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Passenger Trains > The Fat Lady Has Sung...Downgraded Eastern LD Food Service


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Date: 08/11/19 08:55
The Fat Lady Has Sung...Downgraded Eastern LD Food Service
Author: GenePoon

Amtrak_Onboard_20190711_EastF&B, official Amtrak document in PDF form.

This is the New Amtrak Order for Eastern long distance food and beverage service.
Effective October 1 on Cardinal, Crescent, Silver Meteor, City of New Orleans.

It includes a new euphemism (which is a fancy bureaucratic word for "lipstick on a pig"):
"AMBIENT TEMPERATURE MEALS"
Which means, "we take it out of the box and throw it at you."  This applies to Sleeping Car
passengers only.  Coach and Business Class only have the Crummysnackbar. 
Sleeping Car and Business Class get one complimentary alcoholic beverage if desired.

Document includes staffing changes and floor plans of equipment.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/y4t5r47x01m5ce6/Amtrak_Onboard_20190711_East-F%26B.pdf?dl=0

OR

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AQjubZvWEt6P9C6wuV4wCZuwg-gtpiqA/view?usp=sharing






 



Date: 08/11/19 09:08
Re: The Fat Lady Has Sung...Downgraded Eastern LD Food Service
Author: joemvcnj

The only good thing is the Viewliner diners don't get mothballed, and the Cardinal gains one.
Two more AM-2 dinettes get freed up. They should re-assign to the Adirondack, but that is thinking much too much out of the box. 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/11/19 09:09 by joemvcnj.



Date: 08/11/19 09:14
Re: The Fat Lady Has Sung...Downgraded Eastern LD Food Service
Author: Ocala1

"Higher quality meals"  -  how can Amtrak say this with a straight face?  Higher quality than what????



Date: 08/11/19 09:30
Re: The Fat Lady Has Sung...Downgraded Eastern LD Food Service
Author: andersonb109

Disgraceful. These are nothing more than coach class airline meals. Why can't they provide a meal similar to Business Class on Delta? Anderson should be familiar with those. They are pre-plated but heated on board.  Generally good quality with several selections. You even get real china and cultlery. They must not lose money on them or they woudn't do it. How long before this happens on the Western trains? 



Date: 08/11/19 09:33
Re: The Fat Lady Has Sung...Downgraded Eastern LD Food Service
Author: gandydancer4

If I were going, I think I'd pack a small cooler and bring my own meals. 



Date: 08/11/19 09:43
Re: The Fat Lady Has Sung...Downgraded Eastern LD Food Service
Author: goneon66

what are the labor repercussions from this (i.e. layoffs, etc.)?

66



Date: 08/11/19 09:53
Re: The Fat Lady Has Sung...Downgraded Eastern LD Food Service
Author: FloridaTrainGuy

Well that ends the question of will the Silver Star get a diner back.  At the very least all the dinner meals are HOT this time I think.  Can't imagine them being better meals though.  Also good to see that the new diners won't languish unused in Florida.  Of course we all hate this but let's see the reviews of the food before we condemn them. 

I know the Auto Train coach regulars are going to be very upset I am sure.  Although it does say things will be more festive :) 



Date: 08/11/19 09:59
Re: The Fat Lady Has Sung...Downgraded Eastern LD Food Service
Author: joemvcnj

Given the F&B mandate, I'd have gone to all diner-lite like the Cardinal has, with a staff of 2, rather than 1, and let the coach passengers in. It still won't break the bank. 

The Lake Shore Ltd coach passengers do not have access to any food or drink whatever between New York City and Schenectady. No other LD train has that situation for that long. 



Date: 08/11/19 10:21
Re: The Fat Lady Has Sung...Downgraded Eastern LD Food Service
Author: Dcmcrider

goneon66 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> what are the labor repercussions from this (i.e.
> layoffs, etc.)?
>
> 66

The linked document outlines the positions created or eliminated and net staffing reductions.

Crescent 16 positions eliminated.
Silver Meteor 14 positions eliminated.
Auto Train 25 positions eliminated.

The Cardinal and City of New Orleans will have re-assignment of duties, but no overall reduction in staffing levels.

There's no mention of the Silver Star at all, so I suppose the current F&B arrangements on the Star will continue.

 

Paul Wilson
Arlington, VA



Date: 08/11/19 10:37
Re: The Fat Lady Has Sung...Downgraded Eastern LD Food Service
Author: jp1822

On the staffing chart, I thought the Crescent and Silver Meteor currently operate with four people in the diner; they only show three in the attachments, with one person in the cafe (LSA). I think there is also more staff presently in the Auto Train than what Amtrak is showing. 

Staff will go down to one person in the existing diner/sleeper lounge and one person in the cafe (both being called LSAs). 

