I have been giving some thought to taking a trip from Saint Paul MN to Chicago IL via Amtrak. At first glance it seems to be:
-A less expensive travel option, in some cases, and
-You spend much more time in transit.
For those here that have done a several hour train trip, what was you experience like? Are the meals okay? I am assuming that they all have free wifi, but that really doesn't matter to me because I have an MVNO on Verizon and an AT&T hotspot with unlimited data.
And, since this is POI Factory, I might take a GPS along and/or watch our progress on a smartphone map.
That trip can be done by train in just short of 8 hours. It used to leave St. Paul at 8 AM and arrived in Chicago at 4 PM. As I recall (couple of years ago) the meal service was quite lacking in spite of the "coach" seat meal service. I personally would eat breakfast before boarding and plan on bringing something to tide you over for lunch. But it sounds like you want an adventure so go for it!
Don't plan on making any connections. Odds are you won't make them.
15 years or so ago. I took Amtrac from Cleveland to San Francisco.
You get to see the worst part of big cities. Train routes don't get scenic until you're out west.
Train schedule is a joke. Not at all like European train system which is really great. The U.S. has abandoned the passenger train system.
Train food was not very good.
Comfort was barely better than taking Greyhound.
I don't remember the cost being that much less than flying.
I would not do it again, but the person I was with would NOT fly.
my wife and I travel from Chicago to new York every year . we both think its fairly comfortable seating . its a 19 1/2 hour ride . the one thing we do is pack food/drinks/snacks prior to getting on train .as another member pointed out food is not to hot on the train . sometimes we get to ny on time and sometimes we don't .
NYC to Florida. Fort Lauderdale if I can recall. I was some of the worst 25 hours of my life I'll never get back. Sat in coach. Could not sleep. Kids running marathons up and down the aisles... I can now happily drive it in less time and don't have to rent a car when I get there. Car and GPS or die!
We don't have Amtrak, but we're spending a few days in Toronto mid November to catch a few live theater shows.
Decided to try VIA Rail to save the hassle of Toronto traffic, parking etc.
Kitchener is about 60 miles away and costing us about $110 Canadian total for round trip. Just about 1 12 hour trip. Parking at any downtown hotel would likely be close to $20day. Train only about $30-$40 more than hotel parking.
Will update you in a few weeks
Made several trips from DC to Philly, NYC and Boston on both the locals and the express. Food (if you can call it that) is prepackaged sandwiches, pizza and the like heated in a microwave. The beer is cold as are the soft drinks but its all at a premium.
I used to live relatively close to the Amtrak station in St Louis. But I’ve never used Amtrak! I’m embarrassed to say that. This thread has inspired me to try Amtrak with at least a short trip.
Last time was about 8 yrs ago. Granted the Northeast Corridor is different than any other Amtrak route...
- It's much more expensive than driving although it puts you right downtown NYC within walking distance to the Javitts Center and B&H.
- With so many stops, you don't save any time.
- Acela is stupid expensive. For 2x the price, you get to NYC about 20 minutes sooner.
- Schedules are "notional" so plan accordingly.
- It's much better for your blood pressure than driving the NJT. You can get up, walk around, nap, whatever.
Outside the NE Corridor, most, if not all, of the tracks are owned by CSX and such, so freight trains take priority. Hence the poor Amtrak performance.
I took them ~30 years ago all the way down the east coast. It was not that great or fun. Would never do it again.
I'm surprised the comments are so negative. My wife and I traveled from Michigan to Los Angeles in 2010. We wanted to get a stateroom, but had to settle for a roomette. That is still considered first class. We found the food to be quite good. One of the best steaks I've had in my life was on that trip. I've often described it as 'traveling through the backyard of America.' A stateroom has it's own shower, and everything else no. If you want a shower go later in the day. An amusing thing is the observation car is taken over at night by the folks that have only a seat. They spread out to sleep in the observation car, but I suppose it's hard to blame them.
Definitely less stressful than driving, particularly on holiday weekends, although the trains will be more crowded too. I feel the need to wake up at every stop to make sure no one accidentally takes my luggage from the open overheads.
DC to NYC and back. It's an easy and enjoyable trip but often as expensive as a flight.
from St. Louis to Dallas, Tx., in 2015. Great trip. cars were half full, so you could stretch out. Dining cars were nice, good food. Suction cupped my GPS to the window and could tell where we were. Hit 85 mph several times, (I heard later that they are limited to 85). All in all, a very enjoyable trip.
went from Calif to Oregon,nice trip, but get a sleeping car, much nicer trip
Raleigh to DC == OK trip except for stopping for an hour to wait for them to remove a car that tried to cross a construction zone at a crossing and got stuck between the tracks.
Raleigh to Greensboro == after waiting over 2 hours for the train I drove my car and beat the train. Problem? Another train hit a car at a crossing but no one had any clue. You would thing they would communicate that and what the delay would be but they do not.
I wouldn't recommend it for something where you are on a schedule because Amtrack's schedule is too dependent on factors out of their control - mostly accidents - and they believe in growing mushrooms by keeping you in the dark.
If you like a low stress way to go and you're not rushing to get from point-A to point-B, train and Amtrak is the way to go, IMHO. Seats are roomier than an airplane, if you have a day route, the scenery is great... as much as folks say "expensive" you can hunt a bunch of places (for nearly any route) for discounts if you don't have a set date you are shooting for either.
Folks are right about NYC though, it will literally drop you off in the center of the city. However, headed North along the coast is something of beauty.
One thing I'm not sure if they changed, as we were planning on using Amtrak to be the mode we were going to move form DC to LA a few years back, but their pet policy sucks. So, I'd check to see if t has changed if you plan on traveling with furry friends.
One other thing about the Northeast Corridor (DC to Boston), especially btwn Delaware and New Haven, the scenery will either be the back of factories, junk yards, or inside a tunnel. And all of it covered in gang tags.
A former co-worker of mine posted on Facebook tonight that he is taking the Empire Builder from Saint Paul to Seattle. It will be interesting to read about his experiences. He also passed along a URL for a You Tube video.
You missed the beautiful scenery of the coast through Connecticut and Rhode Island. Just got some fantastic foliage photos while riding Amtrak New York - Boston last month along the coast. Sorry you missed it.
I had a terrible experience driving across the country 30 years ago in a Renault, but I certainly don’t dwell on that today to make travel decisions.
Took Amtrak to Orlando in '76 (diesel). Nice trip, had a berth in the sleeper car. Thinking about Amtrak to SC and back at some point in time. Try it at least once in your life - it was the way to travel back in the 'steam era'.
I often travel from NYC to DC. Its far more convenient and actually faster when you take the TSA and lengthy lines at the airport
I took Amtrak several years ago. It was okay. Much roomier seats than coach on a plane. The train departed and arrived on time.
Amtrak used to advertise that they served more destinations than all the U.S. airlines combined. They do. The train left Miami, got up to speed, and stopped a few minutes later in Hollywood, then a few minutes again to Ft. Lauderdale. It was like this all the way up the East Coast, stopping at small towns even at 3am.
Will update you in a few weeks
I'll never drive to Toronto again. Took VIA Rail and trip was smooth and comfortable. Free wifi.
Hotel wanted $45/night for parking, so saved almost $150 since I didnt need parking. Train cost about $120 total, round trip, for my wife and I. Add about $45 for taxi and I'm still ahead and more relaxed.
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