Chapter 9: Traveling by rail.
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 trains, 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.
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.
* use the Amtrak timetable.
* understand the types of fares available on Amtrak.
* sell Amtrak vacations as a source of additional revenue.
* understand railroads around the world and their most interesting features, fares, and discounts.
Japanese National Railway
North America Rail Pass
Sierra Madre Express
VIA Rail Canada
SELLING RAIL TRAVEL
Trains conjure up visions of nostalgia for a more leisurely era. Traveling by train is, indeed, nostalgic--plus 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. Amtrak's Metroliner service between New York and Washington, DC, is an excellent example of this. The air travel time between New York and Washington, DC, is approximately 1 1/4 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 are often much 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.
In this chapter, we focus on the travel counselor's role in providing information and selling the more well-known rail products; the most detailed information is on Amtrak. Because there are many similarities in rail travel around the world, understanding Amtrak should help you to understand other railroads, too. There are also many excellent resources available to help the traveler or the travel counselor understand rail travel.
AMTRAK: A BRIEF HISTORY
The number of railroad passengers showed an enormous decline between 1929 and 1970. In response to this disastrous decline, 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 inter-city passenger trains (excluding commuter trains) under contracts with the nation's railroads.
On May 1, 1971, Amtrak began operation of inter-city passenger trains in the United States. Amtrak is financed by a combination of earned revenues from passenger service operation and federal government assistance.
During its existence, Amtrak revenues and service have shown continuing improvements. The fleet has been upgraded, and reservation and ticketing systems are sophisticated and efficient. Yet, Amtrak consistently loses money, its continued existence dependent upon government assistance. To put this in perspective, it is important to note that, currently, no national railroad system in the world covers all its operating costs without government assistance.
Travel counselors are an important marketing outlet for Amtrak. Amtrak has also become increasingly easy for the travel counselor to sell because it can be reserved through the major airline computer reservation systems and is a member carrier of the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC). In the next sections of this chapter, we focus on the Amtrak route system, equipment and accommodation, fares, reservations, ticketing, and hotel and tour packages.
THE AMTRAK ROUTE SYSTEM
Amtrak offers over 500 destinations. Nearly 22,000 miles of track makes this possible (see Figure 9-1). Except in the Northeast Corridor (and a few other short segments throughout the country) where Amtrak owns the track, Amtrak uses tracks belonging to other railroads. These railroads, not Amtrak, are responsible for the condition of the roadbed and the flow of traffic. As a result, Amtrak sometimes faces less than optimum track conditions and train speeds.
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.
Short-distance trains are those that travel less than 600 miles per trip. These trains, also called corridor trains, are often unreserved and operate only coaches and short-order food service cars.
Like the airlines, 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 9-1, that from Chicago you can travel east, south, west, northwest, and northeast--or to almost anywhere on the Amtrak system.
For detailed information on the Amtrak route system, the Amtrak National Timetable is the best resource to use. Even though schedule information is easily accessible through your airline computer, details on such things as exact routings, train names, and service are lacking. The timetable should be a constant companion to your airline computer.
Look carefully at Figure 9-2, "How to Use the Timetable." 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. You may obtain your own timetable by visiting an Amtrak station in your city, or by calling Amtrak at 1-800-USA-RAIL.
Note on the sample provided that the Silver Star, train number 91, departs from New York, N.Y. 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.
corridor train Amtrak trains that have a running time of less than six hours. timetable A publication of departure and arrival times for various forms of transportation.
Amtrak operates a variety of equipment and onboard services on every train. The type of equipment Amtrak operates 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.
A short-distance train, or corridor train, which has a running time of less than six hours, has coach cars and cafe cars. Seating on some corridor trains is unreserved coach; the passenger simply purchases a ticket and boards the train. Other corridor trains offer reserved coach seating, with business- and first-class seating available. Metroliners are an example of a corridor train available at selected stations between Washington, DC, and New York.
