Beginning with the northbound Silver Star of today (Wednesday, March 15), and the southbound train on Friday, March 17, Amtrak is returning full dining car meals to the Star’s Viewliner II diner. It will be the train’s first such food service since “traditional dining” was replaced by “flexible” meals in a bowl on two New York-Miami trains and the New York-New Orleans Crescent in October 2019.
“The Silver Star pilot will be offered for approximately a three-month period and positioned onboard as a ‘surprise and delight’ to First Class customers,” the company says in a statement to Trains News Wire, adding, “The Amtrak team will be offering the success of this new dining offering and may modify the service before a more formal announcement of a permanent rollout or potential expansion to the Silver Meteor.”
The menu described in Amtrak’s statement appears to be similar to those on Superliner diner-equipped western long-distance trains except the Texas Eagle and City of New Orleans: Signature Railroad French Toast, three-egg omelet, and Continental Breakfast options in the morning; a grilled sandwich, Angus burger, and chili at lunch; and steak, salmon, and pasta in the evening. As on western counterparts, one alcoholic beverage at dinner is offered for sleeping car passengers, whose meals are included in the ticket price.
A limited number of coach travelers have recently been allowed into Superliner dining cars after a similar trial period occurred on the Coast Starlight. That option hasn’t been extended for the Silver Star pilot.
The Silver Star was likely chosen over the Silver Meteor because its mealtime patronage is lighter than the Meteor, which operates with three Viewliner sleeping cars compared with two for the Star. Another difference: the Meteor, on a more direct route via Charleston, S.C., serves two breakfasts northbound, while the Star, on a more circuitous route via Columbia, S.C., and Tampa, Fla., offers two lunches southbound (assuming trains aren’t significantly late).
Before staffing and food preparation cutbacks began in 2018, all overnight trains offered all travelers the opportunity to eat in dining cars. However, menu prices for coach passengers had become increasingly expensive, especially at dinner. That continues to be the case today where customers are allowed to purchase dining car meals.
It isn’t clear how staffing levels will change with the re-introduction of “traditional dining” on one train, but the ability to effectively serve customers with limited staff is a factor being monitored.
Story source by: Trains.com