Choosing Between Coach and Sleeping Car

I frequently get emails from people with questions about rail travel and I do my best to answer all of them in as much detail as possible. I haven’t kept track, but I think the most frequent question has to do with people trying to decide between traveling in coach or making the jump to sleeping car accommodations. Of course the sleeper will be more expensive, but let me offer a few reasons why I think it’s worth the extra expense most of the time.

Let’s face it: there is a huge difference between settling down, snug in your own private accommodations, as opposed to being one of some 70 passengers riding together in one coach car. Quiet and privacy are worth a lot … at least to me.

First, remember that every passenger pays a basic rail fare, but there is only one charge for the sleeping car room, even if two people occupy the space.

Remember, too, that all dining car meals are included in the fares for everyone in a sleeping car accommodation. That means if two people are sharing a roomette, each will pay a rail fare, they will split the one supplementary charge for the room, and meals in the dining car will be free for both passengers. Over a two-night trip, that really adds up.

Finally, remember that your rail journey is not just transportation; it’s part of your entire vacation experience. So when you take a two-night long-distance train ride in an Amtrak sleeping car, that means two nights with no hotel bill and a total of a dozen meals you won’t have to pay for.

And for all that time, the United States of America will be passing by right outside your living room window. You can’t put a price tag on that!

Happy Fourth of July everyone!