Amtrak Acela or NEC train?

We will be traveling from Boston to Philadelphia 30th street station to visit the in laws and outlaws.  The difference is five vs six hours travel time which is not important to us retirees .

Any recommendations as which is better: ride, noise, seating, comfort, scenery, etc

Original Post

If you traveling round trip, why not take Acela one way and NE Regional the other? 

I have ridden both. The higher speed of the Acela also results in more side to side car rocking motion over the portions of track that are not in the best condition (e.g. in my experience Providence RI to Boston MA, several years ago).  If you like to get up and walk through the train you may prefer the NE Regional.  The extra fare for a business class car on the NE Regional is worth it, more legroom and quieter passengers...

rrman posted:

We will be traveling from Boston to Philadelphia 30th street station to visit the in laws and outlaws.  The difference is five vs six hours travel time which is not important to us retirees .

Any recommendations as which is better: ride, noise, seating, comfort, scenery, etc

The Acela schedule is far more reliable.  That is the biggest difference in the service level.  Whether the additional cost is worthwhile is dependent upon your tolerance for delays.

My wife and I travel from Phila to Boston 3-4 times a year. We go by NEC. Why pay 2-3 times more to save 50 minutes? Both trains look very similar, and both have wi-fi and a snack car. I'd bet most of the Acela passengers are traveling on their company's dime. Yes, we tried the Acela a few times. It was harder to read my book due to rocking of the cars.

The scenery is great...NYC skyline, HellGate Bridge (which you can see long before you cross it), and boats and water through CT. On the other side of the NYC East River you pass the old PRR Sunny Side Yards...once the largest RR servicing yard in the world. Trains like the Broadway Limited would be cleaned and re-stocked there. A huge loop around the yard would turn the entire train for the return trip to Chicago. Now it is full of Amtrak and commuter passenger cars and engines.

I've traveled on both. I agree that the extra money for the Acela is not worth it. The NE Regionals are just fine. Yes- The ride through CT and into NY is nice. Sit on the right side of the train if you want to see Sunnyside. After you exit Penn you are going under the new Hudson Yards Project.

Three Rails Are Better Than None 

Please make sure you make reservations well in advance and you can get some good rates on the Acela. And for the record, our state capital of Providence is still in Rhode Island.

I find the advantages of the Acela are the ride, cleanliness, speed and service. The Acelas have priority over everything else on the NEC. You can put an app on your phone that will show you the speed as well - very entertaining in southern RI and northern CT.


...Don't say I never warned you, when your train gets lost...


If nothing else, take the Acela coach class for the experience of riding the equipment. As others have noted, you can save money by taking the regional for the other trip.

I rode the Acela from NY Penn to Boston years ago, round trip. The coach seats were nicer than the regional, but that was 10 years ago. The only comment is there is sometimes a disconcerting feeling as the front and rear power units get out of phase. After a few times you get used to it.

I am John Galt !


I have taken both and The Acela's are nicer but so much more money. Your better off getting a business class seat on a regional train. Acela's due keep to the time pretty well except over Metro-North, they own the tracks from New Haven Union Sta to Shell interlocking in New Rochelle. There the Hell Gate line breaks off to Penn Sta. Metro-North can break Amtrak's balls if its more than 5 min late and they have been known to tuck you in behind a local...

I will be taking Acela at the end of the month and I opted for first class which oddly was no different than standard fair, non-refundable.  I am hoping 3rd time is the charm.  First trip we went about 50MPH while freight trains passed.  Second trip was also First Class but they had no food as the supplier had a fire that morning.  So they provided Jimmy Dean Sausage Sandwiches....and on the trip back Amtrak overbooked and there was standing room only.  All I can say on that is don't wait and stare at the large arrival board at Penn Station....check the small screens out around by the escalators into the rotunda area.  If you wait and stair you may be standing on Acela.



As far as the Acela "always" being on time: Twice while waiting for the NER in phila, the Acelas from D.C. arrived 30-45 min late. Once when waiting for the NER in Boston, problems caused the Acela to be cancelled. The NER section gets screwed-up by freight trains FAR less than the long-distance trains. On the NY-Florida one, they can cause delays of up to 3 hours.

superwarp1 posted:

I find all this very interesting as the wife and I are  planing a DC vacation for 2019.  I was also thinking doing Acela one way and regional the other.

What MA station are you boarding at? If not in downtown Boston, board the train far to the front. Easier to find 2 seats together that way. In D.C., you approach the train from the rear, so it depends on how many boarded before you. 

A "trick" if boarding any NER train in NYC...give a red cap a few bucks to carry your bag. He will get you on the train before the mobs are allowed to go down to the platform (the train sits in NYC for 15 minutes). 

I commuted monthly between Boston & Washington on the Acela Express.  Since the client paid the bill, I always went Acela First Class, took a single seat, and could get some work in.  Wonderful trips, and great service.  Usually was within 10 minutes of scheduled arrivals at each end, except once when there was a fatality on Metro North tracks and all rail service went to pot. 

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