Chapter 12 Traveling by rail.
After completing this chapter, you should be able to
* recognize the advantages and disadvantages of traveling by rail.
* understand Amtrak's route system and types of equipment.
* understand the types of fares available on Amtrak.
* understand railroads around the world and their most interesting features, fares, and discounts.
Japanese National Railway
North America Rail Pass
VIA Rail Canada
SELLING RAIL TRAVEL
Trains conjure up visions of nostalgia for a more leisurely era. Traveling by train is, indeed, nostalgicplus it offers an opportunity like no other to meet the "locals" and to see the sights in whatever country you happen to be traveling. But rail travel is even more than that; it can also be very practical. Especially for traveling distances of 200 to 400 miles, trains have several distinct advantages over other modes of transportation. Trains usually arrive at and depart from the central business district of a city, thus saving transit time between city and airport, which can be considerable in some cities. The rail passenger also avoids time spent sitting in airport lounges or on airport runways. The air travel time between New York and Washington, D.C., is approximately 11/4 hours, but when you add the time spent in traffic getting to and from these busy airports, the time spent at the airport to check in, and the time spent on the runway or circling the airport, the total travel time can be increased by one to three hours. Amtrak makes this trip from center city to center city in just under three hours. An additional advantage is the cost. Airfares for short-distance trips may be higher than rail fares.
So, even though trains don't move as fast as planes, they can still be a practical alternative in the right situation. In addition to being practical, they are safe, interesting, comfortable, and an excellent way to sightsee. Train travel also provides a great chance to meet people (Figure 12-1).
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Traveling by train can, however, be confusing to the uninitiated. Train stations are "do-it-yourself." Unlike airports, in which the traveler is told exactly where and when to go, the rail traveler has to locate the correct train on a video display or indicator board, discover procedures for checking his own bags, locating the correct platform, car, seat, and accommodations. Locating the correct car is imperative because trains are often split en routewhat you thought was the right car may end up in the wrong destination. Sometimes your fellow passengers are the only ones available to ask for information, and if you don't speak the language, this may not be much help.
Trains are seeing a resurgence of interest among travelers, and with innovative fare programs, new modern trains, and increased marketing, this interest will most likely continue to grow. In this chapter, we focus on selling Amtrak. Because there are many similarities in rail travel around the world, understanding Amtrak should help you to understand other railroads, too.
AMTRAK: A BRIEF HISTORY
The railroad's share of passengers showed an enormous decline between 1929 and 1970. In response to this disastrous decline in passenger numbers, Congress passed the Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970. This legislation created the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) to manage the national rail network and to be responsible for operating all intercity passenger trains (excluding commuter trains) under contracts with the nation's railroads.
On May 1, 1971, Amtrak began operation of intercity passenger trains in the United States. Amtrak is financed by a combination of earned revenues from passenger service operation and federal government assistance. With government subsidies reaching over $1 billion per year, funding has not always come easily for Amtrak. There is a belief by some that passenger rail service should be profitable and government assistance unnecessary. Others, however, strongly disagree on the feasibility of a profitable passenger rail system. Former Amtrak president David L. Gunn addressed this issue in a column written February 25, 2003: "The first myth is that Amtrak or passenger rail can be profitable. It can't, and others have gotten into a lot of hot water saying it can. In some regions with enough population density, some services can be profitable on an incremental basiswhat railroaders call 'above the rails.' But it takes enormous public investment in track, signals, equipment and so on for a reliable system, which cannot be recovered from fares. Public dollars build airports and public dollars should build rail corridors, too."
On-time performance continues to be a challenge for Amtrak. Except in the Northeast (and a few other small areas throughout the country), Amtrak leases tracks belonging to other railroads. These railroads, not Amtrak, are responsible for track conditions and the flow of rail traffic. As a result, Amtrak sometimes faces less than optimum track conditions and train speeds.
Except for these lingering problem areas, Amtrak has made vast improvements in equipment and service since its inception in 1971. The fleet has been upgraded with new modern equipment. Superliner and Acela are among the best and newest equipment on the Amtrak system. Amtrak has focused on technology that will continue to improve service and on innovative marketing techniques to improve its share of the travel market. Amtrak reservations can be made through the major airline computer reservation systems, and Amtrak is a member of the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), giving travel professionals complete access to selling and ticketing Amtrak travel. Amtrak's Web site is a full-featured, easy-to-use booking site.
Proponents of rail passenger service believe Amtrak must be a part of a balanced transportation network in the United States. Others push to eliminate Amtrak subsidies completely. Yet, with an uncertain future, Amtrak continues to make strides toward providing a quality travel alternative to a growing market of rail travelers.
THE AMTRAK ROUTE SYSTEM
Amtrak offers over 500 destinations. Nearly 22,000 miles of track makes this possible (see Figure 12-2). Amtrak service can be broadly divided into two categories: long-distance trains and short-distance or corridor trains. Long-distance trains are thought of as overnight trains on trips of more than 600 miles. Long-distance trains consist of many types of services and accommodations: coaches, lounge cars, full meal service dining cars, and sleeping accommodations. Reservations are always required for travel on long-distance trains.
