If you are visiting the Northeastern Corridor (NEC) or moving to the area and considering your options for commuting to work, Amtrak trains are a fantastic consideration. How fast does the Amtrak Northeast Regional go, and is it the best option for your travel needs? That depends on your reason for travel, the frequency with which you will travel, and your own unique circumstances.
About the Region
According to Amtrak, the company owns nearly 80% of the entire NEC, and its reach includes millions of intercity riders, eight distinct commuter lines, and six freight lines. More than 260 million passenger trips take place on Amtrak trains across the NEC every year, and they project that by 2040, this number will surpass half a billion. As such, constant improvements are being made to the rail lines along the NEC, including tunnel replacements, new tunnel projects, bridges, and track updates and replacements. Rarely, these updates can impact travel times, but Amtrak provides relevant data on its website and via the app to travelers who book tickets.
What is the Amtrak Northeast Regional Train?
The Amtrak Northeast Regional Train runs from Boston, Massachusetts to Norfolk, Virginia and has 24 distinct stops along the way serving 53 train stations. The total trip from one end of the route to the other is 12 hours and 30 minutes, and because numerous trains run this route, there are multiple departure times throughout the day. Whether you need to travel along the East Coast for business or pleasure, the Amtrak Northeast Regional Train makes it easier than ever.
How Fast Does the Amtrak Northeast Regional Go?
The highest speed that the Amtrak Northeast Regional train can travel is 125 miles per hour, but it should be noted that the train only reaches this speed for very short durations during the route. The average speed for the Amtrak Northeast Regional is just under 60 miles per hour.
Comparatively, the Amtrak Acela Express travels at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour with an average of about 70 miles per hour, but because there are less frequent stops and the route is significantly shorter, travel times are reduced for most riders.
Northeast Regional vs. Acela: Which is Right for You?
If you are looking for the fastest train travel time along the Northeastern Corridor, there’s no doubt that the Amtrak Acela Express train will be your best bet. It has only 13 intermediate stops and seven major destinations. If you need to travel from Boston, Massachusetts to Washington, DC, The Acela will get you there in about half the time in most situations.
On the other hand, if affordability is your main concern, the Northeast Regional will be your best option. It is significantly more affordable, with comparable upgrades from the Regional to the Acela averaging about $200 per trip. If you are on a budget, or if you are looking for the most affordable option to commute daily by train, the Regional train will save you hundreds of dollars every month.
Amtrak Northeast Regional Amenities
The Amtrak Northeast Regional train system provides several amenities and accommodations depending primarily on the seat class you choose. There are several options available, including Coach Class, Business Class, and several Viewliner Room options, as well.
- Coach Class offers you all the basics, including reclining seats, seat trays, reading lights, and electric outlets at each seat. There are restrooms located inside each car for convenience, as well.
- Business Class provides extra legroom, bigger tray tables, more comfortable seating, complementary non-alcoholic beverages, and reserved seating on some northeastern routes.
- Viewliner Rooms offer a private experience that is ideal for longer trips. There are several room types available on trains 65, 66, and 67 only:
- Viewliner Roomette: The Roomette offers two comfortable seats in the daytime, two berths at night for sleeping, quality bedding and linens, and a private restroom and shower in the car. It also boasts a sleeping car attendant, lounge access, priority boarding, and complementary meals for up to two adults.
- Viewliner Bedroom: The Bedroom is twice the size of a Roomette and offers a sofa and chair during the day as well as upper and lower berths during the night. It boasts all of the same perks as the Roomette with a shower, sink, and restrooms located in the room itself. It’s also ideal for two adults who prefer an even more private and comfortable setting.
- Viewliner Bedroom Suite: The Bedroom Suite is perfect for as many as four adults with twice the space of the Bedroom and four times the space of the Roomette. It includes the same perks as the Bedroom but has more space and two in-room sinks, restrooms, and showers.
- Accessible Bedroom: Amtrak also offers an accessible bedroom, which is a wheelchair-accessible version of the Bedroom intended for up to two adults. It includes the same amenities as the Bedroom.
