Having been traveling to New York City frequently over the past few years for work, I’ve gotten a bit spoiled riding on the Amtrak Acela. I realize that because right now I’m writing this article while sitting on the Amtrak Northeast Regional train . . . and the lights just went out again . . . and there are chickens running around.
(Left: Acela pulling into Route 128 station outside Boston)
Only kidding, well sort of, the lights actually did just go out but there are no chickens and it’s actually been a really pleasant ride so far. I’m in route to Stamford, CT which I may have already passed but can’t really tell because it’s pitch black outside. If I see the Empire State building I’ll know I’ve gone too far.
Having now taken both the Acela and the Northeast Regional in the past year, I’d like to offer my two cents on each for any readers looking to travel via Amtrak.
- Let’s not try and pretend that this is on par with the Acela, because it’s not, however for the convenience and low price of traveling between Boston, New York and Washington D.C. I doubt you can beat it (around $67 for coach and $100 for Business Class)
- The Café Car I actually prefer over the one on the Acela (not in terms of how new it is but the set up of it). It has booths where you can sit comfortably after ordering food as opposed to the Acela which has a bar stool set up which I’ve never found comfortable eating at while traveling on it. The booth set up is also a great way to meet people. As I mentioned before, most of the people on the train are college age and pretty friendly. I actually ended up drinking beer at one of the booths with a few of them for about a half hour. The Café Car also accepts credit cards, as it does on the Acela.
(Right: Cafe Car on Northeast Regional)
- There is no wireless internet on the Regional, so for Business travelers this is clearly a negative. If you’re a family wanting to travel by train or someone just looking to save a few bucks and not caring so much about amenities, it’s the perfect option.
- The ride is definitely rougher as the train cars are much older. But there are power outlets in all the cars so you can plug in your lap top if needed.
- The only difference I could see between coach and business class on the Regional was the leg room. There is about twice as much leg room in business class. Coach still looked comfortable and of course offers a heck of a lot more leg room than any airplane economy class section.
- The majority of the travelers on this train are business people moving between Boston, NYC and Washington D.C. The selling point of the Acela is that it is faster than the regional. It does so by making fewer stops
- There is wireless internet located on all Acela cars. While that’s a nice feature, Amtrak has not quite perfected it yet. There are still stretches where it cuts out and content does take time to load (such as pictures on Yahoo! Homepage for example). If you can deal with that though, it does allow you to check email and surf the web to pass the time.
- Coach on Acela is very comfortable. There is room to put your seat back and the train cars are up to date. The ride is also very smooth. The windows are larger so you can get a better view of the scenery. And when you’re traveling along the coast from Boston to New York City, you really get some beautiful views of the ocean and harbors in New England.
(Left: Cafe Car on Acela)
- While Business Class is fine for most, First Class on Acela is extremely relaxing. You get all the drinks you can handle and a full breakfast, lunch or dinner menu. If you can afford the higher price tag (about $70 more than the standard Business Class ticket, I’d say it’s worth it. Make note though that First Class does fill up very quickly so if you want to take it you should book at least a day in advance if not more, especially during peak travel times (Mondays and Fridays, mornings and evenings).
Visit the Amtrak website by clicking HERE.