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Lounge car food is mediocre and expensive — click here for more on eating aboard Amtrak. Unlike an airplane, it’s common to walk around a train.
It’s a great place to meet people, eavesdrop and/or get work done.California has its own semi-special, more commuter friendly trainsets, and there’s also the Pacific Northwests’ very modern Cascades.Lastly, there’s the Auto Train which carries passengers and autos between Virginia and north Florida.The Superliners serve all long-distance routes, except those that go to or from New York City (the tunnel is too short).The Superliners give better views and have more space, including usually an observatory / lounge car and usually a full-service dinning car (sometimes they’re combinded).Though sometimes frustrating, it is safe, statistically safer than driving. In my experience, Amtrak is beautiful just like the humans who ride it.
To overgeneralize, there are three types of Amtrak trains, the ‘corridor’ short-distance trains mostly originating out of Chicago and New York, the long-distance ‘Viewliner’ trains originating from New York, and the double story ‘Superliner’ trains.
For short distances, there isn’t much difference between premium and coach.
On long-distance trains, you’re put onto a sleeper car.
If you have a guaranteed connection, Amtrak will provide you a way to make that connection. Tickets in the Northeast are more expensive than elsewhere. If you want to travel extensively on Amtrak, for example if you’re going to live aboard Amtrak, I’d recommend Amtrak’s USA Rail Pass.
It may be a bus-stitution, holding the other train, a flight, or an overnight stay in a hotel. On standard class tickets, you’re allowed to cancel beforehand and receive the full value back in an Amtrak voucher . Many long distance trains are more crowded in summer. In the winter, as of 2013, it’s likely you’ll have an empty seat next to yours. The pass entitles its holder to a number of segments (ie coach class tickets) to use within either 15, 30 or 45 days.
During most fuel and smoke break passengers are allowed to walk around the platform.