Thursday, December 3, 2009

Amtrak Cascades renovations - first look

by guest blogger Vickie Sheehan

We are working with Amtrak to get ready to begin the next phase of renovations to the Amtrak Cascades train fleet. First up is the complete renovation of the Bistro and Lounge cars, in addition to adding Wi-Fi (yay!) and upgrading the video system. The renovation will begin shortly after the conclusion of the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, B.C. this March.  We have a concept drawing of the renovated Bistro car ready and want you all to take a look and let us know what you think!

Here is the current Bistro car:


Here is the proposed redesign:


Leave us your comments and any suggestions you have on what improvements you would like to see on the Amtrak Cascades trains below or send us an email.

174 comments:

DJStroky said...

Woohoo for Wifi, but will it be free or have a cost? For biz class it ought to be complimentary.

First impression of the Bistro car: Is there nowhere to sit in the Bistro car? That seems kinda odd.

Bistro car suggestions:
- Absolutely have a self-serve place for water. Make sure it's design can also fill water bottles.
- Have some kind of handle or surface to lean on because it is quite often wobbly in the bistro car
- Show more detail on the map above, better yet have a magnetic train that moves depending on the current location
- Have some kind of screen to show real-time info on where the train is, maybe even have skynews or something like in airports
- Have a payphone booth or common computer with wifi because quite often people want to make phone calls while on the train, but don't have their own phones
- The display box with the VIA rail ought to be replaced with something more functional.

Other suggestions:
- For special bike events like Seattle to Portland, offer additional bicycle storage.
- For bicyclists that won't be able to use Talgo trains while they are out of service, don't charge an additional fee or require a bike box.
- Design the garbage cans a little better because they fill up quickly and sometimes take some effort to shove trays from the bistro car into.

Seth said...

As a frequent Cascades rider, I would really like to see the Bistro car seating maintained. I understand that there is also a lounge/diner car with seating, however on a full train those tables are often full and I just don't see people using the stand up tables.

MvB said...

I'm a little concerned about the picture: doesn't look like there's a clear thruway for ped traffic with stand-up tables where they are. At one end you have the water dispenser creating at choke point, and at the other you have the order booth creating a choke point. Right now, you line up like flounders for the cash register at the thin part of the aisle, while people attempt to brush past you. This doesn't fix that. How about a microwave station or two so that passengers can heat their own food, and not the one person in the galley, making the order process take even longer?

Anonymous said...

I have a concern about the redesign. Imagine the car full of people and the train is moving. There is no "flow" and I can see lots of people bumping into each other, spilling things, etc. The original configuration is perfect. Why are you changing it?

Erica Mulherin said...

Thanks for your feedback. I am forwarding your comments/suggestions and questions on to the rail office for consideration.

DJStroky: We have not determined if Wi-Fi will be free or if there will be a charge it's still in the planning process.

We are trying to maximize the minimal amount of space in the Bistro car to accommodate the needs of customers to view and purchase the items that they want, get in and out quickly and more efficiently, better storage (so we don't run out of food) - just an overall better use of the space. That requires us to remove the seating since there is seating in the Lounge Car and in the train.

Ben Schiendelman said...

As a frequent Cascades user, I'm also concerned about the lack of seating. While this clearly creates more square footage for passengers and may alleviate line-ups, I'd like to see seating preserved. Perhaps barseats could be provided against the windows with a ledge for food/drink?

JustMe said...

The counter seating seems like a much better design than the new counter-only area. Seems very 'convenience store' like, rather than a nice alternative to the dining car.

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with most other posters that sit-down seating needs to be retained. I do not want to stand to eat. Thank you.

adronbhall.com said...

OMG, Wifi! Oh yeah.

Raise the ticket price and gimme zee wifi for inclusion in the price.

I'd be happy to pay another 2-5% on top of ticket price for that added as a "amenity" or whatever.

In addition, get to 97% on time performance and I'd be happy to pay another 5-10% for that alone.

Get the speeds up to a physically capable (don't gimme that FRA mess) 100-105mph and I'll easily pay another 20% on the current ticket price.

Hook it up! :)

Anonymous said...

Make sure the area for the line is wide enough for two people. If it's only wide enough for one, it's hard to walk past the line to the other car.

Make sure the layout allows for the longest line possible in the actual car. I've often had to stand in line in the area between cars and it's not fun.

I agree--seating should be maintained. It's nice to enjoy the windows in the dining car and sit with friends in a more relaxed setting. Also, I think it would be really difficult to stand and eat at those little tables while the train is jostling around--I'm not that coordinated!

laurie said...

I like the old design much better. The new one looks, cold, sterile and uncomfortable. Nowhere to sit? I think the counter seating is fun, and should be maintained. Why don't you just save some money, reupholster the booths and stools, and leave the design alone? The new design, frankly, is terrible.

Andrew said...

I think getting rid of all of the seats is still a mistake and doesn't make much sense.

Anonymous said...

Traffic patterns look awkward. Given that the line forms towards the dining car naturally, I see a lot of open empty space and two choke points at either end of the car.

The open space in the middle - without handrails or chairbacks to hold on to, will make getting through the car very hard for anyone with balance or mobility problems.

The stand up tables will be useless if the train is in motion.

Whole thing looks rather more like a pinball game than a welcoming place to eat.

harry said...

How about some small electronic ordering kiosks where people can order the food they want, pay with a card, and then get a receipt with a number that would be called when the food is ready? If a person has questions they can still go to the counter to speak to an attendant. Maybe even wireless ordering stations in other cars to keep crowding to a minimum int eh Bistro car. I like the idea of more storage cause I have been on a train that ran into delays and the Bistro ran out of food. Not a pleasant situation.

Anonymous said...

I prefer to have somewhere to sit like the current counter. Those of us - in our dotage don't do well standing up while eating and drinking. I always found it better to sit in the car to eat rather than spilling my food and beverage getting back to my seat. I love the Cascade and look forward to a continuous run from Eugene to Vancouver though I know Oregon has to do that part. Hopefully they will and get some of us off I 5. Even Eugene to Seattle would be good for games etc.

Beki said...

I love upgrades. Ditto on what was said about being able to fill water bottles and making the trash cans easier to use.
If you have to eliminate seating perhaps you can have the conductors share one table in the dining car rather than spreading out over three tables like they usually do. I realize they need a place to work but one table per person is a luxury not a necessity. Thanks for the improvements.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of water tap access on the Cascade trains and agree it should be designed to facilitate water bottles.

I like the more compact server space but would like to see seating retained. Being 67 I don't see myself standing and eating - too much sway for me to keep my balance.

The flow of pedestrian traffic is a problem in the current Bistro car, but the redesigned server space may help with that issue.

Anonymous said...

I'm stoked about the wifi. Will it be on all trains? And, if so, will any of them be outfitted with it this winter? I still think there should be some seating in the bistro car. What I'd really like to see is a parlor car on each route, like there is on the Coast Starlight.

Jillian said...

I also like the idea of the water dispenser, but am concerned that it is right by the door, blocking flow.

My biggest problem in the bistro car is the line- and how it goes down the narrow hall towards the lounge car. It would be better to create a line on the left hand side of the picture (so move the dispense station to the right), with handrails to hold on to (nothing to hold on to in the corridor).

I'm a bit concerned about the Star Trek Next Generation design. I'm afraid that it looks a little weird, and will be dated quickly. Why not have more of a classic design, to make people think of the romantic era of train riding?

Yay for the redesign! And the upgrade with wifi and the video system (that does need an overhall).

Thanks for all that you are doing!

railfunny said...

WiFi is great, but I don't care for the new bistro design at all.

Part of what makes the Cascades great is the great personal service provided onboard. With the proposed short counter, only one bistro attendant is visible to passengers, creating a less welcoming environment. Amtrak already has this sort of food counter on some of its Amfleet equipment, and as a passenger, I definitely prefer the long counter on the current Cascades equipment.

Perhaps with the removal of some or all of the bistro seating, the long counter could remain, but be widened to allow for the additional food storage needed, and perhaps onboard draft beer available for purchase as is found on Acela and most European premium regional trains. Without the bar seating, customers could line up along the counter/bar rather than in the hallway as they currently do. The counter/bar would give customers something to hold onto when the train rocks back and forth, unlike the proposed design.

