Amtrak stops dining car service on trains through Hamlet

Cost-cutting measure lowers sleeping car fares, boost passenger convenience

Staff report

HAMLET — Amtrak has started to offer passengers a lower-cost option for travel in sleeping cars on one route through Hamlet between New York and Miami.

This offer will be available for travel between July 1 until the end of January 2016 on the Amtrak Silver Star (Trains 91 & 92), which operates daily between New York City and Orlando/Miami — through Hamlet — via Washington D.C., Columbia, S.C. and Tampa, Fla.

Submitted photo Beginning July 1, Amtrak Silver Star trains 91 and 92 will no longer offer dining car service.

Submitted photo
Beginning July 1, Amtrak Silver Star trains 91 and 92 will no longer offer dining car service.

Traditionally, Amtrak has bundled the cost of dining car meals into its charge for the sleeping car. Under this pilot program, these costs will be un-bundled to allow passengers to travel at a lower cost between the northeast, mid-Atlantic and Florida.

All food service will be provided in a Café/Lounge car instead of a dining car. Passengers can purchase a selection of hot and cold sandwiches, snacks and other items in the Café.

Kimberly Woods, of Amtrak media relations, didn’t respond specifically to any of The Pee Dee Post‘s questions about what led to the decision, how popular the dining service was interims of plates sold or revenue in a recent fiscal year, or whether the test service was in response to any level of customer feedback regarding fares or a general lack of desire for dining car service.

Passengers will continue to have the option of choosing traditional dining car service aboard the Amtrak Silver Meteor (Trains 97 & 98), which duplicates much of the Silver Star route. Dining car meals aboard the Silver Meteor are included in the sleeping car charge.

Passengers with sleeping car accommodations on all Amtrak trains with sleeping car services, including the Star and Meteor, are provided complimentary morning coffee, chilled water and juices, meals delivered to their rooms upon request, turn-down service for their bedrooms and roomettes, private restrooms and access to shower facilities. At stations with ClubAcela, sleeping car passengers also have same-day lounge access and pre-boarding privileges.

“Customers have been clear they want more options,” said Mark Murphy, Amtrak senior vice president and general manager responsible for the long-distance trains nationally. “From this summer through early next year, passengers will be able to opt for different service levels between our two daily trains to Orlando and Miami.”

“We are excited to be able to offer our customers real choice and value,” Murphy added. “And now this route allows you to choose between two services – sleeping cars with a traditional dining car and sleeping cars where you can choose your own meal options.”

Savings from typical sleeping car upgrade (“accommodation”) charges during this trial on the Silver Star schedule are between 25 and 28 percent for bedrooms and roomettes, including popular stops such as Orlando, Tampa and Ft. Lauderdale. For example, the charge is about $140 lower for a bedroom and $65 lower for a roomette than previously between New York City and Miami.

Since the upgrade charge is based on the size of the sleeping compartment, rather than the number of occupants, cost savings for passengers traveling alone can be significant.

Over the next few months, Amtrak will closely watch customer reaction and market response to this service, as well as the cost consequences of this new service concept.



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