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Amtrak Observation Cars, Dining Cars and Amtrak Services

View From an Amtrak Sightseer Lounge

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Amtrak offers food in a cafe or dining car on most long haul trains, as well as observation cars and places to buy booze. Learn more below the picture.
Amtrak Observation Car View in Glenwood Canyon, Colorado

Observation Car View in Glenwood Canyon, Colorado

© Kathleen Crislip
You're reading about what actually traveling on Amtrak trains is like. To jump elsewhere on the train, see the list of Amtrak pictures and pages below.

Most long haul Amtrak trains have a few cars: coach (where economy seats are located), sleepers, a dining car, and an observation car. Well, I'm calling it an observation car - if it has another name, I don't know it. More on that below (and that's an observation car above).

Observation Car

The observation car's upper half is called the Sightseer Lounge and has massive windows -- the ones above are framing Colorado's Glenwood Canyonn. Any passenger can sit in here and watch the views roll by. On some trains, volunteer rangers provide amplified narrative along the routes as part of a cooperative effort with the National Park Service.

A bar or a "club car" may be part of this lounge; you can buy booze here and observe fellow passengers. And for more observation, the lower level is a cafe of sorts, selling snacks and beverages and with tables, (sometimes) a pay phone, and movie screenings.

Dining Car

Hot meals are served in the dining car from a fixed menu. Sleeper passenger tickets include three meals a day, although any beverage beyond your first, and that includes water, is $1.75 extra.

Meals ($5-$20) are also available to coach passengers. (Read about tipping on Amtrak trains.)

A dining car attendant walks through all cars a couple of hours prior to meals and takes reservations. You can be seated without a reservation if there is room. Reservation times are available on the half or quarter hour.

The dining car attendant will announce meal serving times over the train's PA. When you arrive in the dining car, you'll be seated with up to three other passengers. The dining car people will brook no insubordination on this.

Please go on to the next page to read about Amtrak personnel and who's who on the train, or choose another subject from the list below.

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