Amtrak, NYC Penn to Rhode Island, North East Regional.

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  • MrMichael

    . Here is the review you requested of the train trip From NYC to Providence RI.

    Booked the tickets online about a month in advance, $188 single for four adults, no changes allowed, no refunds but includes a seat reservation. A seat reservation is not however a seat reservation in the true meaning of the term. On Amtrak services a seat reservation means just that, a seat is reserved for you because they only sell as many tickets as,they have seats, it does not mean as one might expect actual reserved seats. It being the holiday season and looking on a few websites it became clear the chances of boarding at NYC Penn Station and actually having four seats in the same carriage let alone together were slim if they were existent at all. Very much Ryanair style. It became clear from various sources that the scramble to board once the track had been announced gave us four with our luggage slim chance of much choice. Further delving the depths of the internet however gave me a solution.

    We were booked on the 12.30 North East Regional that ran from Washington DC to Boston via various points including NYC Penn where we were boarding.
    There is an Ascela Express that does the route, it costs double the fare and saves ten minutes, I did not think that good value so that’s why I had booked the NE Regional. We arrived at NY Penn a little after 11.30 and went in to the Amtrak waiting area, a small haven amongst the western worlds busiest transport interchange (according the Wikipedia). There I went to the red cap desk and arranged a porter for our luggage and to get us on the train. You see the red caps know ten minutes before the passengers which track one departs, and thus are perfectly placed to get your luggage onboard and get our party sat together. Best twenty bucks I spent in NYC. At ten past 12 our red cap collected us, took us to the track where the train was just pulling in and had our luggage and us settled in before the hoards above even knew where their train was. Perfect.

    Soon after an on time departure and having gone under the East River we had excellent views of the Manhattan skyline on the left and Rikers Island on the right (Rikers island being a huge prison just off La Guardia airport). We settled in for the trip and soon the guard arrived to check tickets. I explained we actually wanted to detrain at Kingston and not Providence, as it turned out Kingston was closer to our final destination of Newport RI where we were now going to be picked up. He seemed a bit surprised at that and asked me if I was absolutely sure I wanted to get off there. The seats were comfy, 2×2 airline style with around a 38-40 inch seat pitch, around six inches of recline, seat in front magazine holder (with Amtrak magazine and safety instruction card)and a tray table that folds down as on an airplane. The only odd thing, no armrest between the seats.

    Around an hour after departure we entered a more rural area and as we were pretty much hugging the coast all the way we had some great views as we crossed causeways and bridges and huge clapboard houses. The large clapboard houses along the coast of Connecticut seemed quite picturesque in the winter mottled sunshine. With the trees bare of foliage one realised that in fact on the whole 2 hour fifty minute journey we never actually saw any countryside, at all times something, a house, a road, a factory or a port was in view out of the window.

    About half way through the journey I ventured to the cafe car for a coffee. For $2 it was pretty good filter coffee, but I was used to Manhattan prices!

    We arrived on time in Kingston at 3.20, bang on time where our relations (MrsM’s uncle and lovely family) were on the platform to meet us. Nobody got on at Kingston, and only we got off. It did seem like a rather middle of nowhere type place but figured in the summer when the population of Newport (a twenty minute drive away) swells from 24000 to close on 200,000 it would likely get much busier with the yachty types.

    It was a really pleasant and comfortable journey, made so much better with us sitting together and no stress of finding the kids to make sure they got off etc. Thanks RedCap, you made our journey so much smoother and worry free.


    I like no armrest between the seats on trains, because if the seat next to me is vacant, I can more easily store my newspaper(s), magazines and notebook, as well as a camera. Very convenient!


    I think you’ll find that the reservation system you describe applies only on the cheaper Regional services. On the Acela Express, you get a specific reserved seat.


    On the Acela Express services, you are guaranteed a seat, but not a specific one, as no seat numbers are printed on tickets for passengers.

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