Thoughts on Amtrak train travel?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 11, 2013 3:33 AM GMT
    I'm thinking of taking my first a train ride to Chicago. It's scheduled to be an overnight trip that lasts about 10 hours. It's cheaper than a plane -but takes awhile to get there. I'd like to hear about what others think about train travel vs. planes or driving.
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    Feb 11, 2013 3:50 AM GMT
    I've never traveled via train; but I have traveled unconventionally...a few times.

    Just do it.

    Even if the experience is bad, it's still an experience you can share (unless it crashes and burns), which makes it worth it.
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    Feb 11, 2013 3:53 AM GMT
    I finally took my first Amtrak ride a year or two ago after being curious for many years. I loved it. I especially enjoyed eating in the dining car, watching the world go by, where it felt like being in a movie, a cross between the orient express and James, James Bond.

    That, and it's fun to walk between the train cars. The only gross part was the bathrooms. Seems they could redesign those to be a bit more sanitary. But the seats were very comfy and the company was fine. Had some nice conversations and you can move about freely, unlike in a plane.

    I look forward to my next train ride. I always did enjoy subways when visiting NY and I'd sometimes take the Tri-rail for a day in Miami but Amtrak is like a real train.
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    Feb 11, 2013 3:57 AM GMT
    Be very careful about Amtrak. Friends tell me it is the pitts. Squalling brats, mothers not minding them - not a good way to go. People who need baths / b.o. prevalent. Not the fine train travel of the old days - - with porters, good linens / silver / flowers / fine china / great service / spotlessly clean dining cars. No way. My friends told me about kids running up and down the isle. Kids kicking the back of the seat. When something was said to the parents of the spoiled brats - they got feisty. No - - - no way in Hell am I going on Amtrak.
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    Feb 11, 2013 4:57 AM GMT
    AmTrak could take me many places, but I've wrapped my mind around the world 1000 times or more. Somehow there isn't so far away. I'd take it til I reach the end of the track.
  • Suetonius

    Posts: 1842

    Feb 13, 2013 7:45 AM GMT
    Trains are great, if you can avoid the problems that Jockbod mentions - you take your chances, but airline flights are just as bad these days. Relaxing - you get to see the countryside go by (not much to see at night though). You mentioned "cheap" - so you may not want to spring for the extra charge of a some sort of sleeping accomodation - which is the best type of night train travel. Trains also take you right into downtown Chicago. The best train travel today is in europe - far better than anything Amtrak has to offer, but there trains are more expensive than plane travel.
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    Feb 13, 2013 8:03 AM GMT
    From where are you traveling? I took amtrak from south of Chicago to a city in Michigan. It really wasn't bad. It was just semi-long. But I love trains. It was no different than any other train though. I think Amtrak is pretty good actually icon_smile.gif
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    Feb 13, 2013 8:04 AM GMT
    I took it from Oakland up to Seattle so I could ride my bicycle back, and it was amazing. Comfortable seats, but you didn't need to actually stay in them. Dining car was a nice little social gathering place. I took a blanket and slept on the floor in an empty car for a while.

    You really get right into the scenery instead of viewing it all from a wide highway right-of-way.
  • pandx970

    Posts: 357

    Feb 13, 2013 8:29 AM GMT
    BlackJockTN saidI'm thinking of taking my first a train ride to Chicago. It's scheduled to be an overnight trip that lasts about 10 hours. It's cheaper than a plane -but takes awhile to get there. I'd like to hear about what others think about train travel vs. planes or driving.


    The positive part of riding the train is that you get to examine and look at the world around you at a more "human" "civilized" pace than you do in an airplane and in a way which would lead you to crash your car.

    Haven't taken the City of New Orleans, but the Pacific Surfliner & the Coast Starlight in California are comfortable and very stress-free ways to travel.

    I'm interested if you do take the train up to Chicago how it goes!
  • hebrewman

    Posts: 1367

    Feb 13, 2013 8:35 AM GMT
    the best way to go amtrak is in a sleeperette or other similar compartment. even though i work for the airlines, i've traveled on the train many times and the compartments, while a tad more expensive, give peace of mind for privacy and it's just a little more upscale. as for travel in the northeast, my niece lives in manhattan and when she comes to visit family in fairfax, va, she always takes the acela express. to florida, take the auto-train. i do wish that our rail system were as comfortable as they are in europe and the uk. man i love the rail system on the continent.
  • Machina

    Posts: 419

    Feb 13, 2013 8:55 AM GMT
    I lived in Sweden for a couple of years, and rode their high-speed rail, named the X2000, all of the time between Copenhagen and Stockholm. It was quite fun cruising along at 120 mph with some banking in the curves.

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    I had a great experience! The rails were super-smooth, the cars were squeaky clean, and the food was delicious; not to mention the ultra-comfy seats and cute guys that scanned your ticket. Going by train is quite a fun experience!
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    Feb 13, 2013 9:33 AM GMT
    I love taking the train. I haven't tried coach like it seems like you are but it's cool. I'd really say taking the train is much more for the experience than for the travel considering how long it can take compared to flying or even driving in many cases. Like a few others, I'd highly recommend a roomette if your budget permits. It's considered "first class" on Amtrak and gets you some perks such as priority boarding, your own attendant, meals included, private toilet/showers, etc.

