Amtrak Dining Cars as Profit Centers

By J. Bruce Richardson, Corridor Rail Development, Railway Age Magazine; November 29, 2019

One of the great hurrahs of Amtrak dining cars came in the late 1990s, when the transcontinental Sunset Limited diner featured 12 entrees on its dinner menu. Traditional white linen tablecloths draped the tables, along with china plates and stainless-steel cutlery. It was not unusual to have flowers on the table and lit candles at the dinner hour.

In those halcyon days, when the Sunset operated from Los Angeles to Orlando with Dallas and Chicago through cars, the diner would serve 400 dinners per evening west of San Antonio, Tex. Pricing was affordable for coach passengers; sleeping car denizens’ meals were included in their fare. The café in the Sunset’s lounge car also had substantial, profitable sales.

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