The Not-So-Ultimate in Travel Comfort

Amtrak’s New York-to-Florida trains–the Silver Meteor and Silver Star–were some of its most popular overnight routes, and in 1972 Amtrak encouraged people on these trains to go first class, meaning by sleeping car. As described in this brochure, first-class service included a complimentary wine-and-cheese basket before dinner, sweets before bedtime, and a morning paper and beverage before breakfast.

Click image to download a 3.0-MB PDF of this brochure.

My PDF shows this brochure as a four-page folder. As presented to the public, this brochure was folded to show the man on the right side of my page 1 facing the woman on the left side of my page 4, as shown below. The photo suggests that Amtrak dining car service in 1972 was far from the ultimate in travel comfort.

The couple appear to be eating meals served on cardboard plates, drinking coffee from paper cups, with everything presented on flimsy plastic trays topped with a styrene placemat. Instead of being delivered in courses, their entire meals–salads, entrĂ©es, and desserts–were served together. The wine, at least, appears to be in glass, but in the cheapest sort of glassware, not anything an oenophile would appreciate.

Dining car attendant Julie Byrne pours coffee. In an apparently attempt to look hip, Amtrak redecorated its heritage fleet lounge cars in this ghastly purple-and-orange color scheme. Click image for a larger view.

Amtrak had its own china pattern, sometimes called National, as shown in the above 1976 publicity photo. Made by Mayer and Homer Laughlin, the china was white with a blue band. The blue pitchers were made by Hall. It’s possible that Amtrak had not yet received this china when the photos were taken for the first-class brochure. As bad as the cardboard plates appear, Amtrak dining-car service would get a lot worse in the 1980s.


The Not-So-Ultimate in Travel Comfort — 2 Comments

  1. As someone who has been visiting your website everyday (yes, everyday) for nearly two years, it sure is nice that you’re now posting Amtrak memorabilia too. As much as I have been interested in the Silver Age of passenger trains, I have also been very much interested in North American train travel post-1971. By the way, this brochure is definitely not from 1972 since the slogan on the cover (“All Aboard Amtrak”) hasn’t been in use then. This brochure probably dates from between 1983 and the mid-90s. But thanks for posting Amtrak stuff anyway!

  2. You are right about the dating. I changed my mind after posting this, but didn’t really have anything else to go on to estimate a date. Let me know if you think any other dates are wrong.

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