Promoting passenger trains as a transportation alternative in Florida since 1983.  We are citizens who advocate for Amtrak, commuter rail, intercity rail and transit for Florida's future.

Reducing Food Service Costs Through Innovation, Not Elimination

26 Jul 2015 8:10 AM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

As Amtrak continues its "test" of operating the Silver Star without a dining car, other transportation companies around the globe are finding ways to reduce food service costs through innovation, instead of outright elimination.

Australian airline Qantas, like Amtrak, is under significant pressure to cut costs and improve its bottom line. Seeking to reduce food service costs in economy on its long haul flights, Qantas threw out the traditional airline tray meal and started from scratch.

The result? An innovative food service with a variety of foods not inconsistent with the offerings you might find at high end grocer Whole Foods Market—presented in a fun, enjoyable way.

Have a look at the menu, the presentation and finally (and most importantly!), the reviews. Qantas appears to have a winner on its hands, as well as reduced costs.

The trouble with Amtrak’s test on the Silver Star is that Amtrak is merely throwing in the towel, forgoing revenue by cutting sleeping car fares as a means of apologizing for the lack of food service (that is, beyond the sandwiches, snacks, DiGiorno pizzas and ramen noodles offered for sale in the lounge car).

Why not provide sleeping car passengers with a Qantas-style meal experience instead and keep the badly-needed sleeping car revenue? Doing so would provide a product equivalent to the first class service on Amtrak’s Acela trains in the Northeast.

It’s not a lavish dinner in the diner, but a Qantas-style setup which provides meal service in the sleepers would be a big improvement over the food service being offered on the Silver Star today. We’re sure there are other innovations out there also. Some due diligence and a little creativity on Amtrak's part are needed.

Remember to speak up to Amtrak and our elected officials about this issue. Otherwise, the Silver Star “test” may just become the norm on Amtrak’s long distance trains!

--Jackson McQuigg

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