For the AV upgrades, I really hope they keep the real time map and estimated arrival info, as this is useful, educational, and makes a great impression on first time riders. It also lightens the load on the onboard crew, as fewer passenger will keep asking when they will arrive at their destination.

Thanks for sharing the renovation plans with your passengers, and keep up the great work. I wish more of Amtrak's trains and management were like those of the Amtrak Cascades.

Jewlish said...

There should still be some small amount of seating there, bench style with a thin table, even. And a place to hold onto. (Works well for the long waits)

Keeping the lounge car is good if its also updated.

Perhaps add a Pay Pass option on a Self Serve bar like on Virgin America (An updated vending program)

Train Location map is a good idea on the screens.

Biz class wiFi should be complimentary or a code discount for people with the preferred customer account, that is issued with your ticket.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see the food service area centered in the car. It would be easy for traffic to flow in both directions. Place smaller areas on either side for concession items such as silverware extra. As seating does get extremely dirty on the train place plastic sitting like you would at a fast food restaurant. It could still look very nice without looking cheap. These would be easy to clean and maintain. Standing up trying to eat or drink something would be a mess for sure. Do away with the lighting around the bar as that is going to be costly to replace I am sure.

Noe Lee said...

Hooray for wifi!! But I'm not happy with the bistro redesign either. When people are standing at those tables, it could be very difficult for me to get to the counter in my wheelchair. Besides, you're going from the prettiest color scheme on Amtrak to blah.

KMez said...

I agree with DJStoky's comments. I travel on train at least two times a year to Portland and back and the lounge car is never available because they over sell the train and people need to sit there as paying customers. So before the assumption is made that the Bistro doesn't need seating because the lounge car is available please investigate cause it's not. But either way some kind rail needs to be added for people to grab on to cause the train is quite bumpy! Thank you for opening this up for public comment.

Renee said...

What I would love to see is multi ride tickets for section of the route between Portland and Seattle, any chance that might happen?

The upgrades look good. This design might allow the line to form out of the walk path for people just passing though.

WiFi sounds nice
Thanks for soliciting comments

Anonymous said...

The new Bistro may be more utilitarian, but it lacks warmth. The old one could use improvement, but is cozy in comparison to the new one. You have to remember that you are selling the sizzle of the trip experience not an automat or a destination, but a love affair with taking the train.

Anonymous said...

The new configuration does not look inviting to me. It sounds like it's more of a place to get people in and out and back to their seats. This is fine, but defeats the purpose for those who want to take advantage of the nice seating there and enjoy a coffee in a different space, watching the scenery go by or visiting with fellow travelers. Maybe I've just spent too much time on European trains and have a different concept of comfort. I like the bistro car how it is/was, rolling up to Vancouver. If it was full, I'd just wait a bit and then get seats when they opened up. Not a big deal.
Also, in the new concept, it looks like there is a place for condiments, etc. Hopefully this doesn't mean masses of waste via little plastic packets of everything. Two questions about garbage on the train: 1) What reasons would negate consideration of reduced paper/plastic waste by offering customers real cups/saucers/whatever for those wishing to consume beverages, etc. in the Bistro car (and a small dishwasher in the bistro for cleanup behind the counter, for example--how do all the other trains in the world with actual dishes do it?). 2) What steps is Amtrak Cascades taking to eliminate garbage and be as trash-free as possible? I'd be curious to know. Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

Kim said...

It looks nice, but I agree with the functionality questions others listed. My idea is to replace the stand up tables with a small row of window seating kind of like at a diner. Then it's taking up the same space, but allows people to sit and not take up a whole booth in the lounge for just 1 or 2 people.

William Al Jackson said...

-maintain a bar like bistro with more bar stools

-rid the other seating areas but add a few standup stools

-free wifi for every part of the train

Anonymous said...

I think the pedestal tables will prove to be a big mistake; They will impede the flow of foot traffic, they appear too small to be practical even for small snacking. THere appears to be a big chunk of what will be wasted potential counter and even storage space where the glass display is depicted. Why not run a wider counter there (maybe some stool seating)... with a small overhang and storage cupboards underneath?

Wil said...

Rode the Cascades yesterday for 1st time with spouse and child. We all commented on how good the Bistro car looked. Kind of Art Deco meets Retro.

We sat in the seats and actually met new people. Saw other people get talking while they sat in the seats, too.

Your new design looks like a big step backwards. The new design may be more functional for you but losing the seats will make the train less fun and social and losing the stainless steel trim will be a shame.

Jan said...

This new configuration of the bistro car does seem to have more bottlenecks for passengers. It reminds me of the design in the Empire Builder or perhaps it was another train that I've ridden on that had a congested area for ordering & paying for food/beverages.

Rose said...

I have been on this train, what a beauty it is now. Lots of good ideas in other comments. Wifi is good. The new design is not, looks like a space ship or a sterile laboratory, a place I would want to run from. No place to sit down, who wants to stand when they are having a snack, you want to relax & enjoy your self. I like the old decor, it is calming and relaxing. Can't it be modernized and still not make you feel like your the next specimen.
Sorry designers, but have you been on a train trip??

Wil, Vancouver, Canada said...

We were very much looking forward to FREE wifi. It makes sense due to the extended time spent on a train and the golden opportunity to surf and work there.

FREE wifi would be a HUGE selling point for me and my family. 4 hours on a train beats 3 hours in the damn car and 2 hours in airport line-ups and crammed into a plane cabin. In fact, 4 hours surfing the net on a train might beat 4 hours surfing the net at home.

Find some good sponsors and keep it FREE.

All the best and thank you for your efforts in providing this service in these crazy economic times.

DaveD_PDX said...

This looks like a step backwards. I understand that if you got rid of the bistro seats, it would improve flow and storage, but casual seating *in* the Bistro car is essential, as it encourages turnover better than the lounge car.

Also, I highly recommend having additional hand rails to encourage movement.

And please, make the wifi free for business class, and fast enough to stream video or otherwise be useful!

Anonymous said...

Wifi should be free and complementary for all to use! I'm also concerned about the lack of seating space in the bistro car. I'm a frequent traveler SEA/PDX run and there have been many trips where a person traveling with me has a had a child making a four top seat really a five person seat or a two person seat, then a three person seating and very uncomfortable. The bistro car has been a safe oasis( the lounge car fills up almost all the time!)when this happens to me. Since you are proposing taking away seating in the bistro car, will you also be addressing family friendly seating issues and concerns? I would definitely miss the bar seating, those are my favorite seats!

Anonymous said...

I agree totally with Rose - the previous comment and others. The "old" looks calm and cozy. The "new" looks cold and sterile. Why mess with something good? Also the standing room only adds to the hectic feel. Grab and run. Aren't you trying to promote the relaxing feel of a train ride?

Anonymous said...

The old design looks much more inviting to me. Part of the allure of train travel is the glamour of an older era, with modern conveniences. Also, I think removing the seating is a bad idea.

Stacy and Brian said...

As a regular commuter (over 1,000 miles a month), I've been waiting for WIFI for years. Thanks! As for the new Bistro car design....

I think there must be at least a communal bench/booth to sit at, especially for older passengers who like to sit down while they eat (and eat while there food is HOT). Standing and eating while going 70+MPH is hard, especially for the elderly and people with small children. I don't see these "standing" tables working at all - talk about wasted space!? Did this come about as a way to stop the heavy drinkers and loiterers?

Also, the route between Portland and Seattle is often sold out or over-sold requiring the tables in the dining car to be used as seating for passengers (also unaccompanied minors FILL the car of weekends). I can't tell you how many times I've seen those blue signs on the tables asking you to NOT sit in the diner as those tables are being "saved" for passengers boarding down the line. Also, the crew including the Talgo Tech takes up at least three tables in the dining car. Unless you plan on adding an additional dining car this new design is seriously flawed (from a seating stand-point).

Self serve water is a great idea. I'd also add a microwave - great idea.
Thanks for your consideration!
Stacy

Anonymous said...

I think the old design looks much more inviting. Part of the allure of train travel is the glamour of an older era, with modern conveniences. And I agree that it would be a bad idea to remove the seating.

Anonymous said...

You need to have at least some seating in the Bistro car. If not, the car will be strictly off limits for us older folks.

