“Contemporary Dining”—Amtrak’s Scam.
To the profound distress of seasoned rail passengers, Amtrak’s “Contemporary Dining” service is now in effect on all overnight trains operating east of the Mississippi River. I have not yet had an opportunity to personally experience this . . . uh . . . this experience, but Andrew Selden has, and he was not pleased.
Andy is an attorney and is also an authority on passenger trains and their operation. He is president of the United Rail Passengers Alliance.
OK, so what did Andy think of Amtrak’s new “Contemporary Dining” approach? Not much.
Less than two weeks ago, Andy rode the Lake Shore Limited overnight from Springfield, Massachusetts, to Chicago and came away with several very clear impressions:
1. How this new food delivery system should work may be very clear in the mind of an Amtrak vice president, but passengers are confused: What’s for dinner? How do I order? When is it going to be ready? Where do I sit? There’s a lot of distraction for Amtrak employees trying to make it work.
2. Amtrak leadership has often expressed the belief that an important new class of traveler, the millennials, will convert to Amtrak. And because they are not social creatures, millennials will prefer to dine on their “contemporary” meals back in their accommodations. One member of the Amtrak crew told Andy Selden that was nonsense. “Millennials don’t ride in the sleeping cars.” he said.
3. Every member of the Amtrak crew agreed that very few sleeping car passengers ask that their meals be brought to their rooms. The reason? Minimal place to dispose of the uneaten food and the trash.
4. And what about the food itself? Andy described it as “Awful, plain and simple. . . . as if one bought a low-end frozen TV dinner and microwaved it too long.”
But to my mind, this is the key sentence in Andy’s thoughtful analysIs:
“Absolutely nothing about the meals or the service scheme . . . was First Class.”
And so Amtrak decides to cheapen the one aspect of long-distance train travel universally enjoyed by its best customers—the people who are already paying top dollar to travel in sleeping cars.
Sorry, there’s a problem. To reach Andy Selden’s most recent column in the January 4th edition of Railway Age, copy and paste this link: https://www.railwayage.com/passenger/intercity/garbage-served-garbage-generated/
Management doesn’t know there are different classes of Millennials? You have the so called woke crowd who at 30 something live in their parents basement whining, complaining and protesting over every perceived social injustice, than there are the professionals earning over 100k annually. You hand my son a TV dinner after paying $600.00 bucks for a roomette and he’d be off your train at the next stop.
Does amtrak want to be the source of transportation for the penniless woke professional protester, or the professional millennial with an annual salary of 100k or more? The choice is yours.
On scene report, 48 just west of Schenectady.
The food to packaging ratio is more favorable, and in best Chipotle fashion, they now provide a space to return the carriers, which are washable and reusable. But the arrangement probably generates the same sort of tips as Chipotle, which is to say, not much.
I had that Creole dish. It didn’t require any augmentation with Tabasco. Given that I’m in the “like it hot” squad, it IS likely too seasoned for median tastes. And, the way things work, the Boston sleeper passengers get supper passed out at East Albany, the New York coach passengers have no food service.
This link “click on this link” did not work for me.
My fault. I’ve sent you the link.
My opinion is that Amtrak has no real understanding for LD trains. Their mind set is based on the east coast experience where the vast majority to trips are four hours or less. The size of western and midwest states served by long distant trains just doesn’t seem to register with them.