The development of high-speed rail corridors has become 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 service. You may want to refer to Amtrak's Web site at <http:// www.acela.com> for the latest information about these high speed trains. European-style Talgo trains are bringing faster speeds to corridor service in the Northwest United States. Not only are these trains high-speed, but they also have state-of-the-art equipment that offers travelers the amenities they have come to expect, such as first- and business-class seating, pub-like cafe cars with TV news, and electrical outlets at each seat to accommodate laptop computers.
[FIGURE 9-1 OMITTED]
[FIGURE 9-2 OMITTED]
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 on-board experiences as an important part of their vacation are the typical overnight passenger. In addition to coach service, long-distance trains offer dining cars with complete meal service (see Figure 9-3), lounge cars, and a variety of sleeping rooms. 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 his own window. In the western United States, bi-level Superliner equipment is available.
[FIGURE 9-3 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 longdistance train trip.
[FIGURE 9-4 OMITTED]
[FIGURE 9-5 OMITTED]
All sleeping accommodations provide comfortable seats that convert to beds, a sliding door for privacy, and a private window on the world. Some types of rooms have a sink and toilet, some have sink, toilet, and shower. There are also sleeping rooms, such as the family bedroom, that do not have sink, toilet, or shower. Restroom facilities are located at the end of each car for rooms that do not provide these facilities. Figures 9-4 and 9-5 are typical of the types of sleeping rooms found on Superliner and Viewliner trains.
Web Activity Mr. and Mrs. Birany heard from their neighbor about Amtrak's Viewliner equipment and how nice it is. They ask you which Amtrak trains have Viewliner and what this equipment is like. You have searched the agency for information on Amtrak equipment, but have come up empty. Visit Amtrak's Web site at http://www.amtrak.com and research Viewliner equipment for Mr. and Mrs. Birany. Metroliner Amtrak's high-speed electric train service that operates in the Northeast Corridor. Acela Amtrak's all electric high-speed (up to 150 m.p.h.) trains that operate in the Northeast Corridor. Talgo train European styled, high-speed trains that serve corridors in the Northwestern United States. Viewliner Amtrak equipment used on routes in the Eastern United States. Superliner Bi-level Amtrak equipment that operates on routes west of Chicago.
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, or motorcycles, passengers and their 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 bi-level lounge car and feature movies. Automobiles are protected in enclosed car carriers.
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.
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 Most of Amtrak's stations are located in center city areas. They vary considerably in size and quality. Many are quite historic; others are new and modern. Information on most Amtrak stations is available in your airline computer Direct Reference System or by accessing Amtrak's Web site at <http://www.amtrak.com>.
Auto Train A special Amtrak train, operating between Lorton, VA, and Sanford, FL, that transports automobiles and motorcycles in addition to passengers.
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 for children, students, senior citizens, and persons with disabilities. There are promotional fares like the Explore America fare. There are group fares and special fares to conventions. Discounts are available for members of the AAA and the AARP. 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. "Rail Sale" on-line discounts can be found on the Amtrak Web site, <http://www.amtrak.com>. Rail Sale fares are posted every Monday and offer consumers up to 70 percent discounts on tickets booked on line.
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 Deluxe 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 x 2 passengers x $300 x $250 for the room = $550).
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 offers families some great opportunities to save with their discounted fares for children. Children aged 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 travels free with each ticketed adult. This discount applies any day, all year.
The Explore America fare is one of Amtrak's most popular promotional fares. This fare is based on travel within four geographic zones of the United States. Travel within any zone or combination of zones is a fixed price. Three stopovers are permitted, and travel must be completed within 45 days. The fixed fare is for coach seating, but sleeping accommodations may be added. The Explore America fare is a limited inventory fare. In other words, only a limited number of seats on each train are sold at this discounted rate. Advance purchase is not required, but it is strongly recommended, especially for travel during summer months.
promotional fare Special fares offered by airlines, Amtrak, and others that provide incentives to travel on specified days or to specified locations. rail fare The basic fare paid on Amtrak for travel in coach or as an add-on for first-class travel. Explore America An Amtrak fare that is purchased for travel within one, two, three, or four zones. Other features include up to three stopovers, 30 or 45 days to complete travel, and no advance purchase is required.
