Steve, British citizen and English teacher at Bilkent University in Ankara, had tested the new concept of restaurant cars of TCDD while travelling by Izmir-Ankara train in June 2016.
Here are some thoughts on TCDD’s new approach to on-train catering, as experienced on the Ankara-Izmir ‘İzmir Mavi Treni’ (17th/18th June).
The service is now marketed under the name ‘Rail Chef Bistro’ and as previously indicated in ‘Rail Turkey’, full meal service has been dropped in favour of a ‘snack’ approach. I came well-prepared and ate my own food in my sleeping compartment for the evening meal, but I sampled breakfast the next morning. In my experience, a TCDD breakfast was never that impressive and on this occasion I didn’t notice that much of a reduction in service. Notable deteriorations, however, were the lack of a boiled egg (and the previous offer of an omlette), the use of paper cups for tea or coffee, and the use of plastic knives and forks. During breakfast, I took the opportunity to look at the menu and the most adventurous item for yesterday’s evening meal would have been the ’Tavuk baget fırın’. So, breakfast was still palatable, but the evening meal would have been a major disappointment. I also noticed that, compared with previous trips that I’ve made on this train, there were very few customers in the dining car.
On the plus side, though, the attendant was very efficient, smartly dressed and (although not expected nor necessary) spoke to me in English.
There is an ongoing debate about the provision of food and drink on trains in probably every country, largely based on the expense of providing such service, especially full, dining car service. However, part of that argument is based on the general increase in the speed of trains and the increasing variety and quality of food provided at stations generally negating the need to provide former levels of on train service. Unfortunately, it does not apply to Turkey where the choice of food at stations is generally poor.