Anonymous said...

The new design is just stark and ugly.
No seating? I love taking the train, the bistro adds to an air of old world charm and romance. This new design looks like some low budget cold sci-fi joke. Back to the drawing board.
Just save some money by reupholstering and spend the leftover on free wifi

PDX Princess said...

Wifi is a great addition.

The new design does look almost too modern. And getting rid of the seating entirely seems like a bad idea. The stand-up tables on a swaying train aren't likely to get much use. Not to mention that the flow has to go around them.

A few seats worked in would be a welcome addition. Ditch the tall tables please!

A water dispenser that can accommodate bottles is an excellent addition as well. Just make sure that it doesn't block traffic passing through the door. It takes time to fill a bottle and no one wants to feel like they're in the way.

Anonymous said...

Amtrak: You made a big mistake with the conversion of the Cross-Country Diners. Learn from that---don't make ANOTHER mistake by taking away the limited seating that currently exists in the Bistro. It might look "cool" (as the Cross-Country Diners do), but they are simply not practical. Learn from past mistakes, and correct this one before it happens.

Anonymous said...

New desighn needs seating and hand rail points for better flow. Bar seating at the windows across from the stand-up islands and remove them. Wifi ok.
Add more cars to train and get track up to grade to increase train speed would entice more riders. Higher speed and more riders would allow you to have more trips per day

Anonymous said...

I don't recall seeing the news that WSDOT or Amtrak inherited a vast sum from a rich uncle. In other words, the state and amtrak aren't rolling around in extra cash, and so I question the timing and expense of these upgrades. As for the wifi, I think that's probably appropriate, because many will appreciate it and that will return on the investment in increased ridership. As for the Bistro car, I don't think the upgrade is needed at this time. Few people commenting here seem to speak of a dire need to change what the Bistro already has. So, unless there is overwhelming support and request for remodeling the bistro, why don't you put that same money into track improvements so the trains can move a little faster and safer.

Poll the ridership and report back on this forum if passengers would rather have improved performance or a remodeled bistro. I'd be surprised if the bistro wins over performance.

In closing, I love Amtrak and Cascades, my only complaint ever is delays and slow, rough track. That's where most passengers will appreciate improvments.

Anonymous said...

Unlike most of the posters here, I say get rid of the seating in the Bistro. It looks to me like you guys are on the right track with some minor tweaks. I think a more cafeteria-like like environment is for the best. It should NOT be inviting for people to linger -- given the constraints of the footprint and the number of passengers, people ned to get in and get out!

Brian Bundridge said...

Love the ideas. It almost looks like WSDOT went with the Talgo 250/8th gen design, which is very nice.

http://www.midwesthsr.org/images/spain/11609/11609-Images/3.jpg

I am a bit indifferent about this because I love the Talgo bistro's the way it is. I would prefer to keep the current with some updated upholstery.

If the cars were longer, something like the Spain AVE bistro would be excellent

http://www.ushsr.com/images/385_AveInterior.jpg

Anonymous said...

PLEASE leave seating for not all travelers are young and agile.
Looks like a design out of Star Wars..liked the old one much better!

Anonymous said...

Looks really modern and will probably date quickly.

That being said, I like the water dispenser.

I agree with the suggestion about a screen showing where you are, etc. Check out the Translink skytrain station screens in Vancouver as an example.

Please do preserve some kind of seating. I like to be able to get up, stretch my legs for a snack, and then sit there for about 20 minutes for a change of scenery while I eat. I don't want to have to sit in the dining car (and sometimes there isn't one) and order a fuller meal, and I don't want to be forced back to my seat to eat.

Also, if you have seniors with canes or walkers coming to the bistro, they will need a place to sit down. They can't maneuver back to their seat with snacks and beverages.

Brian Bundridge said...

I would also like to see track improvements and speed increase before the bistro car gets any work done to it.

Having wifi and the water dispensers would be the only modifications I would see needing besides the new upholstery in the bistro and lounge cars...

Would it be possible to add the same leather as in the coaches to the lounge and bistro cars?

Gwen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jmo said...

Smoother rails, less delays, that is the real need for passengers and Amtrak revenue, not gutting a working car. Sure change the car, but is it the priority that will bring more ridership on the Cascades? Probably not. Save some money, add vending machines in the last row of each car. Then you don't have to walk so far, for so little.

Gwen said...

Exciting to hear that upgrades are in the works, but I agree with MvB's comments. We recently took the train from Portland to Vancouver, and I distinctly remember thinking that there must be a better way to guide people through the line without causing the heavy congestion between the bistro cart and the lounge cart where customers are eventually taking their food to see and eat. I don't see that problem addressed adequately in your redesign.

What if those stand-up bar tables were removed or even pushed to the windows on the right side of the picture, you could install a short waist high rail to divide the space in the middle of the car (running from the register to the foreground of the photo--vertical in the picture) so that customers could line up along it (left-side), and use it for support when the train turns and trembles. Then through traffic could move along the right side of the rail un-blocked.

I love DJStroky's suggestion to show the train's location on a digital map in the bistro car.

I'm glad to hear that wi-fi is coming, before our last trip I was under the impression that it was already available on the train. I was planning to finish some work while in transit to Vancouver and everything was web-based, and so had to frantically finish it at a coffeeshop in BC. Complimentary service would be a very appreciated touch and a great marketing tool for you! Just one more reason in favor of the car over the train.

My last suggestion is in respect to aesthetics only, but right now your design looks like a bistro cart from the Starship Enterprise...the early 90's version... I love riding the train in part because of the old- time train charm...what if instead of trying to make the space look so futuristic, instead you gave it a vintage train make-over?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the kind thought, but, PLEASE, we need seats. The old Bistro car would be better.
Ditto on the comment about the Lounge car. Too often it's full.

Anonymous said...

Wi-fi would be great.

Please find a way to allow riders to use all the seating available in the bistro rather than the conductor and others spread out over two or three tables. There must be a way to arrange a work area in one of the coaches.

Jarrod DellaChiesa said...

WiFi - that's great and VERY exciting!

The remodeled Bistro - Not so cool. The current version is very elegant, warm and inviting, but just needs to be refurbished. The new water faucet is a great addition however! Getting rid of the seats - at least the counter seating - would be a big mistake! It is very unique and makes it exciting to visit the car!

Anonymous said...

As someone who loves trains, I vote to leave the Bistro car the way it is. It's charming, not plastic. Also, there are many of us that are seniors or handicapped. The car would be useless, or very challenging, for us without seating. I would suggest you add a car for your employees that often occupy several tables in the dining areas with paperwork. They would have more room, it would be quieter for them to do their work, and more room would be available for the paying passengers.

Anonymous said...

One of the big problems in the Bistro is handling the line for service. It frequently backs up into the Lounge car, and I can't see if/how that's addressed with the new design. This becomes a real problem with people trying to move past the line, especially if they are carrying food.


Something that would alleviate the issue with people waiting in line and really provide better customer service would be a second cash register and cashier. I've had to wait 20 minutes or more to be waited on when the lines are long. It may not be justified for the whole trip, but even if someone could help for 30 minutes or so at peak times, that would be wonderful.


From what I can see of the proposed layout, it looks like it would be possible to extend the counter slightly to accommodate a second cash register.

Anonymous said...

WiFi = good
No seating in Bistro = Bad
Old design is way better. What advanatges would the new design offer? Self service?

Jarrod DellaChiesa said...

I agree - Conductors and employees taking up seats and tables is very unprofessional - especially when paying customers are waiting for seats!

PDXGreenRealty and Remodeling said...

I'd really like to see biodiesel used on the Cascades, I took a really dirty picture overhead of the Talgos and the soot from the pollution was amazing!

Can we also have recycling and green cleaners used onboard?

I also have a contact with Shorepower to be able to plug in and reduce the hours of idling that is currently done in downtown Portland.

Do you have a contact to speak with?

Thank you

Anonymous said...

First thing that jumps out at me: WHERE ARE THE SEATS? A stand-up bar? Really? Big fail.

PDXGreenRealty and Remodeling said...

Could we have plenty of place to plug in for power to be able to enjoy the new wifi?

Anonymous said...

