These links (1 2 3) got me interested with how Amtrak should handle amenities. There has to be communication between the operator's unions and contractors so there isn't a repeat of the Subway experience with Empire Service trains.
I don't agree with Mica's cherry picking at all because the passengers who are willing to pay extra fares deserve specialties like free wine and champagne. It's a shame that Boardman didn't at least defend the Auto Train's amenities on the ground that #52 & #53 are special trains.
Worley was right about vending machines being unsuitable on long distance trains because Southern Pacific tried this in the 1960s and it ended up losing passengers in the process (of course, one could argue that this was SP's goal all along). Vending machines only work on routes that are as short or shorter than the 173-mile Piedmont. A better solution for corridor trains would be regional foods.
As Amtrak looks to avoid repeating the dreaded Diner Lite experiment, potential competitors will find ways to contract some of the very items the national carrier eliminated last Monday to private companies in addition to installing wi-fi on future routes.
As for the people who have a "so what" attitude about all of this, they only need to take a look at the airline industry to see how a reduction in amenities has ruined the experience of flying. When I last flew to San Francisco 18 years ago, I had a full meal along with in-flight entertainment. Now, people have to pay for subpar, prepackaged food.