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Train travel from New York to Nashville

by PaulCoyde Online Now Mar 18, 2009 at 6:18 PM

Hi,
I'm planning my first visit to the USA and want to travel around by train from state to state over a two to three week vacation. My stay in each city will be flexible depending on how much I like the places I visit.
A few nights in New York and then to Nashville for a couple of nights, on to Memphis, then Las Vegas, finishing my holiday in San Francisco. I have already been recommended to travel by train (rather than domestic flights with their delays in checking in and out) through this forum.
Could anyone give me an overview of travel costs and journey times - for example the rail fare from NY to Nashville Tennessee. -
Which Rail company would you recommend which would offer a guaranteed comfortable seat/sleeper where necessary and if a dining car would be available. How much would I expect to pay on both budget and first class rail?
This is a great site - I have just found out about it.
Thank you.
Paul.

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5 Answers
  • nicolaitan's Profile Photo

    Re: Train travel from New York to Nashville

    by nicolaitan Online Now Mar 18, 2009 at 7:25 PM

    i can't help much with the specifics of your question but i can suggest that unless you are planning on sleeping on the train for reasons of economy or ease in planning your trip i would suggest that flying is a better solution. airport delays are easily traded for hours on a train.

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  • mccalpin's Profile Photo

    Re: Train travel from New York to Nashville

    by mccalpin Online Now Mar 18, 2009 at 8:26 PM

    I have some bad news and some worse news....first, our national rail service is called "Amtrak" (www.amtrak.com). It is pretty good in the northeast corridor (Washington DC to Boston), and often unreliable elsewhere...not necessarily because it's bad, but in the US Amtrak doesn't own its own track, so freight trains have priority...so schedules can get messed up pretty easily.

    Worse news: Amtrak doesn't go to several of the places you mention, specifically Nashville and Las Vegas...assuming you meant Las Vegas, Nevada...Amtrak actually does go to Las Vegas, New Mexico, but that's probably not what you had in mind.

    Lew is right that most Americans would fly. And I am puzzled by the statement "I have already been recommended to travel by train (rather than domestic flights with their delays in checking in and out) through this forum." Except for the Northeast corridor, Amtrak is less reliable than the airlines, although I do admit that air travel has its inconveniences with security and what not...however, having to be at the airport a couple of hours in advance does not begin to compare with spending 22 hours on an Amtrak train, as several of your trips (assuming you could even take them) would require...

    Plan on flying...

    Bill

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  • cjg1's Profile Photo

    Re: Train travel from New York to Nashville

    by cjg1 Online Now Mar 20, 2009 at 2:27 PM

    Although I disagree with many points of Bill's posting above, he is quite correct. There is no train service to Nashville, nor to Las Vegas NV. As he said you can go see "headquarters" from the movie red dawn in Las Vegas NM by train.

    The service around the country is much better than Bill lets on. He is correct that Amtrak runs on rails owned by the freight lines. This means in the past they have been badly treated despite laws stating Amtrak must be given priority. This has changed as of late for two reasons. The law giving Amtrak priority was finally given teeth and we have an administration not afraid to use it and of course the other reason is the slumping economy which has led to less freight trains on the rails to interfere with Amtrak.

    You can see a great many things in this country by rail if you have the time. I used to have more time than money and would often travel cross country by the train. Sadly however, Nashville and Las Vegas NV are not among them.

    Also as a point, there are only two classes in the long distance trains. Coach and Sleeper. The sleepers run about200+ per day.

    If you have any further questions please feel free to email me or post here and I'll do my best to help you.

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  • mccalpin's Profile Photo

    Re: Train travel from New York to Nashville

    by mccalpin Online Now Mar 22, 2009 at 7:47 PM

    Ah, Chris, I wish I were incorrect on these issues...I rode my first train in the US in the late 1950s (from Beaumont to St. Louis) back when train travel was still considered normal, and I can't tell you how many 1,000s of miles I've done in Europe since (as well as a few more trips here).

    Last November, I planned a trip for my wife and her mother from Alexandria to Charleston, SC...imagine my dismay when Amtrak's OWN stats showed that it was on time only 36% of the time...although, to be fair, the train originated points north (New York? Boston?) and it wasn't clear if they were referring to the entire trip end-to-end. Still, we were very happy when on our trip, every stop over 10 hours was on time.

    Ditto with a trip I planned last year but didn't take - Seattle down to LA...again, Amtrak's own statistics of on-time were horrible, with many trains (and this was confirmed by VTers who had taken that train) being hours late.

    I absolutely agree that the train has many advantages - Lord knows that on space alone it beats air travel hands down. But outside of the Northeastern corridor, it just isn't as reliable, or as frequent as someone say from Europe would expect (I have no idea where the OP is from)...not to mention all the places it doesn't go...

    If you're correct that the law has been changed to give Amtrak some priority, that would be great news! Let's see if Amtrak stats start to improve over the coming year...

    Bill

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  • cjg1's Profile Photo

    Re: Train travel from New York to Nashville

    by cjg1 Online Now Mar 23, 2009 at 5:32 AM

    The law always said Amtrak would have priority from Amtrak's founding. The real teeth to it though were not included until the rail safety bill passed last fall. Amazingly enough giving GWBush credit for signing which is so against what he did for 8 year for rail. But either way after the metrolink crash in LA the bill pushed through for rail safety and positive train control by 2015 included a bit about the FRA (i think FRA, could be Fed DOT) having the ability to sue quickly for time keeping issues.

    So although I agree fully that the time stats were horrible up until about October/November 2008, they have changed drastically. Even the Sunset that runs almost entirely (might be entirely) along the UP has been running on time. UP is the worst passenger friendly host railroad out there.

    Glad to hear you've taken the Coast Starlight. Its a wonderful trip and I do hope you were able to book a sleeper on it. To the OP, if you can include that trip from Seattle or Portland to southern California on train 13 or 14 (don't remember which runs north and which south) and you can book a sleeper on that, it will be well worth it. You get to see things not normally accessible like the western spaceport in California.

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