Hate the new design! Nowhere to sit. Feels cold and plastic like a greyhound station. I can imagine the way it smells from here! Old design is just fine. Also, when you can opt for fabric upholstery over vinyl, please do! Otherwise, feels like a subway car. You call it a bistro car? Please make it feel like one! Airline travel has gotten chintzier and chintzier. Make the train feel like flying used to - special!

Anonymous said...

OFF TOPIC, but I just took the Cascades (to Bellingham) and was disappointed in what I might describe as Naugahyde seating, both in regular coach and business class. It looks cheesy and cheap. I thought I remembered much nicer fabric seats from previous Cascades trips.

RStevens said...

Seating.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't seem to have much of an atmosphere (kind of a cold sterile feeling) & not much in the way of seating either.

Pat Kight said...

I'm going to buck the crowd and vote for better traffic flow even if it means removing the seating. Among other things, I've been on way too many trains where the counter seating was taken up the entire way by 3-4 people drinking their way north or south, and I've seen them get obnoxious enough that they had to be removed from the train. The lone Bistro attendant - and other passengers - don't need that grief. If they had to walk to and from their seats each time they wanted another drink, maybe some of them would realize how drunk they were and slow down.

Everyone on the train has a seat; it's not a big deal to go get food and beverages, bring it back to your seat and eat there.

I'll echo the hope that WiFi can be free, even at the cost of a slight increase in ticket prices.

Duane said...

I much prefer the original design for the Bistro Car. Without repeating anybody too much, many of the previous postings here have covered my concerns. I think the stand up tables will be used more for people stirring a coffee or placing things temporarily. Currently, the Bistro car has a casual social atmosphere and it's a great place to head for if one wants to get up for a walk. It has a relaxed atmosphere where yea, let's sit down and chat for awhile.
One actually gets to know people onboard the train.
The new design looks cold - does not have a warm 'feel' to it. I likely wouldn't spend much time there.

*I know it's difficult, but I would support a second stop on the Canadian side of the border. For me, it's actually easier to drive to BLI vrs. Vancouver (better parking in BLI too)

Good idea for public input!
thx!

Robb said...

I really prefer the original design of the bistro car - spend a fraction of the money and just improve the existing design and configuration. Part of the reason I take the cascades is for the ambiance of the train and the train experience. The proposed renovation has no unique character! I agree with a previous post that it looks like a convenience store. The value of the aesthetic experience is important - its not a bus! Thanks for taking our input.

Eric said...

Instead of just posting a picture with a new design, how about explaining what the issues with the old design are, and how the new design intends to address those issues?

Anonymous said...

I am so spoiled by the trains in Europe. There I would choose train over any other kind of travel. The American trains lack the feeling of luxary and ease. It would be great to include some of that. What is with the no seating? Not too friendly. It has the hurry up and get out look. Love the wi-fi concept and, yes, it should be included in a business class fare. If train travel got better I would always ride the train.

Anonymous said...

Imagine sipping a coffee while leaning on the pedestal and the car is rockin and rollin. Useless.

The elderly need a place to eat w/o juggling food and a cane back to their seats. The compartment doors are hard enough.

When I end up in a seat w/o a table I like to have a place to sit and eat w/o spilling on my silk tie.

Wifi in the bistro? What's the point? No place to put my laptop.

Charles said...

Yes to Wi-Fi but a resounding "NO" to the configuration. The new layout looks more like a fast food joint that a Bistro Car. The existing layout may not be what you view as being best for the passengers but you have a lot of empty wasted space in the new one. The island tables are of no use to anyone other than to lean on. Anyway, they are in the way of traffic flow.
I say keep the existing layout but place the menu along the thin end of the counter (near the existing glass corner cabinet) and have your food line start from that end rather than from the Lounge Car end.
The water dispenser is a good idea but the positioning may need to be looked at as it appears to be in the way of traffic flow from the vestibule.
The existing picture shows bar seats at the counter. They can be removed to aid the new food line I suggested.
Please retain the seating on the opposite side of the car from the counter. Just refurbish the upholstery. They are nice seats and people can sit and enjoy the view while eating.
As for the Lounge Car, yes, the Traincrew are there, but only because there is nowhere else for them to realistically be, other than to partition off the end portion of Car 1 (or Car 9)for them. It is extremely hard for them to do their job when the car is busy and noisy. I understand about the loss of potential seating with them there but it is what it is. How about designing in some form of partitioning of the four seat end bay where they usually sit so they have a bit of privacy. Not a solid partition but maybe some attractive patterned glass like on the sliding doors between the cars. This would help with the noise problem but would not isolate them from passengers. They need to be available and visible.
To summarize, the Bistro is mostly fine as it is. It only needs a little changing to improve what is basically a very nice car. Costs could be quite minimal. Please don't turn this into a sterile unwelcoming environment.

Charles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Trains are such a romantic part of our short history. Mine began in the mid 1950's.
Luxury can be scaled for multiple seats.
Keep it real. Plug into your iPods when you are bored with the scenery.

Dave said...

I'm an east coaster who occasionally uses the Cascades when in the Northwest on business. The picture of the new Bistro design looks very much like those on the Acela Express trains here in the Northeast. The stand-up tables have proven so unpopular with passengers that Amtrak is planning to remove them in upcoming renovations. Keep what you have now - it works better!

Abigail said...

I agree with many others that the traffic flow seems awkward. I would hate to be jostled by the train movements into someone who is standing to eat. It seems like a messy and uncomfortable process.

Additionally, the condiment island takes up a lot of space that could be used for seating or vending machines. A vending machine could relieve some of the commercial load of the snack bar (cold sodas, chips etc), freeing up more space for seating.


I agree that the new design seems cold and uninviting, but it is difficult to gauge the feel of the materials from a computer rendering. The CalTrain is finished in soft gray, and is quite elegant. I fear that this design calls for artificial wood paneling combined with white plastic which will leave the car looking like the claustrophobic plastic interior of a boat.

I also like the idea of a screen showing real-time location, potentially with news or facts about the area.

And the water fountain/spigot is a great idea!

Ed Burggraf said...

Don't mess with the Bistro. Keep the seats.

Elizabeth said...

The new design is dreadful! It looks a waiting room for alien abductees. Cold, sterile, inhospitable. Yuck! The old design had grace and flow. Why in the world would you want to change it?

Those tables to stand at look like a serious liability. People are going to be knocked around while the train is in motion, tipping over, bumping into people trying to pass, spilling hot drink, etc.

Free wifi would be great. Water as well. Some of the previous comments have made excellent suggestions for modernizations and updates. Most of which could be acheived with minimal impact on the current Bistro car.

Anonymous said...

Uh, sorry, but no. This new design doesn't do anything for me (other than make me feel like I would be in a sci-fi movie of some type). I have to cast a vote for leaving the design as is, it really is important to be able to sit and standing on the train is not that much fun.

If the diner car had more seating or an additional diner/lounge car were added than there may be less need for seating in the Bistro car; but until then you need to keep the seating.

J Peterson said...

good concept in Design, It is very similar to the TGV, Eurostar, Thalys trains design in Europe. But one problem with standing at those pillars, makes it hard to balance with the uneven and subpar track conditions. Cascade trains travel on rails that carry mostly freight. The Trains in Europe are smooth and travel on mostly passenger only tracks. put a long counter along the wall and add some seats

Nancy said...

Hi, The new bistro car seems to have no seating. The old car seems more inviting and comfortable. I vote for keepng the old design. I really enjoy the luxury and comfort of train travel and like the idea of lolling on comfy seats.

Nathan said...

I would say that the best thing to do would be to just reupholster and apply a fresh layer of veneer or whatnot on the current design. It seems that followers of Amtrak Cascades like the design the way it is. It functions and is familiar and friendly.

Mama Hx3 said...

Loved reading the suggestions, but my only thought was that it isn't up to Amtrak to upgrade the rails...aren't they owned by the freight train lines? That is why Amtrak runs late, they have to give right of way to the freight trains.

The new look is "flashy" but doesn't seem to be functional and inviting. If there is funding available, then clean up the current "worn" look, but keep it friendly.

Wi-Fi would be great and should be included in the business class ticket.

Please keep up the work you do. I realize sometimes it feels like you just can't win.

Kathleen said...

