Amtrak - Non Autotrain

danlb_2000

Premium Member
Original Poster
Was just got back from our trip and we used Amtrak to go from Philadelphia to Orlando as usual. I just wanted to post this thread in case anyone else wants to do this since things are a little different on the East coast Florida routes right now. This only applies non-Autotrain routes, Autotrain is an entirely different thing.

In the past there were two routes that went from New York City to Orlando, the Silver Star and the Silver Meteor. The Meteor has still not returned from the pandemic shut downs, so currently they are running a longer Silver Star to make up the capacity. Current rumor is that the Meteor will be back in September, but even the staff on the train didn't know for sure. The Silver Star is using the same route and timetable as before, but this is causing a bit of a problem. The combined train is longer then normal which means it doesn't "fit" in some of the stations, especially the ones in the south. This means that during these stops they need to reposition the train once or twice so everyone can get on/off. This slows things down a bit. The train staff said that they have been struggling to stay on time a lot recently. We were an hour late into Orlando and three hours late back into Philly.

A while back Amtrak changed the way meals were handled on the Star. In the past, if you had a sleeper on either route you would get your meals included. A couple years ago they removed this from the Star, and only had a café car where you can buy food, but the room price was also lowered to offset this a bit. Now that they are running the combined train, things have gone back to the old way, meals from the dining car included if you have a sleeper. The dinning car is also restricted to just sleeper passengers, coach passengers can use the café car. You are currently free to eat in either the dining car or your room. The food they are currently serving is pre-made and heated up when you order it. It's not a good as the previous meals, but still not a bad meal.

The most exciting change for me is that Amtrak has started to roll out their new Viewliner cars. The trains on this route are running with the new dining cars and have started to roll out the new sleepers. Not every sleeper on these routes is upgraded yet, we got a new sleeper on the way down, but an old one on the way back.

Besides an overall cosmetic refresh there are some other changes in the cars. We used a roomette so can't comment on changes to the bedrooms. The biggest change is that removal of the toilets from the rooms. There are now two restroom in the car, instead of the in-room toilets. Even if you get an old sleeper you walk to one of the new cars to use the restroom there. The cars also still have a shower. The area where the toilet was provides a welcome new area for storage, and larger steps to get to the top bunk.
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The sink has remained and is a little nicer then the old ones.

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The storage area up on the wall remains but is a couple inches shallower then the old ones. Our suitcases wouldn't stick out this much on the old cars, although this didn't pose a problem.
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You can't see it in this picture but they have added an additional electrical outlet for the other seat, so both seats now have easy access to an outlet, this was a much needed addition.

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Here is a look at the new dining car.
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Raxel7851

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the Amtrak update @danlb_2000 . We’ve taken the Auto Train several times, opting for the bedroom instead of a roomette. We enjoyed it so much. We are researching taking Amtrak to Chicago later this year. What transportation did you use to get from the station to your resort? The train offers a nice relaxing ride and a glimpse on other parts of America you won’t see from I-95 or 30,000 ft.
 

danlb_2000

Premium Member
Original Poster
Thanks for the Amtrak update @danlb_2000 . We’ve taken the Auto Train several times, opting for the bedroom instead of a roomette. We enjoyed it so much. We are researching taking Amtrak to Chicago later this year. What transportation did you use to get from the station to your resort? The train offers a nice relaxing ride and a glimpse on other parts of America you won’t see from I-95 or 30,000 ft.

In the past we used a town car service, but this time we decided to save some money and use Uber. We were very happy with the service we got from our Uber driver.

Yeah, this is one of the reasons I like the train. Can't see much from a plane, and in a car you are often on major highways that have some separation from the towns you are passing by. I love how the train often passes right through the center of town, you can practically look into the shop windows as you pass by.
 

danlb_2000

Premium Member
Original Poster
Interesting. I never thought to travel by train.

