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Amtrak to run overnight sleeper cars between Boston and Washington for first time since 2003

Amtrak reports that starting next month, you'll be able to sleep on your way down to Washington (or back up) in a private room:

Beginning April 5th, we will reintroduce private rooms on overnight Northeast Regional Trains 65 (Friday and Saturday) Train 66 (Daily) and Train 67 (Sunday - Thursday) between Washington and Boston. The private rooms will not be offered south of Washington into Virginia. This Sleeping Car launch represents the first time this service has been available since 2003 between Boston and Washington, DC.

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Comments

I no longer travel for work however would have a hard time seeing myself using this if I were. Was a regular Amtrak rider from 13-17. Maybe they see something I don't. Boston to NYC? Train 110% of the time. Boston to DC? Plane 110% of the time. A sleeper wont change that.

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I sometimes travel down to Virginia and the Northeast Regional trips have been a great way to catch up on reading, programming, or tagging my backlog of photos.
...at least until they started offering internet. Now I look at the web instead! But that's a me problem.

I don't know if I'd use a sleeper to DC by preference. I suppose it would make sense if day schedules were sold out and I had to take a red-eye.

I have used a sleeper car (roomette: bunk bed, toilet but no shower) on a longer trip to Florida, and I found it very easy to sleep through. They didn't have the loud announcements they did in the regular cars, and we had more control over the lights. It was surreal to feel my body shifting around on the bed while lying down as the train swayed slightly or braked, but actually quite soothing once I got over the novelty.

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That sounds like fun.

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It's only fun until you want to sleep, because you really can't sleep... at all.. the clanging of the tracks...the announcements at every stop, the uncomfortable foam mattresses.

But it was an adventure... of course, after I finally dozed off, the hubby woke me at 5 am or so to say, "we're in DC, let's get off and go see the station..." He was rather impervious to my evil (sleepy) eye and the slew of WTF is wrong with you's...

Two saving graces:

1. If you can maneuver yourself over the toilet and under the drip faucet, you can take a shower, which wasn't bad after a sleepless night.

2. We took a bottle of bourbon but found out that it came with free alcohol as it was considered first class (free microwave cheeseburgers too if you can stomach them). We were on our 4th drink by Providence, so that was actually fun.

Do not do this if you actually have to function the next day... you will regret it... we had to be "on" with family and it was exhausting, I don't even want to think about a work situation.

Might be more pleasant with edibles though, I suppose.

Finally, many of your fellow passengers in the dining car and regular seats are the same miscreants you sit beside on the T, so if you want a 12 hour T ride...go for it.

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"Finally, many of your fellow passengers in the dining car and regular seats are the same miscreants you sit beside on the T"

This I disagree with. I have never had that experience on the northeast regional.

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Thank u for giving me the gift of laughter. Was it the viral "side eye" or the ZQuil eye? Funny shit.

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It's personal.

To me - as well as many other people - sleeping on the train is the best sleep.

Sleeping cars are amazing, there should be more of them everywhere.

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What is the “T”?

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Now there's a good question.

The answer.

Sorry, we don't get many visitors from westa Wuhstah!

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Does this mean that they will reinstate the luggage cars that also carried bikes?

I went to DC in 2003 when I was in grad school and took an overnight train. I slept in my seat but my bike came with me and that solved a large number of local travel issues.

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They actually already had them on the overnight train. I used it when I moved north via Amtrak a few years ago — four huge suitcases and the bike!

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Did Hope Hicks do that?

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Which reminds me. Any info on bus or train info from Boston to Haverhill on weekends now that I can no longer take the Haverhill Line Commuter Line due to cancellation of weekend service? I don't drive .

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Haverhill you can take the Amtrak Downeaster which is still running on the weekends with 4 trips per day (running through to Portland and Brunswick Maine)

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Downeaster doesn't stop at Haverhill Station.

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on their schedule page. When did they discontinue it?

Because of construction, the Downeaster does not stop at Woburn on weekends.

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Is it from other compartments, or outside? How is it filtered?

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It will be great to see this service come back, though I don't know how much use I will get personally.
Years ago, late 90s, I would sometimes take the northbound Night Mail (or whatever the name was - they had both names and numbers then ( I think it was Train 66). I was working in NJ and dating my future wife in MA. Sometimes it was very convenient to work late on at the office on a Friday night, take PATH to Newark and pick up the 66 after midnight to arrive in Boston at 6 or 7 AM.
Southbound night train wasn't convenient for those end points, of course - leaving Boston evening to arrive Newark late enough to risk not being able to make a local connection. I could see doing the southbound night train for all the way to DC, of course.
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Big questions:
- what price structure? It's a balance between speed, perceived speed, convenience, price, wear & tear on the traveler..*. I vaguely recall it being the typical one-way, off-peak, "regional" fare + similar (or slightly higher) amount if you were taking accommodation rather than sitting up in coach all night.
- age of equipment? I'm trying to remember the last time recently that I was on the Pike at the right time/place to see the noon sleeper leave for Chicago. Those might be a little newer than what I was riding in the 90s, but probably not much newer.

