does anyone have experience with American trains?

does anyone have experience with American trains?
I'm interested in the potential of supplementing some of the days I commute and taking trains instead.
the train in particular would be Amtrak, which has a convenient station near me and near my destination, with no stops in between.
I rode it recently to try it out, and it works ok but ignoring delays, adds an entire hour twenty to my commute time.
But what is killing it for me is they charge a flat rate fee of 20usd each way for a bicycle.
Does anyone have experience with hauling a folding bicycle aboard amtrak? on their website, they say it is okay (and free) and give some very lucrative dimension restrictions, but I am worried they will frick with me at the platform.

overall I am disappointed though in my experiences with the train, but my use case is one trip. The fact that I have to reserve a ticket over three months in advance for the price to be EQUAL to fuel costs of driving is insane.

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  1. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    >but I am worried they will frick with me at the platform
    They don't give a shit about people breaking the actual rules, they probably wont care about you following the rules.

  2. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    I would recommend a Brompton folding bike. I’ve taken it on all sorts of commuter and subway trains for free in both Greece and the USA.

    It is 16” and has a very small fold. See pic. The last I checked the starting price for the cheapest model was $1000. I’ve had mine for almost 11 years now and it shows no sign that it will ruin anytime soon.

  3. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    I've thought about taking a train a few times but it's usually more expensive than flying to go more than 150 miles. Plus it takes 10 fricking hours when a flight is 90 minutes.

  4. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Trains in America suck.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      not in the northeast

  5. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    There's some interesting Amtrak lines that are quite beautiful and picturesque but basically cost the same as a plane ticket. What this means is that you only end up with people who want to be on these trains, so overall the passengers are quite nice and tolerable. The trains themselves are in good condition (not France or Western EU tier, but good enough).

    Unfortunately though, I would not recommend it. The problem is that rail lines in the U.S are prioritized by freight trains. Meaning you will be stuck sometimes hours in the middle of nowhere waiting for miles long trains to cross. It is actually illegal for freight companies to do this, and on paper passenger trains have priority over freight, but it is not enforced. Whats more is freight trains are purposefully longer than passing loops so this by default forces passenger trains to wait. This results in a typical train ride lasting twice, sometimes three times as long as planned.

    If you're really into trains for some reason there is the largest train museum the USA in Illinois, which is accessible by rail from Chicago.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      Within the last year or so they've been better about giving Amtrak priority over freight.

      I took the California Zephyr to Chicago a while back. The flight would have been direct, taken me a few hours, and cost same if booked ahead. The train was a day and a half. I wanted to haul a huge amount of camping gear and doing that on a plane would have not been feasible. While slow, it was incredibly comfy; I dropped off my pile of giant bags and when the boarding call comes you just walk on, no security theater or limits to what you can bring. Bring a pillow and some meals for the overnight train, the onboard food is meh, I stashed a bunch of onigiri and sandwiches in my bag. I had a few books and was able to sit and read for hours, it was very comfy. I didn't get a roomette, but the coach seats fold down nearly all the way and while you have an assigned seat there's only so many
      people who do the overnight leg so you can find a way to stretch out and be comfy.

      The thing that I saw foreigners being tripped up on was how the crew treated the passengers. The passengers were a mix of: foreigner tourists and older people looking for a scenic trip who had more time on their hands, people with injuries or situations like mine where they couldn't fly, and then 'bus people'. Public transit in much of America involves a large number of tweakers and other deranged/aggressive personalities. The train conductor and all the crew comes out of Chicago, usually a big aggressive black guy who is in not-taking-any-shit mode because he's used to dealing with Bus People, who are ignoring rules and causing trouble (and will get kicked off at stops). I witnessed a few innocent foreigners who didn't understand this 'Bus Driver-Bus People' dynamic ask a innocuous questions about moving seats and get their heads chewed off, and they were confused and upset by this. Do not take this personally; the train bull has just burned out on kindness and treats everyone like lunatics.

  6. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Amtrak has decent quality trains on the west coast. I had a blast going between Portland and the Bay Area. The seats are comfy, wide like business class on a plane, the lounge car has great views to offer.

