Amtrak's Northeast Regional train #95 arrives at Newark Penn Station en route to Newport News, VA.
Amtrak’s Northeast Regional train #95 arrives at Newark Penn Station en route to Newport News, VA.

Traveling on Amtrak is always a pleasurable experience.  Traveling from one city to another while viewing the scenery passing by can’t be more relaxing. It cannot get any more intimate than that. There are times when we run into situations which we cannot control. One time or another, there will be a passenger being rude. There will be a family whose children have zero manners. Even though it is yet to be established, a rider’s code of etiquette should be implemented. The only way it can be implemented if someone begins preaching it. Let the time be now.

While on board any Amtrak train, the on board environment should always be gratifying. Amtrak’s quality on board service has always been top notch. Further, it should be enjoyable and safe. When riders maintain proper etiquette, their journey whether short or long-distance, will be a memorable one. There’s proper etiquette to be followed when on the beach, in a library, at a restaurant, and at a family event. Who says it can’t be implemented on board a train? It’s implemented on board an airplane. What should an Amtrak rider’s code of etiquette look like? Here’s how it should read.

Luggage: Luggage, including carry-on baggage, does not belong on top of the seats. There is no saving of seats by placing luggage on top of them. It is extremely disrespectful and blatantly selfish for any rider to do so. Luggage belongs in one of two locations; in the overhead bin, or in the storage areas at either end of the coach. It’s not fair for fellow passengers to be climbing over and around each other’s luggage. Are we good?

Amtrak's Amfleet II coaches are by the the most comfortable in the fleet. The seats are leather upholstered and fully recline.
Amtrak’s Amfleet II coaches are by the the most comfortable in the fleet. The seats are leather upholstered and fully recline.

Quiet car: To let everyone in on a secret, the quiet car is the best car on the train. The quiet car is part of coach class. There is no additional cost. While riding in the quiet car, riders must keep their voices down. Secondly, riders must keep their conversations short. Third and last, riders must set their cell phones to silent or vibrate. How does a passenger tell if he/she is in the quiet car? There is signage posted on the doors.  Signage can be also be found hanging from the coach ceiling. The signage is in plain sight. No passenger deserves to have his/her journey disrupted by someone’s phone making funny noises. If it’s an important business matter, it should be discussed via email. Amtrak provides free wi-fi on board all of its trains. If riders wish to be loud, irritable, or just plain indecent, they can enjoy their ride in regular coach class following the quiet car. Are we good?

Seating: Seats are for sitting, not for enjoying a mid-summer night’s dream. What this means is that riders should be sitting properly in their own seats, making nearby seats available for their fellow riders. Riders should not put their feet up on nearby seats. It is distinctly impolite to do so. The seats in the business class car, the Amfleet II coaches (on long-distance trains), and on Acela Express trains come equipped with foot rests. It is a necessity that passengers need to “feel at home”. While on a train, feet belong in the proper location. Are we good?

Amtrak's Acela Express features Business and First Class accommodations, including foot rests and reclining seats.
Amtrak’s Acela Express features business and first class accommodations, including foot rests and reclining seats.

Sleeping cars: Sleeping cars can’t be a more intimate traveling experience. They have a rich history dating back to the days when railroads such as the Pennsylvania, New York Central, Union Pacific, and Santa Fe were known for their top notch sleeping accommodations. Sleeping cars have come a long way since then. It is best to say that Amtrak has made the sleeping car experience tremendously better than the days of the older sleeping cars. While occupying sleeping cars, riders must refrain from horseplay. Riders should save horseplay for the hotel room. Riders should respect the privacy of those around them. There should be no coarse language of any kind. Secondly, riders should be properly dressed during daytime hours. If not dressed appropriately, the curtains should be drawn.

Lastly,  sleeping car berth doors should be closed at all times. Yes, passengers should mind their own privacy and not make themselves too presentable. That’s an understatement. For safety reasons, berth doors should remain closed. The train can roll over switch points, and a variety of crossings including diamonds. The vibrations from passing over diamonds and switches can be enough to get a door swinging. The train can also round curves which can cause the doors to swing back and forth profusely. No passenger needs to get hit or injured by a swinging door. It all comes down to common sense. Are we good?

Pets: Everyone loves traveling with their “best friend”. When it comes to traveling on board trains while accompanied by pets, the etiquette is straight-forward. Pet carriers should be kept on the floor, not on the coach seat. Even in the sleeping car berths, pet carriers belong on the floor. It’s the same as not placing luggage on top of the seats. More importantly, the animal must be kept inside the carrier, and not be sitting on the seat. Passengers don’t need to be wiping locks of dog or cat hair from the seat before sitting down. Pets belong in the pet carriers, and pet carriers belong on the floor.  Are we good?

Small children, small or grown up, should be accompanied by an adult at all times.
Small children, small or grown up, should be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Small children: Proper etiquette is vital anywhere we go or whatever situation we’re in. When it comes to small children, they have to be advised about it right off the bat. While aboard any Amtrak train, small children should be supervised at all times. They should not be running roughshod all over the coach. They should not be frolicking back and forth aimlessly in the sleeping car. Small children, just as adults, should respect the safe and tranquil traveling environment of their fellow passengers.

When going to and from the cafe car, small children should be accompanied by an adult. While going to the cafe car, passengers have to walk through the vestibules between the cars. In the vestibules, there are few handles to hold on to. The train is moving at a high speed and the cars are bouncing up and down, left and right. To ensure their safety, adults must accompany their small children to the cafe car at all times. Are we good?

Traveling by train should always be a fun and enjoyable experience. Whether it’s for business or pleasure, the journey should be memorable. Not only do passengers want to have a pleasurable journey, but the crew deserves to have a safe work experience, too. Whether on short or long-distance, proper rider etiquette is paramount. Adults should use their common sense with their luggage, in the sleeping cars, with pets, and even when riding in the quiet car. Traveling with small children may require a lot more patience, but it’s vital to keep them under control at all times. Keeping them under control, accompanying them at all times, and seeing that they respect their fellow passengers at all times is significantly crucial. Amtrak passengers, both young or older adults, along with children of all ages all look forward to their journey. Above all, proper etiquette on board all trains is key. As long as proper etiquette is exemplified, passengers will always get to their destination in the most desirable way; safely.





About Author

David Kriso has been a travel writer since August 2011. He is a contributing writer for both of his hometown's newspapers, The Gazette, and The Observer. His articles focus on cruise and railroad travel. David is also published online at, a cruise magazine based in Vancouver, Canada and at Amtrak's story site, David also writes for the publication On, he writes about cruise and rail travel. David is a long-time train traveler, avid cruiser, and a Disney traveler since age 4.

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