BOOKING AND TICKETING AMTRAK RESERVATIONS
Reservations are always required for sleeping accommodations, business class, custom 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. Making a reservation for Amtrak travel is as easy as accessing an airline CRS. A reservation on Amtrak is completed much the same as an airline reservation, and Amtrak tickets are printed on the agency's ticket printer or they may be handwritten.
Amtrak offers a full array of vacation packages to suit individual tastes and interests, and because vacation packages are commissionable to travel counselors at 10 to 15 percent, it is wise to be knowledgeable about this facet of Amtrak. Choose from short stays, week-long holidays, air-rail combinations, or complete tours that include rail, hotel accommodations, sightseeing tours, and tickets and special passes to popular attractions. Big cities, small towns, national parks, and other popular attractions are all accessible by Amtrak.
Although not new, Amtrak's Air-Rail plans have become increasingly popular in the last several years. These plans combine the advantages of train travel and the benefits of flying into one completely unique vacation. It is a perfect option for the client who wants the adventure of train travel, but does not have the luxury of time. The traveler may start his journey by train and fly United Airlines on his return trip, or vice versa. Either way, he receives the advantage of a round-trip fare, and the convenience of a quick trip one-way.
Another interesting combination is available between Amtrak and Canada's rail system, VIA Rail Canada. The two companies have joined together to offer travelers 28,000 miles of scenic railways in the United States and Canada. The North America Rail Pass features unlimited travel to over 900 destinations in the two countries, and is valid for 30 consecutive days. Prices start at about $450 ($625 Canadian dollars) for travel during offpeak times. Reservations are required and tickets must be obtained for each segment of the trip.
Detailed information and itineraries for Amtrak vacation packages can be found in Amtrak's Travel Planner, which is available at no charge from Amtrak. Information and bookings can be obtained by calling 1-800-321-9887.
Air-Rail A combination of transportation that incorporates the advantages of train travel with the benefits of air travel. Usually offered as part of a unique vacation package, this feature provides the cost saving benefit of a round-trip fare. VIA Rail Canada The passenger rail system of Canada. North America Rail Pass A type of rail ticket that allows for unlimited coach rail travel within the United States over a stated period of days. Stopovers are restricted and reservations are mandatory.
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 all 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. Good for 30 days of unlimited train travel on the VIA Rail system, this pass is an inexpensive and popular way to travel Canada.
Amtrak offers service into Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. Crossing the border into Canada by train requires customs inspections and identification. U.S. citizens are not required to have a passport, but passengers must carry proof of citizenship such as a passport, birth certificate, or naturalization certificate. Usually, customs officials board the train. Passengers may be asked to identify and open their baggage.
Canada's most famous train is the Canadian between Toronto and Vancouver. Passengers enjoy three days and nights aboard beautifully restored 1950s art-deco styled equipment. Eastern Canada has two scenic routes: The Ocean travels from Montreal to Halifax, and The Chaleur travels from Montreal to Gaspe for lunch. At Gaspe, boat tours to the renowned wilderness park area of Bonaventure Island are very popular.
National Railways of Mexico
Mexican trains have a reputation of being somewhat slow and unreliable, but for those seeking adventure, the trip through Mexico's Copper Canyon on the Sierra Madre Express is worth some inconvenience. The more or less thirteen-hour trip over the Sierra Madre includes 86 tunnels, 39 bridges, and hairpin turns that leave passengers breathless. Reservations on Mexican trains are necessary for sleepers and for first-class reserved seats.
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.
A number of high-speed luxury trains travel between major cities of Europe. These trains must meet strict criteria of cleanliness, punctuality, and onboard service, and must be air conditioned.
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. TEE trains are first class only. Intercity trains and the TGV carry both first- and second-class cars.
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 mini-selections of snacks and sandwiches past your seat on the train.