Corridor trains are those that travel less than 600 miles per trip. Corridor trains are an efficient way for passengers to travel between many well-traveled city pairs, such as Chicago and St. Louis, Los Angeles and San Diego, or Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Coach seating is available on all corridor trains.
The development of high-speed rail corridors is a major focus for Amtrak. The first high-speed corridor service between Boston and New York made its premier run in early 2000. The all-electric Acela trains travel 150 miles per hour and significantly reduce travel times in the corridors they serve. Amtrak's Metroliner trains also provide premier service in the Northeast. All Acela Express and Metroliner trains provide only reserved first-class and business-class seating for an additional charge.
Amtrak utilizes hub cities to make connections more convenient for passengers. Short-distance trains connect to long-distance trains so that most train service is easily accessible from most points on the Amtrak system. In the midwest, Chicago is the hub city. Notice on the map in Figure 12-2 that from Chicago you can travel to almost anywhere on the Amtrak system.
Finding the departure and arrival times for an Amtrak route is simply done by first checking the route system map, choosing a pair of Amtrak cities, then querying your computer for the schedule of that city pair. The schedule between Milwaukee and Glacier Park will look something like the one in Table 12-1 above.
Service is available on Train number 7, the Empire Builder, which departs from Milwaukee at 3:55 P.M. Travel duration is 27 hours and 50 minutes, so the arrival at the East Glacier Park station is at 6:45 P.M. the next day. This is a long-distance train, so in addition to coach seating, it will have a dining car, lounge car, and sleeping accommodations.
For detailed information on the Amtrak route system, the Amtrak National Timetable is the best resource to use. Even though schedule information, as you saw in the above example, is easily accessible online, details on such things as exact routings, intermediate stations, and connecting service are lacking. The timetable should be a constant companion to your computer.
Look carefully at Figure 12-3, "How to Use the Timetable." On this sample, train number 91, the Silver Star, departs from New York at 11:35 A.M. By reading down the left side of the timetable, you see that this train arrives in Washington, D.C., at 4:15 P.M. To travel in the opposite direction, read up the right side of the timetable. The Silver Star, train number 92, departs Washington, D.C., at 11:24 A.M. and arrives in New York at 3:48 P.M. Be careful not to confuse the schedule for the Silver Meteor, trains number 97 and 98, with the Silver Star. The timetable offers a wealth of information. Every small symbol has meaning and should not be overlooked. Amtrak's timetables are available free of charge from Amtrak.
[FIGURE 12-2 OMITTED]
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TRAVELING WITH AMTRAK
Amtrak operates a variety of equipment. The type of equipment on a particular route is determined largely by the length of time it takes the train to travel from its origin to its final destination.
Service on Corridor Trains
A short-distance train, or corridor train, which has a running time of less than six hours, has coach cars and cafe cars. Amtrak coach seats are available on all corridor trains. Coach seats have ample legroom, fold-down trays, and individual reading lamps. Some corridor trains offer reserved coach seats. These require advanced reservations. On certain short-distance routes, coach seating is unreserved. Unreserved seats are available to boarding passengers on a first-come, first-served basis. Seating is not guaranteed, although every effort is made to provide seats for every passenger on unreserved trains.
There will also be short-order food service available on cafe or lounge cars. While providing informal food and beverage service, these cars also provide comfortable, casual seating for sightseeing and socializing and have tables for writing or playing cards and other games. A few short distance trains do not have food service cars, but passengers are always welcome to bring their own food on-board.
Amtrak's cross-country, or long-distance trains, offer the traveler a much different experience from the corridor trains. Vacation travelers who value amenities and onboard experiences as an important part of their vacation are the typical overnight passenger. In addition to reserved coach service, lounge cars, various sleeping accommodations, long-distance trains offer dining cars complete with service and menus (Figure 12-4). Overnight trains in the eastern United States feature single-level cars and the Viewliner cars that have an additional row of windows above the main windows. This unique feature gives added light during the day, and in sleeping rooms, the upper-berth passenger has a window. In the western United States, bilevel Superliner equipment is available.
[FIGURE 12-4 OMITTED]
Traveling in coach on overnight trains is the most economical way to go. All coach seats must be reserved in advance. Most coach seats on overnight trains are extra-spacious and have a leg rest. Each coach car has well-appointed restrooms.
Private sleeping accommodations may appear expensive when compared with coach fares (or even airfares). It is important to remember that the price of a sleeping accommodation includes all meals while onboard the train, plus complimentary juice, tea, or coffee and a newspaper delivered to your room each morning. Your sleeping room is your hotel on a long-distance train trip.
All sleeping accommodations provide comfortable seats that convert to beds, a sliding door for privacy, and a private window on the world. Depending upon the type of accommodation, sink, toilet, and sometimes shower will be in your room. Restroom facilities, some with showers, are located at the end of each car for rooms that do not provide toilet facilities. Figures 12-5 and 12-6 illustrate two types of sleeping accommodations. Figure 12-7 lists sleeping accommodations and their amenities.