Regardless, this is a massive downsizing in F&B crew, and I think larger than what Amtrak is putting forth. If successful in the East, how quickly will it spread to the Western Long hauls? The Silver Meteor offers 4 meals - 2 dinners, 1 breakfast, 1 lunch. The Southwest Chief and Coast Starlight, for example, offer 5 meals - two dinners, two breakfasts, one lunch. The CA Zephyr and Empire Builder offering 6 meals (end point to end-point) - 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 2 dinners. The Southwest Chief and even Coast Starlight could likely start in on this new food service model now. Those trains offering 6 meals likely need some additional variety for lunch and dinner. Just a matter of time folks. For the western long hauls, Amtrak just needs to come up with an additional option for lunch/dinner and then it could likely be launched. But the Silver Meteor, Cardinal, and Crescent passengers are already getting same choices if going all the way for its two dinners and one lunch. Not a lot of options for dinner/lunch. Would have been nice to at least offer a “special” of some sort for lunch and dinner. I am sure there’s a boxed meal option out there, and something that could even be pre-ordered. 

This plan will get two more Viewliner Diners out on the road (for the Cardinal). Since they are referring to Viewliner Diners more as lounges, again, why not ADD them to some of the day trains. Don’t need staffing since the kitchen area would not be operated. The LSA should just be assigned to keep the area clean. I’ve long said since Amtrak is not going to use the Viewliner Diners as transitional Diners, why not use them as lounges and put on the day LD trains (e.g. Vermonter, Adirondack, Pennsylvanian). 

A total of 25 Viewliner Diners/Sleeping Car Lounges exist. ONLY 13 will be used in regular service. That leaves 12 for backup/service/maintenance. But that should all be minimized now since they are not being used as traditional diners. Leaving four in reserve should be PLENTY. Assign out an additional 8 to the long distance day trains rather than just side-lining them. Amtrak could even make them part of the business class offering on these long distance day trains, and add more premium to business class (think “Touring Class” as VIA’s created on the train to Prince Rupert), but I doubt Amtrak has that much creativity or thinking outside the box. The Silver Star doesn’t get the Viewliner Diner/SLeeping Car Lounge. Considering the scenery, I’d rather see these cars on the scenic day time Eastern Long Distance Trains. 

2 - Cardinal
4 - Crescent
4 - Meteor
3 - Lake Shore

13 TOTAL

Hopefully RPA can pounce on Amtrak to utilize at least 8 more of the Viewliner Diner/Lounges. There’s even Indianapolis that can be used as a backup. Just take out one of the booths and its ADA compliant!

RIde now to get a nice meal in the VIewliner Diners!!!! The food coming after October 1st if traveling “all the way” in sleeper class seems too redundant!



Date: 08/11/19 11:11
Re: The Fat Lady Has Sung...Downgraded Eastern LD Food Service
Author: PHall

andersonb109 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Disgraceful. These are nothing more than coach
> class airline meals. Why can't they provide a meal
> similar to Business Class on Delta? Anderson
> should be familiar with those. They are pre-plated
> but heated on board.  Generally good quality with
> several selections. You even get real china and
> cultlery. They must not lose money on them or they
> woudn't do it. How long before this happens on the
> Western trains? 

Delta probably does lose money on those Business Class and First Class meals. But considering how few they have to serve on each flight it shouldn't be too big of a loss.
And they most likely make it up with the higher fares.



Date: 08/11/19 11:49
Re: The Fat Lady Has Sung...Downgraded Eastern LD Food Service
Author: andersonb109

Question. If the train departs on 9/30 it sounds like it's the normal dinner. But what about breakfast the next day which is menu change day? I asked "Julie" and she didn't even know the food service was changing. Does anyone with this company have a clue what is happening?



Date: 08/11/19 12:29
Re: The Fat Lady Has Sung...Downgraded Eastern LD Food Service
Author: ctillnc

A walk-up business-class fare to Europe is in the $4000 to $5000 range, one-way. Business class folks usually can't buy their tickets weeks in advance. The airlines can afford to give them good food and drink. 



Date: 08/11/19 12:44
Re: The Fat Lady Has Sung...Downgraded Eastern LD Food Service
Author: cchan006

andersonb109 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Disgraceful. These are nothing more than coach
> class airline meals. Why can't they provide a meal
> similar to Business Class on Delta? Anderson
> should be familiar with those. They are pre-plated
> but heated on board.  Generally good quality with
> several selections. You even get real china and
> cultlery. They must not lose money on them or they
> woudn't do it. How long before this happens on the
> Western trains? 

