Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Train Travel

We spent much of 1997-2000 traveling by train.  Most of the time we went coach, but we also splurged for the sleeper car on another trip. It was so much fun looking out the big picture windows, watching the USA go by.  The restaurant car was also fun, the prices were inexpensive generally and the food was always tasty. We brought our own snacks and had a great time getting to know our fellow travelers. Amtrak runs a train with a children's play place built into the car. Other cars were for a smoker's lounge and a TV-watching car.

I found this excellent Amtrak review:

I recently took an Amtrak train for a cross-country trip from New Mexico to Michigan, and it was an experience. The best part about traveling by train is that one can actually enjoy the scenery on the trip, because the traveler doesn’t have to worry about driving. The other plus to taking a train instead of driving is that I’ve found that it is much more cost efficiant especially now with the price of gas being so high. The rate that I recieved to travel cross country was only a hundred sixty dollars. I think that it’s worth it for that price because you can actually watch the sights pass you by, which you cannot do on a plane.
Granted, there are some problems with traveling by train that you may not experience on a plane. Depending on how far you’re going, you may be traveling over night. In order to have a sleeper car it costs an extra three hundred dollars which is too expensive for me. Sleeping in coach is not comfortable, and I don’t reccomend it if you can afford a sleeper car. I found it impossible to find a comfortable position, and Im a light sleeper, so I was waking up a lot when people walked by or the train stopped. The only other problem that I had with Amtrak is that their stations are highly understaffed. The first station I went to had one woman checking luggage, taking care of reservations, answering the phone, and communicating with the trains themselves to discover if they were running on time or not. The stationed that I was dropped off at didn’t have anyone working overnight, so if someone had to wait for a ride, they had to wait out in the parking lot, and there was no access to the pay-phones inside. This could be a problem on a cold winter night.

Overall, I had a good experience with Amtrak, the staff was very helpful, I was moved to a seat by myself after the train had cleared out some, so I had room to stretch. One of the trains played movies to help people to not be so bored if there was nothing for one to do. Amtrak also has a snack car on all of their trains, as well as a dining car on those that go for longer distances. I thought the prices were pretty reasonable for what was served. There was one other major plus that I had with my trip, and that was that Amtrak offered a bus service to their station. This is very helpful for someone who lives in a big city that doesn’t have a train station. I had a good enough experience that I would travel on Amtrak again if I had a reason to travel across the country again.

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