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Amtrak help

Hertfordshire. UK
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Amtrak help

Hello,

we are coming on New York City early September.

We have been looking at doing a quick day visit to Philadelphia and Lancaster and yes, I have read the forums and am very aware of how insane a trip in one day is. Still, the couple we are travelling with really want to do this on a limited time and so we shall get up insanely early and come back insanely late.

My question isnt related to this - its related to how to book the trains!

I seem to be missing a trick.

I can book single or return legs (e.g NYC - Phil then Phil - Lanc either single and return for each leg - but is it possible to just book as one return journey and stop off in Philadelphia? In other words can I book NYC - Lanc and just stop offin Philadelphia thus not being so commited to what time we move on to Lancaster? Sorry if there is something obvious I have missed, I cant seem to find a map on the Amtrak site, and dont know if its ok to just stop at a station (we have here what is called an "open day return" which means you can catch any train going to and fro a direction so long as you have paid the correct "time of day" fare). Having never been to NYC and not being able to find a map of the train connections, I am also not sure if one train provider is pretty much the same as the others when I am presented with my options. (for example in London, in some cases you can use 2 different train providers who will go completely different routes to take you on the same A-B journey).

Many thanks for your help.

New York NY
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1. Re: Amtrak help

They're separate tickets. No cost savings to booking in one central booking.

Just book each leg separately.

Note that Lancaster is a small city - no Amish anything to be seen without a car. If you simply get off the train in Lancaster and expect to see anything you can't see in a suburban community closer to NYC, you'll be disappointed. You'd need a car.

Philadelphia is easily do-able.

Boston...
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2. Re: Amtrak help

It's an insane day but doable. I think FF is right, that the Amish are not necessarily in the center of town. I think it's best to rent a car for that. I made the drive from Philly a few years ago as a day trip from Philly (Not from NYC) and it was a gorgeous drive and nice day. I took the low roads, forget which route but the Philly forum people could advise you. The route I took was scenic, had rolling Amish farm hills, roadside farmstands that sold produce pies and pastries, and an historic site, a stop on the Underground Railway. You could see the Amish out tending their fields and sharing the roads with semis in horse and buggies. I was very happy to see all of this.

You could try to get into Philly as early as possible. Have your breakfast on the train. Do a HOHO tour to see the big sites in Philly and then rent a car, leave town by noon, see Amish country and then get back for the last train of the day. No there are no open-ended tickets. If you book the latest and get back to the station earlier, if you want to take an earlier train, you pay the fare difference if there is any.

Brooklyn, NY
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3. Re: Amtrak help

I like Caroline's suggestion: train to Philly, car rental once you're there. There's no point in going to Lanaster unless you have a car.

Portland, Maine
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4. Re: Amtrak help

Philadlephia 30th Street, the main station in Philadelphia, has rental cars available on-site. Check about whether you can make late returns however. Each company is different.

New York City, New...
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5. Re: Amtrak help

Agree that train to Lancaster is not the best way to do this. Rent a car in Philly.

That said, there is no such thing as an open return on Amtrak. You have to have a ticket for a specific train, just like you do for a flight. Each train costs a different amount depending on how busy it is (fares increase as the train books out, kind of like flights do). If you want to change your ticket on the day to a different train, you will have to pay the difference in fare. (Which, if you booked the original train well in advance, is likely to be a hefty sum.)

Edited: 24 August 2013, 14:10
Hertfordshire. UK
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6. Re: Amtrak help

Thanks. We have travelled a bit and are aware it's insane. But also just about doable realising we wont get a true sense of either town just an attraction. What I had looked in to was a v early train to Philadelphia

Train 1242 to Lancaster arrives at 152

Go to

amishfarmandhouse.com/Countryside_Tours.html

$27 US to do the 90 minute bus, 45 min house, and school and farm tour.

Bus tour has to be at 4pm as only runs at 2,4

Catch return train to Philadelphia 610 arrives 723 pm

Leave Philadelphia 740pm arrive NY 9 pm

We were just working out how to get to the farm from the train station. I know a car may be better but was aware driving was longer than train and practically picking up a hire car can take a lot of time out of a day.

Hertfordshire. UK
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7. Re: Amtrak help

I should also add, as I am sure it is going to come up, that I realise that this is not the "best" or by any means the most "authentic" way to see the Amish community. Its more about the fact we have one spare day, friends meeting us from New Zealand who are desperate to even catch a glimpse of this unique way of life, and so its about stretch and compromise.

I will look more in to rental cars.

Oh and as it doesnt cut and paste, we would be catching the first train at 6am.

Hertfordshire. UK
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8. Re: Amtrak help

And I should add I appreciate the replies - thanks! I will relook at cars. Sorry, typing with a very active toddler hanging off me!

New York City, New...
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9. Re: Amtrak help

There are bus tours to Amish country from Phil. Go to the Phil. Forum and ask there. It may be better than trying to do train.

New York City, New...
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10. Re: Amtrak help

Or this

viator.com/tours/…d687-3857PHI