I use the Cascade regularly. Along the route between Olympia and Seattle, there is no way one could eat standing up as is shown in the renovation. You need to sit. I would be hanging on, trying to stand and eat. As it is now, I can sit at the bar and enjoy the view or sit at the small table. I have never seen a line be a problem requiring more space in the current configuration.
If you must remove the booths, put a bar and seats up on both sides. The dining car has big tables meant for larger groups. The Bistro car should be inviting and one should be able to sit and enjoy the view.

Penny said...

been receiving your e-mails for about a year and are planning a trip next Summer.
When I looked at the 1st photo I thought how neat is that!
Then I realised that the 2nd photo is the new design.
I really think you are missing it here!
We are pretty agile but in our 60's and frankly I don't want to stand up to eat or drink! I also do not want to sit in the lounge as I don't drink and from what I read it is overcrowded anyway.

Now to the design, sorry, it looks like a spaceship and not at all inviting.
Thank you for allowing public input and from what I have read I do hope that the designer can re-work it into something more comfortable or better yet....leave it alone!

Anonymous said...

Totally think it needs some seating. The current design seems workable to me (except on the most crowded of days).


Nickatnight

Anonymous said...

Not having been on the train, I should be restrained, but I have to wonder, "What were they drinkin'" when they came up with the new design. They must not travel by train, either!!

What were the issues with the old design? It looks nice from the photo.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree on raising the price so that "some people" can use the Wi-Fi. Lots of us don't use it and are Still Budgeting. So, raising up the prices for those of us, leaves out taking the train.

a plain brown tabby said...

The current car is excellent and inviting, great style. A previous poster said "How about some small electronic ordering kiosks where people can order the food they want, pay with a card, and then get a receipt with a number that would be called when the food is ready? If a person has questions they can still go to the counter to speak to an attendant. Maybe even wireless ordering stations in other cars to keep crowding to a minimum int eh Bistro car."
and i wholeheartedly agree.
I would love WiFi and would pay up to $5 extra for this service.

ABC said...

No no no! I like the current car's counter/bar. For one its functional as it allows someplace to stack orders as they are served out while the next patron moves to the cash register. For another it's a beautiful flow and stunning design. The proposed design is cold clunky and ugly.

Leave the car alone!

Ron & Debra said...

"Give me a train with and all night bar,

Wherever I go can't be too far.

Rock me to sleep in a Pullman car,

I'll ride those trains again!"

from "Wolverine 14" by Utah Phillips

dogears said...

Can't say much that hasn't already been said. The new layout does lend itself to standing only which is, as you've stated, more conducive to traffic flow and there are other seating locations. Some "gripping" handles for bumpy trains would be wise. Free Wi-Fi would be great, but let's face it, someone has to pay for the service. I wouldn't mind a small "surcharge" for the service, but I would prefer to make the choice and pay with my ticket. For those who decide "later" it should still be available at a (slightly) higher fee, just like buying your train ticket at the last minute is more expensive.

Anonymous said...

My daughter and I agree completely with most of the other posters regarding the lack of seating in the new Bistro car design. The older design is more inviting; the new design is cold, and the loss of seating might result in a loss of patrons.

WiFi is a good idea. It would be superb (gratis) throughout the train and in the current Bistro car!

Anonymous said...

Looks like a big mistake. Why not use a baggage car with vending machines? Don't go half way. It's already hard to deal with getting things when the train is underway.
Try comfort, not slick.

Charles said...

Yes to Wi-Fi but a resounding "NO" to the configuration. The new layout looks more like a fast food joint that a Bistro Car. The existing layout may not be what you view as being best for the passengers but you have a lot of empty wasted space in the new one. The island tables are of no use to anyone other than to lean on. Anyway, they are in the way of traffic flow.
I say keep the existing layout but place the menu along the thin end of the counter (near the existing glass corner cabinet) and have your food line start from that end rather than from the Lounge Car end.
The water dispenser is a good idea but the positioning may need to be looked at as it appears to be in the way of traffic flow from the vestibule.
The existing picture shows bar seats at the counter. They can be removed to aid the new food line I suggested.
Please retain the seating on the opposite side of the car from the counter. Just refurbish the upholstery. They are nice seats and people can sit and enjoy the view while eating.
As for the Lounge Car, yes, the Traincrew are there, but only because there is nowhere else for them to realistically be, other than to partition off the end portion of Car 1 (or Car 9)for them. It is extremely hard for them to do their job when the car is busy and noisy. I understand about the loss of potential seating with them there but it is what it is. How about designing in some form of partitioning of the four seat end bay where they usually sit so they have a bit of privacy. Not a solid partition but maybe some attractive patterned glass like on the sliding doors between the cars. This would help with the noise problem but would not isolate them from passengers. They need to be available and visible.
To summarize, the Bistro is mostly fine as it is. It only needs a little changing to improve what is basically a very nice car. Costs could be quite minimal. Please don't turn this into a sterile unwelcoming environment.

Anonymous said...

I agree with others. Yes the current set up is more inviting and cozy and should be incorporated into the new design. I also agree that seating should be maintained and is a must. Wifi should be free too. Metro even offers that. Choice of food/beverages should accommodate all including allergens etc. Hope the comments are REALLY taken into serious consideration.

Anonymous said...

I hope the invitation to "take a look and let us know what you think!" isn't just window dressing. It seems pretty clear the vast majority of the people who have acted on the invitation don't like what they see and you all need to go back to the drawing board and come up with something that includes seating and is more inviting. Not something from a scene from Star Wars!

paulie said...

Where are the seats? I like seats. Where are the seats? Did I mention the seats? I like to sit down. Obviously someone doesn't. But I like to. Where are the seats? Thanks Paul

PaddyMV said...

here's a simple fix for adding room in the dining area;
create a space for the train crews to conduct their business elsewhere. Every time I have ridden the Portland/Seattle train two and often three booths are taken up by uniformed crew members and their stuff...funny management never noticed this.

Lacy said...

Oh dear, the proposed changes are not at all pleasing. Much too ultra modern. Where's the seating? Where's that feeling of comfort? Oh no this will not do at all. Please rethink your design. The reason people travel by train is the ease and comfort that train travel affords. Not for how glitzy and flashy the train can be. Why not put the funds toward doing away with the "BUS" connections and improve the rail lines.

E King said...

Where are the seats for the adults and kids?

Butch Dodgion said...

Wi Fi will be a nice addition, even more so if the service is free. I have to agree with most of those who commented that the present seating should remain with only an upgrade to the same leather that the coaches have. What I recommend for change is as Brian B. said, make the car longer to gain room and more comfort.

Lee said...

Horrible

Standing at a standup table while in a moving train? No way.

It is not customer friendly. It looks like a designer trying to make a statement rather than understanding user needs and basing the design on that.

I second the comments by MvB and Ben Schiendelman, Laurie, Abndrew, and others.

DJStroky makes excellent additional comments.

Inclusion of WiFi is great and long overdue

Lee said...

One more comment:

With WiFi there is the danger of seating areas in the bistro car being hogged by people on their computer.
Easy solution: have WiFi available throughout the rest of the train but not in the bistro or dining cars.

Jim said...

My wife and I have taken the Cascades train from Portland to Seattle and back at least a dozen times over the last year. I would like to see free WiFi throughout the train, but I disagree with changes to the Bistro. It seems fine as it is. Also, the train's television system needs work--it too often malfunctions.

eric1972sea said...

Love the updated look and WiFi is long overdue. They have it on Sounder and some Metro buses so Amtrak should have it by now.

Gaivs said...

I have not had the chance to ride the Cascades service as of yet, but plan to in the near future... One of the main reasons I'd like to (besides going to Vancouver BC) is to have a seat in that gorgeous lounge car! please don't take away the seats! and of course, going at the eventual speeds of 110 mph, standing in the bistro car isn't going to work - from personal experience, seat-less bistros in Czech and German trains are a real nightmare. also, i would gladly pay a few extra dollars into the fare to get 'free' WIFI service.

eric1972sea said...

If I am not mistaken there is a self serve water dispenser already pictured in the drawing there on the left. So it seems that is already going to be part of the redesigned car. The seating is gone because the bistro car is basically take out the lounge car is for sit down eating. Amtrak and the state have to run this as a business and taking out the bistro seating will mean more people eat in the lounge car which probalby generates higher revenue return and in the end this is good for the Casecades runs which are taxpayer subsidized.

