• Lake Shore Limited

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

  by Greg Moore
STrRedWolf wrote: Wed Sep 20, 2023 12:46 pm Any word on when we'll get an actual diner back on the LSL? Hoping not to have to deal with Flex Dining with another friend.
Hmm, checking the weather forecast for Hell and not seeing any below 32F temps in the near future.
  by Gilbert B Norman
OK; let's see if I got it straight.

The Western trains, Florida trains, and Auto Train, all offer "First Class" passengers "traditional" full-service dining, which according to reports here, other sites, and some I get privately, all say "it's good".

All others remain "Flex" for "First Class", Coach Systemwide just gets "Snack Bar cuisine".

Now I must wonder if the reasoning behind not going "traditional" for "First Class" Systemwide is that Amtrak wishes to keep their "Flex" offerings active with the vendor (Aramark; who, incidentally, holds the Soldier Field food service contract that has the sportscasters around here saying "WOW" - even as they try to comment on the hapless Bears) so that when, and I mean WHEN, the edict comes to CUT, Aramark is ready to go with Flex Systemwide again.
  by lordsigma12345
Aramark is their commissary vendor for everything including the traditional dining fare. They operate all of Amtrak's commissaries. The actual food Aramark orders on behalf of Amtrak as the commissary operator can come from a variety of different vendors including typical commercial food dealers like Sysco. The flexible meals are produced by a company called New Horizons Kitchen or something like that in Jamaica, NY - the Aramark facilities don't produce those in house they order them from this other vendor. Even if Amtrak was to move to traditional dining fare on the rest of the LD trains, they procure other items from this same vendor that are served out of the cafe car including the Bialy breakfast sandwiches that replaced the Jimmy Deans. Additionally flexible dining meals are sold for purchase in the Coach Cross Country Cafe on the Auto Train - first class passengers on that train receive a "traditional dining" dinner - though the breakfast sandwiches they offer in the diner during the continental breakfast are the same bialy ones served in the cafe. Serving flex meals as a cafe item actually would be a decent idea on some of the other trains though I don't know what the shelf life of the flex meals are. One constraint is they aren't supposed to be prepared in a microwave so on the trains where the cafe is served out of the lower level of a Sightseer Lounge with no convection oven that wouldn't be an option.
  by R36 Combine Coach
lordsigma12345 wrote: Thu Sep 21, 2023 1:13 pm The flexible meals are produced by a company called New Horizons Kitchen or something like that in Jamaica, NY - the Aramark facilities don't produce those in house they order them from this other vendor.
That's Gourmet Boutique, located in an industrial park at JFK Airport, they are also a airline supplier.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Here's more on this Aramark subcontractor:

  by lordsigma12345
Actually the vendor I’m talking about is different - they don’t have a website. It’s pretty close by but different address. They produce the flexible meals and a few other things like the cafe breakfast sandwiches system wide. I’m sure they do stuff for airlines as well. At the same address is “Peter’s Wholesale Meat Corp.” probably a related operation.

https://www.manta.com/c/mr043c4/new-hor ... stries-inc
  by west point
Loco 124 on LSL. Seem to recall it on some Downeaster videos?
  by BAR
Any reports on timing of the eastbound LSL(#48) today? Is it on time at Utica? I couldn't find anything on the Amtrak site. Thanks for any updates.

  by canobiecrazy
I am curious about the continued lack of business class on the Lake Shore Limited. In 2021 thanks to a bustitution BOS-ALB, I got a great deal on business class all the way to Chicago. Combination cafe-business class car with 2x1 seating; not having to deal with a seatmate as a solo traveler on an overnight journey was ideal. The comfort of the seat itself wasn't remarkably different to the Amfleet II coach seats (the Superliner coach seats being superior to both) but I really liked the 2x1 layout giving you a modicum of personal space. (what I didn't like was the wheels on that car having a horrible flat spot. win some lose some)

I haven't seen business class offered on the (Boston section) Lake Shore Limited since then, and I've checked a decent number of times. I ended up just buying coach tickets when I made the trip again this year. A single-occupancy roomette is not within my budget. It seems like money being left on the table to not have a middle option between coach and and a fully private room. The business class section was close to full by the time we got to Chicago and had a decent amount of seat turnover along the trip, too.

