Washington, DC – After a year of study, the Amtrak Food & Beverage Working Group has included nearly two dozen recommendations in its report to Congress – ranging from simple steps like clear ingredients lists and new efforts around waste control to comprehensive technology improvements such as using satellite-based internet connectivity to keep food items appropriately stocked and allow on-board purchases.
Congress created the Working Group, a team of passenger advocates, onboard Amtrak employees, state partners, and Amtrak management, as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law which President Biden signed in November of 2021. That measure required the Working Group to file its report to Congress this month, and the team completed its research and analysis of Amtrak F&B services in early May.
Rail Passengers Association’s Communications Manager Madison Ned Butler, an Escoffier-trained chef, spearheaded this project for the Association after working with President & CEO Jim Mathews to draft language included in the historic Investment Infrastructure and Jobs Act requiring formation of the Group to improve Amtrak’s food and beverage offerings.
“This is a truly intentional report. We want to empower the team at Amtrak to make smart choices that lead to more frequent ridership and better experiences on-board,” said Butler. “After our advocates worked diligently to remove the amendment to service dictating F&B must be profitable, we’ve opened up the potential to make meals an amenity that people will once again look forward to as they hop onboard.”
The report was filed with the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in the House of Representatives.
Included in the recommendations were short-term improvements, the establishment of follow-up committees to provide transparency and accountability, and requests made by both passengers and onboard employees addressing the different needs of different service models across the country.
Amtrak has 180 days to provide their response to Congress and come up with a plan to enact these recommendations. From handling immediate needs in the current environment to establishing industry best practices and looking to future tech solutions, this robust report makes a clear case for how Amtrak can improve over the next five years.