Updated: Cold-meal service coming to 'Capitol,' 'Lake Shore Limited'

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The westbound Capitol Limited passes through Goshen, Ind., on March 24, 2018. The train is one of two which will offer cold-meal service for sleeping car passengers beginning June 1.
TRAINS: David Lassen

WASHINGTON — For sleeping car passengers on two Amtrak routes between Chicago and the East Coast, it appears dining innovation is a dish best served cold.

In a press release issued Thursday, Amtrak announced “contemporary and fresh dining choices” for sleeping-car passengers on the Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited and Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited — cold meals delivered to their roomettes or bedrooms, or eaten in a private café or lounge car. The new service, replacing traditional dining-car service, begins June 1.

The release cites lunch and dinner choices such as “chilled beef tenderloin, vegan wrap, chicken Caesar salad, or turkey club sandwich,” and breakfast options including “assorted breakfast breads with butter, cream cheese and strawberry jam; Greek yogurt and sliced seasonal fresh fruit.”

According to the release, the meals “are delivered to the trains just prior to origination, eliminating on-board preparation. Customers will also be offered unlimited soft beverages, a complimentary serving of beer, wine or a mixed drink, an amenity kit. A Kosher meal continues to be available with advanced notice.”

Bob Dorsch, Amtrak’s vice president of the Long Distance Service Line, is quoted in the release as saying, “Our continued success depends on increasing customer satisfaction while becoming more efficient,” and that Amtrak looks forward to hearing from its customers about the change.

The Rail Passengers Association noted that this move 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 the association, "which contradicts other successful models such as in the cruise industry, and proves unpopular with passengers. The mandate prevents best practice and should be removed."

An Amtrak spokeswoman confirmed that the new choices are chilled meals but did not respond to a question asking if hot-meal choices would still be available.

— Updates with Rail Passengers Association reaction. Malcolm Kenton contributed to this report.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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