[FIGURE 12-5 OMITTED]
[FIGURE 12-6 OMITTED]
AMTRAK'S AUTO TRAIN
How convenient it would be to have your own car to use when you reach your vacation destination without having to actually drive it there! Amtrak's Auto Train service lets you do just that. Auto Train takes cars, vans, SUVs, motorcycles, small boats, jet skis, passengers, and baggage nonstop from the northeast (Lorton, Virginia) to Sanford, Florida (north of Orlando). While passengers relax in roomy coach seats or private sleeping rooms, Amtrak manages the rest. The price of a ticket includes dinner and breakfast. Amenities include a bilevel lounge car and feature movies. Vehicles are protected in enclosed car carriers.
[FIGURE 12-7 OMITTED]
Like the airlines, Amtrak has a variety of fare plans, and, as with airfares, Amtrak's fares and fare plans change often. Amtrak offers discounted fares and promotional fares like the Explore America fare. The best way to get the lowest fare is to travel off peak. Off-peak fares are offered throughout the year and vary by time of year, time of departure, or day of the week. Online discounts can be found on the Amtrak Web site, http://www.amtrak.com.
A few basic rules apply when calculating Amtrak fares. The first thing to remember about Amtrak fares is that there is always a rail fare for travel on Amtrak. If the passenger travels in a coach seat, the rail fare is all he pays. The rail fare may be discounted in any of the ways mentioned previously. If, however, the passenger chooses to travel in a sleeping room or in business class, there is an additional charge added to the rail fare. This is an easy calculation when there is only one person traveling. Simply add the rail fare to the additional charge to arrive at the total fare. For example, the rail fare between Boston and New York is $50 one-way; to upgrade to business class there is an additional charge of $88. One person pays $50 = $88 or a total of $138.00.
When you have more than one person traveling in a sleeping room, it gets a bit more complex. Remember the rail fare is paid per person, but the additional charge for the sleeping room is paid per room. A sleeping room may accommodate from one to five people. Each person in the room pays a rail fare, but the charge for the sleeping room is paid only one time.
Let's calculate a fare for two passengers who are traveling together in a Bedroom. If the rail fare is $150 and the sleeping room charge is $250, how much is their total fare? If you said $550, you are correct! ($150 = 2 passengers = $300 = $250 for the room = $550).
General Tips About Amtrak Travel TIPPING Tipping is not required for any Amtrak service. Sleeping car passengers who wish to tip their car attendant may use the following guideline: $1 per person per night. BAGGAGE Two pieces of carry-on luggage and three pieces of checked, each weighing up to 50 pounds, are allowed. Free red-cap service is provided for baggage assistance. PETS The only animals permitted on Amtrak are guide dogs for blind, deaf, or disabled passengers. HANDICAPPED TRAVELERS Almost every train has specially equipped seats, sleeper rooms, and restroom facilities especially for handicapped travelers. Wheelchair accessibility varies. STATIONS Each Amtrak station is unique. Many are located in center city areas and vary considerably in size and quality. Many stations are historic, while others are new and modern. Information on Amtrak stations, including directions, is available at http://www.amtrak.com. CELL PHONES Amtrak welcomes passengers to bring and use cell phones, except in designated "Quiet Cars." Cell phones will work in most places, subject to signal strength. SMOKING All Amtrak trains and stations are nonsmoking, except for a designated smoking area on the Auto Train. Passengers may smoke on station platforms during longer stops (subject to state or local laws).
Train travelers usually have many questions about their trip. Amtrak offers these general tips about Amtrak travel. Courtesy of Amtrak at http://www.amtrak.com.
If it takes two nights to reach a destination, the stated room charge is not paid per night. Sleeping room charges are always quoted per room for the entire trip. Discounts usually do not apply to sleeping room charges, although there are some exceptions to this. The travel counselor FAM fare is one of those exceptions. This fare allows a travel counselor to travel for a 75 percent discount off the rail fare and sleeping room charge.
AMTRAK DISCOUNTED AND PROMOTIONAL FARES
Several types of individuals may benefit from Amtrak's discounted fares: senior citizens, veterans, active military, students, members of the American Automobile Association (AAA), and members of the National Association of Retired Persons (NARP). Families also benefit from Amtrak's discounts for children. Children ages 2 through 15 ride for half-price when accompanied by an adult paying full fare. Each adult can bring two children along with this half-price discount. One child under age two may travel free with each ticketed adult. Child discounts apply any day, all year.
In addition to the above discounted fares, Amtrak may offer various types of promotional:
* North America Rail Pass: Get 30 days, two countries (United States and Canada), and 28,000 miles of trackat one low price with North America Rail Pass.
* USA Rail Passes: Rail travel options in the United States for international travelers.
* Rail 2 Rail: Amtrak, Metrolink, Pacific Surfliner and Coaster offer the Rail 2 Rail program to make traveling in Southern California a breeze.
* California Rail Pass: Get 7 days of travel in a 21-day period for $159.
* Florida Rail Pass: One year of unlimited travel throughout Florida for $249.
* Explore America Fares: Amtrak Explore America fares are flat-rate fares allowing for 45 days of travel within one (or more) of four geographic regions in the United States: west, central, Florida, and east. Passengers may travel from any point to any other point, using the routes of their choice, within the region or regions purchased, with a maximum of three stopovers along the way. There are peak and off-peak passes, and on some trains, the pass can be upgraded to sleeping car or business class. Reservations must be secured for all reserved trains prior to ticket issuance. Tickets for the entire trip must be obtained prior to departure. In general, Explore America fares are not available online.
