Never traveled by train? You're not alone. According to Amtrak, less than one in ten Americans travel by rail. That may be changing. Amtrak ridership continues to surge, with over 30 million riders annually in recent years.
Ease of travel is one reason Americans are climbing aboard. Centrally located Amtrak stations are more accessible than airports, 30 minutes is ample pre-boarding time, and free luggage allowances are generous. Car-free Amtrak travelers avoid driver-fatigue, traffic jams, and getting lost. And Amtrak matches or beats downtown-to-downtown peak travel times on high-traffic interstate corridors like Boston-DC, Seattle-Portland, LA-San Jose and Chicago-Detroit.
On board, roomy reclining seats are standard, WiFi is widely available, selected runs make room for bikes, and small pets are welcome on almost every Amtrak train. First class and Business Class enhancements range from extra leg-room to at-seat services. All trains are accessible to passengers with disabilities and mobility impairments. Food and beverages are available on all but a few short commuter runs. Quiet Cars are an option along selected high-traffic corridors.
Amtrak's long-distance trains are hotels-on-wheels. Sleeper accomodations range from basic roomettes to suites. Restaurant-style dining, lighter cafe fare, and lounge car bar services are offered. Selected long-distance trains feature published route guides and National Parks Service interpretive programs.
Train travel is better for the environment than air and freeway travel. Car, plane, and other popular forms of travel can raise CO2 levels through the roof. The railroad enjoys a "best in class" Climate Registry status based on energy usage, costs and carbon emissions.
Amtrak is going your way. Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, sunny Florida, Midtown Manhattan and San Francisco Bay Area are among Amtrak's 500+ destinations spread across 46 states and Canada. Once you zero in on your route and destination, it's time to book your trip.
Advance booking will almost always get you the best fares but sales agents and Quik-Trak self-service kiosks are available in many stations for ticketing-on-the-fly. Amtrak also offers a variety of deals and promotions. Unique offerings like USA Rail Passes and the airline-style Amtrak Rewards program may be especially suited to your travel needs.