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Dining Car Fiasco Begs a Question.

Amtrak has apparently bowed to pressure from the traveling public, from RPA, and from most of the rest of the civilized world and they have overhauled the “contemporary dining” food service on the Lake Shore Limited and the Capitol Limited.
There is a new menu—and I’m sure most of us veterans of the long-distance trains applaud that—but the new plan includes some wrinkles that leave many of us scratching our heads.
For instance, sleeping car passengers can order their meals from a menu and have the food delivered to their sleeping car accommodations or they can have their meals served—and these are the exact words from an Amtrak news release— “… in their private dining car.”
Uh … say again? Private dining car?
Yes, in addition to the new menu, apparently the dining cars are back on these two trains. This time, however, they are for the exclusive use of people in the sleepers. Coach passengers will not be allowed in the diner, but welcomed to the Cafe car where they can purchase—well, you know, the same-old-same-old.
As to the new arrangement, I confess I don’t know what to think. As appetizing as the new entrées appear to be, these meals are still prepared off-site and heated on board. And barring coach passengers from the dining car? What kind of message does that send?
It’s hard to believe, but it does appear that Amtrak’s top management (i.e.: Anderson, Gardener, et al) did not expect such a universally hostile reaction to their “contemporary dining” venture.. which means they still do not understand why people like me choose to travel on long-distance trains. Shouldn’t that be a prerequisite for those key jobs?


  1. Another big improvement (or return to what used to be standard) is the statement on the menu that “complementary beverages are available throughout your journey”

  2. Anderson needs to understand the Amtrak isn’t an Airline business. I appreciate the improvements, which shows that at least they’re listening to us. As the most powerful country in the world, our trains only go up to as often as 120 mph which is quite embarrassing. I think Anderson needs to clean his glasses…

    1. Isn’t the whole point of rail travel taking in the scenery and enjoying the journey? Personally, the thought of going 125+ mph over questionably maintained tracks while rocking and rolling all over the place just is not appealing and would probably push me into another mode of transportation.

      1. People ride trains for a wide variety of reasons. Most are just trying to get from A to B in a safe,comfortable, and timely manner.

  3. “Absolutely!”, Jim that is indeed the answer to your ending question. How many problems would this solve if that were the case. It would seem like a no-brainer wouldn’t it? I tend to think that the “big 3” as they might be referred to, Messrs. Anderson, Gardner and Coscia likely all think of serious railroad passengers as a strange stratum of society. This is part of the error of the entire Amtrak structure, that top management is brought in without the slightest appearance of genuine interest in the product, or in this case service that they are selling.

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