After Amtrak published a new menu for the Coast Starlight in November of 2017, I noticed that the same items (the steak, the roast chicken) looked "pre-plated and heated" instead of cooked onboard, so at least for the Los Angeles based crew, they were already doing the Delta Business Class thing. The food was still pretty good, better than the food I've had onboard United Business class, and better than the supposedly "better" meals served on international flights by higher-rated airlines (like ANA).

At least for the Coast Starlight, I'm not worried about further changes in the short term. For LD trains going all the way to Chicago, I'm not so sure.



Date: 08/11/19 12:47
Re: The Fat Lady Has Sung...Downgraded Eastern LD Food Service
Author: GenePoon

andersonb109 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Question. If the train departs on 9/30 it sounds
> like it's the normal dinner. But what about
> breakfast the next day which is menu change day? I
> asked "Julie" and she didn't even know the food
> service was changing. Does anyone with this
> company have a clue what is happening?
==========================

Maybe "Julie" got a pay cut as a "thank you" from Anderson.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/11/19 12:47 by GenePoon.



Date: 08/11/19 12:49
Re: The Fat Lady Has Sung...Downgraded Eastern LD Food Service
Author: cchan006

GenePoon Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It includes a new euphemism (which is a fancy
> bureaucratic word for "lipstick on a pig"):
> "AMBIENT TEMPERATURE MEALS"
> Which means, "we take it out of the box and throw
> it at you." 

Haha!

I've had my share of "ambient temperature" meals in Japan, but I doubt Amtrak has the dedication to make them with quality, especially if they're busy patting themselves on the back for bastardizing the English language. It takes time to prepare a good meal regardless of temperature.



Date: 08/11/19 12:50
Re: The Fat Lady Has Sung...Downgraded Eastern LD Food Service
Author: pdt

Copied from my post on another thread....
Richard has said all along that he feels that the CS and CZ should be the "land Cruise" trains for Leisure travel. Now he has added the EB to the list.   Looks like the SWC might survive too, and who knows on the Sunset.  As I've said before, I really think these trains need to be run by cruise ppl.  Richard Anderson is not a cruise person, nor does he profess to be.

As for the east coast overnight trains...The emphasis is going to be on transportation, not experience.   Make it a convenient and relaxing way for a business person to get somewhere overnight, instead of the horrible experience of shleping to the airport to take a late flight to shlep to another hotel, to get a few hours of almost sleep, to get up ,  to be at a meeting in the  morning.   And in weather/ATC delays with the airlines, and its a nightmare that would make an overnight train look pretty good.... especially if one or both cities are served by train, but not by a nearby airport, or only by a small airport, where u have to fly in a cummuter plane first, lug your bags around, wait in the airport for the connecting flight, etc.

But the point is....Richard is trying to make these trains a viable transportation alternative, expecially for business ppl.  Not rail riding experience trains for retirees.
Richard Anderson has never had any interest in trying to build a company around the leisure market.

Now, I dont agree with everything he has done, not at all.   And I wish he would hand off the Land Cruise trains to someone else...a wholly different department at Amtrak...   but i understand what he is trying to do,  Its not destroy Amtrak.  Its make it viable transportation, outside the NEC, in addition to the NEC.

I'm certainly hoping that the west coast LD trains survive as is.  That's what he said for the CS, CZ and EB.  I hope he sticks to it.  Hopefully he'll give in and continue with the SWC and SL.  5 routes isnt exactly a lot.

Im a boomer, but I dont use rail transportation as a social event. The only ppl I'd really like to meet, are ppl whom i have common and possibly beneficial business experience with.  I dont need a fresh cooked meal...just something edible.  Salads and sanwiches are fine. 

I wish he'd go after LAX-LAS and SFO-RNO service.  Problem is that is basically thurs-fri-sunday service. How can u do it without having equipment  sitting idle 4-5 days a week.  And it is leisure travel......(most leisure travellers are cheapskates, and they are operational and cleaning headaches)



Date: 08/11/19 13:27
Re: The Fat Lady Has Sung...Downgraded Eastern LD Food Service
Author: Duna

Amtrak should play background ambient music throughout:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambient_music

"...uses repetitive, but gentle, soothing sound patterns that can be described as sonic wallpaper to complement or alter one’s space and to generate a sense of calmness. The genre is said to evoke an "atmospheric", "visual", or "unobtrusive" quality."

 



Date: 08/11/19 13:52
Re: The Fat Lady Has Sung...Downgraded Eastern LD Food Service
Author: JohnM

Railfans!  Vote with you wallet STOP riding!!!    Maybe AARP or whatever they are called can increase mainstream media interest on this.



Date: 08/11/19 13:53
Re: The Fat Lady Has Sung...Downgraded Eastern LD Food Service
Author: jcaestecker

Go spend your money where you will be treated as a client of value.  Amtrak is looking more ane more like Greyhound every day.

-John



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