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Amtrak – getting there by bus or train

Amtrak is pretty good form of transport and over the numerous times I have used them I have seldom been disappointed. Whether you are travelling North to Canada or South to California or East to Idaho, you are sure to find a train or an amtrak bus heading in that direction.

Be sure to book as far in advance as you can, since tickets are cheaper and if you are a student invest in an ISIC card as you save upto 25%. If you wait too long to book your ticket the price will sky rocket.

I use the train to visit my folks in Eugene, Oregon traveling the 7hr 30min trip from Seattle, Washington. This might seem like a long trip but with air tickets soaring and reaching over $200 for the 45min flight, the train gives me a chance to catch up with my reading.

Leaving Seattle heading south there are two trains that run. The larger, double decker long haul train called the Starlight Express offers lots of legroom, a viewing car, interpreters from the wildlife department and a dining car. You also have the choice of a sleeper car or the cheaper seat cars. The second smaller train, Cascades, runs between Seattle and Oregon and offers comfortable chairs, a snack car and in most cases a video (so bring some earphones).

You can book your tickets online at www.amtrak.com or go to the station itself to buy them. Be sure to arrive around an hour before your departure time to ensure check in and avoid long lines.

Well the snack cars and dining cars offer a reasonably wide variety of food types, they are rather expensive so be sure to bring some snacks for the road and a tea bag or two.

For the downside, there have been more than one occasion where freight traffic has been given priority and resulted in the passenger train running up to a few hours late. This last trip however, has to take the cake. Less than a mile from the Seattle Station we are stopped for freight traffic, then we had to back-up, then the conductor “lost his air”, finally pulling over an hour late. It would have been faster for us to get out and walk and there was more than passenger who was considering jumping ship.

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