Traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday can be quite stressful and in fact, it is the highest traveled holiday in the United States. Travelers in all modes of travel will feel the crunch of more travelers trying to get to their various destinations throughout the country.
In anticipation of the busiest travel week of the year, Amtrak is operating every available passenger car as well as adding more trains on selected routes throughout the railroad’s network. Amtrak strongly encourages passengers to book their tickets as early as possible. The busiest travel days are the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after the holiday. Other than Thanksgiving Day, morning trains typically have more available seats than those in the afternoon and evening.
In The Northeast
Throughout Amtrak’s northeast routes between Boston, New York and Washington, multiple extra trains will be running between Wednesday and Sunday. Amtrak has issued a special timetable to accommodate the variety of added trains along the route. Depending on what type of accommodations you are looking for, be aware that certain trains, commonly labeled as “Holiday Extras” usually do not use Amtrak rail cars and instead use local commuter agency rail cars. While these cars still serve the same purpose of getting you from point to point, their comfort levels are less than Amtrak’s regular equipment.
In The Midwest
Around the Chicago area, Amtrak is adding more trains on selected routes. Between Chicago and multiple destinations throughout Michigan, Amtrak is adding 18 additional trains. Extra trains will be offered on the Pere Marquette (Chicago-Grand Rapids) and Wolverine (Chicago-Detroit-Pontiac) routes. These extra trains are in addition to all regularly scheduled service.
On Sunday, November 30, Amtrak and the Illinois Department of Transportation are offering additional round-trips between Chicago and Bloomington/Normal and on the Chicago-Quincy corridor via Galesburg. On Sunday, three trains will be available in each direction with service available in the morning, midday and evening. To accommodate these added trains, certain trains will operate on slightly modified schedules.
In The Pacific Northwest
Between Seattle and Portland, Amtrak along with both the Oregon and Washington Departments of Transportation will be operating extra trains in both directions throughout the holiday weekend. Additionally, extra connecting Thruway Motorcoach services will be offered between Eugene and Portland to accommodate many students attending colleges and universities along the route. While many of the trains are almost sold out, there are still seats available on certain trains.
In Northern California on the Capitol Corridor (San Jose-Oakland-Sacramento) and San Joaquin (Oakland/Sacramento-Stockton-Fresno-Bakersfield) routes, additional rail cars will be added to the most popular trains throughout the weekend.
In Southern California, the Pacific Surfliner (San Luis Obispo-Santa Barbara-Los Angeles-San Diego) trains, which normally offer an open unreserved seating option, will require reservations for all trains over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. With this modification to the route for these few days, it allows Amtrak to utilize their equipment better and offer the most seats on the most popular trains. Also, all Pacific Surfliner trains offer reserved Business Class as well.
If you are traveling by train over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, your best option is to book as early as you can. When it comes to your day of travel, allow yourself additional time to get to the train station and be prepared for larger-than-normal crowds. Also, skip the ticket lines and use Amtrak’s mobile ticketing options through your smart phones or print your e-ticket out prior to arriving at the station.
For additional information or to purchase your tickets, visit amtrak.com.