'Silver Star' to get Viewliner for flexible dining in May; companion fare sale offered

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Creole shrimp and Andouille “flexible” entrée with demitasse salad awaits heating on the 'Cardinal' on Oct 1, 2019.
Bob Johnston
WASHINGTON – After dropping full dining car service on its New York-Miami Silver Star in early 2016, Amtrak will add “flexible” dining meals for sleeping car passengers with Viewliner II diners on May 1.

The Silver Star’s four equipment sets lost full dining service when previous Amtrak management under the late Joe Boardman decided to retire several heritage diners needing extensive repairs. The first of 25 long-delayed Viewliner II dining cars would not begin to replace the remaining serviceable cars on the Silver Meteor and Crescent until later that year and in 2017.

At the time, then-long distance VP Mark Murphy told Trains News Wire that another purpose of the move was to test customer demand for lower sleeper prices without meals included.

Early on, revenue managers made sure there was a noticeable differential by keeping the Silver Star’s accommodation fares lower even when roomette and bedroom inventory approached sellout. Now even though meals aren’t included, fares on the Star are sometimes higher if the Silver Meteor, which runs with three sleeping cars instead of two, has more available space.

Until September 30, 2019, the Meteor’s Viewliner II offered food for purchase by coach passengers. Now sleeper patrons, whose meals have always been included, get exclusive use of the car and coach travelers may only order food from the cafe.

Starting May 1, each Silver Star will get a Viewliner II and its passengers will receive similar treatment. A Trains News Wire analysis of pricing before and after that date confirms that sleeper fares between the same destinations are always higher for the Meteor until May 1 but have identical fare levels following that date, even if varying demand dictates different fares for each train on any given day.

At the same time, the company announced a fare sale for all long distance trains, except Auto Train, which allows two passengers traveling on identical itineraries in coach or in the same sleeper space to pay for only one rail fare. The offer is good from Feb 1 through June 12, and travel must be purchased by Jan. 12. There are blackout dates around Easter (April 10 and April 13) and Memorial Day (May 22-25).

This is similar to previous “buy one, get one” fare sales, which in various instances have included or excluded Northeast Corridor or state-supported service. The discount promo code V605 must be used when booking, or travelers can access promotional fares on a special web page.

In a separate companion fare promotion, passengers headed to or from Jefferson City, Mo., on St. Louis-Kansas City, Mo., Missouri River Runner trains until Feb. 29 can purchase “two-for-the-price-of-one” coach tickets using promo code V716 on the website. The sale was created to coincide with the opening on Tuesday of a new modular station; the waiting room in a historic building owned by the state was shuttered in October 2019, after the Missouri Department of Natural Resources abruptly closed the structure following a falling brick incident.
The southbound 'Silver Star' approaches Haines City, Fla., in 2012, when the train operated with a full-service heritage dining car in the consist.
Bob Johnston

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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