On any given weekday, Amtrak runs roughly 20 trains between Boston and New York a day, with a mix of Northeast Regional trains and Acela Express trains. It really is a convenient and quick way to get between the two cities. On the way up to New Hampshire a few weeks ago, I opted to redeem points to experience Acela First Class – you can read my Amtrak NYC to Boston review to get an idea of how that was. On the way home, I opted to take the slower, but cheaper Northeast Regional back to NYC. I also wanted to compare the lowest level of service with the highest level of service, to see if Acela First Class was really worth the upcharge. Without ado, here’s my Amtrak Boston to NYC review.
Amtrak Boston South Station
I arrived at Boston South Station via Concord Coach roughly 45 minutes before my train was due to depart. You’ll need to walk between the bus terminal and the train station, but for the most part, it’s an easy walk. I waited in the terminal for about 20 minutes, and then saw the train pull into the platform, so I decided to wait outside before boarding was called. About 15 minutes before departure, we were allowed to board.
I’m a Quiet Car devotee, so I try really hard to be the first to board so I can get a seat in the Quiet Car. To me, this is one of the best features of any Amtrak Boston to NYC trip, as most Quiet Car passengers are respectful of the rule, and it really makes the trip more relaxing. I also made sure to sit on the correct side of the train, which in this case is the left side, as it provides the best view of the Atlantic Ocean. We left right on time and within a few minutes, the conductor came to scan my ticket.
The seat had plenty of legroom and was relatively comfortable for most of the ride, although working on my laptop was a little tight. The Acela definitely provides more space to spread out and work, but for my needs, the fold down tray was sufficient.
I did not have a seatmate until Bridgeport, which is always something I enjoy. I’m not a seat saver, but always pray that people will walk by. My seatmate was quiet and kept to herself, so we got along just fine.
One thing I highlighted in my Acela review is that these trains are getting up there in age, and again, you could see that with the passenger car I was in. The seal around the window was loose, and therefore, a slow trickle of water was constantly running next to my seat. This is definitely not the norm, but it was something that could turn off a first-time rider on Amtrak.
Amtrak Boston to NYC Food, Restrooms, and Service
I had eaten right before I left for Boston, so I didn’t buy anything in Cafe Car on the way down to NYC, but I have included a link to the most up to date menu I could find online here. My go-to is usually the Cheese & Cracker Tray and a Dogfish Head 90 minute. Remember that the Cafe Car is considered an Amtrak purchase (go figure!) and you’ll earn 3 points per dollar on all purchases.
Unlike the Acela trains, there are two restrooms per car, and I used them a couple of times during the trip. One of the restroom doors refused to lock, rendering 50% of the restrooms sort of unusable. On my first visit, the restroom was in OK shape, and the second time, it was in a worse state. I’ve come to expect that restrooms are going to be pretty poorly maintained on Amtrak Boston to NYC trains, and wish that Amtrak would address this.
Service is much more hands-off compared to the Acela First Class, I interacted with the crew once (scanning my ticket), and then only watched them interact with others. Not that I expected more, but I goes to show the effort Amtrak is putting into their First Class service. They were a pretty curt crew; lots of barking orders at passengers and loud reminders about one person, one seat. We also made an unplanned stop between Route 128 and Providence, RI for roughly 20 minutes, as the train in front of us had mechanical issues. The crew was proactive in updating us, but it still stunk.
Additionally, the weather turned a bit dour as we left Boston, so the views were pretty gray, but the ocean view is still better than the non-ocean view.
Arrival into New York Penn Station
Because of our earlier delay, as well as slow going between Stamford and New York, we arrived at New York Penn Station at 8:00pm, which was about 30 minutes late. From there I hopped the C Train and was home by 8:45pm.
(SEE ALSO: The cheapest and best way from Newark Airport to Manhattan)
Amtrak Boston to NYC Conclusion
Overall, I’ve done this trip dozens of times over the past few years, and could probably do it in my sleep by now. I had a relatively ordinary experience, minus the delay in Massachusetts. My only real complaints would have to be the seat comfort, which got a little uncomfortable by the end of the trip, and the overall cleanliness of the restrooms, which is the norm for Amtrak it would seem.
Compared to the Acela First Class trip I took earlier? I’d have to say the Acela trip was overall nicer: the seat was roomier, there was a meal service, and you get between the two cities about 45 minutes to an hour faster. To me, however, those things aren’t worth four times the cost of the Northeast Regional when taking Amtrak Boston to NYC. My recommendation would be to save yourself the ~$150 dollar difference, bring a good book from home, and enjoy the trip on the Northeast Regional.
Featured image property of user Pi.1415926535 via Wikimedia.
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My mom and I take the Northeast Regional to/from Rte 128 (Westwood, MA) to NYC several times a year.
We’ve also watched the bathrooms get yuckier during the duration of the trip. I’m tempted to say Amtrak should hire 1 person per train to maintain overall train cleanliness but really the problem is with the passengers.
Our other sore spot is when people who aren’t physically disabled sit in the seats that are clearly marked as such. We always find a conductor and ask him/her to approach the other passenger(s) and they do so immediately. Most of the time, people didn’t bother to read the sign and apologized.
We pack whatever meal is needed along with drinks and snacks. On rare occasions my mom will buy food en route.