I am not a fan of flying so used Amtrak as an alternative, and really love the experience. We have done from from Philly to Orlando, Atlanta, Dallas, Anaheim and Montreal by train. It is so much more relaxing then plane travel. Minimal security hoops to jump through, not a lot of restrictions on what can be in your luggage, plenty of space to get up and walk around whenever you want, and pretty decent food. For our Disney trips it forces us to sit, relax and pretty much do nothing for 22 hours on either end of our trip.
 

zakattack99

Well-Known Member
In the Parks
No
I am not a fan of flying so used Amtrak as an alternative, and really love the experience. We have done from from Philly to Orlando, Atlanta, Dallas, Anaheim and Montreal by train. It is so much more relaxing then plane travel. Minimal security hoops to jump through, not a lot of restrictions on what can be in your luggage, plenty of space to get up and walk around whenever you want, and pretty decent food. For our Disney trips it forces us to sit, relax and pretty much do nothing for 22 hours on either end of our trip.
How do you find the cost compared to other means of transport? I have tried to convince my wife for a few years that we should try to travel by train to FL form PA however every time I price it out with a roomette the price is always prohibitively expensive vs flying. For example I just priced out a random Sunday to Saturday on Amtrak a the beginning of November, cost for a roomette for two adults is about $1300. That's more than what it is costing to fly 2 adults and two children from BWI to MCO in July. Are there discounts or deals that I should be looking for next time I try to pitch this lol.
 

Lilofan

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the Amtrak update @danlb_2000 . We’ve taken the Auto Train several times, opting for the bedroom instead of a roomette. We enjoyed it so much. We are researching taking Amtrak to Chicago later this year. What transportation did you use to get from the station to your resort? The train offers a nice relaxing ride and a glimpse on other parts of America you won’t see from I-95 or 30,000 ft.
I like taking the autotrain. So Amtrak is not liable , one staff member walks around your car videotaping all sides of the car in case a customer claims that the car was damaged in transit. There is a supermarket plaza across the street from the Lorton VA station and some who buy coach seats ( as roomy as a first class seat on a plane ) load up on snacks and meals for the 17 hour and overnight trip to Sanford FL.
 
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danlb_2000

Premium Member
Original Poster
How do you find the cost compared to other means of transport? I have tried to convince my wife for a few years that we should try to travel by train to FL form PA however every time I price it out with a roomette the price is always prohibitively expensive vs flying. For example I just priced out a random Sunday to Saturday on Amtrak a the beginning of November, cost for a roomette for two adults is about $1300. That's more than what it is costing to fly 2 adults and two children from BWI to MCO in July. Are there discounts or deals that I should be looking for next time I try to pitch this lol.

If you are looking at it as just a means of transport then yes, it will be more expensive. Coach seats a little more comparable to the price of flying. For me it's part of the vacation, so it's not just transport, it's transport + 1 night lodging with an ever changing view out the window + 3 meals per person. Sometime you can find discounts but they aren't really common on this route. Most important thing is to book early since prices go up the closer you get to departure date.
 
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Raxel7851

Well-Known Member
If you join the Amtrak rewards program, which is free, you’ll receive alerts for upcoming promotions. That’s how we found out about the discounted Autotrain fare going north this past December.
 

IanDLBZF

Well-Known Member
I've done quick trips on Amtrak, usually on weekends between Kissimmee and Winter Park (or Deland) and vice-versa when traveling to/from WDW, $6-$12 in coach is usually a big bargain for me! And getting to/from WDW to/from Kissimee is only a short jump onto Lynx Link 56 via the TTC. However, my biggest concern is that Amtrak, particularly going Southbound, is never on-time as opposed to SunRail, which is the local commuter service I usually take going to WDW on weekdays, because we're dealing with CSX here and the NEC, if something happens up or down the line, then chances are you will end up LATE. SunRail on the other hand these problems do not exist because of the local corridor. More often recently, my northbound Amtrak trips have usually been on-, or very close to on-,time.

I actually do have guest rewards as well, and find it quite worth it.

As far as the Silver Meteor goes, it did come back from June 2021 through the start of this year. Hopefully Amtrak can beef up staffing and their worries can be resolved.
 

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