MAKING RESERVATIONS ON AMTRAK
Reservations are always required for sleeping accommodations, business class, first class, and for coach travel on all long-distance and some corridor trains. For peak travel times, especially the summer months, it is wise to make reservations well in advance. A reservation on Amtrak is completed much the same as an airline reservation, and Amtrak tickets are printed on the agency's ticket printer.
Amtrak tickets are issued using ARC ticket stock, and most of the same rules apply to Amtrak tickets as to airline tickets. Amtrak pays commissions on tickets that are reported through ARC.
As with other modes of transportation, Amtrak has responded to the increased need for the security of its passengers. To this end, valid photo identification is a necessity and must be produced when obtaining, exchanging, and refunding tickets; storing baggage at stations; checking baggage; sending Amtrak Express shipments and on board trains in response to a request by an Amtrak employee. Following federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guidelines, Amtrak will conduct random ticket verification checks on board trains to ensure that passengers are properly ticketed. Baggage limitations are strictly enforced.
Amtrak's security guidelines state that identification must be current and in force. The following forms of identification are acceptable for persons 18 and older:
* One piece of photo identification issued by a government authority.
* Two pieces of identification, at least one of which is a nonphoto ID issued by a government authority.
Examples of acceptable forms of ID include:
* State or provincial driver's license
* Official government-issued identification (federal, state, or county government or legitimate foreign government)
* Canadian provincial health ID card with photo
* Military photo ID
* Student identification (university, college, or high school photo ID)
* Job Corps photo ID
Amtrak offers service into three popular Canadian cities: Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. When crossing the border between the United States and Canada, Amtrak passengers must provide both a proof of citizenship and proof of identity. Amtrak recommends that U.S. and Canadian citizens carry a passport. If a passenger does not have a passport, a certified copy of a birth certificate and current valid government-issued photo identification is required. Citizens of other countries are required to carry a passport, and in many cases, a visa. Customs officials may also board trains at the border. Passengers may be asked to identify and open their baggage.
Additional information on requirements for U.S. citizens when crossing borders can be obtained on the Internet at http://www.travel.state.gov or by phone at 1-800-FED-INFO.
OTHER RAILROADS AROUND THE WORLD
VIA Rail Canada
Most passenger rail service in Canada is operated by VIA Rail Canada, a corporation of the Canadian government. Like rail service in the United States, Canadian rail service is dependent on the financial support of the government.
Because of its proximity to the United States and because Amtrak offers convenient service into several points on the U.S.-Canada border, Canadian trains are popular with American travelers. Like Amtrak, VIA Rail is a member carrier of the ARC. That means it is a simple matter for U.S. travel counselors to sell VIA Rail products and services. VIA Rail pays travel counselors a commission on ARC sales. Information on VIA Rail is available in airline CRSs and by accessing their Web site at http://www.viarail.ca.
The rail system in Canada is coast to coast, serving approximately 400 communities, largely in the southern part of the country. Canada, like the United States, offers some breathtaking scenery and has many routes that take maximum advantage of the countryside. The Canadian Rockies has always been a popular trip with U.S. visitors to Canada.
In general, equipment and accommodations on VIA Rail are very similar to Amtrak. VIA Rail's equipment is well maintained and comfortable. They operate high-speed trains on short-distance routes around major cities such as Toronto and Montreal, and transcontinental service linking eastern and western provinces. The Canrailpass (with adult, student-youth, and senior 60+ versions) may be purchased at both low- and high-season rates for a fixed price. The Pass, which is available only to nonCanadians, allows 12 days of unlimited travel in Comfort class (Economy) during a 30-day period. The card can be used anywhere VIA goes, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and up to Hudson Bay, and allows unlimited stops. It is also possible to add up to three extra days' travel during the 30-day validity period.
Canada's most famous train is the Canadian, which travels between Toronto and Vancouver, crossing the picturesque lakelands of northern Ontario, the western plains, and the Canadian Rockies and finishing its journey on the Pacific coast. Other stops include Sudbury Junction, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Jasper, and Kamloops. Passengers enjoy three days aboard beautifully restored 1950s art-deco-styled equipment. Outdoor enthusiasts who want to get off the train in the middle of a forest can request their own special stop between Sudbury Junction and Winnipeg!
Eastern Canada has two scenic routes. The Ocean travels between Montreal and Halifax, and the Chaleur from Montreal to Gaspe. These trains depart at night as one train. Early in the morning, at the Baie des Chaleurs, the Ocean and the Chaleur separate. The Ocean continues southward across New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, reaching Halifax in midafternoon. The Chaleur stays in Quebec, heading for Gaspe. At Gaspe, boat tours to the renowned wilderness park area of Bonaventure Island are very popular.
Trains of Europe
European train service is often thought of as the standard to which all railroads should aspire. Passenger train service in Europe is comprised of 23 rail lines (including both eastern and western Europe). There are intracountry and intercountry routes. A high degree of coordination and cooperation exists between individual European railroads so that travel between major cities is reliable and efficient. Further cooperation exists in a growing number of cities where the airports are connected by rail to the central stations. Connecting ferries also play an important role in the overall rail system; in some cases rail coaches are actually loaded aboard ferries for transport. Although overall service standards do vary from country to country, many European countries have excellent train service.
