Discussion relating to the operations of MTA MetroNorth Railroad including west of Hudson operations and discussion of CtDOT sponsored rail operations such as Shore Line East and the Springfield to New Haven Hartford Line

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, nomis, FL9AC, Jeff Smith

  by BenH
I've noticed that during the afternoon rush MN opens a number of "bars" on the lower level of GCT. The people working at these bars appear to be MN employees.

My question is... why has MN decided to operate these bars themselves?

One guess - when MN cut back on the number of afternoon bar cars, some years ago, they had to find work for the displaced employees -- so they effectively moved the bars from the trains to the lower level of GCT -- thus protecting the jobs.

  by DutchRailnut
Actualy they have bar carts on upper level as well. and its very lucrative for MNCR. By selling alcohol in terminal instead of on the train it kind of limits the responcibility for selling to drunks as a commuter buying 4 whiskeys could be buying them for him and a fellow commuter. it also saves on deadheading barcars abd bartenders on empty return trains. they now roll their bar cart to next outbound train. why would you want to have an outsider sell whats very profitable :-)

  by Otto Vondrak
Bar Car service should return to the trains, not only is it nice to have snacks, soft drinks, and hard drinks... but it also turns a profit too!

If the railroad is concerned about liability, then how about a Bar Car cart that doesnt serve liquor or beer, just soda, water, and snacks? Would still do well, I think.


  by weakcheeks
Yeah, it's profitable for the railroad, but should "quasi-goverment agencies" like Metro North be selling alcohol? Maybe in the future Metro North could sell Lotto tickets too...

I guess it's more important for Metro North to sell booze than run trains after midnight.

  by Otto Vondrak
Running additional trains COSTS additional money. Selling refreshments on board trains MAKES money for the railroad.

I will not debate the moral implications of sales of legal beverages by the railroad. If you don't like 'em, don't drink 'em.


  by BenH
Some interesting replys to my original posting. Thanks.

A few comments...

Otto Vondrak wrote:
Running additional trains COSTS additional money.
From a cost standpoint I would imagine that it would make a lot of sense to convert all of the NH line bar cars into regular coaches. My guess is that this would would atleast double the number of available seats per car (bar car vs. regular coach). I'd be curious to know why only the NH line has bar cars (today). Is it this a hold over from the old NH RR days? Did the NYC ever offer bar car service on their commuter lines out of GCT?

Otto Vondrak wrote:
If the railroad is concerned about liability, then how about a Bar Car cart that doesnt serve liquor or beer, just soda, water, and snacks?
That's an excellent idea. Many railroads in Europe do this today. The attendant gets on at a main station with a full "trolley" of drinks and snacks, and then he /she pushes it from one end of the train to the other. I could imagine an attendant boarding at GCT, working through to Stamford, re-loading, and then returning to GCT. (why should only outbound passengers be offered drinks, as is the case today?)

Does the MTA offer a similar service on the LIRR lines out of Pennsylvania station?

  by Otto Vondrak
The bar cars on the New Haven Line are indeed a concession from "the old days" on teh New Have railroad's bar car and parlour service. Remember that the equipment and service is paid for by CDOT, separate from MN.

Replacing the bar cars with seats would not gain that much more capacity, it would really be a wash.

Bar car/lounge service was offered on the former NYC lines for years... until the new Bombardier equipment arrived in 1984, service continued on the Hudson and Harlem Lines. We're talking about with real "Traditional" bar cars too, not just a dude and a cart.

The LIRR used to offer parlour car service out to Mountauk until the new bi-levels came on the scene in... 1999? Something like that. I'm not sure if the LIRR offers any kind of bar car service now.


  by Terminal Proceed
MNRR still runs bar cars on the NH because 1) CDOT mandates it and 2) it makes money.

They dont use bar carts anymore as they are too cumbersome and there were some injuries to bartenders as a result.