At many stations en route, there are buffets where passenger 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 many 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 long-distance trains, such as the TEE or intercity 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 only in one country, check with that railroad for its discount plans. Individual countries have passes for travel within that country. If the itinerary calls for several countries to be visited, the Eurailpass or Europass are probably the best buy, rather than piecing together several point-topoint tickets or rail passes from several different countries.
EURAILPASS AND EUROPASS 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 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 Europass provides unlimited rail travel in the five most popular countries--Germany, 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 and Europass must be purchased in North America. For both types of rail passes, travel must begin within three months of the date the pass was issued. To validate the pass, it must be presented at a ticket window prior to the first journey. Children under age four travel free; children ages 4 to 12 pay half for the pass, but are not entitled to a seat when trains are crowded. Youth fares are for persons age 13 to 25. Generally, youth fares are for second-class travel and child fares are for first-class travel.
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 unequalled opportunity to enjoy the scenery and meet the local people when traveling by train.
The official Eurail Web site is <http://www.eurail.com>.
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 8 days, 15 days, 22 days, or one month for either first-class or economy 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.
Young adults ages 16 through 25 can travel economy class at substantial savings using the BritRail Youth Pass, and travelers over age 60 can travel first class on a special reduced-rate pass. Also available is the BritRail Flexipass that allows for 4, 8, or 15 days of travel within a two-month period.
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 Visitor Travelcard.
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. Four classes of trains are available in Japan: Super-Express, Limited Express, Ordinary Express, and Local. 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). All express trains have at least one Green Car that has seating for an additional charge.
Japan's most famous Super Express trains are the Shinkansen or "Bullet Trains." Traveling at speeds of 156 m.p.h., these trains are extremely punctual and serious accidents are rare. 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 at 8 percent to travel counselors.
Canrailpass A 30-day rail pass for unlimited train travel on Canada's Via Rail system. Sierra Madre Express The Mexican train that passes through the Copper Canyon. Eurailpass A type of rail ticket that is valid in several European countries for a set number of days with unlimited stopover opportunities. Flexipass A rail pass offered by European Rail that permits rail travel for a specified number of days. Europass A type of rail ticket that provides unlimited rail travel in five of the most popular European countries within a two-month period. Japanese National Railway The railroad system that is operated by the government of Japan.
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 15 vintage cars assembled from museums and private collections throughout America. After nearly $15 million in restorations, the train makes several scheduled trips annually with itineraries throughout the United States. 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, a 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 by businessman James B. Sherwood, and now travels between Venice and London. It is now known as the Venice-Simplon-Orient Express.
South Africa's Blue Train travels between Pretoria and Cape Town, a distance of about 1,000 miles. Renowned for its luxury, the train passes through some breathtaking scenery in the Hex River Valley. It's distinctive sapphire-blue carriages first appeared in 1923.
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 Eastern & Oriental Express explores Singapore, Bangkok, and Chiang Mai and is renowned for its elegance and comfort. The entire train is air conditioned and offers spacious accommodations. 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? 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, going on to Seattle where they plan to stay for 5 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? ? 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?
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, 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.
Amtrak Sleeping Accommodations Bi-level Viewliner Sleeper Superliner Sleeper Single-level Sleeper Standard Bedroom Standard Bedroom Roomette Sleeps 1; Sleeps 2; toilet Sleeps 2; no toilet toilet and sink and sink facilities Accessible Bedroom Sleeps 2; specially Accessible Bedroom Bedroom Sleeps 2; equipped for Same as Viewliner toilet and sink handicapped traveler; sink, toilet, and shower Deluxe Bedroom Deluxe Bedroom Same Sleeps 2; sink, as Viewliner toilet, and shower Family Bedroom Sleeps 5; no toilet facilities in room
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|Title Annotation:||Section III: Selling Other Travel Products and Services|
|Publication:||A Guide to Becoming a Travel Professional|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2005|
|Previous Article:||Chapter 8: Accommodations and rental cars.|
|Next Article:||Chapter 10: Consolidators, charters, group sales, and insurance.|