Passenger trains might not be as popular as they once were, but long-distance rail travel is still an option in the United States. In fact, the station with most arriving and departing passengers in 2018 had over 1 million. Curious which one? Read on to view the list of the busiest long-distance Amtrak stations courtesy of data provided by The Rail Passengers Association.
In the middle of the United States, Chicago has train routes that literally travel all over the country. It is by far the station with the most arriving and departing passengers (over 1 million in 2018). You can travel to cities including Washington D.C., New York, Boston, New Orleans, Denver, Dallas, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle and Los Angeles. This is also one of the stations you’ll want to visit for travel across the Rocky Mountains (you can reach them faster if you start on the West Coast, however). Popular long-distance routes that depart from Chicago are the Empire Builder, California Zephyr and the Southwest Chief.
2. Washington D.C.
From Boston to Miami, you can easily reach cities all along the East Coast from the Amtrak station in Washington D.C. In 2018, almost a half million people arrived or departed from the station. In addition to coastal cities, the Cardinal travels to Chicago through the Allegheny Mountains, or head south on the long-distant Crescent and Carolinian. With so many trains stopping at Union Station in the nation’s capital, there are many options when booking Amtrak tickets.
View the Washington D.C. Union Station Guide to learn more.
3. New York City
New York City’s Penn Station is a major transportation hub in Manhattan. In addition to cross-country and regional Amtrak trains, you can board a subway or commuter train here. New York City is also the end (or starting) point for a few upstate New York routes that travel through the Hudson River Valley and to Canada. Don’t miss the fall foliage!
View the New York Penn Station Guide to learn more.
4. Los Angeles
The beautiful Los Angeles Union Station in downtown L.A. provides train service up and down the West Coast and to the Southwest and Midwest. The Coast Starlight and Pacific Surfliner are must-ride routes for the gorgeous scenery along the Pacific Ocean.
View the Los Angeles Union Station Guide to learn more.
5. Sanford, Florida
Sanford, Florida isn’t a big city, so why is the local Amtrak station so popular? The Auto Train. This special Amtrak route travels direct from Sanford to Lorton, Virginia — with your car. Sanford is near Orlando, great for going on vacation or heading back north without putting miles on your vehicle.