Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak food service cars’

Amtrak Sleeper Passengers Can Pre-Select Meals

October 1, 2020

Amtrak has begun giving sleeping car passengers the ability to choose their meals in advance of travel.

The option is now available for those riding the Capitol Limited, Cardinal, City of New Orleans, and Lake Shore Limited.

Passengers will be sent an email informing them of the option as well as offering an opportunity to view menus before selecting their meals.

Amtrak expects the ability to pre-select meals to be extended to the Silver Star and Silver Meteor in the coming weeks.

The meals on all of those trains are prepared off the train and heated onboard in a microwave oven.

Sleeping car passengers can have their meals delivered to their rooms or eat in a dining car reserved for the use of sleeping class passengers.

Amtrak currently only prepares meals onboard the Auto Train, having suspended the practice for Western long-distance trains during the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the passenger carrier has said the suspension of on-board food preparation for Western long-distance trains is temporary and a notice on the carrier’s website indicated that full-serving dining on those trains is suspended through Dec. 15.

Amtrak Suspends Cafe Car Seating

May 15, 2020

Amtrak will no longer allow seating in café cars which means passengers will need to take their food and beverages back to their seats or sleeping car compartments after purchase.

The carrier said the change is being made for passenger safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a related development, Amtrak has extended to Aug. 31 the period in which it is waiving change fees for reservations.

In a news release, Amtrak said this includes reservations booked with points.

The carrier also extended to Aug. 31 the period in which it will waive cancellation fees for reservations, including reservations booked with points.

Those wishing to cancel a reservation without a fee are being directed to 800-USA-RAIL and speak with an agent.

This procedure is not available via Amtrak.com or the Amtrak app.

Amtrak Debuts New Cafe Care Menu in NEC

June 15, 2018

In what could be a preview of what is coming system wide, Amtrak launched new café car fare on June 13 on its Acela Express and Northeast Regional trains.

The new menu includes products from Boar’s Head Brand as well as a variety of other snacks, drinks and sundries.

This included drinks such as Makers Mark®, Cutwater™ Spirits, and LaCroix® sparkling water, and other such food items as Sahale Snacks® and Sweet Street® desserts.

“We are pleased to introduce this new menu featuring Boar’s Head premium products for our customers to enjoy as they travel with us along the Northeast Corridor,” said Amtrak Vice President of Product Development & Customer Experience Peter Wilander in a statement.

“The updated menu features premium sandwiches, salads and snacks, along with some gluten-free and vegan choices to enhance the overall Amtrak travel experience.”

Amtrak Cafe Car Fare

February 22, 2017

cleveland-amfleet-mural-3

The offerings of a typical Amtrak cafe car probably are not the healthiest and they are for sure not the cheapest offerings.

But if you have the munchies after sitting in a coach seat for a couple hours with another couple hours to go before reaching your destination, they look pretty good.

Shown is the serving area of an Amfleet cafe car that was on display in May 2016 at the National Train Day event in Toledo, Ohio.

Through the use of enhance graphics and color photography the food offerings look better than they do when the attendant hands them to you in a cardboard box.

And when was the last time that you saw a whole pie in a food service car? The current national cafe car menu at the Amtrak website doesn’t show pie as an option. Not even one of those Hostess apple pies found in convenience stores.

I will admit that I’ve always had a fondness for the Angus cheeseburger, which currently costs $7.25.

Like I said, Amtrak cafe fare is not cheap. Bon appetit.

Amtrak CEO Moorman Talks About His Vision for the Future of the U.S. Rail Passenger Carrrier

January 30, 2017

Since taking over last fall as the CEO of Amtrak, Charles “Wick” Moorman has given hints here and there about his vision of America’s national intercity rail passenger carrier.

Wick Moorman

Wick Moorman

Columnists and editors of Trains magazine sat down with Moorman in December to discuss that vision.

Columnist Don Phillips was there and wrote about it for the March issue of the magazine that will be in subscriber mailboxes soon.

Phillips recently sent advance copies of his columns to those on an email list that he maintains. Presumably, there will be another report in the March issue written by the magazine’s passenger rail correspondent.

Moorman told the Trains representatives that he sees a future for long-distance passenger trains, but it is less clear if he sees any expansion of them.

He does see potential growth in medium-distance service, which is paid for by the states.

The proposed restoration of service along the Gulf Coast east of New Orleans has been gaining political support and may end up becoming an extension of the Chicago-New Orleans City of New Orleans.

But that hinges upon the federal government making a financial commitment to the service.

