I'm not super thrilled with how SOME members of USA government collaborate to make Amtrak service all patchwork & weird with high prices & byzantine rules (compared to certain other continents) and then constantly try to cut funding for it because it doesn't turn a profit or whatever.

(I decided to take the train to where I'm going rather than fly, as it allows me far greater travel flexibility - needed with my chaotic life - and the ability to visit friends on the way, plus checked baggage.)


So for example, the Amtrak Rail Pass can be a good deal for multi-segment travel (at least, compared to buying the tickets outright at regular price), but you have to get the pass, and then reserve seats anyway, and get tickets for those seats, and so it basically seems like a voucher that can be redeemed for up to m segments over n days?

Am I wrong in thinking this is a lot more pointlessly complicated than rail passes in Europe in 2019? I haven't been in Europe in a long time.

@muninn i've never been to Europe, but Amtrak is definitely like that. it seems like any thing logistical is several times more complicated than it needs to be

@stackingstones Yeah, I've only taken Amtrak for fairly uncomplicated trips before (1-2 trains, 500 miles max) and had already gotten that impression... the USA Rail Pass is still probably the cheapest way to do what I want, but it seems like a pain compared to everything I've heard about rail passes overseas. I didn't get a pass myself when I was in Europe but had friends who did.

@muninn the longest trip i've taken was sf bay area to chicago, which was a lot of fun, although we did get stuck in a ravine for several hours. they share tracks with commerical freight, and they have priority on the tracks :/

@stackingstones Yup. I've had terrible luck with Amtrak delays, one long one due to the track sharing issue, and two due to accidents that weren't Amtrak's fault. Still, I think the rate of problems would be lower if we actually had a robust national rail network.

@stackingstones Even their web site is terrible, trying to book a point to point multi stop trip is a giant inscrutable pain. :( Okay, bitching about it isn't gonna change it, it was bad the last few times I used it and it's still bad, though at least the vast majority of the trains I've taken were comfy.

@muninn I feel like it's a testament to how great trains are that even with Amtrak's faults, it's still a very cool way to travel

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