The European rail network offers several premier trains that combine high speed with excellent service and comfort (Figure 12-8). Each train has slightly different amenities.
Artesia: Also known as the France-Italy day train, it covers many routes including Paris to Milan in under five hours.
AVE: For fast and efficient travel in Spain; the AVE travels from Madrid to Seville in just two hours, 30 minutes.
Cisalpino: Connects Switzerland, Southern Italy, and Southern Germany. Links Zurich and Milan in under four hours.
Eurostar: Rail Europe's most famous Premier Train. Also called the Channel Tunnel train, it set the standard in rail travel, smoothly transporting passengers from London to Paris in three hours, and London to Brussels in two hours, 40 minutes. Here are some Eurostar basics:
* Eurostar runs almost hourly between London and Paris (18-21 times a day).
* Eurostar also serves Ashford, Calais-Frethun, Lille, and Disneyland Paris, with seasonal service to the Alpine towns of Moutiers and Bourg St. Maurice.
* Eurostar features three classes of service: Premium First (London-Paris only, with a dedicated car and high level of service); first class (includes complimentary food and beverages); and standard class (for comfort and convenience).
[FIGURE 12-8 OMITTED]
ES: Offers a variety of city combinations in Italy, including Rome to Florence in just one hour, 30 minutes.
ICE: Connects all major German cities, plus parts of Austria and Switzerland.
Riviera Day Trains: International trains operating between the French Riviera Italy and Switzerland.
Spanish Trains: Madrid to Seville.
TGV: Serving over 150 cities in France and Switzerland. This train holds the world speed record at 320 mph!
Talgo 200: Extends the AVE line from Madrid to Malaga and Cadiz in five hours or less.
Thalys: Links Paris to Brussels, Cologne, Dusseldorf, and Amsterdam.
EUROPEAN TIMETABLES The best source of information about European rail service is the Thomas Cook European Timetable. It is published monthly and can be purchased by subscription or by single issue from http://www. thomascookpublishing.com. Travel counselors can utilize a Web site that specializes in rail products: http://ra. railagent.com. Commission checks are sent immediately with each booking. According to its developers, Railagent. com is intended to be a one-stop worldwide rail distribution system offering point-to-point tickets and rail passes in Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
For travelers and travel professionals, comprehensive worldwide timetables, instant booking, and payment are also available at http://www.internationaltrainline.com. The site includes European rail and individual country rail passes; rail travel in Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.
Cook's Timetable contains schedules for European trains and connecting ferry/bus routes, features of the trains and maps of the train routes, plus additional information such as visa requirements and time zones.
EQUIPMENT AND ACCOMMODATIONS ON EUROPEAN TRAINS Seating on European trains is divided into first- and second-class sections. First class is more expensive than second class and offers the passenger more room and usually fewer passengers.
Intracountry trains rarely need to travel overnight, so sleeping accommodations are usually only found on long-distance trains. For overnight trips, the following types of sleeping accommodations are available: second-class couchette, first-class couchette, first-class bedrooms, or second-class bedrooms.
The couchette is an open bunk with pillow and blanket. For a small charge, you have room to stretch out, but no privacy. In a second-class couchette, there are six couchettes per compartment, three on each side of the aisle. In a first-class couchette, there are four couchettes per compartment, two on each side of the aisle. Couchettes are reserved without regard to sex of the individuals occupying them.
First-class bedrooms sleep one or two passengers; second-class bedrooms sleep two or three. All bedrooms have a washstand. Toilets are located at either end of the car (look for "WC" or water closet).
RESERVATIONS ON EUROPEAN TRAINS Seat reservations are not required on many European trains, and an additional fee is charged when a seat reservation is made. This fee is not refundable should the passenger have a change of plans. Reservations are recommended, however, during holiday periods, in the summer, or if the trip exceeds two hours. It is not possible to make a reservation on some trains; on other trains, reservations are mandatory. Reservations are required on the Rapidos in Italy, Express trains in Spain, and the TGV in France. It is absolutely necessary to make advance reservations for bedrooms or couchette accommodations.
FOOD SERVICE ON EUROPEAN TRAINS Most long-distance trains serve food onboard. Dining cars require a reservation. Other food service options include a self-service meal in a buffet car or a snack in the bar car. There are also vendors who roll miniselections of snacks and sandwiches past your seat on the train.
At many stations en route, there are buffets where passengers can dine if they are changing trains. You may find vendors selling food and drink through the train windows as the train rolls through a station. It is also common to see passengers who have packed a lunch and brought it onboard with them. Bottled drinking water is a good idea because some trains do not have potable water available.
FARES From the earlier discussion of Amtrak fares, you remember that the basic fare buys a coach seat. This is comparable to second class in Europe. On Amtrak, an additional accommodation charge buys club car seating or a sleeping accommodation. In Europe, this additional charge, which is usually a percentage increase, buys first-class seating. Many of the premier long-distance trains also charge a supplement above basic fares. Sleeping accommodations are, of course, an extra charge. As a general rule, you should usually expect to pay more for comfort and speed.
