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Old 07-26-2010, 08:18 AM
 
Location: Vero Beach, Fl
2,949 posts, read 12,176,348 times
Reputation: 2074

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Over the last several months, I have taken 5 trips on Amtrak 97/98 from Fort Lauderdale to Union Station in Washington, D.C. and back. Each time I have had a sleeper.

Many people that I meet are curious about the accommodations and I will share my experience.

1) If you have ever traveled by train in Europe or Japan, Amtrak is many notches below that
2) The accommodations are dated and worn and are not first class as Amtrak would like the traveling public to believe (sleeper car)
3) Service can vary greatly.
4) Each sleeper car has at least 1 steward who helps you with your luggage, places it in your compartment, provides you with in-car dining services, sets up your bed in the evening and returns it back to seating in the morning.
5) You will spend more than flying first class by plane. My one way was $620 and one way 1st class via USAIR was $374. Meals are included.
6) It is a perfect option to de-stress
7) It is not always a smooth ride. Sleeping, for me, was not restful as I was jostled from side to side during the night. I guess the tracks need repair - not sure.
8) I did enjoy most of the trips
9) The dining car had the same menu for all 5 of my trips. The food is ok and the wait staff can either be seasoned professionals and pleasant mannered, or poorly trained and downright surly.
10) You will freeze at night, so pack extra socks and warm sleepwear.

I love traveling by train. I am not a great flyer. I am will continue to use Amtrak for shorter hops, but not for overnight. The reason train travel in Eueope is so far superior to Amtrak is that it is government funded and run. And because it is a common mode of transportation. Amtrak needs a major overhaul that I don't believe it will get.
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Old 07-26-2010, 08:46 AM
 
Location: on an island
13,382 posts, read 40,909,074 times
Reputation: 13245
Thanks for the report.
Friends of mine took a train trip last year and their report was similar to yours,both pros and cons.
I bet it would be a nice way to decompress--that aspect of it sounds nice.
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Old 07-26-2010, 09:23 AM
 
Location: Howard County, MD
2,223 posts, read 2,993,783 times
Reputation: 3365
Good information. I've been wanting to take a coast-to-coast train trip- obviously with several stops. I hear the western routes are pretty scenic.
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Old 07-26-2010, 10:46 AM
 
Location: Maryland
1,534 posts, read 3,780,288 times
Reputation: 2307
Many thanks for your post. We've just begun looking at US/Canada train travel and really appreciate the advice.
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Old 07-27-2010, 07:36 PM
 
Location: Vero Beach, Fl
2,949 posts, read 12,176,348 times
Reputation: 2074
Glad my post was useful.
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Old 07-28-2010, 05:20 PM
 
4,502 posts, read 11,985,245 times
Reputation: 4066
What if you were on a coast to coast trip and wanted to nap during the day? You undo the seating to make it a "sleeper", can you?? Also, are you in a "private" room/compartment? Or are you sleeping with other people around? (THAT is a scary thought!). Are the meals included in the price?
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Old 07-28-2010, 05:31 PM
 
2,890 posts, read 5,387,335 times
Reputation: 4611
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhlcomp View Post
The reason train travel in Europe is so far superior to Amtrak is that it is government funded and run.
Let's try that one again:

The reason train travel in Europe is so far superior to Amtrak is that it is European-government funded and run.

Imagine if the US government ran Amtrak?
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Old 07-28-2010, 10:24 PM
 
Location: On the Rails in Northern NJ
12,381 posts, read 23,366,772 times
Reputation: 4519
Congress funds Amtrak , but has neglected it compared to the Airports and Highways. But they have recently give Amtrak a ton of money for upgrades. Mostly on there own tracks in the Northeast. But Amtrak is buying new cars , locos. The Northeast Equipment will be different form the rest.
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Old 07-30-2010, 03:59 PM
 
Location: Vero Beach, Fl
2,949 posts, read 12,176,348 times
Reputation: 2074
Yes meals are included in the price. Sleepers are private compartments and you can close and lock your door for total privacy. The sleepers also have a toilet and a wash basin. The seats are adjustable so that you can easily take a nap.

There are also rooms that are more spacious and include showers.

Apart from this - each car does have a private shower. And at the end of each car is an area that has bottled water, ice, coffee and juice - very convenient.
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Old 08-02-2010, 09:25 AM
 
Location: Houston, Tx
3,644 posts, read 5,559,073 times
Reputation: 1616
Good report. I think train travel is mostly a fringe mode of transportation and is eventually going to go away completely in this country. The USA is so big compared to Japan or countries in Europe that it just makes economicla sense to fly. Its the same reason ocena liners disappeared and the only ocen cruises you can take now are basicically tourism trips that return you to their starting point. Maybe the trains will survive like cruise ships in the future, as a tourism thing and not a means of real transportation. The sleeper car thing sounds nice and I might do that once as a sort of 'experience' but I couldn't see it becoming a regular means of travel, espicially as it is more expensive than first class arifare, which I never spring for.
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