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The End of an Era: Amtrak Removing Dining Cars From Popular Routes

Before we had self-driving cars and planes that could take you from New York City to Singapore in 19 hours, we had the all-mighty long-distance train. In the beginning, train travel itself was an event. Dressed to the nines, travelers could partake in activities in the lounge car, sleep off that extra glass of merlot in the sleeping car, and enjoy exquisite dining service in the dining car. But all good things have to end and Amtrak dining cars on East Coast routes will be a thing of the past.

Say Goodbye To The Amtrak Dining Car

The traditional dining car has been an integral part of the Amtrak experience since its start in 1971. Now, with new millennial customers, the old-fashioned way of sitting down for a meal and breaking bread with other passengers isn't working anymore in the eyes of Amtrak executives.

"Some people really like [the dining car] and view it as sort of a nostalgic train experience," Peter Wilander, Amtrak's head of customer experience, told the Washington Post. "Some people, especially our new millennial customers, don't like it so much. They want more privacy, they don't want to feel uncomfortable sitting next to people."


To save money, the dining car service will be altered to serving prepackaged meals which do not require an on-board kitchen to prepare. According to Amtrak, this will allow customers more choice when it comes to their dining experience. Entrees like Asian Noodle Bowl, Red Wine Braised Beef, Chicken Fettuccini with Broccoli, Creole Shrimp and Andouille are included in the new menu as well as a selection wine, beer, and spirits (the first glass complimentary), plus unlimited soft drinks throughout the journey. The new flexible dining will allow passengers in roomettes and bedrooms to have their meals brought to them or to enjoy it in the scaled-down dining room, sans white tablecloth. Coach passengers may purchase hot meals in the cafe car.

As for breakfast, steak and eggs are off the menu to make way for a new Continental Breakfast served buffet style.

Thankfully this change only affects a few of the one-night routes including customers traveling on the Cardinal, City of New Orleans, Crescent and Silver Meteor starting on Oct. 1 and the Silver Star in 2020. Passengers on the Auto Train, California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited and Texas Eagle can still expect traditional meal service for the time being.

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