Do Not – Repeat: DO NOT – Miss Your Connection

The other day I mentioned the importance of booking your train trip carefully to be sure you won’t miss connections from one Amtrak train to another. Usually that happens because one train is running so late that the connecting train has already departed. (Most Amtrak trains run over tracks controlled by freight railroads and are often delayed, sometimes by many hours, because of track work or heavy freight traffic … not Amtrak’s fault.)

OK, let’s suppose the worst: you’ve missed a connection that was supposedly “guaranteed”. What happens next?

Well, a lot depends on how far you were going on the connecting train. If it’s a route with several trains every day, Amtrak will put you on the next one, assuming you haven’t just missed the last one for that day.

If it’s a long-distance train that only runs once-a-day, they’ll try to put you on the same train the following day. There will probably be a seat available if you’re traveling in coach class, but if you’re in a sleeping car, the chances of an empty room on tomorrow’s train will likely be slim-to-none. Now you’re really stuck.

If your connecting train was taking you a relatively short distance, meaning up to perhaps 300 miles, Amtrak may decide to send you on to your destination by bus. (For me, that’s a worst-case scenario. I hate buses!)

Many different circumstances can lead to missed connections and there can be a variety of possible solutions to each … far more than I’ve used as examples here. Just remember that rail itineraries should be planned to avoid any possibility of a missed connection.

My advice? Don’t take any chances. Plan to spend the night in the connecting city and continue your journey the next day. Compared to a missed connection and a long dreary bus ride, one night in a hotel will be well worth the extra time and money.