New York - Boston

Discussion in 'International Transport' started by mrmartin, 2 May 2015.

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  1. mrmartin

    mrmartin Member

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    I'm looking at getting the train from Boston to New York.

    Acela's best time seems to be around the 3h20 minute mark, but costs nearly $200 single.

    Northeast Regional takes about 4h10, but is significantly cheaper than Acela at about $79.

    There is about 90 nonstop flights between BOS and NYC, which booking at short notice looks to be between $150-200, down to about $70 further out. Flight time is about 45 minutes (I have got a connecting flight like that in the past), which is one of the shortest I've ever done, take off, cruise for about 5 minutes, then start landing.

    Megabus comes in at about 4h40 and is about $10.

    Basically, the train is really uncompetitive in my eyes. I will probably get NER as I can't stand coaches, but does anyone know if there are upgrades planned on this corridor? It seems like one of the most perfect markets for 'improved' rail service.
     
  2. gazthomas

    gazthomas Established Member

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    From what I understand the trains are busy so from a pure economics perspective there won't be any justification to drop prices
     
  3. philabos

    philabos Member

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    Correct.,traffic up,10% on the most recent report for NER. They can get the fare and they will. Flying not that attractive if you are going to center city. Megabus has to put up with the same traffic as everyone else. Book at lest 2 weeks out. Acela has limited capacity due to train length and even that was up 5%.
     
  4. rf_ioliver

    rf_ioliver Member

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    Just note that Amtrak on this route have demand based pricing as far as I can work out. Also if you book earlier it does get cheaper.

    While you could fly, factor in getting to the airport, plus check-in, plus security (and the various restrictions) etc, which adds up to be vastly more than the 45 minutes for this particular flight. The New York airports are well known for their delays. Don't forget that you can buy food and drink before your train which'll be a lot cheaper than buying it after airport security...

    t.

    Ian
     
  5. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    Unless time is an issue, I can recommend the Northeast Regional Express. The seating is comfortable with legroom that many business flights don't offer and the journey goes through some very interesting countryside.
    I did the trip in June last year as a pleasant way to get to BOS rather than the turmoil of flying. We were delayed for about 5 minutes to allow a late Acela to overtake us somewhere near Providence. The train had free wi-fi that actually worked at a reasonable speed.
    The only downside was the chaos that is NY Penn Central station. Imagine Birminham New Street where everybody is held on the concourse to look at a 50 train departures board then just before your train's time for departure, everybody is allowed to file down two narrow escalators to dark narrow platforms. Clearly a well-rehearsed procedure but still a bit of a mess.
    Given that this is railUKforums, there can only be one way to do the journey.
    We booked the journey online before leaving the UK with self-print tickets. Just missed the cheapest offer but at about 2 weeks away the fare was $49 if I remember correctly.
     
    Last edited: 3 May 2015
  6. philabos

    philabos Member

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    Your assessment of Pennsylvania Station is right on spot.
    The original structure was demolished in 1965. The underground station you see today was adequate for the declining passenger business at that time. The growth of New York area commuter rail and Amtrak Northeast Corridor was not foreseen at the time. Add to that the fact that access to the tracks from the lower level of the station was closed off years ago for "security" reasons, which is why you now see massive and intertwining queues on the upper level. There has been a project to move the upper level above ground to the Post Office across the street for 25 years or more. Actual progress about zero.
    Even worse, there are only two tracks under the Hudson which are totally inadequate. Again, proposals for 25'years have produced zero while in London you merrily tunneled for HS1 and Crossrail.
    To be fair, we are building the Second Avenue subway along with access for the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal, so a bit of progress elsewhere, but not at the largest rail facility in the country.
     
    Last edited: 3 May 2015
  7. me123

    me123 Established Member

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    I recently travelled on the NorthEast Regional from New York to Washington DC and back again. I highly recommend it, and it would be my first choice if I ever do travel between NYX and Boston. Although it is potentially more expensive than a coach trip, it should be much more comfortable.

    The standard seats on the trains are in 2+2 formation and mostly airline, but with the larger track gauge the seats are probably on a par with a first class train in the UK. They recline and have excellent legroom, and were really comfortable for the journey. It wasn't modern (the word "retro" comes to mind", but perfectly functional. The train was clean and it was really nice to actually see parts of the country rather than flying over it. There was a catering carriage, but no trolley; I did not partake.

    The trains are reserved and reservations are mandatory, but are again slightly different to the UK. Your ticket promises a "reserved seat", but you don't get a specific seat reserved for you. Instead, Amtrak will sell no more tickets than there are seats on the train. So you will get a seat somewhere.

    I made both journeys on the NorthEast Regional. I saw no benefit in going on Acela - the price was significantly inflated and the difference in journey times marginal.

    Flying from NYC isn't the best, as the airports do all take a reasonable amount of time to get to. LGA is poorly served by transport, EWR has a relatively frequent and decent train service but can have some quite marked gaps in the service, and JFK has the frequent but slow and crowded subway (which isn't great if you have lots of bags!). And security (certainly at JFK) can be quite slow as well, so bear that in mind when you're considering the time difference.