Most European railroads offer many discounted fares. If your client is traveling in only one country, check with that railroad for its discount plans. Many individual countries have passes for travel within that country. If the itinerary calls for several countries to be visited, the Eurailpass is probably the best buy, rather than piecing together several point-to-point tickets or rail passes from several different countries.
EURAILPASS AND FLEXIPASS The Eurailpass is good for unlimited first-class train travel for adults (second-class for youth) in 17 countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. It can be purchased as a consecutive-day pass or a Flexipass. The consecutive-day pass is valid for a number of days (e.g., 15 or 21 days) in a row. The Flexipass, on the other hand, allows travel within a time period, such as five days within a two-month period.
The Eurail Select Pass provides unlimited rail travel in the five most popular countriesGermany, Switzerland, France, Italy, and Spain. A traveler may choose 5, 6, 8, 10, or 15 days of first-class travel (second-class for youth) within a two-month period. For an extra fee, two additional countries from a list of associated countries may be added.
Eurailpass must be purchased in North America. To validate the pass, it must be presented at a ticket window prior to the first journey.
A rail pass does not guarantee a seat. Most trains are open seating and a seat reservation is not mandatory. Seat reservations are required on most high-speed trains, such as the TGV, and on many long-distance trains. It is also wise to consider making a seat reservation for travel during peak travel periods. Sleepers or couchettes always require advance reservations and additional charges.
The Eurailpass is an excellent buy for travelers planning to visit several European countries. Its advantages include unlimited travel on more than 100,000 miles of rail lines, plus the ability to go where and when desired. Because the pass is all you need to travel, there is no need to wait in line at stations to get tickets for the next leg of the trip. European railroads service the smallest hamlets to the largest tourist spots, and the passenger has an unequaled opportunity to enjoy the scenery and meet the local people when traveling by train. The passes are commissionable at 10 percent to travel counselors.
An information-packed Web site is http://www.rail europe.com. Rail Europe is a distributor of European rail products in North America. Their Web site contains information on rail passes, point-to-point tickets, the Eurostar channel train, and rail networks of every European country. Find train schedules, destinations, frequencies, fares, and much more.
BRITRAIL PASS You may have noticed that England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are excluded from the Eurailpass. British Railways offers its own BritRail pass for travel in the United Kingdom.
Like the Eurailpass, a BritRail pass is flexible and economical for travel on British Rails' 15,000 daily trains. The pass must be purchased outside of Great Britain.
The BritRail pass may be purchased for 4 days, 8 days, 15 days, 22 days, or one month for either first-class or standard travel. Seat reservations are additional and, although not usually required, reservations are recommended for travel on certain peak days, holidays, and summer Saturdays. Supplements for overnight accommodations are a flat fee per person. Reservations for overnight accommodations are required, and it is recommended that these be made well in advance of travel.
British Rail offers special prices for three, four, or seven days of unlimited travel around London by bus or on the "Tube" (underground or subway). This pass is called the London Plus Pass. Escorted rail tours through England, Scotland, and Wales, as well as sailing trips to Ireland and the Continent, a Paris adventure, and the BritFrance Railpass are more of the options offered by British Rail. The BritRail pass is commissionable.
Trains in Japan
The Japanese National Railway is known for its size, speed, and service. In a country about the size of California, there are 26,000 trains a day. Travel on any express train requires payment of a surcharge (which is refunded if the train arrives at its destination more than two hours late).
Japan's most famous Express trains are the Shinkansen or "Bullet Trains." Shinkansen trains travel at speeds of 300 kilometers per hour, and in nearly 40 years of service, serious accidents are very rare. While carrying over 6 billion passengers during those 40 years, these trains also manage to be extremely punctual.
An extensive network of Limited Express (L'EX) trains link the Shinkansen with many other cities. Japan Railways (and other companies) operate at least 30,000 trains daily. In urban areas you will find crowded but efficient commuter lines that link suburbs with downtown areas. In metropolitan areas, trains run with astonishing frequency. For example, on the Yamanote Line, a loop line circling downtown Tokyo, trains run every three minutes, all day. Services on Bullet Trains include dining cars as well as food vendors who sell both Japanese and "western" food.
Long-distance trains in Japan have sleeping accommodations in addition to seating. Class A consists of roomettes for one person and double compartments. Class B provides two-berth and three-berth compartments.
The traveler on Japan's rail system may choose from an array of discounted fares or a Japan Railpass. The Railpass, which must be purchased outside of Japan, allows unlimited travel on trains, buses, and ferries of the Japanese National Railway. Passes are valid for 7, 14, or 21 days. Tickets and rail passes are commissionable to travel counselors.
PRIVATE RAIL CARS AND PRIVATE LUXURY TRAINS
The early to mid-1900s were a period of romance and glamour for the railroads. Today, rail enthusiasts are purchasing and restoring some of the most elegant of the equipment from this era to its original, historic beauty. Privately owned rail cars and entire trains can now be enjoyed by anyone seeking to relive these days of luxury rail travel. An example of one of these projects is the American Orient Express. This train is a collection of vintage cars assembled from museums and private collections throughout America. Since 1997, these beautifully restored cars have made several scheduled trips annually with tours that include Colonial Mexico and the Copper Canyon, the American Southwest, National Parks of the west, the antebellum South, and a coastal culinary adventure. Although this type of experience will not appeal to the price conscious, it is becoming increasingly popular not only for its history, but also for the elegance and excellent service that are part of the trip.
