Amtrak Makes It Official: Sleeping Car Passengers are De-Perked.

Those of us holding reservations for sleeping car space on the Coast Starlight, the Empire Builder or the Lake Shore Limited have received formal notification by email that the little perks we may have enjoyed in recent years on those trains will no longer be provided.

Truthfully, I’m not really all that upset by this. It was kind of nice, but I can do without the little bottle of cheap champagne or the chocolate on my pillow when I turn in. However, I really did enjoy reading the newspaper that (sometimes, but not always) was slipped under my door during the night. And I’ll definitely miss the wine tastings in the Pacific Parlour Car on the Coast Starlight.

(I always thought the wine tastings on the Empire Builder were somehow a little incongruous, but a very nice touch on the Coast Starlight which was traveling through or near actual wine country at the time.)

Anyway, according to this morning’s email from Mike Murphy, Amtrak’s General Manager of Long Distance Services, these cuts are “… being taken to eliminate losses in our Food and Beverage department …”.

Mike … please! I’ll accept any kind of half-assed rationale … just don’t tell me the reason I’m giving up that newspaper and the pleasure of sharing a quarter-glass of wine with fellow passengers is an attempt to appease John Mica.

Because it won’t work. Mica – he’s a Republican congressman from central Florida – is a blowhard who gleefully beats up on Amtrak at every opportunity because doing so serves the main preoccupation of his political life: getting his name and face in the media. He’s already insufferably arrogant and this is just going to encourage him.
The very thought makes me crave a serious wine tasting … just for me … and right now!