Anonymous said...

I travel 6-8 times a year on Amtrak Cascades and i LOVE it.

You guys are doing a great job.
thanks for opening this up to comments.

Standing tables on a moving train are a REALLY bad idea.
And something to hold on to or lean against while waiting
and walking is ESSENTIAL.

I like the Self serve water but agree that it shouldn't be in a traffic bottleneck point and must
be able to work with a water bottle.

I like people's suggestions of automatic vending.

A screen with train location is a great idea.

I am always very annoyed by the movies in every car, if that can be avoided it would be a huge improvement.

Please DO NOT increase the fare for everyone just to add WiFi for a few. Make it free if possible, but make it pay to use before
increasing the fare. I know the fare compares quite reasonably with driving, but it's still hard for many of us to afford as it is.

More trains, more seats, more destinations, more often is
of course the biggest priority.

Brian D said...

I've been begging for wifi on Amtrak for years. Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

Seems like riders overwhelmingly prefer the existing Bistro design, perhaps with some decor upgrades. Other than improving some traffic flow, it would be helpful to know what the designers thought they were "fixing". Standing up to eat at hub-cap sized round tables on a moving train on less-than-high-speed track? Like one commentor said, have these designers (or, maybe, design students) ever ridden on a train? The new elegance-free design has little to recommend it. Save your money and focus on helping BNSF improve track and signal upgrades which will allow higher passenger train speeds. The Talgos are designed for 125 mph, not 79 mph, the current maximum.

Anonymous said...

I think the way it is - is much better then the proposed. It looks nicer, friendlier/warmer and looks more functional. Isn't there somewhere else the money can be used more efficiently? Don't change what isn't broken for the sake of new design. Be Green and keep the old design which looks great and inviting.

Telecom said...

I like the wood, but I'd replace the blue lights with a warmer color like orange or red to make it feel friendlier. If you end up starting over, try the warm and friendly colors of Italy.

Anonymous said...

Please keep the lovely old bistro car but add the water station. Also you might think of a one line for people who just want a beverage, and the other for beverage and food.

Brian Bundridge said...

Just curious, I would have to assume that the experimental wifi is still on the "Mt. Olympus" trainset as I was able to connect to it and use the wifi for a good chunk of the trip.

Worked great except for a few places. I was able to use it from Seattle to Vancouver,WA and it only dropped about a dozen times for no more than 5 minutes. Kudos!

It was marked as "private" and unsecured.

Anonymous said...

Nice. No need for the seats at the counter as I have never seen anyone sit there anyway. The flow of the LINE was always kind of odd. Look at changing that.

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of the comments already. This new design lacks the inviting feel the bistro car now has. When I ride the Cascades, I enjoy sitting in the bistro and conversing with fellow travelers. This new design does not encourage that interaction. Also the new design is almost identical to the Acela on the NEC. From experience, the lack of seats on that train in the cafe car encourages people not to gather and mingle. In short, keep the seats in the bistro and continue to encourage passengers to mingle with each other especially when there is less and less of that human interaction.

gngoat said...

The new design is simply awful and a horrible waste of money. Refurbish the old, do some minor flow fixes but why ruin a car most people like?


The design is very like the acela bistro cars which are an utter failure. Stand up table don't work especially considering the curves and track on our corridor. Please please send this back to the drawing boards.
I am a frequent Cascade customer and this is a mistake.

Jarrod DellaChiesa said...

Folks - WiFi is being added to the whole train, not just the bistro car. There is no reason to worry about people hogging space because it isn't available at their seats - people will be able to sit wherever and use it.

Hope that helps clear up any confusion on that...

Anonymous said...

Old look- good/great; new look- no way,cold, sterile, confusing, etc.

Much of the commentary shows my thought on the matter as well. How about using customer feedback along with designers working together to improve what is already a very friendly environment? Perhaps on-board surveys/customer feedback interviews, observation of Bistro car use by professional designers? Thanks, and WSDOT is doing a great job on so many projects- keep on train'in

Anonymous said...

Will the remodel require a Superliner trainset to Vancouver again? Also, will the bistro attendant's work space be more efficient? It always seems that the bistro attendant's job is made harder (and my wait in the line made longer) by the inefficient layout behind the counter.

railfunny said...

Hi, as a frequent Amtrak Cascades passenger and Amtrak AGR Select member I have some major concerns with the proposed redesign, as it does not appear to be ADA friendly, among other things.

I hope WSDOT doesn't proceed with removing the seats and shorten the counter/bar. Onboard WiFi and an updated AV/Map system would be a welcome addition however.

For WiFi prices, how about free access for Business Class and AGR Select/Plus passengers, and $3 for coach?

For food storage, have you considered having a commissary in Portland instead of Seattle only? This way less onboard storage would be required, the Bistro could open sooner after leaving Seattle, and there could be regional specialties from Portland as well as Seattle. The commissary could also service the Portland leg of the Amtrak Empire Builder, and when it returns to service, the Amtrak Pioneer.

Can you please share with us the the proposed changes for the lounge car, or will that keep the current design?

Ben Gran

Anonymous said...

There must be some seats - so cozy! Please.

Anonymous said...

The current car is more inviting and warm. The new one looks to plastic and unfriendly. No warm colors, no various seating opportunities - think you lost it on this one. I do like the sky on the ceiling, you need to go forward with a friendly design with warmth, greens and blues, much better seating options, the bar was fun and inviting for food, etc. Hope you rethink it!!

Anonymous said...

I don't see the need for a re-do except to make the trash bins larger/easier to use and to provide better self serve water.

Seating, seating... Keep the bar. Plus the little tables.

As many others have said the lounge car is often booked.

Plus, as others have said, the conductors spread over tables... Is that necessary?

One commenter said there was stand up on the TGV. Not my experience. Nice small tables. As we have now. Spanish trains bleh! Much like the proposed new design.

I really think the new design is more than two steps back. Money could be used much more usefully.

Agree that wifi and the AV train status is a nice touch.

Mike said...

How about reconfiguring both the bistro car and the diner car? Add better seating or more efficient in the dining car. The seating in there is uninviting and seems poorly laid out for lounge setting on a fast train.

Anonymous said...

I also would like the seatting to remain. Is it possible to expand bistro seating to the next car.

Anonymous said...

I travel regularly on the Amtrak Cascade route, but I would be much less likely to visit the bistro car--and spend money on food and beverages--if there were no tables or padded seats in that car. From my perspective, preserving comfortable seating in the bistro car should be a high priority in the renovation design plan.

Robert D. West said...

There should definitely be seating in the bistro car. Standing and eating on a moving train is not a realistic expectation. I do like the new counter design where the attendent works. Between there and the end of the car, on at least the left side and on both sides if possible, there should be a narrow counter about 12" deep running against the windows with seating similar seating to that in the current design facing the windows. The two pedestal tables are an awful idea and need to go. Half-round or triangular-shaped small tables against the windows would be better, though not as good as the counter. Maybe a counter with seating on one side and small stand-up tables against the windows on the other.

srl542000 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
srl542000 said...

Sterile..will out date quickly. Not inviting. Cold. Ugly. Not people friendly. Waste of money. Dosen't look practical. Bad flow for movement. Doesn't reperesent the Northwest Style. Go back to the design team for a redo!!

Anonymous said...

Train travel to me has always been a relaxing journey. I hate your new design. It does not look at all
like being on a train. Is it not possible to make it efficient and relaxing all in one design, with- out going old disco? I much prefer the original design. It looks friendly. The new design is very cold! When are you planning to make it an all vending machine car.

Anonymous said...

Gee, Let me guess, I bet the new lounge design came from the folks at Amtrak, just look at their equipment and you can see the same thing. I'm sorry, but the design is awful. How can you look at the original design, which functioned well and come up with this as a new look and layout
Try again, this stinks, no imagination, no talent.

Anonymous said...

