Across the country, the Coronavirus vaccines are being rolled out. Millions of doses, whether single or two shots, the United States is slowly returning to a state of normalcy. On the railroad front, Amtrak has taken a huge step towards normalcy. The Biden administration has passed a 1.7 billion dollar COVID relief bill to restore 12 Amtrak long-distance routes back to daily service. Early last Summer 2020, Amtrak was forced to reduce service on these long-distance routes due to the rapid drop in ridership caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. May 24th and June 7th, Amtrak’s financial pains imposed by the pandemic will be in the rear view mirror. With daily service restored, Amtrak can resume shattering ridership records as the passenger carrier has been doing over the past several years. The question is, what 5 long-distance routes are a must-ride for Amtrak riders post-Coronavirus?
#5 Palmetto (New York, NY-Savannah, GA): This is a long-distance journey not to be missed! There is no city like Savannah, GA, with its southern charm and compelling ghost stories. Departing New York City in the early morning hours, the Palmetto takes passengers on the ride of a lifetime. It is a journey between northeast cityscapes and the Deep South’s civil war history. Onboard, passengers take in scenery not accessible by other forms of transportation. That being said, the Palmetto is the ultimate experience providing passengers with unique comfort and relaxation of rail travel. The Palmetto doesn’t have a sleeping car. Passengers are encouraged to bring a blanket in case they wish to catch up on their sleep while en route.
#4 Crescent (New York, NY-New Orleans, LA): It’s time for Amtrak riders to once again get their Cajun beat on. Resuming daily service late this spring, the Crescent is one of the most breathtaking Amtrak journeys anyone can embark on. Riding the rails from the Big Apple is the way to go. With service from New York City to New Orleans, the Crescent gives passengers a unique window to the beauty and heritage of the American South. On the journey to New Orleans, the train passes through the quaint college town of Charlottesville and the bustling urban southern city of Atlanta. The train continues further south, making its final stop-New Orleans. There, passengers will never run out of things to do. From jazz clubs to Cajun restaurants, to Mississippi riverboat rides, the city is simply built to entertain. Ready for a secret? The best hotel in New Orleans is the Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery on Tchoupitoulas Street, in the heart of New Orleans’s seaport district. Is anyone ready for an bigger secret? Passengers with sleeping car tickets are granted access to the new Metropolitan Lounge at New York Penn Station’s Daniel Moynihan Train Hall.
#3 Silver Meteor (New York, NY-Miami, FL): The Silver Meteor was formerly operated by the Seaboard Coastline. Traveling daily between New York City and Miami, the Silver Meteor is the most rewarding long-distance journey anyone can experience. Whether traveling to Orlando, Kissimmee (20 minutes from Walt Disney World), Ft. Lauderdale, Hollywood (home of the Hard Rock Resort & Casino), and the setting of the Golden Girls-Miami, the train covers the route in less than 24 hours. Onboard the Silver Meteor, passengers can already hear the sounds of the ocean and dreaming of the endless beaches awaiting them. Ready for another Amtrak secret? For those traveling to Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, the Silver Meteor is the faster route. The Silver Meteor’s counterpart, Silver Star, stops in Tampa, passing through a wye. The Silver Meteor skips Tampa all together! If anyone wishes to get to South Florida in record time, the Silver Meteor is the hot ticket to the nightlife and non-stop excitement of Miami Beach. Prior to boarding, passengers with sleeping car tickets can relax and help themselves to a pre-journey snack in the new Metropolitan Lounge at New York Penn Station’s Daniel Moynihan Train Hall.
#2 Southwest Chief (Chicago, IL-Los Angeles, CA): For those longing for a journey through the desert terrain of the southwest, the Southwest Chief is the Amtrak long-distance journey not to be passed up. When this train resumes daily service between Chicago and Los Angeles, tickets will be flying off the shelf. Along the route, passengers take in the grandeur of the American West. Passengers are mesmerized by this region’s beauty and allure. The train takes passengers across the mighty Mississippi through eight states, past wheat fields and ranches, missions and pueblos, mountains and deserts. Carving through curving canyon passages only a few feet wider than the train itself, passengers get photographic views of spectacular landscapes and pristine vistas not visible from interstate highways. Before beginning their journey, passengers holding sleeping car tickets can visit the Metropolitan Lounge at Chicago Union Station.
#1 Lake Shore Limited: (New York, NY-Chicago, IL): For New Yorkers and Bostonians alike, this is an Amtrak long-distance journey with “two-for” written all over it. The Lake Shore Limited travels the former route of its predecessor, the Twentieth Century Limited. The Lake Shore Limited, train #49, departs from New York Penn Station. Departing New York, the train takes the west side line, passing through the 2.6 mile long Freedom Tunnel. At the northern tip of Manhattan Island, the train crosses over the historic Spuyton Duyvil bridge into the Bronx, continuing its picturesque journey along the Hudson River. Departing Boston’s South Station, train #449 speeds through the Massachusetts countryside through Worcester and Springfield, meeting up with train #49 at the Amtrak station in Albany. There, the two portions are coupled together, and the Lake Shore Limited continues its journey alongside the south shore of Lake Michigan, the Mohawk River, and the Erie Canal. It’s an unforgettable train journey and a history lesson combined, making arriving at Chicago’s Union Station half the fun. Once again, all passengers with sleeping car tickets have access to the Metropolitan Lounge at New York Penn Station and Boston South Station.
May 24th and June 7th are right around the corner. Amtrak and its valued passengers can’t be more anxious for long-distance trains to return to daily service. As the country slowly regains its normalcy, the travel industry is slowly bouncing back. With the possibility of additional routes being added, the long-distance routes are undoubtedly the true money makers. The trains, regardless of their destination, makes the journey all the more exciting. From high class service in the dining car, to the comforts of home in the sleeping car, to passengers pampering themselves in the Metropolitan Lounge at select terminals, it is easy to see why traveling long-distance by train can’t be a more important priority on Amtrak’s to-do list. The return of daily long-distance service is a great sign that America’s railroad is rising again. With all the great onboard amenities offered, a long-distance journey on the rails is what traveling is all about. “There is something about a train that’s magic”, and that’s Amtrak.