Luxurious train travel is not exclusively American, nor is it new. Perhaps the most famous train in the world, the Orient Express, was known as the ultimate in luxury. Its first journey was made in 1883 from Paris to Istanbul, an 1,800-mile trip that took almost four days! Due to the general decline in interest in rail travel, the Orient Express made its final run in 1977. It has since been returned to its original splendor and is now a part of the Orient Express Hotels, Ltd. Group. In addition to the Venice-to-London rail routes, Orient Express operates the Royal Scotsman luxury rail in Scotland, the Eastern and Oriental Express in southeast Asia, rail journeys through Peru, and several luxury rail trips in the United Kingdom.
South Africa's Blue Train is so named because of its sapphire-blue carriages. Its history goes back to the 1880s, but it became today's splendid luxury train in 1997. Since then, it has won "World's Leading Luxury Train" four consecutive years.
The train's most frequent route is between Pretoria and Cape Town, where on average it travels three times a week. This journey is a distance of about 1,000 miles through some breathtaking scenery. The Blue Train also operates between Pretoria and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth (Garden Route), and Pretoria and Hoedspruit in Mpumalanga/Eastern Transvaal (Valley of the Olifants/Safari land) on a less-frequent basis.
Approximately 80 passengers can be accommodated on each train. Each suite has its own shower or bath, and the beds have been custom designed for the Blue Train. An interesting feature of the train is a camera mounted on the engine that broadcasts "engineer's eye" pictures to a wide screen in the Club Car.
There are many other luxury and specialty trains throughout the world. The Andalusian Express, a restored luxury train, makes two- and three-day trips beginning and ending in Barcelona, Spain, and including the Basque country. The Great South Pacific Express travels Eastern Australia and offers its passengers great comfort and incomparable viewing of Australia's wild treasures such as kangaroos, crocodiles, Great Barrier Reef, tropical birds, and urban centers as well. Although not luxury service, the Flam Line in Norway is interesting because it is a tribute to modern engineering. Eighty percent of the Flam railway has a gradient of 55 percent, and there are 20 tunnels, many constructed as loops winding in and out of mountains. Each carriage is equipped with five different brakes, each capable of stopping the entire train!
? What Would You Do? Michele and her sister Megan really want to take the train from their home in Chicago to Seattle. When you tell them it will take two nights on the train each way, they decide they can't take that much time. What would you do? 1. What is the objection that Michele and Megan have with the trip you offered them? 2. Because Michele and Megan have expressed this objection, would you assume they are not interested in taking Amtrak and end the conversation? 3. What is another way you could handle this objection? 4. How could you arrange a trip for Michele and Megan so it doesn't take them as much time, but still uses Amtrak? ? What Would You Do? Mr. and Mrs. Alan Kanervo have asked you to plan an Amtrak trip for them. They wish to depart from Chicago on July 14, stopping in St. Paul, MN, to visit Mrs. Kanervo's brother for two days and going on to Seattle where they plan to stay for five days. On their return trip, they would like to stop in Salt Lake City to visit their granddaughter before returning to Chicago. They must be back in Chicago by July 31. What would you do? 1. What type of Amtrak fare do you recommend for this trip? Why did you choose this fare? 2. The Kanervos ask you to price both coach accommodations and the least expensive sleeping accommodation. Which type of sleeping accommodation do you recommend? Why? 3. Can the fare you recommended in question 1 be combined with the sleeper? What is the total cost for their Amtrak trip? 4. Are meals included in the fare you recommended in question 1? Are meals included in the sleeping accommodation you recommended in question 2?
Trains are a travel option that will not appeal to everyone, just as a cruise will not appeal to every traveler. However, rail travel is worth considering for a number of reasons. No matter what country you may be in, train travel is a great way to see the local sights and meet the local people. Train travel also offers scenic experiences that are not available by any other mode of transport.
Some trains, such as Amtrak's Metroliner and Acela, are extremely practical and efficient. Often trains are the better economic alternative to other forms of transportation. Still other trains are known for the richness of their tradition and service. History buffs, and others, relish the refurbished trains that take us back to the luxury age of train travel.
Fares, accommodations, and services vary depending on the part of the world in which you are traveling. In general, rail passengers can expect to find coach travel as well as sleeping accommodations. The distance the train travels often dictates the type of accommodations that are available. For example, the longer the distance, the more likely it is that the train carries sleeping cars.
All Amtrak trains, and most of the world's trains, offer food service, from full dining car service to lounge cars with snacks and sometimes both. Again, the distance the train travels usually dictates the type of food service available.
Amtrak's climbing ridership and record-breaking revenues are evidence that many of today's travelers are seeking alternatives. There is perhaps no other form of transportation that brings the traveler closer to the spirit of history and of going places.
For additional Travel and Tourism resources, go to http://www.hospitality-tourism.delmar.com.
