The thought of train travel may conjure images from a vintage movie, with scenic images streaming past the windows on a cross-country train ride.
Not much has changed, and that’s one of the biggest advantages of train travel. You can see the landscape while relaxing to the rhythm of the rail journey. Amtrak trains hold the market for cross-country train travel, with more than 179,000 routes connecting 900 US cities.
Key Advantages of Business Train Travel
Train or plane? It’s true that plane travel – well, once in the air – is faster, especially on long routes. With train travel? Tight connections are not the norm.
On short-distance trains, the time difference shortens compared to air travel. Plus, there are advantages:
- Scenic route – you can experience different scenes across the country
- Comfortable – with better leg room and fully-reclining seats
- Dining cars – as compared to the small bag of pretzels and bottled water provided on air travel
- Affordable – for example, the ticket cost from Boston to New York City is about $70
Amtrak Trains Rule the US
Amtrak is the only choice for passenger travel on major US routes. There are some small passenger railways that offer local service. But to get from Point A to Point B for major US cities, it’s Amtrak, an excellent rail network for train trips throughout the country.
Basics of Business Train Travel in 2022
You’ll have many of the same check-in guidelines you’ve experienced at airports, including security screening. You’ll remove shoes, keep electronics separate, and go through electronic scanning.
More and more vacationers are using trains as integral to an Amtrak vacation, with train routes taking them to popular destinations such as Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, and many national parks.
Train vacations are great options for families, as everyone is free to walk around, checking out lounges and of course, the dining car. You can stretch your legs outdoors (and smoke) at every designated rest stop.
Rail vacations can be localized, such as to the Salt Lake City or San Francisco Bay area, on along cross-country routes, or to specific locales on the East and West coasts.
Important Tips for the Best Experience
As recommended with all travel, purchase travel insurance. That’s one of the basic travel tips.
- Plan for Delays: Passenger trains often stop in almost all the towns on the route where there’s a train station. Passenger trains also stop to allow freight trains to pass them. That’s all part of most train journeys.
- Make a pre-departure checklist: Especially for your first train trip, make a list of important items to bring along, such as personal medications and toiletries.
- Check-in your bags: In most cases, you won’t be charged for baggage and can have a carry-on bag.
- Safety first: You’ll have the option to walk and stretch, so comfortable shoes and clothing are recommended.
- Chill in the dining car: You’ll have numerous choices, and have the opportunity to chat with fellow passengers and make new friends.
- Book a sleeper car: Although coach seats fully recline, book a sleeping car for overnight trips.
6 Different Train Companies Available in the US
The Amtrak network is the go-to system for short and long-distance routes for passenger trains. Business-class travelers will enjoy the greater room a train offers, as they enjoy the passing landscapes.
For the small business owners, train companies should be considered for shipping. Freight trains offer rail car and intermodal shipping, and also intermodal to truck delivery at the end destination.
Here’s a look at Amtrak and freight train options.
1. Amtrak Train
Many travelers think rail travel is expensive, and may be pleasantly surprised to learn of ways to save money on a trip. For example, Amtrak offers monthly, six-ride trip and ten-ride trip options.
If you purchase a monthly rail pass, you can take two trips a day during a 30-day period. That could be an option for someone who often travels from Washington DC to Chicago, for example. For the six-ride trip option, you’d be free to choose six rides during a 365-day period. For the ten-ride trip option, you’d be covered for 10 rides during a 45-60 day period.
There are also deals on regional fares, such as the Northeast Regional, which includes Boston, New York City, DC, Richmond and Norfolk. Regional fares are organized into the US Northwest, California (including San Diego), West, Midwest, Northeast and South.
2. Union Pacific
Union Pacific stopped carrying passengers in 1971 when it was purchased by Amtrak. It’s a premier shipping rail company.
BSNF is also a large shipping railroad company.
The CSX rail freight company specialized in shipping along cities on the Mississippi River, from north to south.
5. Norfolk Southern
The Norfolk Southern freight rail company covers 22 states and Washington DC.
6. Kansas City Southern
The Kansas City Southern shipping railroad has stations to link Canada to Mexico.
Ticket Costs to Travel by Train
Use the Amtrak app to book tickets, whether you’re planning a rail vacation or need a departure station for your next business trip. Typically there is no extra cost for cancellations. On average, a short one-way ticket cost can range from as low as $6 to $29. Trips of 500 miles or longer are also inexpensive, ranging from $40 to $300, for economy class.
If you upgrade to premium fares, you’ll add about $200 per ticket. But you’ll get more amenities with the premium fare. Those are costs if you buy separate tickets for each leg of your travel. You can realize good savings by purchasing flexible fares and saver fares such as multi-ride passes, such as the monthly, six-ride, or ten-ride options previously mentioned.
Most trains run several times daily on popular business traveler routes, such as DC to Chicago or Boston to NYC. Here are some sample costs: DC to NYC $69 (economy); Boston to NYC $49 (economy); Chicago to DC $81 (economy). As airlines do, Amtrak offers a rewards program that you can access on the web or via the Amtrak app. Seniors over 62 years old and Veterans get 15% reductions on ticket costs.
There is No Better Way to See the Vastness of the United States
All Aboard! For the Grand Canyon, the Napa Valley, New Orleans, San Antonio, Santa Barbara, or New England states! Or maybe you’d rather that your train traveled scenic routes along the Colorado River, the Wild West, Glacier National Park, or the Pacific Ocean.
It’s better than a road trip – you don’t have to pay attention to the driving, whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, or traveling for business and taking along your family. And the ticket costs may be much lower than you expected, saving you money.
More in: Small Business Travel