A train station is simply a point where you get on or off a train. Train stations take many forms. Some are magnificent, massive, and historic buildings; others are cozy small-town stations; and still others are nothing but a shack or a roof by the rails. Some stations have restaurants, shopping, rental cars, and taxi stands within their walls. Most are downtown in the cities they serve, meaning that having a layover on Amtrak can be fun rather than tedious as it often is with airports.
Some stations have a large staff, ticketing kiosks, and checked luggage services. Some stations offer none of these, and may not even have an attendant; for travel from these unstaffed stations, you must have purchased your ticket in advance.
You can also call Amtrak directly at 1-800-USA-RAIL. They can help you find stations, describe the hours the stations are open, etc.
If you’re booking online, a handy place to start is Amtrak’s station finder. One hint: expand the 15-mile radius. Most large cities and a surprising number of small towns have Amtrak service. If the station finder doesn’t help you, check out the list of stations by state.
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Amtrak is the only cross-country passenger railroad in the United States. Outside a few regions, Amtrak is usually the only way to travel state-to-state by rail, and is the only regular option for cross-country travel by rail. Amtrak operates the trains, and mostly runs on tracks owned by freight railroads. Amtrak is a quasi-governmental corporation, created in 1971 when the passenger railroads at the time wanted to get out of the passenger business. For more information on the history of Amtrak, see the Wikipedia article on Amtrak.
Generally, I have found train travel to be competitive with iir, bus, or car travel. Of course, the specifics will vary depending on where you are going, when, and on what train. Check out the How to Travel by Amtrak page for information on getting fares online or by phone. Also, there are lots of discounts available.
There are a lot of reasons! Let’s look at them:
Traveling by rail can be a fun, rewarding, exciting, and inexpensive experience. There are lots of Reasons to Travel by Rail. But it’s different in many ways from air or car travel. Read on to learn all about your trip.