Mary asked in Cars & TransportationRail · 4 months ago

Why is Amtrak eliminating all of its full service dining cars?

Over the past few years, my job has required me to go back and forth between Pittsburgh (my home) and Washington DC. I used to take Amtrak's Capitol Limited train back to Pittsburgh because it left DC at 4:00pm and I'd be home shortly after midnight. I'd always travel in the coach car and one of the highlights was that I would always get a full dinner in the dining car. I enjoyed having a meal with my fellow travelers.

Then last year Amtrak eliminated full meals in the dining car. And on my most recent trip I discovered that us peons in coach class were now restricted to the cafe car if we want to buy food on board. The chow in the cafe car is what you'd get of a vending machine--in short, it sucks.

I later discovered that now passengers in the sleepers get pre-packaged cold meals and from what I understand, that food is terrible and the packaging creates a lot of waste. As of October 1st, all of the trains in the eastern states will be this way.

Is Amtrak trying to drive away business? My husband and I have long been rail advocates, but the last couple times I had to go to DC for work, I drove. We were planning to take the train out west for a fall vacation, but we've decided to fly instead.

13 Answers

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  • 4 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    Younger people aren't quite as interested in traditional dining in the dining cars

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  • Zheia
    Lv 6
    3 months ago

    It could be down to cost. It's only on prestige routes like the Orient Express, Trans Siberian, and Pullman type services that a restaurant car will probably be used. Trains in the UK had restaurant and griddle cars years ago but some trains may still have buffet cars which generally serve hot and cold snacks. Otherwise it's a trolley service.

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  • 3 months ago

    how sad maybe no enough of passengers .

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  • 4 months ago

    Labor costs and insurance rates are the biggest problems. Hot food kitchens on a moving platform are dangerous for chefs and patrons. Then chefs make more than servers or porters. And they are hard to keep because of the lifestyle. They could get a better one from working in a restaurant.

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  • TedEx
    Lv 7
    4 months ago

    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

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  • 4 months ago

    To save money. They had to pay everyone who worked in the car (both those serving the food and those preparing it), and purchase food, some of which was wasted...

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  • 4 months ago

    Just like every other business Amtrak does what it can to reduce its costs.

    The meals are good in the Dining car.

    TOO many want the cheap bargain discount package and pack a sandwich.

    Each train car costs over a Million need to serve a lot of meals to pay for it and haul it around.

    Suggest you write a NICE complaint letter about your concerns to Amtrak officials and your senate /congress representatives.Pay for the postage stamp for a real letter. More impact than an email.

    READ this first. To sprinkle your letter with appropriate numbers.

    https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/projects/dotcom...

    Maybe you might be able to get good quality HOT food delivered to you at the platform as an option in the future. Not the best but might work for you.

    Good Luck It would help to get your fellow passengers to also express their concerns.

    Have you ever written a letter to compliment the meal service on the train? Probably not. They like to hear compliments TOO when they do it right.

    Are they trying to drive you away? NO Many others complain about waste and not needing the extras.Be that they have some unusual diet restrictions have issues with single use packages, or whatever component upsets them. Maybe just the food items are not purchased in their town their state their cuisine choice.

    SPEAK UP the masses tend to just go with the flow and make no effort to keep the extras that make the train ride much more pleasant than the plane bus or car ride.

    Curious that you add you are going WEST which has dining car service and decided not to enjoy the see level view with your meals.Flying OVER the mountains is a much different view than looking up at them and the assorted wildlife near the tracks. Doubtful you see many animals from a plane window.

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  • 4 months ago

    Time to switch to commuter plane I would think. Southwest Airlines (WN) has commuter planes out of Baltimore-Washington (BWI) and into Pittsburg (PIT). The flights each are about 1 hour long and cost each between $100 and $300 depending on your choices.

    But they are very popular; so they book weeks/months in advance. Go to https://www.southwest.com/air/booking/select.html?... if you're interested.

    • Mary2 months agoReport

      Very good answer.  I almost always chose Amtrak because the fares were generally cheaper, I worked close to Washington Union Station and I live close to the Pittsburgh train station.  So that eliminated the stress of getting to and from the airports.  And riding the train was overall more relaxing. 

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  • Erik
    Lv 7
    4 months ago

    Probably to save money.

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  • Anonymous
    4 months ago

    Amtrak has always been a money losing proposition. That's why CA's dream of their high speed railway system is just a hole in which to dump taxpayer dollars.

    • oldprof
      Lv 7
      4 months agoReport

      The only reason for even starting the high-speed rail in CA is to get the Federal funds that are available for the project. I like Newsome, but on this, he's way off the mark.

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