Amtrak has confirmed removing Heritage Fleet dining cars from the Lake Shore Limited and substituting Amfleet II café cars.
Although Amtrak said that table service on linen is being provided, one report from the train posted on a railfan chat list indicated that the silverware was plastic and the meals were pre-pared and merely heated by an attendant.
As a safety concern, the Heritage diners, which were built in the streamliner era following World War II, were sidelined due to cracks in their frames. The cars began being removed from service in June.
The National Association of Railroad Passengers reported that the removal of diners from Nos. 48/49 is temporary until new Viewliner diners enter service.
The Amfleet café cars are featuring a menu similar to that of the Cardinal and City of New Orleans, trains that have modified dining service.
NARP said it was told by Amtrak that repairing the cracks would require a major effort to repair. Currently, Amtrak has 12 Heritage diners in service.
The Lake Shore Limited was chosen to lose its Heritage diners because it has the fewest full meal periods of Amtrak’s single-level long- distance trains.
Viewliner dining cars are part of an order of new equipment being built for Amtrak by CAF in Elmira, New York.
Amtrak officials said the Viewliner diners are now in production and CAF is addressing a “punch list” of items that Amtrak has created.
NARP said Amtrak officials expect the new Viewliner diners to enter revenue service as early as late summer, which it defined as August or early September. However, that might be for testing on the Northeast Corridor.
NARP said Amtrak has assured the passenger rail advocacy group that once new diners are available, a more conventional dining service would return to the Lake Shore Limited.
Nonetheless, Trains magazine reported on Monday that the type of dining service will vary by train. Once the order of Viewliner diners is completed, they will be assigned to all single-level long-distance trains.
New Viewliner sleepers are expected to begin leaving the CAF plant during the fall.
A review of Amtrak’s CAF Viewliner order conducted by the Government Accountability Office found that the cars are three years overdue.
Amtrak ordered 130 cars for $300 million in 2010 and thus far the only cars to be placed into service have been baggage cars.
The order included 25 dining cars. The GAO report said the order won’t likely be completed until at least 2017.