Amtrak offers a variety of train passes for people who want to save money while traveling between U.S cities. The company’s regular trains travel at speeds of up to 90 mph, but their Acela Express line can reach 150 miles per hour. Amtrak’s website has all the information you need about ticket prices and availability as well as how much time your journey will take.
How Much Does U.S. Train Travel Cost?
Depending on how early you book the tickets and the distance you need to travel, you will pay anywhere between $25 and $420 for a one-way ticket from a U.S. city to another with Amtrak trains. For example, if you want to go from Chicago to Indianapolis be prepared to pay anywhere between $60 and $80 for a one-way ticket. Be prepared to pay a higher price for a longer trip. A one-way ticket from Los Angeles to New Orleans will cost $420 to $1190. Lower prices are for the trips booked in advance. Also, the higher prices are for the room ticket.
If you have to travel between the three big cities D.C., New York, and Boston, you can take one Amtrak Acela Express Train as this operates only between these cities. The price of a standard trip that takes 30 to 60 minutes is around $80, while a trip from New York to Washington D.C., which will take around 3.5 hours, will set you back anywhere between $220 and $400. Also, for a trip from Boston to Washington D.C., which will take around 7 hours, you will pay $322 to $550. Slower trains would cost less, the same trip being around $100.
Amtrak’s USA Rail passes are the best way to see America. They come in three different lengths: a 15-day pass ($400), a 30-day pass ($600), or a 45-day pass ($760). All of these are for one adult traveling in coach class. Children between 2 and 15 years old have to pay half the price and the ones under 2 years old can ride for free. The number of trips you can take is limited to the assigned segments (or legs) for each trip, and they must all be completed within 180 days. There are three types: 8 segments, 12 segments, and 18 segments, which increase once the number of purchased days increase.
The California Rail Pass is a great option for travelers who are looking to explore several different areas in California. For $159, you get seven days’ worth of unlimited train rides on any Amtrak route that travels through the state. The pass covers both local and long-distance trains.
The Multi-Ride Pass offered by Amtrak is the best option for commuters to save money. For instance, the price of a monthly unlimited-ride pass is around $400 and the price for a 10-ride ticket from Milwaukee to Chicago is almost $170 and all the rides have to be used within 60 days. The price of an individual ticket bought in advance is $25, so the commuters would be able to save around $80 by purchasing a 10-ride pass or $100 on a monthly pass (based on 20 total trips). The costs are only for one-way tickets, without including the costs for the return tickets.
The price of a train tour package starts at $1,200 and goes up to $5,000, with an average cost of $150 to $300 per individual, per day. For instance, the cost of the America the Beautiful West train tour that is not run by Amtrak, starts at $2,800 per individual (double occupancy). In the 14-day vacation package, you will get train accommodations or hotel for every night of the tour and 20 meals, plus the stops at the most important tourist spots such as Yosemite National Park, The Colorado Rockies, The Grand Canyon and Las Vegas.
U.S. train travel details
Acela Express trains are more than just a place to ride in comfort, they’re an experience. These high-speed luxury vehicles offer quiet cars with conference tables and power outlets so you can work on your laptop without worrying about noisy neighbors or getting distracted by onboard entertainment systems. There are even onboard bistros perfect for dining when traveling long distances.
With the train tours, you will usually get meal options and accommodations on or off the train.
You can purchase a rail pass or commuter pass to get you around the country, but it’s important that each segment of your trip is booked ahead. The passenger can’t use their ticket on any time on any train along the way if they haven’t done a reservation first.
What are the extra costs?
On train tours most probably, you will need a roomette, so you should add another $55 per night and around $110 for a bedroom.
Important things to consider
If you have a USA Rail pass from Amtrak you will have a reservation in advance for each trip. Passes can be bought by a travel agent or online. These are not valid for other trains or for the exclusive Acela Express.
Photo identification like a government-issued Photo ID or a valid passport is required by Amtrak.
In case you lose your USA Rail Pass or it is stolen you will not get a refund. On the other hand, lost tickets purchased with a valid pass can be replaced.
How can I save money?
If you are over 62 years old you will get a 15% discount from the regular adult fare.
Also, you can save 15% if you have a Veterans Advantage card, an ISIC card, a AAA card, a Student Advantage card, or if you purchase your ticket at least three days in advance. With a NARP card, you can save 10%.
10% can be saved also by the active-duty members of the U.S. military and their spouses and dependents.