Group Sends Amtrak F&B Report to Congress

The Amtrak Food and Beverage Working Group last week submitted to Congress a 96-page report that suggested 30 changes including making complete meals available to all passengers aboard long-distance trains.

The 15-member working group was created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and has been working on its report for the past year.

The group’s members included Amtrak food and beverage service employees, rail passenger advocates, and representatives of state transportation departments that fund Amtrak corridor services.

Amtrak will have 180 days to respond to the report, most of which has yet to be made public.

However, a report posted on the website of the Rail Passengers Association said the recommendations address ingredients lists, waste control efforts and technology improvements, such as Internet connections to keep food items stocked and allow food to be purchased on board.

Rail passenger advocates have been pressing Amtrak to improve onboard food and beverage services for years, but those efforts gained momentum after the passenger carrier in 2018 began replacing full-service meal service aboard long-distance trains with prepared meals made available only to sleeping car passengers.

This meant that most passengers either had to bring their own food and beverages aboard or buy whatever Amtrak had for sale in café cars.

The working group report was filed with the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Other recommendations in the report include allowing state corridor routes to provide more local food and beverage offerings, something that is done on such corridors as the Downeaster in Maine and the Cascades in the Pacific Northwest.

The report also called for revitalizing offerings aboard Acela service in the Northeast Corridor, which the working group said have been less imaginative and of lower quality than when celebrity chefs helped create the selections.

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