The Zephyr’s accommodations are standard for all Superliners, but we can help make up for that with a few amenities: a couple of small chilled bottles of champagne, maybe a souvenir coffee mug, and a nice four-color booklet describing the route and the scenery. (Sound familiar?)Public authorities, and Amtrak is still very much a creature of Government, and high-end amenities, which improvements of the dining car are a first step toward -- it's likely asking for the moon to fit the sleeping cars with more staterooms -- rarely go together well.
Now here’s the hard part : the re-born Zephyr has a dining car that serves food of the same high quality that we get on VIA Rail’s Canadian. In fact, the Zephyr now has two dining cars—one with a limited and fairly inexpensive menu for coach passengers and another diner serving really high quality food, prepared on board, and served on real china. And to accompany these gourmet meals, there’s a decent selection of wines from which guests may chose. And everything on this train having to do with the passengers’ total experience is supervised by an on-board train manager.
And how does Amtrak make all this happen? Today, the fare for a roomette on the Zephyr from Chicago to the Bay Area in early April is about $475. With the terrific new dining car, the new fare could be $690. Or, if I’m traveling at a more popular time of the year—let’s say around the middle of June—instead of $690, we’ll bump the fare 30-percent to $965.
We're still a long way from the railroads coupling additional sleepers dedicated to tour groups during the summer season, as it once was.