I have ridden on Amtrak's trains all around the country since I was 18. Of the cafes in the Amfleet, Horizon, Acela, Superliner, California, and Talgo Cars, the Talgo's bistro has always been my favorite and I think the best in the fleet. I have told my friends how awesome the Cascades bistro cars are because you can sit at the counter and the atmosphere is very inviting. In fact riding the Amtrak Cascades and going to the bistro car is something I look forward to whenever I visit the Northwest. Please do not fix what isn't broken.

Anonymous said...

This sterile new design looks cheap, charmless, and something only a bureaucrat would like. Are we really expected to stand around these tiny tables hanging on to the stranger next to us and hoping our drinks don't spill?

Why not just save our tax dollars and spend a fraction of our money by reupholstering and refreshing the existing cars? This new design looks depressing and troublesome.

Anonymous said...

I generally like the redesign (I hate those useless bar seats), but think it could be improved.

First, move the condiment area over into the open area now between the register and condiment area. Right now this is just a useless open area.

Then move the standing tables over into where the condiment area is. This keeps the traffic flow moving along the same lines and side.

This also frees up the space on the other side of the car for some seating.

Julia said...

Back in the olden days:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:VIADiningCarA79.JPG

Cheri said...

Honestly, the new design doesn't look as inviting or cozy. It looks cold and modern. Steely, rather than warm. Something from "The Jetsons."

Dooglas said...

I'm not sure why all the excitement about losing 4 or 5 seats in the bistro car. I have riden the Cascades hundreds of times and never used the few seats in the bistro car - the seats and tables in the lounge car certainly but not the bistro seats. The actual seating problem is that a few people (including train attendants) camp out in the lounge car for the entire trip and it is not available to other passengers for eating as was intended. Far more to the point, I don't see how rearranging the bistro seating as you propose solves any of the current problems in the bistro car. Service is quite slow when the train is full and the line backs up through the narrow cooridor into the lounge car. Why not look at ways to change the customer flow and consider some self serve options that would speed up service for some packaged items and drinks.

Anonymous said...

Yes, definitely, to WiFi, whether or not I have to pay as long as it is available in the all the cars.

Bistro car not so much. I don't like the colors (too much "aluminum") and the stand-up tables are useless in every way. Seats are needed for those who can't walk back to their seats with food.

Access to tap water is great, however it comes. I'm okay with the way it is now, but having an automatic dispenser would be nice also.

Anonymous said...

Keep the old layout

Anonymous said...

I like the present design, but I agree the trash and recycle bins need to be reconfigured. The H20 dispenser is a great idea but the placement is bothersome, would it be possible to place them two of them in the passenger cars say around the washrooms? Wifi is a great idea. I wouldnt use it but I seeit as a see real moneymaker.

Anonymous said...

I agree with with the Senior poster. While I do not quailfy under ADA rules I am mobility imparied. Seniors are not the demographic Amtrak wants to encourage..Agree with poster re speeds. lets use some of the Stimulus money to improve road beds and crossings so 100mph is feasable.

Anonymous said...

For the bistro - how about internet site ordering? Nearly everyone seems to be able to access the internet from their cell phone so why not allow those that have it to put in their order via it and an order number can be returned. It will cut down on the lines and people will have a record of what they ordered if they forget by pick up time.

It would also be a good idea to post the menu online so people can get an idea of what is available and the cost for those that have internet access from home only and will be odering in the car at the counter.

VancouverIte said...

This looks exactly like the Eurostar Bistro train. Interesting.

aka.arlene said...

The WiFi and water dispenser sounds nice, but otherwise I think the current bistro car seems much more comfortable and inviting than the proposed one.

chiang01 said...

It looks like change for the sake of change to me. I truly hope that you take some of the excellent suggestions above into account before setting things in stone (or steel, as the case may be)

Jeffrey said...

Add my vote to the "don't eliminate seating" crowd. I *do* like the idea of eliminating the choke point caused by the line build up as it currently exists, but I think this can still be done while still maintaining something like the existing bar seating. Maybe bar seating directly along the windows on the port side?

Anonymous said...

The old design looks so much better. Like a bar car and not like some freakish, futuristic intergalactic bar.

Susana said...

WIFI IS A HUGE PLUS!!!!!! As a Student from the University of Washington Seattle who is always going to Portland to see family, internet and food are a must. I know many college students who take the train, greyhound, and have family members that pick them up. College students are on a budget and usually take the greyhound or carpool, but if there would be WIFI it would be a good idea to advertise something like college students gets free WIFI access. I am sure that if it is free college students WILL be there especially if the train takes longer then the bus or a carpool they can use the internet to do school work. The free WIFI will bring you the college crowed, because I admit I have taken the Greyhound because we can stop and get good food and its faster, but many other and I would give that up to have a better navigation/on-time display (We hate being late) and better food along with FREE WIFI!!!
Personally I feel the food could use a little upgrade. I am always on the run and end up on the Amtrak hungry and with nasty vending machine and microwave food!! The food is always the same too...maybe switch it up a little bit. I LOVE THE Water Dispenser; there also should be an ice dispenser. I am a little unsure on the seating availability. The thing that is on the left should be a space to eat and condiments can go where you sell food. I love the open feel with all the windows. I want to make sure that there too is something that gives updates on where we are and why we are stopped somewhere in the lounge/bistro cars.

Anonymous said...

As a frequent rider of the Cascades the redesign of the Bistro car is not only a waste of money but a change for the worse. No seating and a sterile design is not an improvement.

The Wi-Fi, 'bout time this finally put in. But this should be complementary for Business Class and a very small fee if any for Coach. Amtrak should realize that people using Wi-Fi will be much lower maintenance since they will be occupied.

Anonymous said...

If it ain't broke don't fix it. Leave it alone. Sitting is more important than just redesign to spend money.

Catalina Vel-DuRay said...

MUCH better than the old car! That long counter was a silly waste of space, and the whole thing was looking dated.

Can't wait to see the real thing.

Anonymous said...

Please leave the bistro car as is with the old design. The old design has an inviting and warm look while the redesign looks cold and sterile. A water cooler could be added but we really don't need to redesign the current car. WiFi is a great idea however, and will definitely make taking the train more attractive.

railvt said...

This is a terrible redesign. The service area is dramatically reduced, which will make more/longer lines. There is nowhere to sit and the empty floor space is just wasted space. A Bistro car should be a destination, not just a take-out counter.

You need to retain, even increase lounge style seating. This looks like the awful take-out area on the ACELA EXPRESS, which is being redone even worse than before without even a stand-up eating area!

The strength of the CASCADES train-sets has been their comfortable interiors and the retained amenities like lounge and dining areas. This proposal will diminish sales and degrade the trains.

Carl Fowler
VP/Gen Mgr
Rail Travel Center

Qout said...

-Agree that seating is necessary, but keep it plastic so it cleans up easily and isn't so comfortable that it encourages lingering.
-Put the water in the condiment table with a high-rising faucet.
-A self-service microwave oven will speed up service in the line.
-Keep aisles wide.
-If you must create some stand-up counter space, put a narrow shelf up against the windows near the door.

Anonymous said...

Make Wii-Fi available for all riders - not some elitist handful. Improve schedules, video system, and other things that benefit all riders. Continue the route(s) that allows riders from Oregon and Southwest Washington to go directly to Vancouver, BC.


If you must completely re-imagine the Bistro car, why go for some trendy design that will only seem outdated in short order, and who knows when you'd have the money to do it again. - B

Anonymous said...

The current bistro car is much nicer than the rendering of the proposed renovated car. The current bar area, bar seating, and booths are great, and the entire car is much more attractive than the new design.

Dave said...

Have to agree with most of the sentiment already expressed. The Bistro car as it is right now is the right design. The proposed redesign would be a big step backwards. Taking away seating from passengers would be the wrong move. Plus I usually see one table, sometimes even two, reserved for crew use in the Cascades dining car. This has to stop. They sit there, talk shop (sometimes it's offensive content) and their radio is blaring away. So if you do take away seating with the new Bistro car design, get the crew OUT of the dining area and make all tables available for paying passengers. I love the Amtrak Cascades train and would hate to see the redesign happen. The Bistro car as it is should remain.

Carl said...

I do not like it. Please leave it alone. There is no where to sit and enjoy your stuff and met new people. It looks like you just want to hurry them through.

David Weisman said...

