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Train from PHL to NYC... 1st timers

Oklahoma City, OK
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Train from PHL to NYC... 1st timers

I am meeting up with my sis in PHL (in town on business) and we plan on taking a train into NYC. Looks like there are 2 options: Amtrak and SEPTA. We have NEVER been on a train before. What is you take on both? Would the extra $ for Amtrak be worth not having to deal with the hassle on switching trains? Remember we are 1st timers.

1. Amtrak is more expensive at $64 each way. No luggage check… just stuff it under your seat? What is the check in process like? If I arrive 30-45 min before departure will we be okay? Seats look to be reserved. Easier to buy online?

2. Between Philadelphia and New York City on SEPTA commuter line R7 to Trenton, New Jersey. There, transfer to a New Jersey Transit commuter line to Manhattan. I am supposed to ask for the excursion rate. The trip takes an extra 30 minutes, but costs about $12 each way. CHEAPER... But looks confusing???

ANY input is appreciated.

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1. Re: Train from PHL to NYC... 1st timers

I have done both. I use to travel for business up to Manhatten frequently and used Amtrak all the time (obviously, my employer was paying.) The obvious pro of the Amtrak trains is that yes, they are direct, but much more expensive. If I recall correctly, there is some form of overhead storage for your luggage. 30 minutes prior to departure is plenty of time for Amtrak. Buying online is a great option as far as I am concerned.

But...

For the 1st time I took the New Jersey transit commuter line about a month ago up to Manhatten. I have to say, it was great and so inexpensive. Yes, you will have to transfer from Septa in Trenton, but I didn't find anything about it confusing in the least (and I'm easily confused by mass transit.) The train takes you right into Penn Station in NYC. I thought it was a great bang for the buck and if I were you, I'd definitely consider it.

Good luck, I hope that helps!

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Alexandria, VA
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2. Re: Train from PHL to NYC... 1st timers

Hello okjenn,

Kudos to you as you've already figured out the basics of what you need to know. :) Allow me to add some details.

Both the SEPTA/NJ Transit route and AMTRAK depart from Philadelphia's 30th Street station and run on the same track to New York City's Penn Station. AMTRAK has fewer stops, in particular between Philly and Trenton.

AMTRAK: Generally speaking, there are overhead storage bins similar to those on airplanes. They do offer a Red Cap Service that is helpful for those who have oodles of luggage (as well as those with accessibility or mobility concerns) but you may not necessarily need it.

Some routes sell only "reserved" tickets while others just have just "unreserved" seating. Buying a reserved ticket won't get you a specific seat but it will guarantee you space on the specific train route. If you miss your reserved train, you may be able to switch to an unreserved train (although you will lose some of your purchase value as reserved tickets cost more). Unreserved tickets can be used on any unreserved train without penalty.

Buying your tickets online can save time when you arrive at the train station. That said, there is a customer service area as well as electronic kiosks where you can purchase and/or pick up you tickets. Yes, it's a good rule of thumb to be at the station about 30-45 minutes. If you're arriving at morning or evening rush hour, Friday night, Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon, add on another 15-30 minutes.

The seats themselves are more comfortable than those on SEPTA/NJ Transit. There are also restrooms located in each train car. Many train routes also have a cafe where you can purchase drinks, snacks and light microwaveable meals.

SEPTA/NJ Transit:

Check out this link to the R7 schedule:

http://www.septa.org/service/pdfs/R7.pdf

It's pretty easy to read if you're familiar with bus schedules. It will show you which trains hook up with NJ Transit.

SEPTA and NJ Transit have an arrangement where many SEPTA trains are coordinate to arrive in Trenton just before a NJ Transit is due to depart. So when you walk off SEPTA, you would simply walk directly to the front where the NJ Transit train will be waiting. The reverse will be true when you return to Trenton from NYC: the SEPTA train will be in front.

There's no need to buy tickets online although to buy a combination ticket for both systems, you will need to use the NJ Transit ticket kiosk in the SEPTA section. SEPTA customer serice can only sell you tickets to and from Trenton and you may not have time to buy your Trenton-NYC tickets when you would switch trains.

The seat comfort on NJ Transit is better than on SEPTA. That's not to say that SEPTA seats are *un*comfortable... especially compared to seats on the Greyhound and Chinatown-based buses that also travel between Philly and NYC. Both trains have on overhead racks above your seat for luggage.

While NJ Transit trains have restrooms, SEPTA does not. And there is no food and beverage service on either of them; in fact, they both discourage riders from eating or drinking at all.

In my personal opinion, you will be fine on SEPTA and NJ Transit. The conductors will direct you to where you need to go when you switch trains in Trenton. Many people commute and visit each way, including many "first-timers" such as yourself.:) Not to mention the fact that you'll save yourself a hundred bucks! :):):) AMTRAK is best for those who value convenience, time and upgraded amenities more than money.

All of that said, I hope you plan to spend some time in Philly as well! :)

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Alexandria, VA
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3. Re: Train from PHL to NYC... 1st timers

Oops, hope you didn't think I was stepping on your toes, Suzanne. I was writing my comments on and off during my "day job". Thanks to anyone who makes it through my "War and Peace" version! :)

Philadelphia...
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4. Re: Train from PHL to NYC... 1st timers

Please, Tony - don't ever think you are stepping on my toes!!! I just couldn't believe I actually had SOMETHING to contribute to a transportation question, in any way, shape or form! I am just so glad you are around to give people that advice because I would 99% of the time be completely lost!!!

And you must get pretty bored reading my restaurant/hotel recommendations, over and over, LOL - talk about War and Peace versions!!!

Suzanne

Alexandria, VA
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5. Re: Train from PHL to NYC... 1st timers

One thing's for sure, Suzanne: if I need restaurant advice, I know whom to ask! :)

Doylestown...
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6. Re: Train from PHL to NYC... 1st timers

Per the previous poster's remarks about restrooms on NJ Transit trains. I take the NJ Transit train from Trenton to NYC several times a year, most recently about 3 weeks ago. I have never seen a restroom on a NJ Transit train. Like mom always said...go before you leave! ;-)

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ocnj
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7. Re: Train from PHL to NYC... 1st timers

I have taken the nj transit ttain from atlantic city to phila. many times and there has always been a bathroom in either the the 1st or last train car.

Doylestown...
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8. Re: Train from PHL to NYC... 1st timers

Just rode NJ Transit train again this weekend between Trenton and NYC and sure enough, there was a restroom on the car I was on! Color me surprised! First I ever noticed that in my 10+ years of taking that train.

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Alexandria, VA
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9. Re: Train from PHL to NYC... 1st timers

Life is full of surprises. I'm glad this was a pleasant one for you (and that I wasn't seeing a mirage LOL). :)

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10. Re: Train from PHL to NYC... 1st timers

Here's what my itinerary would have been 15 to 20 years ago:

1. New Jersey Transit local train to Trenton

2. SEPTA R7 local train to Tacony

3. Route 56 PCC trolley (now bus) to Market-

Frankford line or Broad Street Subway

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