Missing: “The Amtrak Experience”.

The following came in this morning as a comment on yesterday’s post. I thought it beautifully captured what I, too, believe is the fundamental flaw in Amtrak’s latest cost-cutting effort and was, therefore, worthy of appearing here rather than a couple of clicks away as a comment. It would behoove the Amtrak brain trust to take these comments seriously.

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I’ve only been riding Amtrak for about four years. Initially, I was extremely apprehensive, but from that first trip, I have loved the Amtrak Experience. I have thoroughly enjoyed hanging out in my roomette, listening to music, and just watching the scenery go by.
Come meal time, I looked forward to going to the dining car, meeting new people and ordering a hot meal from the menu. Sure, sitting with and talking to strangers due to forced communal dining was a little awkward at first, but I quickly saw this as one of the better parts of the Amtrak Experience.
When Amtrak first announced the downgrading of meals on the Capitol Limited, I was not happy. But now, after riding the Capitol Limited and sitting alone in a cold, sterile dining car, silently eating a cold meal from a box, I was left feeling very sad. Amtrak didn’t just downgrade the meals; they downgraded the Amtrak Experience.
Regarding the boxed meals, I had the Beef Short Rib dinner on the eastbound trip and the Chicken Caesar salad on the westbound route. I found the beef short ribs to be tasty and tender, but the accompanying polenta was inedible. The chicken on the Chicken Caesar salad was both flavorful and plentiful, but after awhile, I got tired of eating just chicken and lettuce. While the dinners were passable, I missed having more hot choices. I eat beef, but not everyone does.
Nonetheless, I preferred the dinners over the cold breakfast. The Greek yogurt parfait with blueberries and granola was tasty. The fresh fruit serving consisted of pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, mango, and grapes. However, I quickly found out “fresh” doesn’t mean “ripe and ready to eat.” The pineapple and grapes were ripe and had a good flavor. However, on both legs of my trip, the cantaloupe, honeydew, and mango looked great but all were hard and inedible. The blueberry muffin was okay, but it’s not something I would ordinarily eat. All in all, the entire breakfast left me feeling unsatisfied. It was just too much sugar and no substantial protein.
Over the years, I have loved my trips on Amtrak and always came home looking forward to my next trip. But now after my last trip, my enthusiasm has been severely dampened. Amtrak may have given its loyal travelers new dining options, but, for me, they have taken away a major intangible option – the joy I felt for the Amtrak Experience.
– Debra Monroe

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