    Have fun! I'm jealous now I wanna take the train again lol
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    Feb 13, 2013 9:56 AM GMT
    I recently went to Montréal via Amtrak.

    First time experience - fun, but I don't think I'll cross a national border this way again. The border crossings going both ways were quite tedious (and naturally crossing back into the US was made me consider if the all but most unpleasant members of the border patrol were stationed at Rouse's Point Station).

    From NYC to MTL it is a little under 12 hours with 2 hours spent at customs. It could have done better with a sleeper car, but for a $90 round trip fare (special) it was decent.
  • FitGwynedd

    Posts: 1468

    Feb 13, 2013 10:10 AM GMT
    I would strongly recommend it as Amtrak is my preferred method of travel in the colonies. Only thing to warn you about, long distance trains can accumulate long delays, and the American customs agents have the demeanor of rabid pitbulls. I'm pretty sure my EU human rights were violated at least several times crossing the border, and yes EU human rights have to be respected outside of the EU...

    But Amtrak itself is a wonderful experience. Far more comfortable and customer friendly then trains in the UK. Oh and sometimes the Amtrak stations are out in the middle of the nowhere, so make sure you have sufficient public transport arrangements.
  • TheAlchemixt

    Posts: 2294

    Feb 13, 2013 11:11 AM GMT
    I use amtrak to travel though california. It's great and it has wifi.
  • Lanter

    Posts: 149

    Feb 13, 2013 1:21 PM GMT
    I like to drive when I can since I like to see things along the way, but I love taking the auto-train to Florida. Partly because I have absolutly no desire to spend hours upon hours on I95 in the Carolinas and Georgia, and partly because I still get many of the conveniences of car travel. Aside from that the only real train rides I have taken have been into the city on the local lines.

    In case your not familiar, the auto-train runs from Lorton, VA to Sanford, FL overnight and arrives at each destination in early morning. I wish it went further, but apparently there is some low bridge in DC that the superliner cars can't get under so extending service north isn't an option.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 13, 2013 1:24 PM GMT
    Amtrak is by far the best way to see America. I always take the train whenever I can, but then I do live in the northeast where the service is pretty good.
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    Feb 13, 2013 1:33 PM GMT
    Sex on a train is fun.
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    Feb 13, 2013 1:39 PM GMT
    I LOVE travelling by train. For long trips, I get a sleeping cabin with the meals included and I've had nothing but good experiences. For overnight trips, just get a regular seat and you shouldn't have too much trouble with screaming brats since they should all be sleeping anyway, and the attendants make sure to wake you up before your station so you don't have to worry about missing your stop.
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    Feb 13, 2013 1:42 PM GMT
    It's ok for a short trip, no greater than 4 hours. Anything longer, I'd suggest flying.
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    Feb 13, 2013 1:46 PM GMT
    I have family in Richmond, Va but my company is based in DC so I frequently fly into one city and Amtrack it between cities. I like it but the travel time is lengthy. I wish we would do more high speed rail in the US. I normally pay the extra fee for the business class where you get a little more space and quiet. They serve alcohol which is great and sometimes necessary.
  • fmrhugger

    Posts: 199

    Feb 13, 2013 1:59 PM GMT
    On an overnight you can get a sleeper
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    Feb 13, 2013 2:24 PM GMT
    I love traveling by train. I took Amtrak quite a bit when I was traveling for work. I've finished some great books and watched movies/TV on my iPad. I put on my headphones and don't hear anything else around me. I like being able to get up and walk around, and having plug-ins at ever seat. My train had WiFi, too, so I could get a lot of work done. It's much more relaxing than flying.
  • vintovka

    Posts: 588

    Feb 13, 2013 2:42 PM GMT
    Love travelling by train--the best Christmas I ever had was one where I had an early Christmas dinner with the Family in Boston and then got on the train to Chicago--met some cool people and ended up playing cards with a baseball player from Yale and some graffiti artists from NYC--it was a good time. Out west the trains run through the middle of the country too, which is nice. The only bad experiences I've had have been in the northeast corridor (between New York and Boston) where the rails are overcrowded and breakdowns/repairs seem to be frequent, leading to delays sometimes). Trains are more fun than planes and much more relaxing than buses.
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    Feb 13, 2013 2:46 PM GMT
    If you buy your tickets 14 (?) days ahead, you get almost half price, but that special may not be refundable. Prices go up depending on how many tickets sold.

    My Amtrak travels have ranged from long distance to close, on regular Amtrak. It depends on weather, and who is on the train, the conductor, the area you are traveling, factors that can make a good trip or horrible, and my patience for what can go wrong has run out at least temporarily. If you can afford the luxury and private cars on Amtrak, it might be really good? I don't know anything about it. Amtrak is no faster than driving at least in the Northeast. If you want to get there faster, go by plane.

    If you are traveling Amtrack's Excela (forgot the name) train, it is the higher priced and takes priority on the tracks. The regular Amtrak has to wait for it.