There was a bartender that fell from a NH line train into one of the rivers while the train was stopped on one of the bridges. Not sure of how the story goes exactly. Maybe Dutch can fill in the rest???

  by DutchRailnut
I don't know the whole story but he thought they stopped at Stamford or so but it was at Coss Cob bridge. he keyed the door open and backed out of train only to find himself in river.
Again most rush hour trains only produce reveneu in one direction and the train deadheads back. so the bar tender on the train is working but then idle for return trip. with gate carts people buy same amount but bar tender works his entire shift going from one gate to next.
  by Dieter
I remember in the 70's when all the weekend inbounders on the Harlem had Bar Service in the form of a porter with a cooler filled with ice. He used to take four seats facing each other, and set up shop with a board across the top of the cooler to work on. With little to NO AC back then, it was a welcome perk to the trip to be able to get a cold drink of anything.

Here's another one for you. The New Haven bar crews did NOT dead head back out in the late 70's. In the AM, inbound, they served coffee, as did the bar cars in Central territory. At noon time on the New Haven, in either direction, you could get anything you wanted, including a sandwich that could be nuked! It was simple fare, but on the days I was leaving a job in Manhattan at noon time for an afternoon gig in Greenwich or Stamford, I welcomed whatever I could get on the run.

The bar cars on the Harlem and Hudson were a mixed bag in pre Metro North times. There were two converted New York Central bar cars on EACH line, I believe. Outbound on the Harlem, the first bar rolled out on the ten car long 5:17. The second one was on the next train, the ten car long 5:39. I was a regular on the 5:17 for a few years, and it was a lively experience, even if the car was poorly ventilated. The three former sleeping compartments had private groups in them, I never knew what it cost to ride there, and I was a guest once. Penn Central filthy is all I can remember about it. The crowd at the bar counter couldn't be beat for entertaining conversation.

To talk about adding seats to the bar car on the New Haven is rediculous. You would cut down on space. These people socialize and move about the crowd, unless they sit and park their cup in the holder so they can bury their head in The Journal. It should also be noted that present day New Haven riders are absolutely MILITANT about preserving their Bar Car. The regulars arrange holiday parties and even have their own Website. Too bad New York Central territory riders lack the same fervour.

I think that Metro North is foolish not to implement some type of lounge car with beverage and snack service, not to mention possibly a business car with Porter service, Internet hookup for a fee, and oh yes, a place to confine these PIA passengers with their cell phones who are incapable of finishing their work before they leave the office. There's certainly a market for it, money to be made, but Management isn't creative enough to be bothered.

Let me ask you all something. If you were tacked on with say a $3 surcharge (like a cover fee at a club) on top of your ticket to ride a lounge car, would you pay it? Don't tell me you can't operate a Bar Car on the Hudson and Harlem Divisions and NOT make money!

Last edited by Dieter on Tue Jan 17, 2006 3:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

  by DutchRailnut
These days liability is all that stops you. If you sell a few drinks to a commuter in GCT you have no Idea were he got off and into his car.
But if you run a bar car, you can safely say that about half way you should stop selling alcohol anyway as your getting near those guys stop.

  by Otto Vondrak
I would pay an extra $25... maybe even $50 on my monthly ticket if there was a lounge car/bar car available where I could get a cold one. Even if it's a soft drink. Aint wont never happen on the Harlem & Hudson.

The EL/NJDOT had snack bars built into some of the Pullman Standard Comet coaches from the 1970s... I wish we had one or two Shoreliners equipped that way, but MN aint removing seats for nothin'.


  by Ken S.
Otto Vondrak wrote:
The EL/NJDOT had snack bars built into some of the Pullman Standard Comet coaches from the 1970s... I wish we had one or two Shoreliners equipped that way, but MN aint removing seats for nothin'.

NJT took those out when they overhauled the Comet Is in 1987.

  by Robert Paniagua
I also remember the bar cars myself on Metro-North. I would get up and buy a coke fizz or even a piece of pizza....

They used to sell nice food snacks as well, similar to the Acela Express today.

  by DutchRailnut
Conndot has two barcar shoreliners but they do no longer get a bartender. 1868 is scheduled bar train but have not seen the cars or bartender on my train. one car is 6254 other one i forgot number