I ride the Cascades but once or twice a year, however, I quite like the styling in the current Bistro. Have never had a problem finding a table, and enjoy my morning oatmeal perched on a stool looking out through the window, kind of like breakfast in a stationary diner! The WiFi sounds great, but for design, like it as it is, though adding the water dispenser sounds good too.

neroden@gmail said...

What a terrible redesign.

The old design is pretty nice. If the problem is that it doesn't provide enough room for people to "get in, get their stuff, get out", how about eliminating *either* the bar seats *or* the window-side seats (not both). This would double the 'walkable width' of the car.

The bar is a really important and attractive feature.
Put the 'self-serve' stuff at one end of the bar; put the attendant and menu at the other end. Those ends should be seatless.

If the space behind the bar is considered to be too large, then consider a layout similar to the proposed new layout, but with none of the stupid standing tables, and with attractive 'bistro style' seating and tables in the space between the water dispenser and the attendant's booth. That space is no good for queuing anyway.

As others have noted, the 'standing-up tables' are really worthless on a train.

As others have noted, the conductors and other employees use up an astounding amount of passenger lounge space doing paperwork. Perhaps if the bar is retained, flip-out tables and chairs for them to do paperwork could be fitted *behind the bar*, which is otherwise underused space?

neroden@gmail said...

Thinking about the stated issues (according to Ms. Mulherin) again:

The new design doesn't solve any of them. :-( Passengers are still funnelled through chokepoints at either end of the car and the space in the middle is blocked by useless tables. The Viewliner cafe cars have a more efficient layout than the proposed layout.

A new design should involve a large, continuous queuing space sufficient for both a car-length queue and pedestrian traffic going *past* that queue; so maybe half the car width for people standing.

The remainder of the car width should be devoted to an efficient service counter, and a self-service point (with water etc.) But those together won't occupy the whole *length*, so put seating in the rest of the length.

railvt said...

A recent posting identifies a long-standing problem on Amtrak trains--crew using tables intended for passengers. A crew office area should be provided in one of the coaches and the crew should be strictly instructed in no case to occupy passenger lounge or dining seats. This was the case on pre-Amtrak passenger trains and it needs to be again.

The proposed redesign takes what is now a highly useful and welcoming space and turns it into a wasted, sterile and very unwelcoming empty waiting area. The message ius "take your stuff and get out"! It is essential that lounge seating be retained.

It would also be useful to know what is proposed for the adjacent dining area. This space is too often monopolized by computer users who are neither eating nor drinking. If at seat connections are provided in all cars it will be reasonable to insist that these tables be reserved, as they were intended, for persons patronizing the train's food/beverage offerings. It is also reasonable to ask passengers who have finished their meals/beverages to move so others can use the tables.

But most critical is to scrap this horrible cafe redesign. The similar stand-up bar area is being discarded on the ACELA EXPRESS sets as they are renovated. Amtrak tried a few Amfleet cafe cars with this messed-up redesign and has replaced them as well with proper table cars.

Carl Fowler
VP/Gen Mgr
Rail Travel Center

CAMERA4WALLY said...

I thought at 1st the photo's where mixed up turned around, it looks fancier the old way,than the renovations ?

I think your design department can do much better than this .I think it looks a lot like the RAIL-EUROPE ICE:bar car ?

Where is the good old American Innovation where so great for in the U.S.A. ?
Please don't listen to who ever is trying to sell you this concept, modern design . I know Amtrak can do much, much better than this.

If you want to copy other trains there are far more elite designs and Train bar out there. I think like the majority of the people, you should leave the seats.

keep it where people can have a drink and view the wonderful views while riding the train. After all isn't that one of the reason's a lot of people want to ride the train ? I know when I go I want a place to sit and have my drink. You know with times as hard as they are maybe this isn't such a good idea.

I'd rather see a Sky dome bar area with more views, have something different other bars don't have, the views. Cascade's,the Columbia river gorge, the Wonderful view only found in the Northwest.

Good luck, I think you will need it if you follow through with this redesign. I have a very dear friend and many,many more kids I know some of who are becoming drinking age in wheelchairs and what about them ? The high standing tables where people would stand and talk where would the wheelchair disabled people be expected to sit there drinks and be a part of the bar seen ?
My friends are in Wheelchair Team U.S.A and they go to the Olympics every time we have the regular Olympics,10 days after the regular Olympics then they have the Olympic for our Team U.S.A. Disabled . Not the Special Olympics . Anyway the kids travel too, and I know from being involved with one of the wheelchair Basketball Teams, helping transport equipment and kids, that there is still not enough thought design for the wheelchair & other disabled .
Thank you for asking the customers thoughts & wanting to please us.
Brad Wallace

CAMERA4WALLY said...

I thought at 1st the photo's where mixed up turned around, it looks fancier the old way,than the renovations ?

I think your design department can do much better than this .I think it looks a lot like the RAIL-EUROPE ICE:bar car ?

Where is the good old American Innovation where so great for in the U.S.A. ?
Please don't listen to who ever is trying to sell you this concept, modern design . I know Amtrak can do much, much better than this.

If you want to copy other trains there are far more elite designs and Train bar out there. I think like the majority of the people, you should leave the seats.

keep it where people can have a drink and view the wonderful views while riding the train. After all isn't that one of the reason's a lot of people want to ride the train ? I know when I go I want a place to sit and have my drink. You know with times as hard as they are maybe this isn't such a good idea.

I'd rather see a Sky dome bar area with more views, have something different other bars don't have, the views. Cascade's,the Columbia river gorge, the Wonderful view only found in the Northwest.

Good luck, I think you will need it if you follow through with this redesign. I have a very dear friend and many,many more kids I know some of who are becoming drinking age in wheelchairs and what about them ? The high standing tables where people would stand and talk where would the wheelchair disabled people be expected to sit there drinks and be a part of the bar seen ?
My friends are in Wheelchair Team U.S.A and they go to the Olympics every time we have the regular Olympics,10 days after the regular Olympics then they have the Olympic for our Team U.S.A. Disabled . Not the Special Olympics . Anyway the kids travel too, and I know from being involved with one of the wheelchair Basketball Teams, helping transport equipment and kids, that there is still not enough thought design for the wheelchair & other disabled .
Thank you for asking the customers thoughts & wanting to please us.
Brad Wallace

Seattlite said...

I don't like the new desgin. First, there must be places to sit in the bistro car. I get bored of my seat and want to wander to somewhere new and sit there for awhile. Also i think the design is too space age for me to take is seriously.

Piet Bakker said...

Your new buffet car looks very modern and efficient but has got the charm of a busstop in Amsterdam. It’s easy to maintain and violence proof, that’s for sure. So it will surely reduce your costs, which is good for you. But is it also good for your passengers? Riding a train should be an adventure, a train ride from Portland to Vancouver can change your life. On board a passenger might meet the love of his life but you can be sure that in his memory your new buffet car will be very absent. The new design lacks warmth and is far from inviting. You can better keep it the way it is.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to have to say, but the changes to the bistro car are not for the better. The present design seems like it holds more in a cozy and welcoming pub/bistro atmosphere. The new design looks pretty cold and too trendy, and doesn't seem like it has room for as many people to sit and gather. Change is okay as long as it's for the better, but this isn't. Seems like a waste of money that could be spent elsewhere... like maybe putting on another bistro car like the present one in addition to what's already there.

Anonymous said...

I was interested in traveling up from CA to ride this train and spend my tourist dollars in your region. After seeing this rendering and considering the blog entry is several years old, it seems I'm garanteed a typical vynil and lab rat experience on any other rail line. Definitely not interested now that the bistro car looks like a gas station service counter.

Hire architects and product designers to sell the unique value that other modes can't offer. Remember why that Daylight performed so well in an era of rail decline.. Rich engaging environments and memorable service - not a fast food point of service and a water spigot.

Leftie said...

Until tonight, I'd never seen the bistro car on the Amtrak Cascades. When I saw what apparently the old design, I was blown away. It looked incredibly comfortable and a great way to sit, relax and enjoy the ride. The proposed design looks like an old subway station in New York. There's no place to sit and expecting groups of people to stand and be comfortable on a moving train seems silly at best. At worse, it could be dangerous. Spend the money on marketing, so that more people know how beautiful trains are these days. PLEASE DON'T FIX WHAT'S NOT BROKEN.

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