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Nov 14, 2022
New Jersey
Hello Everyone,

My name is Mike. I have always had a love of trains. I wonder if I can get some help fulfilling a life long dream, that of seeing the United States on a train. I'm retired now so I guess now is the time. The way I thought of doing this seems to be unique in a sense. Most people that would want to do this would simply get on a train with a sleeper berth and go. My thoughts are that it would be a waste of time to be sleeping on a train when, if I scheduled it right I could ride only during daylight hours and then sleep in a hotel near a train station and then continue my journey the next day. Does that make sense ? The challenge would be to schedule individual trips with lodging at each destination to accomplish that. Ive tried to see if there is a way to do its an Amtraks website but it doest seem like it would be too easy or worth the work involved. I also called Amtrak and told them what I would like to do and it seems like they have never heard of anyone traveling like that. Is this idea plausible or should I just go head and get the sleeper berth and go?

In the NE Corridor this should be possible, to travel during daylight hours only. But in many other areas of the country, it's not - one train per day over long stretches means that some of it will inevitably be at night. Some of the routes have better timing to hit the more scenic parts during the daytime, for instance the California Zephyr, and some not so much. Sometimes going there and back on the same route would give you most of it in daylight one way or the other, sometimes not. I understand wanting to see things on your trip, but you'd have to go back a long way pre-Amtrak to the days when the private RRs had two or more trains per day on nearly every major route. Perhaps if you can list some of the sights you are particularly interested in, we can help get you as close as possible.
Do remember that many times you can revisit 'missed' scenery by taking the same train back in the opposite direction. For some reason many railfans have an antipathy towards 'doubling back', but that's never made much sense to me.

Also, if scenery is important, plan your trips between April and September (more daylight).
Thank you. food for thought, for sure

I'm surprised the Amtrak agent I spoke to didn't explain the as simply as you two did.
Thanks again
Unfortunately the RPA timetable doesn't show the restored Meteor which is the one that provides more alternative times especially for the stations not reached by the Palmetto
Then go to that site and pick a pre pandemic version of the Silver Service. I don't think they have adjusted any times since before COVID.
This is basically right, BUT the daylight can be extended a bit for summer - for instance, I went thru Glacier in the daylight coming and going on the Empire Builder in April and May, and of course if you're way late then things are different.
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This is basically right, BUT the daylight can be extended a bit for summer - for instance, I went thru Glacier in the daylight coming and going on the Empire Builder in April and May, and of course if you're way late then things are different.
Lots of caveats about Atlantic Coast Service which has changed quite significantly since this diagram was drawn.

1. No Silver Palm to Florida. Palmetto runs only upto Savannah.

2. No Sunset Limited in Florida.

3. No service via Ocala.

4. No Sanford stop for the Star and the Meteor

5. Only two trains from Auburndale to Miami and there is a train from Orlando to Tampa
Upon retirement, I often thought of an Amtrak trip around the perimeter of the US. The Amtrak Rail Pass doesn't included sleepers, and I couldn't make such a long journey in coach.

If I traveled Bay Area (Martinez) - Seattle - Chicago - New York - New Orleans - Los Angeles - Bay Area and if I booked sleepers, for the entire trip, a rough guess as to the cost:

Roomette: $ 4100 Bedroom: $8500

I do like the idea of daylight only travel, with an overnight in a motel or hotel. It was great to ride the Rocky Mountaineer, which stops for an overnight in Kamloops on the way to Jasper or Banff. Could there be a long distance, daylight only Amtrak, that would let passengers off for the night then pick them up the next morning? It would have to be a special, experiential and separate Amtrak train, and would no doubt be expensive. If you tried daylight only trips on the present Amtrak trains, it might require long station waits the next day if you got off in the early or late evening. For example, if you de-trained the westbound Calif. Zephyr, at Omaha, Nebraska, the train gets in at around 11:00 PM. If you catch the westbound Zephyr the next day, and if the checkout time at your motel or hotel is 12:00 PM, you would have an eleven hour wait until re-boarding the Zephyr. And, overall, such long daylight segments would be costly.
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I've taken the "Silver" trains a good number of times. I agree that you get the longer light in June, but I go to Florida in February for the warmth. I'm going to say there is not much to see but trees, most of the night hours, but we always fly home....so I can't speak for northbound trains. It is light in all of Florida, but it's mainly pine trees. You do go through orange groves south of Sebring, but that's about it until West Palm Beach.
Other rides I found a bit boring were the Crescent to NO, and the Sunset Limited as far as Phoenix. My very favorite is the views all the way from NYC to Boston...NYC skyline, Brooklyn & Queens neighborhoods, the Hell Gate Bridge, the Bronx, Long Island Sound, boats, and New England towns up close. 4 states in 4+ daylight hours.
A different approach would be to fly or ride through on Amtrak to a given area and then see it intensively by rail. For example;

California is bigger than a lot of countries and with its Amtrak Thruway buses connecting, there is a lot that you can enjoy. I'd make it a bigger trip by -- on the last day of the California Pass I'd use it to Dunsmuir (purest water in the world) and then have a reservation on the Coast Starlight to Portland and then head home on the Empire Builder.