Video of depressing first class train service between Boston and Washington DC.

I noticed that he said he paid $280 one way and I thought that was extremely cheap. I’ve paid more than that NY to DC one way.

I didn’t know the Shinkansen was so (relatively) inexpensive,

TGV for a similar distance (Paris to Annecy) is about €180 one way in first class and ICE (Berlin to Munich) is €180-280.

Of course TGV and ICE take 4 hours to cover the 400 mile or so distance whereas Acela takes just under 7 hours


Though it doesn’t stand up to international comparisons, Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor is probably the best passenger rail in the US.


I agree with him…airline is better value.

First class flying: $534.
First class train: $374.

For $160 I’m there in a third of the time, and I get free alcohol too.

To each their own though.

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The author is probably under the delusion that Charbucks is somehow actually better.

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I’ve never heard of Vamoosebus. I’ve used Fung Wah way back when they were just starting out, but it seems there are a lot more options in that ultra low-cost category now. Good thing as the Chinatown busses were getting hyper competitive and the drivers were getting into serious accidents from the fatigue. Quite a few incidents of them breaking down, too.


That’s some damning with faint praise if I ever saw it.

That said, I’ve taken the NE Regional a few times (Acela is too pricey for the relatively modest decrease in travel time for me) and it’s been perfectly adequate. The seats are comfortable, there is a power port, and you rarely get stuck in traffic. There’s also much less TSA nonsense to deal with. For just one person the price is pretty similar to what you’d pay for gas and tolls driving. Driving wins on cost if you have more than one person traveling however.

I would bring my own food. The on-board “cafe” is just microwaved frozen meals like you might get at a off-brand gas station.

The bus option is even cheaper, but you get stuck in traffic and the seats aren’t as comfortable.




Yes, yes, yes … but what about the punctuality of the trains, now that the USA is slowly sliding towards fascism?


There’s something to be said about making the trains run on time.

Of course, this can also go too far…


I spent some of my younger days on Greyhound and I do not miss them in the least, though I lament the slow disappearance of that kind of slightly cheaper (quite often it wasn’t nearly as cheap as one thinks it should be) option.

Thanksgiving '87, the bus was already late and a driver that didn’t know what he was doing caused us to miss our exit which caused me to miss my connection so instead of an hour I had to spend 8 hours in Chicago, during which time I got mugged in the station arcade. Thanks Greyhound!


Reminds me of the Christmas trip home freshman year where the guy sitting next to me invited me to get stoned to the bejeezus-belt in Amarillo. Made the rest of the trip go by much faster.


Greyhound rides were part of my education that when you have long hair and a ratty jean jacket, strangers will assume you have or are interested in weed (at the time; nowadays that wouldn’t even get noticed in the least).


There’s really no incentive to ride the train, at least from DC to NYC. The Bolt bus costs $25, and the times I’ve been on them, there’s never an empty seat. I’m sort of surprised that anyone but Joe Biden still rides on Amtrak.


I just took the Eurostar (top service level) back and forth from London to Paris two weeks ago, which I’ve done many times at each level, and am also a veteran of the Acela from NYC to DC many times (mostly first class), the most recent being a couple of years ago. The Eurostar is moderately cleaner and newer - although the lounge at St. Pancras is in my view worse than just waiting for general boarding. The food is far better in the top service levels in Europe, and the Wifi is better in the US than on the Eurostar. So all of that seems to me like a wash, even though it is fun to bag on Amtrak of course.

Where they really differ is in train speed. And most of that is, I suspect, down to the old rail beds that Amtrak is using in the NE corridor. Although some of that could potentially be remedied with enough spending - and there are certainly political problems with that - I suspect there are some engineering challenges as well that would be difficult in just replacing like with like given where the tracks run. Even with a substantial dollar investment I don’t think you could get the same average speeds as on the Eurostar or high speed trains in Japan and China.

It is however an embarrassment that in the US there is no high speed train from SF to LA, where the intervening land is much less overbuilt.


Fung Wah did a great job providing cheap fares but lots of problems (like that fire, and the breakdowns and wheels coming off) took them out of service until they were apparently shut out of the bus business in that part of Boston they sought to serve:


I took the train from DC to Pittsburgh once.

It was no Deutchbahn (sp?) but the chair was comfy. being able to sit and watch videos in VLC on my laptop was nice. being able to take hits off a bottle of buffao trace was night.

As much as it’s fun to shit on Amtrak, I enjoyed that ride (which also was like 8-9 hours) more than any flight would have been. And when I add in time to get to the airport, go through security, etc it only tacked on a little time.

Also some amish folks we picked up partway there were nice and shared some of their picnic after the dining car was closed. Another way the whiskey was handy - bartering.


Admittedly this was years ago, but last time I went from Pittsburgh to DC, it would have involved taking a bus, as there wasn’t a train connection. That may have changed or there may not have been a train that was available at the right time for our trip; anyhow, one wasn’t available. For short trips (6 and under hours), I can’t hate on Amtrak too hard. I have very limited experience with the new bus services, and of Greyhound (at least in the US), the less said the better.

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it was direct. admittedly DCA -> Pit is pretty painless, but the wildcard of holiday-time security meant I had to show up hours early.

It was slightly long (~8 hours) but has pleasant country scenery and the seats were comfy. IIRC there may have been power too, but when not using wifi a fully charged laptop lasted most of the trip. And now with USB-C it’d be easier.

Maybe I’m weird but I love using trips as my time to catch up on shows and movies, it’s one of the few work free times I have nowadays.

To compare, even if I got a flight out of DCA I’d allow an hour on metro in case of delays, 2 hours at airport for security, and then the flight is allegedly an hour but often sits on the tarmac before take off or upon landing. so easily 5 hours right there for a flight vs 8 for a leisurely train ride.