Amtrak is updating its dining service and revamping menu items on some routes, to appeal to millennial riders.

Amtrak dining car waiter takes a tablecloth-service food order from an elderly gentleman passenger
Amtrak is doing away with the traditional dining car service on some routes. Image by Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

From 1 October, Amtrak passengers on several sleeper routes will no longer travel to the dining car for a sit-down meal as the rail company announced it is doing away with the decades-old tradition of white-tablecloth service. Passengers will instead choose from a menu of pre-packaged meals that can be delivered to their carriage as complementary room service. Or, they can choose to take their meals to a new version of the dining car that still has booths but no tablecloth service.

As the old-timey tradition disappears, so do old-school menu items like steak and French toast. Passengers can instead order pre-packaged items when booking train tickets online like Asian noodle bowls or red-wine braised beef for dinner, Creole shrimp and Andouille sausage for lunch, plus a continental buffet for breakfast. Wine, beer and spirits are also on the menu, with the first drink on the house and unlimited soft drinks available.

Amtrak pre-packaged meal of Creole shrimp and rice
New dining options Amtrak will be serving aboard their updated train service include Creole Shrimp and Andouille sausage. Image by Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The revamped dining service is part of Amtrak's push to appeal to millennial riders, who, company officials believe, prefer to eat in privacy rather than in communal spaces.

"Some people really like [the dining car] and view it as sort of a nostalgic train experience,” Peter Wilander, Amtrak’s vice president of product development and customer experience, told the Washington Post. "Some people, especially our new millennial customers, don’t like it so much. They want more privacy, they don’t want to feel uncomfortable sitting next to people."

Scattering of young and old customers seated in Amtrak's dining car for breakfast service
The dining car will no longer be available on some East Coast routes from 1 October. Image by Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The change goes into effect on the Cardinal (New York to Chicago), City of New Orleans (Chicago to New Orleans), Crescent (New York to New Orleans), and Silver Meteor (New York to Miami). The revamped dining service will also be available on the Silver Star (another New York to Miami service) next year.

Along with flexible dining services, Amtrak is also upgrading East Coast trains with new seat cushions, curtains and LED reading lights. The company has also replaced carpets and introduced mats that can be refreshed throughout the journey and will upgrade bedding, towels and linens for sleeping cars, beginning with the Auto Train (Virginia to Florida).

Explore related stories

A beautiful Lower Manhattan skyline view seen from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade with green plants along the East River in New York City
1847588540

Theatre

I'm a travel writer in NYC – here are the questions I get asked the most

Jul 11, 2024 • 8 min read