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Amtrak Southwest Chief Train at Los Angeles Union Station, Staff members are preparing for the journey to Chicago
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A Beginner's Guide to Amtrak

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Are you riding Amtrak for the first time and don't know what to expect? Or maybe considering ditching your car for the train but wondering if Amtrak is worth it? We've got you covered with everything you need to know — from pricing and routes to what amenities are available onboard. 


The National Railroad Passenger Corp., operating as Amtrak, serves more than 500 destinations across the U.S., as well as three provinces in Canada. Amtrak served 12.2 million passengers last year, with nearly two-thirds of clientele commuting from the 10 largest metropolitan cities in the U.S


With gas prices still high in some places, Amtrak could serve as an affordable and eco-friendly alternative to get around. In addition to shorter routes commonly taken by intercity commuters, Amtrak offers private sleeper rooms for short- and long-haul rides where you can stretch your legs, catch some Zs and wake up feeling recharged.


Read on to find out if Amtrak, which operates in 46 states within the contiguous U.S., is a good travel option for you.

@baileerainwater I always wanted to get a sleeper room on an Amtrak train and I finally bid on one and they accepted my bid! It was like 4am Paris time and I had been awake for hours and hours at this point and alllllll I wanted to do was sleep on this train. Even though I told them that, they knocked on my door like constantly. So in the end, I’d say it’s not really worth the extra cost. #traintok #amtrak #americaninparis #sleepercar ♬ Sunset Lover - Petit Biscuit

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Which routes does Amtrak cover and how much do tickets cost?

    Within the U.S., Amtrak offers one-way tickets, rail passes and auto train rides (in which your vehicle is loaded onto the train) ideal for those who want to skip the hassle of driving to a destination but still want to use their own car after getting there. Rail passes are broken into multi-ride (best for commuters), leisure (ideal for those on a cross-country trip), and California (best for sightseeing within the state).

    Fares can vary depending on distance and destination, but expect to pay anywhere from $60 (for coach) to more than $200 (business or first class) for round-trip tickets within the U.S. Coach tickets for the auto train option start at $89, but the service is available only between Washington D.C. and Florida. Check Amtrak's website for detailed ticketing and pricing options.

  • What amenities are included in Amtrak's sleeper rooms?

    Amtrak offers private room options on certain routes across the country. These include: roomettes, bedrooms, bedroom suites, family rooms, and accessible bedrooms. All private rooms come equipped with bedding, pillows, towels, linens, in-room sink, a restroom, and shower. If you're traveling with little ones or want added comfort and privacy, private rooms could be a good option. They're also available on short trips.

  • Does Amtrak have Wi-Fi aboard?

    Yes, free basic Wi-Fi is offered in select trains and in most stations throughout the country. Amtrak says its Wi-Fi system does not support high-bandwidth actions such as streaming music, videos, or downloading large files, though. Find out here if your Amtrak station or destination offers Wi-Fi. 

  • How fast do Amtrak trains go?

    The Acela, which is Amtrak's fastest train, can travel up to 150 mph. Operating within the tristate area, the Acela can get you to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, or Washington, D.C., faster than The Flash (well, not quite as fast, but you get the gist). Other Amtrak trains travel 70 to 80 mph, with certain lines reaching up to 90 mph. 

  • What is business class on Amtrak?

    A "premium, enhanced experience" offering extra legroom, wider and more comfortable seats, and complimentary non-alcohol beverages, Amtrak's business class is offered on most corridor services across the country. Amtrak's business-class customers also get a 25% bonus on Amtrak guest reward points.  

  • Are pets allowed on Amtrak trains?

    Yes, but with a fee. Pets weighing up to 20 pounds (including the carrier) are welcome on Amtrak trips of up to seven hours on most routes. Only dogs and cats are allowed to travel as pets, though, and fees vary from $29 to $39 per animal. Your pet must stay inside the carrier throughout the trip and will count as one piece of carry-on luggage. Check here for detailed guidelines if you plan on traveling with your four-legged pal. 

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