New Viewliner Diners In Service?

A prototype of the new Viewliner dining car has been around for some time, giving Amtrak crews chance to test them and make recommendations for changes and improvements. Of course, since there was only one car, the odds have been slim that passengers would find it on their train.
But, lucky me! I did have dinner in that car a year ago on the Lake Shore Limited. It was very pleasant, and it’s amazing how the second tier of windows gives a much more “open” feeling to the whole dining area. Of course, the main beneficiaries of new design are the crews, allowing them to work more efficiently.


Reports are that the first of the new diners has been delivered and has gone into service on the Silver Meteor, making the run to Miami on Thursday and, presumably, back to New York today. (Photo above was taken yesterday in the Hialeah yards.)
That leads me to admit, albeit grudgingly, that the Amtrak marketing people may indeed have been right—at least in one context—to take the diner off of the Silver Star and having passengers pay for their food in the café car on that train.
I was toying with the idea of taking the train from Washington to Jacksonville following NARP’s April meeting and compared fares for the Meteor and the Silver Star on the day I would be traveling. If I chose the Meteor, a dinner and a breakfast would be included in my fare . . . but the cost differential was $156.
That was a moment-of-truth for me, at least as far as this specific issue is concerned. I would be in a Viewliner sleeping car on either train. And so it all boiled down to this: Was I willing to pay $156 in additional fare for one dinner and one breakfast in an Amtrak dining car?
I thoroughly enjoy the dining car experience and I look forward to every meal when I’m traveling on one of Amtrak’s long-distance trains. So much so that, yes, I would be willing to pay more for that experience. But $156 more? I’m afraid not.
It’s a unique situation with the Silver Service, of course, because there are two overnight trains running on almost the same route. But give the marketing guys their due: the no-diner option does seem to be working.