EXERCISE 12-1 Amtrak Case Study
Mr. and Mrs. Birany heard from their neighbor about a trip they took "out west" on Amtrak. Mrs. Birany contacts her travel consultant for more information. These are her questions:
1. Can we go from Milwaukee to Seattle on the train?
2. How long will it take to get there?
3. Do we have to sit up the whole way or are there beds?
4. Do we have to bring our own food?
Go to http://www.amtrak.com to answer these questions. You may also order Amtrak timetables and other materials from the Web site.
EXERCISE 12-2 Amtrak Fares
Use the fare display below to answer the questions in this exercise.
EXERCISE 12-2 Amtrak Fares Use the fare display below to answer the questions in this exercise. CHILAX09SEP TH 09SEP 320P FARES VALID CHI-LAX ONE WAY ACCOMMODATION CHARGE Roomette 322.00 Bedroom 661.00 Accessible Bedroom 432.00 Family Bedroom 493.00 FULL RAIL FARE CALCULATED AMOUNT MAX LSTTVL 1 142.00 OW 180 07Mar NOT AVAILABLE 1JUN-31AUG 2 174.00 OW 180 07Mar ONE-WAY SPECIAL FARE 3 259.00 OW 45 08Sep ONE-WAY REGULAR FARE 4 299.00 ZN 45 23Oct NO TRVL 16JUN-20AUG 15DEC-2JAN 5 359.00 ZN 45 23Oct ALL-YEAR EXPLORE AMERICA
1. A family bedroom (FB) is $493. The rail fare is $259. How much will it cost Mr. and Mrs. Lucas and their two children, ages 6 and 10, to travel one-way between Chicago and Los Angeles in a family bedroom?--
2. Does the fare you gave to the Lucas family include meals?--
3. If the Lucas family decides to take their one-year-old son, Joe, is there an additional rail fare?--
4. Describe the differences between a family bedroom and a bedroom to Mr. and Mrs. Lucas.--
5. What is the price difference between a family bedroom and a bedroom?--
6. Using the Explore America fare between Chicago and Los Angeles allows round-trip travel with three stopovers for $359. Could Mr. and Mrs. Lucas use this promotional fare for their trip in July? Why or why not?--
7. If their date of travel is March 15, could the Lucas family use the special one-way rail fare of $174? Why or why not?--
1. What is the name of the Amtrak service that carries both passengers and automobiles?--Between what two cities does this service operate?
2. List four features of the Eurailpass:
3. When traveling on a long-distance train in the United States, is it necessary to get off the train to eat meals?--
4. The Japanese National Railway is famous for its--trains that often travel at speeds of 156 mph.
5. What city is Amtrak's "hub" in the Midwest?--
6. High-speed rail corridors are a major focus for Amtrak. What is the name of the all-electric train that services the corridor between Boston and New York?--
7. Does the price of a sleeping accommodation on Amtrak include meals?--
8. Describe the difference between a standard bedroom and a family bedroom on Amtrak's Superliner equipment.--
9. If the one-way rail fare between Los Angeles and Seattle is $265 per person and the price of a deluxe bedroom is $250 each way, what is the total cost for two adults to travel round-trip between these cities in the deluxe bedroom?--
10. Using the fares given in question 13, what is the cost for one adult and a 12-year-old child?--
11. What is the name of the pass that allows rail travel on over 28,000 miles of railways in the United States and Canada?--
12. Does the Eurailpass guarantee a seat on any train?--
13. Name the luxury train that travels between Venice and London.--
14. List three reasons to travel by rail.--
TABLE 12-1 Departing: Milwaukee, WI (MKE) to East Glacier Park, MT (GPK) Service Departs Arrives Duration 7 Empire Milwaukee, East Glacier 27hr 50mn Builder WI (MKE) Park, MT (GPK) 3:55 PM 10-Aug 6:45 pm 11-Aug Service Amenities Seats/Rooms 7 Empire Checked baggage, 2 Reserved Builder Dining Car, Coach Seats Lounge, Non-smoking, Sleeping cars FIGURE 12-7 Amtrak Superliner sleeping accomodations are similar, but vary from Viewliner Train's accommodations. Amtrak Sleeping Accommodations Recommended Number On Superliner Trains Capacity of Beds Roomette ** 2 Adult Bedroom ** 2 Adult Bedroom Suite **** 4 Adult Family Bedroom **** 2 Adult 2 Child Accessible Bedroom ** 2 Adult On Viewliner Trains Roomette ** 2 Adult Bedroom ** 2 Adult Bedroom Suite **** 4 Adult Accessible Bedroom ** 2 Adult In-room In-room On Superliner Trains Toilet Shower Roomette none none Bedroom 1 1 Bedroom Suite 2 2 Family Bedroom none none Accessible Bedroom 1 none On Viewliner Trains Roomette 1 none Bedroom 1 1 Bedroom Suite 2 2 Accessible Bedroom 1 none
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|Title Annotation:||Section IV Selling Other Travel Products and Services|
|Author:||Gorham, Ginger; Rice, Susan|
|Publication:||Travel Perspectives, A Guide to Becoming a Travel Professional|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2007|
|Previous Article:||Chapter 11 Rental cars.|
|Next Article:||Chapter 13 Consolidators, charters, group sales, and travel insurance.|