* air travel was sometimes a bargain then, especially when considering available time. A pre 9/11/2001 world, Continental & Delta frequently had weekend $49 fares on their shuttles between the New York area and Boston. It was sometimes literally a case of parking a couple of hundred feet from the terminal door, walking in, simple security, hop on your plane. I haven't looked at prices recently, but I'm sure they've gone up more (proportionately) than rail fares, and airport security more rigourous.

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And it was Trains 66 and 67. In the New Haven Railroad days, the overnight train to/from New York City was called The Owl.

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I don't know if it's the namesake of the package delivery company, but it was famous for its spectacular arrival in Washington DC's Union Station in the waning days of the Truman Administration. The name was later shortened to just the Federal under Amtrak's stewardship and later renamed Night Owl and Twilight Shoreliner.

Edit: my timeline was off. It was shortened to Federal later on, and replaced by the Night Owl when Amtrak took over, the Night Owl was rebranded the Twilight Shoreliner in the late 90s, and that was replaced by a new Federal in 2003 after the sleeper was removed. That name was later dropped.

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the Federal Express to the Federal well before the Amtrak era, when it was jointly operated by the New Haven and the Pennsylvania. The other Washington to Boston train jointly operated by the New Haven and the Pennsylvania was called the Senator.

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Ha! Looks like I was adding my edit as you were posting (I really should do my research before posting "facts" or not post at all!) ;-)

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Don't try to add emojis from an emoji equipped keyboard, the UHub software hates it, gives you an error message and posts multiple blank posts under the subject.

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The Fast Mail was an alternative to the Night Owl that roadman mentioned. The passenger service was northbound only, while southbound it only carried mail.

The northbound trains departed DC at 3am and arrived in Boston around 11-11:30; there was a separate shuttle to Springfield in New Haven. IIRC, there were maybe two or three cars on the Fast Mail (one with a cafe car) while the remaining 8-10 were mail cars.

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The Fast Mail didn't. That was "we're running this train to Boston anyway, might as well put another two cars on it and make a bit more money."

I'm a little surprised there was no southbound. I guess it just turned around at Boston and they didn't expect anyone to be in South Station at 4 AM or whenever.

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The Night Owl had sleepers toward the back of the passenger cars; they used the older pre-Amtrak sleeper cars until new Viewliner cars came on line in 1994.

There was also a two hour layover in New York City in both directions, both for train conductor swaps (Metro North to Amtrak and vice-versa) and to let New York passengers settle on board the sleepers.

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It was train #13, and went Boston - DC via Springfield. It ran on non-Amtrak rails between Boston and Springfield, so it was required to carry passengers on that portion of the route, and it left Boston at (1 AM? 2AM? I forget). Beyond Springfield it ran on Amtrak-owned rails, and it did not carry passengers beyond Springfield, but only mail.

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In my college years I took that night mail train several times from DC to Boston. I liked the flexibility with Amtrak of being able to change your travel schedule by just showing up for a different departure. Plus, if I didn't take the overnight I would burn through most, if not all, of some fat biography or history book that had been taunting me from the shelf on the ride.

For the mail train I would have a soft bag that I could wedge up against the wall in the berth with the two sets of seats facing each other at the end of the car. I would then curl my (much more flexible at that age) body in a U across benches and bags. It wasn't unusual to be awoken by some commuter wanting a seat as we got closer to Boston and the train filled up.

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I love the 66/67 train! I am so glad the sleeping cars are back!

When I was a federalista, if I had to be in DC for a meeting & the budget demons weren't letting me fly down the night before, sleeping on the Night Owl-Twilight Shoreliner was infinitely preferable for me to going to Logan at 4AM.
And this is the train I used to take to visit my parents during the winter-- the Williamsburg VA train station is the closer to my dad's farm than any airport, and after too many snow delays and cancellations, I stopped flying down there from December-March if I could get a sleeping car to DC. I like Acela, but since we have to do some sort of switch to go south of DC, I'd rather sleep until we roll in to Union Station around 5AM, then take a seat to get to southern Virginia before noon, rather than spending most of the daylight hours on a train.

I personally never had a problem sleeping in a sleeping car, but I sleep with earplugs anyway.

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How does the price of a roomette sleeper to DC compare with Uber to the airport plus airline ticket plus uber to your hotel plus a night in a nice hotel in DC, both of which have you leaving downtown after dinner and being ready for a day in DC by breakfast, except the latter after a good night sleep?

Last I looked into this some years ago, the Amtrak experience commanded a premium price compared to flight + hotel.

“Russian service with Swiss pricing,” the old saying went, until someone pointed out that Amtrak’s ticket prices per mile traveled topped Swiss railway pricing.