Amtrak Guest Rewards
Travelers who utilize the Northeast Regional trains have access to the Amtrak Guest Rewards program, which can be highly beneficial to those who travel frequently. Essentially, as you buy tickets and travel, you will earn points, and you can later redeem those points for a variety of perks and amenities.
Traveling the Northeast Regional line earns 2 points per $1 spent, and business class travelers get a 25% earnings bonus. These points can also be purchased or shared, and they can be earned in numerous hotels and car rental locations across the nation, too. Points can be redeemed for free trips via Amtrak trains, but there’s far more available to Guest Rewards members. Points can be used toward hotels, car rentals, cruises, and other promotions, as well as for dining out, seeing a movie, or even going to a Broadway show. You can even trade your points for gift cards to all of your favorite stores, whether you love fashion or home decor.
Amtrak Guest Rewards provides a range of other benefits, too, through its Tier Qualifying Points program. The more points you accrue during a calendar year, the higher your tier will climb, and the more you can earn and redeem. All Guest Rewards members get:
- 2 points per dollar on Amtrak travel;
- 25% points bonus on business class travel and Acela business class travel;
- 50% points bonus on Acela first class travel; and
- Opportunities to earn points from partner businesses.
There are three tiers above the basic member tier, and climbing through these earns you additional perks such as a 25% to 100% points bonus on all Amtrak travel, anywhere from two to four single-class upgrades per year, up to 2 companion coupons per hear, and even a priority offloading coupon once each year. All tiers above the basic tier offer access to Amtrak lounges, priority call handling, and other exclusive offers.
If Speed is Your Top Concern, Choose the Acela
If you want to know how fast does the Amtrak Northeast Regional go because you want to shave time off your trip, it is worth noting that the Acela is the fastest passenger train in the United States today, and the routes have been specifically designed to get you to your NEC-area destination more quickly. Not only does the train itself travel faster, but stops are designed to ensure that you will never spend more than a handful of minutes waiting at a station for the next leg of your journey.
The Acela does cost more, though, as it does not offer coach class seating. However, if you can book in advance, the prices are far more reasonable. If you are vacationing in the Northeastern US and you are looking to make lifelong memories, the Amtrak Acela is the right choice. You can travel in luxury to a wide range of destinations including Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC among others.
Making the Most of Your Northeast Regional Experience
If you will be utilizing Amtrak’s Northeast Regional train for your commute, you will be one of many hundreds of people who rely on the same service to get to and from work each day.
- Arrive early. Getting to the station early will ensure that you can board the train in a timely manner and choose the seat you prefer. (COVID-19 regulations may still be in place, which can affect seating opportunities.)
- Understand the on-time rate. The Northeastern Regional train service has an on-time rate of between 75% and 80%, which means that you will arrive later than expected up to 20% of the time. Though this may sound ominous, delays are rarely more than five or 10 minutes. Taking a slightly earlier train can help you avoid any potential pitfalls that may arise from these delays.
- Bring your own entertainment. Amtrak trains do offer Wi-Fi, but if you’ve got a 90 minute commute, you won’t be able to catch up on your favorite Netflix series using their internet service. Instead, download what you want to watch at home and bring the device (and some headphones!) with you. You can also bring a book or a Kindle/Nook device to pass the time, or bring a laptop if you need to catch up on some work.
- Understand the stops. Before you start riding the train daily, make sure that you know how frequently – and where – the train will stop. This can help you avoid getting off at the wrong station (which happens more than you might think!) and can help you better plan your trip home, too. Sometimes you may want to exit the train at a different station on purpose, whether you have a business meeting in another city or you simply want to see the sights.
The Northeast Regional Amtrak train is not the fastest train along the Northeast Corridor, but it is one of the most affordable options, and for the most part, it’s safe and reliable, too. If you are concerned about speed, plan ahead – and it never hurts to take a slightly earlier train just to give yourself a bit of a buffer zone, either.