Are Amtrak Dining Cars Too Close to the Edge?

Let’s talk food … and this is certainly the day for it. As you probably know, Amtrak’s food service has been under constant scrutiny, not to mention criticism, from some of the lesser lights in Congress. People like John Mica (R-Florida) and Phil Gingrey (R-Georgia) have their shorts in a knot because Amtrak loses money on food service.

(Apparently these two guardians of the public trust come up with their recommendations based on numbers generated from Amtrak’s accounting system. That alone should cause us to question their judgement.)

The reality is that food service in Amtrak dining cars is quite good, albeit a little on the pricey side. There’s adequate variety, the quality is acceptable, and it’s usually reasonably well prepared and served. For instance, this is what I usually go for ion one of my cross-country train trips:

 An omelette for breakfast, with bacon and a croissant … 

 … or traditional railroad French Toast.

 A cheese burger with chips is good for lunch (I often have a cold beer with it) …

… and one of Amtrak’s signature steaks for dinner, usually with a half bottle of red wine.

BUT — and this is my concern — there really isn’t a lot of room for more cost-cutting. Cut out some of the options? For example, which ones from the dinner menu would go? The vegetarian choice? The chicken? No more desserts? Plastic knives and forks? Paper napkins? How much more cost-cutting can Amtrak do before those of us who choose to travel in the sleepers (and are responsible for probably 80% of the dining car’s patronage) decide we’ve had enough and cut back on our train travel? It is a valid concern.

All that said, and on a much more cheerful note, a Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.