Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rail networks affected by financial crisis

Railway restaurant cars are becoming a thing of the past

Restaurant cars are to become the latest victim of the credit crunch as train operators attempt to cut costs. National Express East Anglia which runs trains between Norwich and London have announced they are going to remove their restaurant cars and instead provide a buffet style service. The company claim they want to improve its buffet and at-seat service and say the change is “in response to changing customer needs”, but cynics claim it is merely a way of cutting back costs.
The restaurant service is available on 22 of National Express East Anglia trains each day accounting for more than 110 trains a week. Diners can choose from a wide variety of options throughout the day at relatively modest costs and experience something often only seen in the movies. At breakfast the choices includes Oak Smoked Kippers, Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Egg or Eggs Benedict. The lunch menu offers a number of options from Sausage and Mash, Ham and Eggs, or a Chicken Caesar Salad.
And it may soon be last orders for the dinner menu which covers a wide range of dishes from Fillet Steak, Scottish Salmon, Chicken Proven├žal, Pork with a Cider Sauce, Filled Roasted Peppers, Citrus and Herb Crusted Alaskan Pollock or even a Rack of Lamb [National Express East Anglia / National Express Group].

Not surprisingly the menu has been voted the UK’s best for three years running by Rail magazine. The decision has even prompted some to take their protest to parliament. The MP for Colchester in Essex, Bob Russell, is putting down an early day motion deploring the rail operator's announcement that it was to discontinue the restaurant car service on the Norwich to London line. And Norwich North MP, Dr Ian Gibson, has added his voice to hundreds of angry commuters saying he believed passengers wanted hot food on a journey and that dining cars made people use the railway [BBC].
Around 300 jobs will be lost if the proposals go through [Echo]. But it will be more than just a loss of livelihoods; it will also be another part of rail history consigned to the past [Guardian / BBC / National Express Group News].

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