When Leland Stanford drove the Golden Spike into Promontory Summit in Utah, he not only joined the rails of the First Transcontinental Railroad, he kick-started America's love affair with riding the rails. The advent of the car may have somewhat curtailed American rail travel but Amtrak still boasts an extensive network of more than 34,000 kilometres of track.
Popular Amtrak routes include the Boston to Washington D.C. high speed link known as the Acela Express and the Capitol Corridor between the San Francisco Bay Area and the Californian state capital Sacramento. Other useful routes for overseas visitors include the Chicago to Washington D.C. line via Cleveland and Pittsburgh, the Seattle to Los Angeles via Sacramento and Oakland line, the New York to Harrisburg via Pennsylvania and Philadelphia line and the Chicago to Milwaukee line.
Classes of Service
First Class is Amtrak's highest class of service but is offered only on the high speed Acela Express between Boston and Washington D.C. First Class seats are larger than those in Business Class and are arranged in a 1 x 2 configuration. Complimentary meals and beverages are included, as are free newspapers and a hot towel service. First Class passengers can access select Amtrak lounges which feature priority boarding.
Long distance Amtrak services offer Sleeper Service cabins, which are considered the equivalent of First Class facilities. Sleeper cabins are categorised as roomettes, bedrooms, family bedrooms and accessible bedrooms, with cabins converted into sleeping areas featuring fold-down beds and freshly laundered linen on each service. Complimentary newspapers and bottled water are included in the cost of Sleeper Service fares and passengers have access to exclusive Amtrak lounges.
Business Class is offered on the high speed Acela Express and select northeastern regional trains. Seating configurations differ between services, however business class passengers enjoy greater legroom and additional foot rests, as well as receiving complimentary non-alcoholic beverages and newspapers.
Coach Class is considered the standard class of service on Amtrak trains, though cabins themselves differ between services. Seats are configured in a 2 x 2 formation, with Long Distance services offering deep-reclining seats designed for comfortable long-haul travel. Regional Coach seating is comparable to airline economy class seating.