Moorman said during the interview that the new Viewliner equipment for eastern long-distance trains that is being built by CAF USA will be finished according to a new production schedule that the company and Amtrak have agreed upon.

Other items of interest include Moorman’s view that something needs to be done about the quality of food service aboard Amtrak trains, and the aging diesel locomotives and passenger cars used by trains outside the Northeast Corridor.

In regards to food service, Moorman said the pressure that has come from Congress in recent years to cut the cost of food service is lessening and what Amtrak needs to do is sell more food.

Another high priority on Moorman’s list is the institution of a training program for on-board employees, including conductors.

But the top priority on Moorman’s list is rebuilding infrastructure in the Northeast Corridor. That includes replacing bridges, tunnels and catenary, as well as building a replacement for New York Penn Station.

The takeaway from the Phillips column: Look for a better on-board experience but with little to no expansion of the existing routes and levels of train frequency.

Dining on Amtrak Then and Now

December 26, 2016

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It can be interesting to compare Amtrak timetables, dining car menus and marketing materials across time. Shown above is a comparison of a bar menu from 1971 and a similar offering from 2015.

Aside from the prices having changed, another obvious difference is that in the early years of Amtrak the food and beverage service was still provided by the contract railroads and some of them did little more than take their existing materials and place the Amtrak logo on it.

That is the case with the 1971 bar menu, which looks much as it did when the Milwaukee Road ran its own trains.

Other than the Amtrak logo you might think that you were traveling in the late 1960s with trains being advertised that no longer ran in 1971 when this menu was offered aboard Amtrak.

Although the beverage offerings in 1971 are similar to those of 2015, there are some notable exceptions. Tobacco products are not longer sold on Amtrak and I’m not sure if they also sell decks of playing cards.

Coco Cola has been replaced with Pepsi products and what cost 30 cents in 1971 now costs $2.25. But look at the difference in price between a premium beer in 1971 (80 cents) and a regional craft beer in 2015 ($7).

(click on the image to enlarge it)

 

Viewliner II Diner Released for Testing

November 5, 2016

The first new Viewliner II dining car left the CAF USA assembly plant in Elmira, New York, this week for testing on Amtrak.

Amtrak logoThe car, No. 68001, was to be moved to Hialeah, Floridia, near Miami on the Silver Meteor.

Known as Annapolis, the diner will under testing and inspections to ensure that there are no problems with the Viewliner diners.

The National Association of Railroad Passengers cited an Amtrak source as saying the passenger carrier is confident that the problems that have hindered production of the Viewliner II cars have been resolved.

Amtrak expects CAF to release cars at a rate of two or three per month and that all 25 dining cars being built will be delivered in the first half of 2017.

The next batch of Viewliners to be released will be sleepers.

LSL Resumes Chicago-Boston Cars

October 31, 2016

Through sleepers and coaches between Chicago and Boston on the Lake Shore Limited resumed operation last week after being absent for more than a year.

Amtrak Lake Shore LimitedAmtrak had instead operated a stub-end train between Boston and Albany-Rensselaer, New York, with passengers making an across-the-platform connection.

Through Boston cars were dropped during a track reconstruction program in Albany-Rensselaer.

The resumption of Boston through cars coincided with the introduction of business class service between Chicago and Boston.

That service is being provided in 2-1 seating in one end of the café car that operates between the two cities. Business class seating is not yet available between Chicago and New York on Nos. 48 and 49, but is offered on the Chicago-New York Cardinal via Cincinnati and Indianapolis.

Food service between New York and Albany-Rensselaer is being provided by an Amfleet II “diner-lite” car.

Viewing Cleveland From Amtrak

September 17, 2016

Cleveland Amfleet mural 2-x

Except during the summer, the four Amtrak trains that serve Cleveland pass through the city in darkness because they are scheduled there between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Cleveland is an important point on the Amtrak map, but not as important as others.

So I was surprised to find inside an Amfleet cafe car this mural of downtown Cleveland. The car was on display at the National Train Day festival in Toledo as part of an Amtrak exhibit train that was designed to approximate a miniature version of the Lake Shore Limited.

Interestingly, the cafe car was labeled on its exterior for Northeast Corridor service. The Lake Shore Limited does carry a car similar to this in its consist so perhaps this car has been assigned to Nos. 48 and 49 over the years.

The view in the photograph itself is looking northeastward. That is Progressive Field in the lower right-hand corner, which is the home of the Cleveland Indians Major League Baseball team.