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Train Travel in The US

Travel Forums North America Train Travel in The US

1. Posted by christanbo (Budding Member 3 posts) 11y

Hi, me and a mate are planning on a three month trip to the states at the end of February. Flying into Miami, working our way up the East coast up to Toronto, flying to Vancouver and then down the West coast. We hope to drive the west coast and have looked into different ways of getting up the East coast. I have found a train pass with Amtrak that lets us travel anywhere for 30 days up the East coast but have heard some bad things about using the Trains in the states and that we might be restricted to certain routes and will not necessarily be able to get on trains that we want, (fully booked etc). Has anyone used this pass before or done their travelling by train in N America and can advise how easy / flexible it is to do so. We aren't planning on having a particularly firm itinery and so would prefer it if we didn't have to book all the journeys well in advance..
Any help is greatly appreciated..
Cheers
Chris

2. Posted by remarcable (Respected Member 335 posts) 11y

If you are comparing U.S trains vs Europe trains, by far european train are the best. The A-trak trains are pretty clean. You get nice combo of business travelers, tourist, and "interesting" people. Also, really good east coast routes. However, once you get to the west the choices are limited.
The flex pass on Amtrak are good.... IF you are flexiable with your routes and times. If you read closely, there are black out dates & routes. So be careful. Call Amtrak to check the valid routes. Or find a travel agent, they can book it for you.

I did the boston to nyc to washington dc trip. I did not buy the flex pass, because I wasn't saving a whole lot. The ride was pretty smooth as well. That was two years ago though.

Good luck,
M.

3. Posted by vagabond (Full Member 104 posts) 11y

hey I posted an answer to a similar question in another forum... just pasting it here. Hope it helps

-----------

ey There,

I did something similar last year. I travelled from San Francisco to New York
by trains. It took me about 2 weeks but mainly because , I made lots of stops
and spent some time in between. There are a couple of ways you can do it. I
dont remember each of them now, but there is a good book called "USA by Rail",
which you can refer to.

1.South by southeast and west by southwest. From East (DC, New York, ...)
take trains going down to New Orleans. One of them is the "Crescent" It'll
pass through VA, Carolinas, Georgia , Alabama, and Louisiana etc. Spend some
time in nawlins.

Then take the sunset limited,( which runs from Miami to LA) to any place uptill
LA. It passes through, Lousiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

From there you can take any of the trains going to northern california or upto
washington. One of them is Pasific Surfliner. Its a beautiful route.

I did pretty much the same thing but came from west to east.

2. Cut accross the conttinent. From east take a train to chicago. There a
couple that go from DC or new york. From Chicago there are trains going to ,
LA, San Francisco or Seattle. California Zephyr is one of the most beautiful
one.

More info can be found at the amtrak website. feel free to ask me if you have any questions

4. Posted by christanbo (Budding Member 3 posts) 11y

Cheers and thanks for the heaps of info... really appreciated..
I think we've settled on using the trains now following your informations, we were just concerned that we would get 'stuck' somewhere for a long time. Reading the Amtrak site it mentions booking well in advance for each journey made. Is that actually necessary or could it be done a couple of days before we travel?

Chris

5. Posted by vagabond (Full Member 104 posts) 11y

Well that depends what line you are travelling on and how busy is the time of the year. I'd suggest 3 days to a week's warning. I had to stay in New Orleans (not that I mind it), for one more day cause I couldnt get a reservation for the train to NY for the next day. Also, the train between, LA and houston was packed (But I could get in).

6. Posted by remarcable (Respected Member 335 posts) 11y

Can't argue with that. The man is right!

M.

7. Posted by christanbo (Budding Member 3 posts) 11y

Brilliant.... many thanks for all your help and info guys..

Chris