FOR LONG DISTANCE AMTRAK TRAIN RIDES, SEE BOTTOM OF ARTICLE
It’s quite apparent that Amtrak, no matter in what types of crazy blizzards, can still operate and take passengers where they need to go in times of crazy-ness and winter weather.
In 2014, immediately upon landing in Pittsburgh (it was -2 degrees when I landed), I received an email from Megabus. Because of the detoriating road conditions between Pittsburgh and New York, they gave me two options: One, to reschedule completely, or two, get my money back. When I went on Amtrak’s website and did the math, I would only be paying $60 for the Amtrak trip to Newark, NJ – and it was an eight hour trip through Pennsylvania, and one hour up the Northeast Corridor.
Amtrak saved me because of certain obligations I had to attend in the northeast. If I lived in the northeast full time, I wouldn’t have minded rescheduling for a day, but all my events were important. The nine hour trip, which sounds daunting without a Sleeper car (look at videos below) was absolutely fantastic, and is one of the most scenic routes Amtrak has during the winter months.
On January 22, 2016, the NOAA advised the entire Northeast coast to brace for Winterstorm Jonas. The storm was set to drop about 10-12 inches in the New York area by early morning. By late Friday night, it moved to 18 inches. By Saturday morning, in white out conditions, 10 more inches were added on, and by only a small decimal point, Winterstorm Jonas was the 2nd worst blizzard in NYC history.
John F. Kennedy International Airport, La Guardia Aiport, and Newark International Airport began cancelling flights immediately. However, my whole plan was to go through Boston on the way home – which was incredibly smart on my behalf, even though I couldn’t see into the future – but Boston barely got hit by Jonas.
After speaking with a couple of airline professionals and looking at all my options, and with Greyhound cancelling all routes till Monday morning (my flight departed Boston Logan at 6:55 AM), I had to bite the bullet and book an Amtrak ticket via Acela. I waited two hours too long and had to pay $137, when two hours previous it was $73. Obviously, people were in a panic.
While Amtrak slashed service on the Northeast Corridor, especially that south of New York Penn, they only cancelled or delayed half their service up to Boston. Because of an obligation to be back in Houston by 1:45 PM central time, I had to book this fare.
Acela was a beautiful way of traveling up to Boston, but it was nothing to glorious or special compared to the regular NER trains that run the line. While the lowest form of travel is in business, you don’t really receive any benefits. In first class, the spacing is a little better, and you might get a free meal, but that’s about it.
After arriving early in Boston, and hitting 152 mph for a couple of minutes in Rhode Island, I don’t have the words to thank Amtrak enough for being punctual and getting those snow plows working.
The following are some videos if you would enjoy cross country journeys on Amtrak. I’ve never been on one, so you might enjoy this. Also , Amtrak played a major role in my “blind SoCal trip” which one of my customers described as “the most fun part of his trip.” He visited Disney.