Monday, November 4, 2019

East Coast and West Coast Trains

Amtrack is in transition. The current head wants to concentrate on the short runs which are more lucrative. That’s a disaster for those people who need or want longer train trips.

One of the things that was cut out was the dining cars on the eastern trains. All that’s left is the snack bars. We were warned that there wasn’t much in the snack bars. With that in mind we brought our own healthy snacks. We figured fruit and nut bars were healthier than bags of chips.

As it turned out the snack bar wasn’t that bad. They had some decent microwave sandwiches. While that’s not great eating, it’s not too bad. My lovely wife actually enjoyed her cheese burger and my ham and cheese sandwich was fine. Still, we were glad we had plenty of healthy snacks with us. One bonus of Business Class was that non-alcoholic drinks from the snack bar were included.

Our train from Chicago to California had both a snack bar and a full dining car. The snack bar on that train was more like what we expected. The food in the dining cars was fine. Food is included if you have a room. They seated people with rooms for dinner first. If there were still seats available the dining car was opened up to Coach passengers. If you were paying for those meals you’d find them to be pretty expensive.

There’s enough menu variety that one could eat a different meal every time for the duration of the trip. Dinner requires reservations and someone comes around your room to see which seating you’d like. They fill up the booths so you never know who you’ll share a meal with. It’s a good way to get to know your fellow passengers.

Breakfast and lunch are first come, first served. There is always a vegetarian option if that’s your thing.

One thing the western trains have is an observation car. That’s a great way to take photos of the trip. That’s where I took this picture of Donner Lake.

That’s where the famous Donner party ran into bad weather and experienced some disturbing dining experiences of their own.



  1. I appreciate all the details of the trip. I may want to take a train soon, and this info might come in handy.

    1. There are some pretty good youtube videos out there that help. Glad this helps a bit. We are also taking the train back east in a couple of weeks, so I'll know even more after that.

  2. I like trains, they are in my blood. Sure do miss the old coal burners and their forlorn whistles.

    1. It is a fun realization to hear a train whistle and realize "that's us!"