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Old 04-22-2008, 03:39 PM
 
Location: Middleton, Wisconsin
4,229 posts, read 15,407,876 times
Reputation: 2294

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Can anyone tell me there experiences with Amtrak? I'm 19 and I have two friends my age that thought it would be cool to go out east this summer. We would be leaving from Portage, WI and wanted to find a station as close to Hanover, NH as possible. I'm not sure if it would be cheaper to drive or fly? My car averages 28 highway(Nissan Maxima) I've never traveled by train. So any experiences or stories would be cool to hear.

Thanks, Josh
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Old 04-22-2008, 07:43 PM
 
Location: Silver Spring, MD/Washington DC
3,451 posts, read 8,152,521 times
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Between the big cities in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic, Amtrak truly is the way to go (though it is expensive). It is quicker than driving in many cases if you are going from city center to city center. The primary stations in Boston, New York, and Washington are in the downtown areas (or midtown in the case of NYC) and the primary stations in Philadelphia and Baltimore are just outside of downtown and are easily accessible to downtown by foot, especially in Philly's case. Actually, the train stations in many of the smaller cities along the Northeast Corridor, like Newark, Trenton, and Wilmington, are also located in their downtown areas (and the Newark and Wilmington stations are nice too). Amtrak also has some genuinely useful service on what I'll call spur corridors, such as the Keystone Service (Harrisburg-Philadelphia-New York), Empire Service (Albany-New York), Shuttle (Springfield, MA-New Haven), and Downeaster (Portland-Boston); most of these services are a lot cheaper than the Northeast Corridor. When I lived in Harrisburg, as gas prices went up I always used Amtrak for Philadelphia trips and sometimes for New York trips, and now that I'm in the DC area I'll at least sometimes use Amtrak for Philadelphia and New York trips (when I'm not riding a much cheaper bus) and commuter rail for Baltimore trips.

The big thing with using Amtrak is you need to know where the stations are located in the cities/towns you are visiting, especially in the case of towns and smaller cities with more limited or nonexistent public transit. If the station is conveniently located relative to your ultimate destination or if there is good public transit nearby, you'll be fine.

Incidentally, seats on Amtrak trains are much larger than coach seats on an airplane or seats on a coach (i.e. Greyhound or Trailways) bus. They are similar in size (though not as comfortable, at least on Keystones and Regionals) as first class seats on an airplane.

One final thing - on the southern half of the Northeast Corridor (New York-Washington), especially on the New York-Philadelphia segment of the corridor, you'll have the opportunity to see the neat situation where an Amtrak Regional train passes a commuter/regional rail train or is passed by an Amtrak Acela when both trains are in motion. That's a pretty cool experience, especially if you are on the faster train.
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Old 04-22-2008, 08:10 PM
 
Location: Silver Spring, MD/Washington DC
3,451 posts, read 8,152,521 times
Reputation: 2346
I should mention one other thing - if you determine that Amtrak wouldn't work for you to visit your friends in New Hampshire but you'd still like to try Amtrak, you may be able to use the Amtrak Hiawatha Service between Milwaukee and Chicago to test out Amtrak and/or taking the train. (Without looking at a map, I have no idea how close Portage is to Milwaukee or southeast Wisconsin.) I've never used the Hiawathas, but I suspect the coach cars are similar to those used on the Keystone Service (the engine will be different though - diesel instead of electric).
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Old 04-22-2008, 09:31 PM
 
Location: Middleton, Wisconsin
4,229 posts, read 15,407,876 times
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Thanks CHIP72,
Actually Portage has an Amtrak station. My friends are from Portage and we would be traveling to New Hampshire together. I figured it would be about $160 to drive one way with my car. So I noticed Amtrak offers round trip plans, kinda pricey like you said.
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Old 04-23-2008, 12:36 AM
 
Location: Assisi, Italy
1,845 posts, read 3,888,648 times
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Amtrak has all the schedules and fares. For 3 people it might be pricey. When you get to Hanover, then what? You are without wheels. 19 and without wheels can be a sad thing. Can your buddy's hog fit all of you?

Also, you don't get to see whatever the USA has to offer in between.

I am forgoing driving in July because I qualify for the Rail Pass AND my US license has expired and it is difficult to renew from abroad. But the rental cost on a vehicle I would need to accommodate us is very expensive and the places we want to hit are in Cities which are walkable and parking is 30 bucks a night.
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Old 04-23-2008, 08:30 AM
 
Location: Middleton, Wisconsin
4,229 posts, read 15,407,876 times
Reputation: 2294
I think I'll probably drive. We planned on driving my Nissan Maxima.
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