Posts Tagged ‘Railroad dining cars’

WMSR Acquires ex-NYC Dining Car

November 19, 2022

Tourist railroad Western Maryland Scenic has acquired a streamliner era dining car.

The former New York Central grill diner was part of the Chattanooga [Tennessee] Choo-Choo hotel complex for more than 50 years.

WMSR officials said they hope to have it begin serving meals on their railroad during Memorial Day weekend 2023.

The dining car is expected to supplement a cafe lounge car that railroad officials said is often overwhelmed by demand for food and beverages.

The ex-NYC car, No. 456, has a seating capacity of 42. It was built by Budd in 1948 and typically operated on such trains as the James Whitcomb Riley, New England States, Ohio State Limited, The Pacemaker, Southwestern Limited and Twilight Limited.

The car became surplus when the company operating the Chattanooga hotel began a redesign and renovation project that will relocate some cars elsewhere on the property.

Four cars are being relocated to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and two others, including ex-NYC 456, are going elsewhere.

FtWRHS Puts Silver Diner Into Service

August 4, 2022

Silver Diner was in the consist of the Indiana Ice Cream Train shown leaving Angola, Indiana, on July 9.

The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society said this week that it has officially placed its Silver Diner into service.

The car, which was built in 1948 for the California Zephyr, will be in the consists of excursions to be pulled by Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765.

The society has spent a year rebuilding the car. That work included extensive cleaning, HVAC repairs, cosmetic work, new window gaskets, and curtains, among other things.

The society said the car can host up to 40 passengers and includes a kitchen and buffet counter space, and provides on-board refrigeration and catering space for excursions and events.

The car was once owned by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, and spent several years on the Amtrak rolling stock roster.

Amtrak retired Silver Diner in 2017 and donated it to the FtWRHS in 2019. It is one of four surviving California Zephyr dining cars still operating.

Porterfield to Speak at AOS Program in January

December 20, 2019

Railroad dining car historian Jim Porterfield will speak about the history and recipes of America’s golden age of railroad cuisine on Jan. 15 at the Age of Steam Roundhouse in Sugarcreek.

The presentation will begin at 6 p.m. and feature slides and items on display, including menus and the five items you will likely find in a home kitchen that originated in a dining car.

Porterfield is the author of Dining By Rail: The History and Recipes of America’s Golden Age of Railroad Cuisine, which described how railroad dining practices evolved into restaurants on wheels.

The presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session and a book signing.

Amtrak Ending Full-Service Dining Service on Capitol Limited, Lake Shore Limited in Favor of Cold Meals

April 20, 2018

Amtrak is ending full-service dining car service on the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited.

In a news release posted on its website, the passenger carrier said that effective June 1 it will begin offering sleeping car passengers on the two trains what it termed “contemporary and fresh dining choices.”

That means cold meals delivered to the passenger’s room or consumed at a table in a lounge car.

Trains magazine said Amtrak did not respond to question about whether hot meals would be offered on either train, but a separate service advisory indicated that café car fare will continue to be available, some of which is heated in a microwave oven.

The news release said the service is intended to replace traditional dining-car service.

Meals will be delivered to the trains just before they depart their end terminals. The cost of these meals will continue to be included in the ticket price of a sleeping car room.

Among the mean choices, the news release, said are chilled beef tenderloin, vegan wrap, chicken Caesar salad and turkey club sandwich.

Breakfast options will include assorted breakfast breads with butter, cream cheese and strawberry jam; Greek yogurt and sliced seasonal fresh fruit.

A Kosher meal will be available with advanced notice.

Passengers will receive unlimited soft beverages; a complimentary serving of beer, wine or a mixed drink; and an amenity kit.

Previously, sleeping car passengers wanting an alcoholic beverage had to pay for it.

“Our continued success depends on increasing customer satisfaction while becoming more efficient,” said Bob Dorsch, Amtrak’s vice president of its long distance service line, said in the news release.

The service advisory said that after boarding, sleeping car attendants will continue the standard procedure of asking passengers to select a preferred time for dining with reservations available in 15-minute increments.

Tables in sleeper lounge and café/lounge cars will be first come, first serve for seating and there will be no at-table dining service.

Sleeping car passengers will also be offered complimentary morning coffee, chilled water and juices, in-room meal service, turn-down service for their beds, and shower facilities.

They will be provided pre-boarding privileges and same-day access to lounges, such as Club Acela in the Northeast Corridor and the Metropolitan Lounge in Chicago.

Business class passengers on the Lake Shore Limited will be offered a la carte purchases from café/lounge menu, an alcoholic beverage and unlimited soft beverages, and a complimentary comfort kit.

Amtrak said coach passengers may purchase on a limited basis the pre-packaged meals served to sleeping car passengers. The existing café car menu will continue to be available to all passengers.

The news release also quoted Dorsch as saying, the meal service will continue to be refined and Amtrak looks forward to hearing from its customers about it.

What it all adds up to is that Amtrak is looking to cut costs by eliminating onboard kitchen staff and servers, and offering airline style meals that are provided by a catering company.

Trains magazine quoted the Rail Passengers Association as saying that the change reflects outside directives to the passenger carrier.

“It’s important to remember that this is simply an outcropping of the congressional mandate to eliminate losses on food and beverage service,” said James A. Zumwalt, director of policy research at RPA.

Zumwalt said the new meal policy “contradicts other successful models such as in the cruise industry, and proves unpopular with passengers. The mandate prevents best practices and should be removed.”

Remembering the Mercury

January 20, 2018

In 1936 the New York Central started a new Cleveland-Detroit train called The Mercury. The train featured one of the NYC’s earliest streamlined steam locomotives. The train was pure luxury and maintained an average speed of 60 miles per hour. I just acquired a menu from the 1941 Mercury. I have an extensive railroad menu collection and this is the most variety on one menu that I have ever seen.

Article by Jack Norris

Another B&O Dining Car Menu

December 8, 2017

It is funny that the December Akron Railroad Club eBulletin covers the final decade of the Baltimore & Ohio’s passenger service. I see that the article featured a menu from my collection. Well, here is another menu from my collection. This is from the final day of the B&O Capitol Limited. I do enjoy the Amtrak version very much, but I know it is just not the same.

I have many B&O menus, china, timetables, etc. I have ridden the Amtrak version of the Capitol Limited many times. When I rode it the first couple times it had dome cars. The Superliners had not come on line yet. I loved the old dome cars with the forward facing view.

I miss that view with the Superliner lounges. By the way, as you can see by the photo I even have a B&O tea bag. Probably 50 years old or more. I have no intentions of using it, but it demonstrates the fact that people will save anything, and then collectors like me are ecstatic to find it.

Article and photographs by Jack Norris

How the B&O Marketed the Columbian

January 12, 2017
I love collecting brochures introducing (then) new trains. I just got this one for the Baltimore & Ohio’s Columbian. It is circa 1949 and the train, with modern diesels and new Strata Dome cars, served Chicago and the East. You will notice one of the cities served was Akron. I already had a dining car menu from the train so I am attaching that, too. I rode Amtrak’s Capitol Limited before the Superliner age. The train had dome cars. The only way to go.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris