If you’re reluctant to fly or if the prospect of driving for days on unfamiliar roads makes you want to dump out your suitcase and stay home … may we suggest a train trip? Train travel makes transportation an enjoyable and valuable part of your journey as opposed to a necessary displeasure; you can see miles of countryside as you gently speed towards your destination.
Get a sleeper car and make the train your roving hotel as you take a cross-country jaunt through some of the most beautiful, rugged landscapes in the world. Whether you’re traveling in the U.S. or Canada, VIA Rail Canada and Amtrak offer a number of scenic routes that will help you to slow down and get a good look at the world outside your window.
VIA Rail Canada offers two rail passes of interest to visitors. The Canrailpass – System is good for seven one-way, economy-class trips anywhere across Canada within a 21-day period. One complimentary stopover is permitted for each trip. Children (age 2 – 11), youth travelers (age 12 – 25) and seniors (age 60+) can purchase this pass at discounted rates. Higher rates apply to passes for travel during Canada’s high season of June 1 through October 15.
The Canrailpass – Corridor option covers travel within the southern parts of Quebec and Ontario — which includes popular destinations like Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City and Niagara Falls. The pass is good for seven one-way, economy-class trips within a 10-day period. As with the system-wide version of the pass, one complimentary stopover is allowed on each trip, and discounts are available for seniors, children and youth travelers. This pass costs the same all year round, but you must purchase it at least three days before you travel to get the lowest available rate.
Amtrak currently offers three variations on its U.S.A. Rail Pass, which is good for travel across the United States. Prices are as follows:
- 8 segments in 15 days: $389 (adult), $194.50 (children age 2 – 15)
- 12 segments in 30 days: $579 (adult), $289.50 (children age 2 – 15)
- 18 segments in 45 days: $749 (adult), $374.50 (children age 2 – 15)
A segment is defined as an embarkation and debarkation — so if your itinerary requires you to change trains, you’ll have to use multiple segments on your pass.
The U.S.A. Rail Pass is not valid on select trains (including the Auto Train, which runs from the D.C. metro area to Orlando, and the Acela Express, Amtrak’s high-speed trains in the Northeast Corridor). The pass is available to both U.S. and international citizens.
Amtrak also offers a California Rail Pass, which is good for seven days of economy-class travel in California over a 21-day period. Adults pay $159 and children age 2 – 15 pay $80. The California Rail Pass is available on the following services:
- Capitols, San Joaquin and Pacific Surfliner corridor trains
- Most connecting Thruway services
- Coast Starlight between Los Angeles and Dunsmuir, California
The California Rail Pass is not valid on Amtrak’s long-distance trains, such as the California Zephyr or the Sunset Limited.
Editor’s Note: All rail pass prices are subject to change without notice.
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