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Bob, I can't tell if you're addressing this to me or not?

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Well, anyway, Bob, I found one of my old SatoTravel emails. Of course, Amtrak offers discounts for federal work travel. In 2013, I took a morning Acela to DC for $39, to give you an idea of that.

The times I took the Shoreliner down for work (early aughts), the train+sleeper room cost less than than $200. In order to do a night train with a sleeper, we had to beat hotel+flight, no other expenses like cabs or meals factored in, though of course the train beat a flight for those expenses because Union Station was a longish walk or 2 metro stops from my agency, and dinner & breakfast were included with the sleeping car (for travel that required leaving home before 5AM, we would get breakfast included in our meal per diem). However, even in DC, which has more gov discount FEMA approved hotels than any other city in the world, finding a hotel on a weekday for under, say, $125 in the off season wasn't easy, and impossible during the high season.

Another problem was snow. If our return flight was cancelled or snow delayed while we were on a business trip, we were still paid for the day(s) we couldn't work and couldn't travel, and if we had expenses caused by that delay-- like a babysitter or paying a penalty to reschedule an appointment-- we could apply to get reimbursed for those. Also, if you want to change a flight that you know is about to get cancelled because of weather, so you can get back to work the next day, the airline still charges you a damn $100+ rebooking fee and the ticket difference. You can guess how many people flying out of DC on any weekday are federal employees and how much that can rack up.

My agency encouraged us to take the train when we could during the winter, as long as the prices were in the same ballpark as flying.

As a side note, I've been collecting Amtrak points since the early 1990s. I also get an NARP discount, depending on the train. When I'm not sidelined because of COVID, I take about 5 or 6 Amtrak trips a year, sometimes more. Of those, I maybe pay full price for one. I wish Amtrak pricing was better in general, but it does offer a lot of deals if you use it enough.

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To really geek out, I found a website archive: The Museum of Railway Timetables

http://www.timetables.org/

66/67 changed names from Night Owl to Twilight Shoreliner sometime between 1995 & 1999.
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I was entertained by the Executive Sleeper on one old timetable. Southbound train from NYPenn. Sleeper compartments available from 9:30 PM. They'd attach that car to the Night Owl when it came through at 3:30 AM and you could wake up in DC at 8 AM. I find myself wondering if it was more for NY "execs" headed to DC for next day's business or DC "execs" weary after a hard day of NY "business".
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Got sidetracked looking through a few 80s/90s northeast timetables. I distinctly remember taking a single-seat trip at least once in that era (I thought) between NY Grand Central and Worcester, but couldn't find any listing to support it.
From what I recalled, there were one or two daily daytime roundtrips Boston/Grand Central via the inland route. Long gone now, I know

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was the opposite. They would set the car off the Night Owl at NY Penn Station during the wee hours, but you could stay in it and sleep until 8 am.

I've heard that this type of service was more common when private railroads still ran passenger services, before the creation of Amtrak.

At some point in the 80s or 90s, Amtrak connected the Hudson River line into Penn Station, which meant the end of Amtrak service to Grand Central.

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Yes, I think most of the Amtrak Grand Central Service was oriented to points north and west.
The Boston inland trains would leave Grand Central, follow the path of the New Haven Line (Metro North). The Penn Station service would join in from the branch via Queens & Hell Gate and merge into the NEC for New Rochelle/Stamford/Bridgeport/New Haven.
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I suppose the inland service was some legacy route from previous railroads. Besides Amtrak consolidating NYC operations at Penn Station, I suppose there was less need and less efficiency to Amtrak having an inland route - MBTA commuter rail expanded beyond Framingham to Worcester, Amtrak was electrifying NEC, and Amtrak didn't own the Springfield/Worcester/Boston tracks.
As far as I know, the only current Worcester Amtrak service is the Boston-Chicago route. There has been a time or two I've lamented not having a viable option to get to Springfield and connect to the New Haven-Vermont route.

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All Amtrak service is a legacy of previous railroads. Except a few short connectors like the Albany line to Penn Station.

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Footnote - showing the usefulness of interconnectivity and parallel capacity (which doesn't happen much around here)...
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For the 2017 Summer of Hell repairs at NY Penn Station, which took out a chunk of Penn Station's track/platform capacity - part of the relief plan was moving Amtrak's "points north & west" service back to Grand Central for a few weeks.

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And a few years back, they shut down the Corridor in eastern Connecticut for a weekend drawbridge replacement. Their initial plan had no alternate service. People protested, so they changed their mind and ran a few diesel trains to Boston via the inland route.

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They used to send trains up to Springfield from New Haven, and from Springfield to Boston back in the 80s. I never did the whole thing, but I did do a day trip to Worcester from Boston at the time, back before the T ran that far west. There weren't many, but more than a lot of places get today. The only thing is that the trains ran to Penn Station and parts south.

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