    I would agree that Penn Station is the let-down. It's closer to an airport style than a railway station as we would know it in the UK. Mere minutes before the train departs, you are summoned to a "gate". A crowd of people will push forward in true New York fashion and squeeze through as one person checks/scans your ticket (I saw some a**hole pushing an old lady out of the way just to get on the train first). You then go onto an escalator just wide enough for one person which will slowly take you to a dark and dingy platform and straight onto the train (in spite of the crush, there were plenty of seats). Apparently, the "Red Caps" will take you to the platform ahead of time with your luggage free of charge, though (+tip).
     
    Last edited: 4 May 2015
  8. ianhr

    ianhr Member

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    It is also worth taking the train for the spectacular view of Manhattan from Hell's Gate Bridge and it's approach viaducts; sit on the left going north or on the right travelling south. The train also passes along some pleasant coastline, for which, unfortunately, you need to be on the opposite side in the respective direction from that to see the view from the bridge!

    My experience was similar to previous posts. I agree with others about Penn station although Boston South is pleasant and quite relaxed. Try to find time to visit Grand Central though if you havn't seen it before. I also found the trains busy. I strongly advise making the reservation and buying the ticket on line in advance to get the best fare, and then collect it from the Fast Ticket machine at the station. Incidentally you do not need to be a U.S. citizen to qualify for the senior discount, proof of age (passport) is all that is required.
     
  9. rf_ioliver

    rf_ioliver Member

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    Now that someone mentioned passports, you will need to show some form of "official ID" when purchasing a ticket - not sure what that means for US citizens, but take your passports along!

    I made this mistake and left my passport at the hotel when trying to buy a ticket at Boston once...and missed a cheaper ticket too, so ended up spending the day on Boston's commuter network with a trip up to Rockport (good fresh lobster!)

    t.

    Ian
     
  10. Royston Vasey

    Royston Vasey Established Member

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    Anywhere close to peak time at either end and the Megabus would no way do centre to centre in 4:40. Six hours is a long time on a bus up I95.

    I always used Acela on business but $200-250 usually buys you a first class ticket on it with full service food and beverage, unless booking very close or at peak time. This includes the first class supplement of $89 IIRC for NYP-BOS. The two hourly Acela suits business travellers and the more regular NEC can absorb the cost conscious leisure travellers and is offered at a very good price IMHO, so i disagree that rail is uncompetitive. London-Edinburgh is a similar market and with a more extensive advance system but I suspect a much higher typical fare.

    It's the sort of distance that air starts to make sense. La Guardia is also quicker to access and less hassle than JFK. The air market is very competitive in the USA and NYC-BOS a very large market. You pays your money and takes your choice.
     
  11. me123

    me123 Established Member

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    According to Amtrak, you must have official ID whilst on the train (I assume US citizens can use their driver's license?), although I certainly was never asked.
     
  12. Royston Vasey

    Royston Vasey Established Member

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    Any driving licence is fine (including UK) but in practice you are never normally asked for it other than point of purchase (and not at all if you've bought online)

    Most Americans even fly internally only on their Drivers License [sic] and most still do not have a passport.
     
    Last edited: 4 May 2015
  13. gordonthemoron

    gordonthemoron Established Member

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    I used my UK driving licence for buying tickets on Amtrak between Philadelphia and New York
     
  14. Max

    Max Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I can also very much recommended the North East Regional, you pass some beautiful coastline and the trains are very comfortable (as mentioned previously). I can also confirm that I wasn't once asked for ID on a domestic Amtrak service.
     
  15. davetheguard

    davetheguard Member

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    This is not a part of the world I know at all well, so please excuse my ignorance. I've heard of Amtrak's service on the NE corridor, but not the North East Regional.

    By commenting on the scenery, it's sort of implied above that the North East Regional trains may use a different route to Amtrak; can someone confirm that this is the case, and what are the two routes used?

    Is North East Regional a private company; and lastly, is it funded by any sort of local/federal subsidy?
     
  16. me123

    me123 Established Member

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    NorthEast Regional is not a company in its own right. It is the name of the "regional"/"classic" service operated by Amtrak on the North East Corridor of the United States of America - that is to say the service between Boston and Washington DC via New York and Philadelphia, with some branch lines (e.g. Hartford CT) and extensions (e.g. Richmond VA). The name differentiates it from the high speed Acela Express service between Boston and Washington.

    As far as I'm aware, North East Regional trains and Acela Express trains follow the same route throughout their journey between Boston and Washington.

    North East Regional is operated by Amtrak, which is a government-owned not-for-profit passenger railroad service across the United States.
     
  17. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    They do between NYC and BOS. According to the conductor, beyond Providence it was Amtrak track which was faster than the NH track and that we could make up lost time.
     
  18. ac6000cw

    ac6000cw Established Member

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    ...and the NE Regional trains are usually loco-hauled 'Amfleet' stock (limited to 125mph), the Acela are tilting trains with power cars at each end.
     
  19. philabos

    philabos Member

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    ME123 is correct. NH was the former New Haven Railroad. The main line from New York to Boston now owned by Amtrak with the exception of the New Rochelle to New Haven portion which is owned by Metro North Commuter Railroad over which Amtrak has trackage rights.
    Acela and NER both operated by Amtrak over the same route. The difference is speed, seating, and price. NER is quite acceptable. Trains are clean, if old, and usually dependable.
    The cars purchased long before the end of BR. There is a cafe car where food can be purchased and tables at which to consume your food. Not elegant, but functional. Four plus hours to cover about 250 miles.
     
    Last edited: 11 May 2015
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