just one, one way.    So time the train to arrive in St. Louis at 9 or 10 p.m. Southbound and arrive in Dallas at 7:00 or 8:00 a.m. South bound.    If properly routed and timed there is a potential for overnight trains in this country.

The problem with Amtrak LD trains is they were never really funded fully in most of the years they operated and so were always operating on a shoe string budget.   

Amtrak's one size fits all view of a rail corridor 500 miles or less is kind of a low hanging fruit, little effort as possible cop out.   I think  is a little shortsighted.    Anyways, I am all for getting the trains off the taxpayer dole which I think can be accomplished with better management of marketing, cobranding, and new equipment that is better designed to differentiate between three classes of service.    The challenge is finding a private company that is willing to step up.

Your not going to get the overnight trains off the dole the way they are running now or for that matter the LD trains that take 2-3 days to reach their destination.

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, August 11, 2020 10:47 PM

I think your prescription for the Texas Eagle could be applied to other LDTs as well.  The Lake Shore Limited could better serve both NY-Cleveland and Cleveland-Chicago better than it does.  One of the two should be overnight and the other fast day trip, both useful.

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Posted by JPS1 on Wednesday, August 12, 2020 2:08 PM
One of the best examples of long-distance trains that makes sense are the three trains operated by Great Southern Railways in Australia.  They are the Indian Pacific, Ghan, and Overland.  I have ridden all three of them.
 
Great Southern Railways is owned by Quadrant Private Equity, which acquired the railway in 2016.  It is headquartered in Sydney. 
 
The three trains are first class.  The Indian Pacific and the Ghan are the only trains that I have ridden where the dining car was on a par with a first-class restaurant. 
 
Although the trains are operated by an investor owned company, they receive some subsidies.  The federal government subsidizes the Indian Pacific and Ghan; Victoria and South Australia support the Overland.
 
The trains are scheduled to meet market demand, which is impacted significantly by overseas visitors.  The Indian Pacific and Ghan run one day a week; the Overland runs two days a week.  That's the market demand!
 
When I lived in Australia the Indian Pacific ran two days a week and the Overland was an overnight train between Melbourne and Adelaide.  But the market did not support these schedules.  So, the operator did the unthinkable for many people.  The schedules were adjusted to meet the demand.  The Indian Pacific was scaled back to one day a week, and the Overland was rescheduled as a day train.   
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Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, August 12, 2020 4:26 PM

daveklepper
I think your prescription for the Texas Eagle could be applied to other LDTs as well.  The Lake Shore Limited could better serve both NY-Cleveland and Cleveland-Chicago better than it does.  One of the two should be overnight and the other fast day trip, both useful.

Also this is an issue of priorities.    I strongly believe Amtrak is going to do this in the future but their priority is to develop a network of corridors first.    I am OK with waiting on this or having it tabled to the back burner because at some point Amtrak is going to figure out they can time a train to run on two corridors with a space in between at decent times if they have it be an overnight run.....to bridge the gap between corridors.    I think the equipment utilization would be higher than just a layover for overnight and wait on a slot.     We'll see though.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, August 12, 2020 4:31 PM

JPS1
When I lived in Australia the Indian Pacific ran two days a week and the Overland was an overnight train between Melbourne and Adelaide.  But the market did not support these schedules.  So, the operator did the unthinkable for many people.  The schedules were adjusted to meet the demand.  The Indian Pacific was scaled back to one day a week, and the Overland was rescheduled as a day train.   

So Austrailia is doing that to boost tourism and I would bet the economic impact of those trains running exceeds their subsidy.    Because they can advertise them overseas and draw people over for the train ride and then market add-ons.

I don't think we will ever see the stat from Amtrak but I would really be curious to see how many overseas people ride Amtrak with it's extremely limited budget.  I know over the years I have run into quite a few from Europe on a USA Rail Pass.    Scandanavia, UK, Germany......just a few that I remember and the age group was split between retired and college age.    About a year ago I ran into a German couple traveling the Milwaukee to Chicago Amtrak route on their first US train trip.....they were happy to hear Siemens would be providing new cars for the train service.   Another railfan was talking with them.     On the train they were impressed with how much space between the seats.....I guess it is a little less in Europe.   Also they liked how large the restroom was (Bombardier Comet Cars).

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