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Acela vs Regional Train: NYC to DC

Old Jan 16th, 2011, 09:08 AM
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Acela vs Regional Train: NYC to DC

I was about to book a ticket on Acela; however, a couple of people have told me I'll have a better chance of arriving on time if I use the Regional Train. I'd book in Business Class either way. I'm traveling in mid-March. Reliability is what is most important. Any feedback would be appreciated.
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Old Jan 16th, 2011, 09:15 AM
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The Acela is a waste of money between NYC and Boston since the train cannot run at higher speeds until it passes New Heaven.

Since they run on the same tracks it is not a matter of money but time from NYC to DC. Personally I prefer the train over flying becuase it goes from city to city and the train is much more comfortable.
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Old Jan 16th, 2011, 09:18 AM
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I am surprised to hear that advice, I was prepared to say the opposite, that normally the main advantage of the Acela for most people is that, in case of some kind of region-wide delay, the Acela trains will get priority on the tracks over regional trains. If the regional trains truly have a better "on time" record (I have not looked at any stats), it may be because there is more padding of extra time into the schedule. Will be curious to read others' views . . .
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Old Jan 16th, 2011, 09:43 AM
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It surprised me too which is why I opened it up to the forum.
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Old Jan 16th, 2011, 10:16 AM
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The Acela - even as scheduled - is very little faster - since only a very small portion of the track allows the train to go faster than the regular one anyway. that said, any train can be delayed and I would assume any one would arrive 15 to 30 minutes late (not definite - but possible). Just take one early enough to allow for a slight delay.

(My 3 most recent trips have been from 10 to 15 minutes late - although they did arrive in NYC slightly late.)
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Old Jan 16th, 2011, 05:05 PM
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flyer-the train will get you to the station in the middle of the city. Consider the time and expense for a taxi ride from the airport to whatever meeting you need to be at. Amtrak will never ask you to take your shoes or your belt off or take your laptop out to get irradiated. Only on the NE Corridor Amtrak owns their own tracks and cantenary system. In all other areas of the country, they are at the mercy of the freight line dispatchers. Trains are often late, planes are often delayed or canceled. Sometimes it is a choice of getting there late or not at all. I never saw the sense in paying so much more to ride the Acela to arrive maybe an hour earlier.
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Old Jan 16th, 2011, 07:09 PM
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Wow, flyer, that information *really* surprises me.

While I can't speak specifically to the DC/NYC stretch of the Northeast Corridor, I have more than enough experience with the NYC/Boston segment. I have never heard that the *Regional* (e.g., local and less expensive) train takes priority over the Acela. In fact, I have heard from others as well as had first-hand experience of exactly the opposite! For example, being on a northbound regional train sidelined for half an hour to let an Acela through when the track was narrowed for construction in eastern CT. We were one and a half hours late arriving in PVD.

Despite the extra cost, my mother has recently taken to booking only Acela precisely for its superior on-time record NYC to PVD. Case in point: before she started taking the Acela, I couldn't tell you the last time she boarded a northbound regional on time - years and years ago. On New Years Eve, with a number of trains listed as delayed on the departure boards, her Acela boarded and departed on time out of NYP.

Since the OP says the trip will be business class in either case, there is not a price issue. As for time, while not a significant enough difference when cost is a factor, the Acela is faster enough: the difference between 3 and 3 1/2 hours scheduled NYC-PVD.

tomfuller, nowhere does the OP say anything about flying (other than the username!).

I know my stories are anecdotal. I'd be curious to hear if there is a reversal of my experience when it comes to the DC/NYC leg!
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Old Jan 16th, 2011, 08:13 PM
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Tomorrow the first Acela out of WAS leaves at 9:00AM and arrives at NYP nine minutes after the NE Regional that leaves WAS at 8:20. Chances are, even if the NE Regional gets delayed the Acela will not pass it. The Acela trip is $55 more and the add on for business class is $105-the seat may be great and they may serve you a cup of coffee but the train gets there at the same time. The business class seat on the NE Regional is "only" $38 extra.
The latest train I was ever on was 16 hours late on the Canadian from Winnipeg to Jasper. Snow tends to slow or stop all forms of transportation.
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Old Jan 17th, 2011, 03:33 AM
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I have to say the Acela Express WAS far nicer in terms of the interior than the regional train we took back - indeed the business class on the NERegional was almost identical to coach class - making it a very expensive cup of 'free' coffee!
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Old Jan 17th, 2011, 08:09 AM
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Don't forget, purchasing tix in advance makes them a lot less expensive - comparing trains for "tomorrow" doesn't really count. And yes, the Acela will pass the Regional on occasion, especially when the latter is stopped in a station. Lastly, as I stated before, that half hour time difference can make the difference if the traveler isn't concerned about costs. If the OP already stated that "reliability is what is most important", why would you continue to add in all this other stuff??
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Old Jan 17th, 2011, 08:35 AM
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Here's a link to current Amtrak promotions, which includes 25% off NE Regional tickets between Boston and Washington if purchased 14 days in advance.
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Old Jan 17th, 2011, 03:01 PM
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Decision made. I booked Business Class on Acela. Thanks, as always, for the advice!
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