THE JOURNEY: The 13.03 Acela Express (Train 2160) between Penn Central Station in New york and Boston (although the train originates in Washington DC and reaches New york via Philadelphia). The Acela Express is a business class train with one first-class carriage. It operates 10 departures on weekdays between the two east coast cities. The journey crosses through plenty of attractive urban and rural scenery, including New England’s archetypal white clapboard houses.
BOARDING: Accessing pre-booked tickets in Penn Central Station is via the Quik-Trak machine, which scans the confirmation and instantly issues the tickets when the same credit card is inserted. A special waiting area for the Acela Express is available close to the top of the escalator which leads down to the platform. Penn Central Station is full of the shops and outlets expected in a major rail station, including a very easy and efficient left-luggage depository for just $4.50 per bag.
THE SEAT: Some in twos and some in fours around a large table with a folding edge which allows more body or work/reading space, as required. There are electric power sockets for laptops, mobile chargers, DVD players, etc, and free wi-fi is available on board (a hot spot courtesy of Amtrak Connect). Individual and adjustable reading lights are located above each seat. Leather seats are comfortable with armrests. Aircraft-style luggage lockers are available for storage with additional big luggage storage areas at the end of each carriage. The carriage floor is fully carpeted.
THE SERVICE: A Café Car serves a wide range of snacks and drinks and includes some seating and a convivial bar-type area where passengers can stand and chat. An at-seat cart service operates on some trains. Washrooms/toilets are immaculate and exceptionally roomy by UK standards. A cold water drinking fountain has paper cups. A Quiet Car is available on all trains.
THE ARRIVAL: Station stops are well announced in advance and the station exit (via an escalator which helps when shifting heavy luggage) takes passengers straight into the heart of Boston.
THE DETAILS: Ten Acela Express services operate on weekdays (longer journey times are available on other trains) between the two cities. One-way fares range from $95 for a business class seat (+$71 for first class), double for a return journey. For extended stays, Amtrak rail passes are available in three levels of travel durations and travel segments: eight segments of travel within 15 days for $389; 12 segments of travel within 30 days for $579; and 18 segments of travel within 45 days for $749 (online prices).
Loved it! Perhaps the speed is not in the European train league but the train is every bit as modern and comfortable. Avoiding check-ins and security checks at the airport, the New york/Boston journey, is little slower than by air.
Managing Editor, Selling Long Haul