Amtrak has operated at a deficit for years, and for years Congress has pressured them to achieve break even. So Amtrak cut costs, but they did so by eliminating many of the features and little touches that made a long-distance train ride such a special experience. (Note: coach passengers were not affected by any of the following changes.)
- Removed Pacific Parlour Cars from Coast Starlight consist
- Eliminated “welcome aboard” gifts for sleeping car passengers
- Eliminated the styrofoam ice container in sleepers
- Eliminated choice of juices in sleepers, leaving one of undetermined flavor.
- Reduced hours of coffee available in sleepers from 18 to six
- Fewer meal choices on dining car menu
- Same menu choices system wide
- Reduced number and quality of items on dessert menu. – eliminated dining cars and introduced “contemporary dining” on Eastern trains
- Eliminated dining cars and added “contemporary dining” to Western trains
- Reduced schedules for long-distance trains to 3X per week
Just looking at that list ticks me off, so listen up, Amtrak! On behalf of sleeping car passengers, you need to hear this! You are perilously close to losing many of us along with the revenue we bring to the table. Take away the dining cars and make food-in-a-box permanent? I don’t care what fancy name you give it, that will be the end for many of us! If we’re traveling in a sleeper, we’re traveling first class, get it? We know what the long-distance train experience should include, and if you keep operating on the cheap, a whole lot of us will just go back to the airlines.
Oh . . . one more thing while I’m at it: Lose the vanilla pudding in the little plastic cup! That’s OK for the Kids’ Menu, but it’s a pathetic substitute for the slice of cheesecake you used to serve before the guy from the airline took over. Bring back the cheese cake!
Thanks for listening.