When traveling in the U.S., one may buy tickets or railway passes that allow use of multiple trains.
Buying US Rail Tickets
There are various ways to buy a passenger can buy tickets to travel in the U.S.
- On the Internet US Rail Tickets: Most railroad companies allow for booking US rail tickets online, and accept a variety of recognized credit cards.
- Using PDA's for US Rail Tickets: Some of the service providers like Amtrak allow a PDA user to log in via their phone to book tickets.
- Phone Booking for US Rail Tickets: It is possible to call the railroad phone booking number and reserve seats by using a credit card.
- Booking Offices US Rail Tickets: Most stations have booking offices where one can purchase tickets using cash or credit cards. This is a good option if the passenger has any queries or doubts, as these can be cleared before-hand.
- Kiosks for US Rail Tickets: Amtrak also provides the possibility of purchasing tickets from automated kiosks that are available at all major railway stations.
- US Rail Tickets from Travel Agent: When planning a multi-phase tour, purchase of train tickets can be done through an agent who also takes care of other details of the journey.
- Onboard US Rail Tickets: In some cases, tickets can be bought after boarding the train.
Picking up US Rail Tickets
- Booking Offices for US Rail Tickets: It is possible to pick up the US rail tickets at booking offices found on railway stations by giving the reservation number.
- Kiosks: Amtrak tickets can be printed at the automated kiosks by entering the reservation number and identifying oneself by using the credit card (that was used to buy the ticket) during activation.
- US Rail Tickets through Mail: Within the U.S. and Canada, it is possible to have the tickets sent to a mailing address via mail delivery.
- US Rail Tickets Agents: When booking have been done by an agent, the tickets may be delivered by the agent, or it may be required that the tickets are picked up the the agent's office.
Changing / Canceling US Rail Tickets Reservations
- On the Internet: It is possible to make the necessary changes by logging on to the website and using the reservation number, travel details and the required personal details that help in authenticating the process.
- Over the phone: It is possible to call the railroad phone-booking number to make changes or cancel reservations.
- On Board: Changes may be made on board the trains – either as an upgrade or a downgrade – subject to availability of seats.
After making a change, it is necessary that the original tickets be submitted before / when receiving a refund. Once the tickets are submitted, a refund can be made by the preferred mode.
Not all tickets can be canceled. A fee may be charged when making changes, or canceling tickets. The refund will be made after deducting these charges.
Refunds are made either by
- Returning cash.
- Issuing a cheque.
- Crediting amount to a bank account / credit card.
- As a voucher valid for future use.
A full refund is rare, as cancellation charges are applicable to varying degrees on most tickets. An early cancellation will be charged less than one very close to the travel date. In some cases, there may be a cutoff point, beyond which a cash refund is not possible. In such cases, a voucher for future use may be issued.
For some services, it is not possible to cancel a ticket post the departure of the train, while in other cases; a partial refund is possible on only partially used tickets.
Passes for US Rail Tickets
The US Rail Pass allows for unlimited travel within the specified regions. These Raul passes are valid for periods of 15 days and 30 days. They can be purchased from Booking Offices, on the Internet, and from Authorized Agents. Reservations for specific trains are still required, and should ideally be done at least a few days in advance. The Rail Pass entitles the passenger to Coach Class travel. But upgrades are possible at a fee, if desired.
The routes available on the Rail Pass are:
- The National Rail Pass
- The North East Rail Pass
- The West Rail Pass
- The East Rail Pass
- Amtrak City to City
Discounts on US Rail Tickets
Under various schemes it is possible to get a discount on rail travel.
- US Rail Tickets for children below 15 years of age are charged at half price.
- War veterans get a discount of up to 15%
- Students get discounts of up to 15%
- Military personnel, along with their families may qualify for discounts of up to 10%
- Membership to AAA, NARP, and other railway bodies allow for a discount of up to 10%
- Senior citizens avail of various discount offers.