    I also took trains between NY and Boston and DC. Those are fricking tin cans with busted folding tables, worn out seats, etc. BUT it IS cheaper, in both money and time, to take either of those trains vs. flying. And also much less stressful.

    American trains ftw. I just wish train companies hired better management to untangle the logistical issues, and lobby the fact that moving shit by train is cheaper and faster than by trucks. American consumer trains would explode in both quality and popularity then, since everybody hates airports, and wouldn't mind mid-range commutes with higher level of comfort (LA<->SF; Portland<->Seattle; Dallas<->Houston; NY<->Chicago, Boston, DC; you name it).

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      Amtrak is in the process of replacing all of their long-distance rolling stock, so the quality of long-distance trips should increase in the early 2030s.

  7. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Amtrak is nice if you're not in a rush and want to take the scenic route. If you're strapped on time then you're better off driving or flying in the US. The only route that's really feasible for quick train travel in the US is the Northeast Corridor.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      >The only route that's really feasible for quick train travel in the US is the Northeast Corridor.
      and even then you CAN get it done faster with driving, it's just more effort and saves you not all that much time in the grand scheme of things whereas with the train you don't really have any effort needed.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      The Pacific Surfliner is alright.

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        The Cascades is also pretty reasonable from Portland to Seattle

  8. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    I ride the Acela from time to time. They have one particular car (a quiet car) that bangs and shakes violently. Everytime it made an extremely loud bang I would think “this is it, i am going to die as my car derail at 120mph and have my body thrown out.”

    Not to mention the shaking- the first time I rode Acela I got car sick. Literally never happened to me on a train before.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      I really don't get the point of the Acela unless you really NEED to save that ~60-120 minutes it's just so much more money for such little time savings.

      DC to NYC for example is ~2h45m on acela, and ~3h30m on the northeast regional.

      Hell the only reason to pay for Acela would be for the first class dining service, but that costs even more money and only makes sense if you have someone else footing the bill or you just REALLY like trains.

  9. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    I regularly take the Amtrak in Virginia to get to Dulles to save $700 or more in plane tickets. The quality is decent and the only problem I have had so far was an hour and half backup because of maintenance being done on the track. Comfort level was reasonable for a $24 ticket.

  10. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    I was very happy with the California Zephyr from Denver to the Bay Area. Amazing scenery along the route, which covers sections of country you can't visit by road. The coordination with freight trains was top-notch on this route, and we were never stopped for more than a few minutes. The coach ticket cost me only $101, half of what gas would cost for my minivan. 1450 miles in 31 hours is doable by car, but it would've been more exhausting than sitting all night in a coach seat. When I got tired of sitting, I stretched out under the seat row, to the great amusement of the passengers behind me. Got to drink liquor and talk at length with cool people. Someone had a heart attack in Martinez, so they emptied the train and put us all on a regional train. Remarkably, we still arrived in Emeryville on schedule.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      >under the seat row
      What?

  11. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >The fact that I have to reserve a ticket over three months in advance for the price to be EQUAL to fuel costs of driving is insane.
    Except for subways in urban cores, trains around the NEC are always going to be slightly more expensive than the same trip in bare fuel cost. It's usually just a bit faster, if the stations are near your destination.
    I'm including MARTA, SEPTA, LIRR, NJ Transit, and other northeast heavy rail commuter train operators.
    Amtrak (or another operator) is cheaper if your alternative is driving and parking, where parking has a cost, and faster too. Hunting for a spot takes time and parallel parking at rush hour is not for the faint of heart.
    The train will be cheaper if you have to pay tolls, bridge or otherwise, to your destination. New Jersey turnpike from Delaware Memorial bridge to the Verrazzano bridge is like 14 dollars, and crossing that bridge is another 4 dollars.
    The train will be faster if the highways have congestion. The Philadelphia area is like that, the train to and from the burbs is 50 minutes, usually, with an extra 15 minutes on either end of fricking around and waiting time. Driving that at midnight is a 30 minute trip, but after 6AM and before 11PM it's an hour and a half, up to 2 hours in some cases. I wouldn't drive from Trenton to Baltimore if I could avoid it, or Doylestown to the Philly airport. I wouldn't bother with MARTA for anything outside of the Baltimore burbs, Maryland is pretty much either suburban or rural.

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