Amtrak has announced that it will discontinue dining-car service for sleeper-class passengers on its Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited trains, and instead will offer pre-made “contemporary and fresh dining choices” that some critics have compared to airline food.
“Sleeping car customers will choose meals delivered to their bedrooms or Roomettes – or eaten in a private café or lounge car,” according to an Amtrak press release.
Breakfast options will include assorted breads with butter, cream cheese and strawberry jam, Greek yogurt, and a fresh fruit plate. The lunch and dinner menu will include chilled beef tenderloin, a vegan wrap, chicken Caesar salad, or a turkey club sandwich.
The meals will be “delivered to the trains just prior to origination, eliminating on-board preparation,” according to Amtrak. Customers will also be offered unlimited soft drinks, a single serving of beer, wine or a mixed-drink, and an amenity kit included in the price of their sleeper-class ticket.
The Capitol Limited runs from Washington, DC, to Chicago, via Pittsburgh and Cleveland; the Lake Shore Limited connects Chicago and New York.
Amtrak passengers consistently rate hot meals eaten in the communal dining car as one of the most satisfying aspects of rail travel.
“At least the airline meals are hot. Amtrak’s offering is stone cold,” wrote Railway Age editor in chief William C. Vantuono in a recent editorial.
“Seated in coach class? You’re only choice will be the café car, if the train has one. Goodbye dining car service, one of the pleasures of travelling by rail? Is this all part of becoming ‘lean and mean’ (which is perhaps how the food will taste)?”