Is there a shortage of the Amfleet cafe-business combination cars due to maintenance issues? Were they redirected to other routes?
  by Greg Moore
As far as I can tell, Business Class on some of the LD trains was a short-term experiment. I took it to Atlanta once on the Crescent in lieu of a sleeper (took the sleeper back) and found it worth the upgrade. More comfortable seat, no neighbor which also meant I could get up at night to go the bathroom without disturbing anyone.
Honestly, if business class (and a real diner experience) was available, I'd do that for some of my trips instead of flying or over coach.
  by bostontrainguy
I am thinking that once the B&A is double tracked, the days of the annoying bustitution will be history?
  by lordsigma12345
It’s unclear what’s going to happen west of Springfield. I would anticipate the new inland trains to not be impacted by a bustitution but when they do the work west of Worcester who knows. I don’t think they’re planning on doing double track everywhere.
  by jp1822
Was on the Lake Shore Limited westbound last week. Had a pleasant ride and we arrived about 20 minutes early. I enjoyed being able to sit in the "sleeper/lounge" (aka Viewliner II Diner) post-dinner to get some work done for the evening. I did tell the attendant that I was more than happy to leave if things filled up. A nice tip kept him happy with good service, and me staying put. The Viewliner II Diner, I feel at least, is a really nice car for sightseeing, relaxing, conversing, eating, and getting work done. So it is a real NICE perk and amenity for sleeper car passengers. Why more don't use it, but rather stay couped up in their rooms, is beyond me. Was first to arrive at 6:30 am in the morning when it opened up.

The Flex Meals - horrible dinner (the worst flex meal I've had), breakfast was ok, but I had the continental - breakfast sandwich, oatmeal, yogurt.

There were a total of FOUR attendants in the Diner during the WHOLE trip doing service..... Sometimes I've seen two LSA's in the Viewliner II Diner, but never four! No way were four even needed, and no they were not in training. I've seen that before when about to be LSAs were going through training. Hopefully that MAYBE this is the start of ramping up staffing so traditional dining can return to the Lake Shore Limited, as it needs to as it is still a heavily travelled train. I was surprised about how busy and nearly sold out the Lake Shore Limited actually was at the end of October!

The Viewliner I Sleepers are completely showing their age. They've not aged well at all. All of the LD fleet is in need of a heavy refresh, especially the sleepers. This has got to be the longest period of time that there's not been some sort of aggressive refresh program going on. Even though Amtrak has announced a refresh program, have not ridden any cars that have been.

The Viewliner II sleepers are nice, but of the three Viewliner Sleepers in our Lake Shore Limited consist - all three sleepers were a Viewliner I. Typically a Viewliner II Sleeper was carried as on of the NYC section sleepers, or the Boston sleeper. Not sure where Amtrak is running the Viewliner II Sleepers these days. All of them should be in service, with Viewliner I's as backup/reserve.

Overall, good trip, but over-priced considering aged/rundown sleeping accommodations and food provided.

I do think that Amtrak could - for the Lake Shore Limited - and other LD trains try and create a three tier level of LD service:

1) Basic Coach Class
2) Touring / Business Class - with access to the Diner
3) Sleeper Class

The 2x1 seating is VERY marketable, as are the Viewliner II Diners.....use them towards Amtrak's advantage in pricing. Sleeper Class is just getting out of sight with pricing, but no added value.
  by STrRedWolf
Anyone know what the sleeper makeup is lately on 49? I'll be taking a trip on it on the 29th with a friend (don't know if I mentioned yet, forgotten) and I'm wondering if it's a Viewliner II or not. Reservation car #4911 (so second car closest to the diner)
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