On an overnight Train? Get a Roomette.

If you’re thinking about taking a long-distance train somewhere, good for you! But you really should do it the right way and spend the money on sleeping car accommodations. Here’s what you need to know about that:

Amtrak operates two different kinds of equipment on its long-distance trains: Superliners are used on trains operating west of Chicago. Viewliner equipment is use on eastern trains operating out of New York.. Superliners have two levels; Viewliners just one.

The lower berth in a Superliner roomette.

Yes, certainly sleeping car accommodations cost more, but they are well worth the extra money. Here’s why:

1. You will be comfortable. There are roomettes in both Superliner and Viewliner sleepers and, despite some relatively minor design differences, both will accommodate either one or two passengers quite comfortably. 

All roomettes have two cushioned seats, facing each other during the daytime, but which slide together and flatten out at night to form a comfortable lower berth.

2. You can wash up. Viewliner roomettes have a sink with hot and cold water. There is no sink with running water in a Superliner roomette. There are, however, four lavatories in each rail car.

3. In-room toilets are found in older model Viewliners, but they proved to be a maintenance problem and you’ll have to use the facilities down the hall if you’re in one of the newer Viewliners.

4. You have privacy. You can close and latch the roomette door from the inside; and you can pull curtains across the door and windows facing the corridor and even the windows facing outside.

5. There’s an upper berth in both types of sleeping car that can be lowered for a second passenger traveling in the roomette. Please note that there is no window for the person choosing the upper berth in Superliner roomettes. Upper berths in Viewliners have quite a large window.

6. Meals are included. When one person occupies a roomette, the cost includes the basic rail fare plus all dining car meals for the duration of that trip. But a second occupant in that roomette pays only the original basic rail fare. All dining car meals are included for the second passenger at no additional cost.

A personal note. I prefer sleeping in the upper berth in a Viewliner roomette for several reasons: (1) there’s a window up there so it’s not claustrophobic and you can drift off to sleep watching the countryside pass by outside; (2) you’re high enough so passengers boarding during the night can’t see you asleep in bed; and (3) the two facing seats below remain in their separated positions which leaves space on the floor for getting dressed in the morning. 

(Next time: Why you shouldn’t spend the money for a big bedroom.)