A Complete Guide to Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited Sleeping Car Journey.
My First journey on the Lake Shore Limited was in April 2018. Since then I’ve taken the trip several times from Boston to Chicago, and Chicago back to Boston. Here’s everything you need to know, as well as tips and tricks for the sleeping cars from someone who rides them all the time.
The Sleeping Cars
The Lake Shore Limited is two seperate trains which attach or detach from each other in Albany, New York.
Roomette cars are part of both the New York City and Boston trains. The Boston sleeper usually sits right behind the head engine, and in front of the cafe and business class car.
New York City sleeper cars sit at the back of the train and are right behind the dining car. Making the New York City Sleeper cars ideal. Boston passengers will need to walk through almost all the train to access the dining car for meals.
Your ticket will include a number of which train car you are in which is displayed on the outside of each car. If you are unsure just ask an employee checking tickets. That’s what most people do.
Roomettes include space for one or two passengers. There is a Sink and toilet in the room and two comfortable seats that convert to a bed. If there is two people traveling in the same roomette there is an upper bed on the ceiling that folds down from above.
Two large windows provide access to the urban landscapes, the forests of New York, and flat fields of the Midwest. There is an Electrical outlet with 2 plugs and climate controlled air. You can adjust fans as well as vents.
Other features include individual reading lights and ability to adjust all lighting, garment rack, above head space for luggage, fold-down table, fresh towels and bed linens, soap and shower amenities, toilet paper, trash can, and bottled water.
There will be an attendant taking care of you for personal services (bed turn-down, coffee). So when you begin your journey they will stop by and talk to you or make an announcement, as well as answer any questions you have.
There are a couple bedrooms in every car, they include everything stated above and included in this article. Bedrooms just have a different layout, which is larger than a roomette and is more private.
This Space is for two passengers (maximum of three, if two travelers share the lower bed). There is a private toilet and shower with a door, unlike roomettes in which the bathroom is incorporated in the room.
There is an Armchair available to sit in as well as a sofa which converts to a larger lower bed. There is also an upper bed which folds down from above
If you’re in the sleeper you are provided a meal for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner at their respective time frames. One free alcoholic beverages and ‘unlimited’ soft drinks/coffee/teas/water. Your attendant will fill you in on this, including meal times.
Dining for the Lake Shore Limited has drastically changed in the past couple years and continues to evolve. Meal options and how dining car workers do meals tend to be different journey to journey, so I’m not going to go into much detail.
But make it known that passengers are disappointed with the current dining situation and want full service dining back on the train. Amtrak President back in 2018 cut full dining car service to the Lake Shore and Capitol Limited Lines. So passengers, paying upwards of $1,000 a ticket, would eat pre-packaged meals instead of being served freshly-prepared, hot meals. As a result of the service cuts, several chefs were furloughed and others were forced to relocate thousands of miles away or start their careers over again in another position with the railroad.
What to Do During the Journey
It’s a long journey. You will be able to have access to the whole train. The Lake Shore Limited does NOT have an observation car. So your best option for window watching is from your roomette or grabbing a table in the dining car.
With dining car tables just be courteous of other people during meal hours, that you’re not preventing a family from sitting. That being said the Dining Car is the place to socialize. I’m kind of an introvert, but I enjoy a good conversation here and there.
You can meet some really interesting people in the dining car. A lot of foreigners, families, and older couples travel in sleeping cars. I’ve met a super kind psychologist from California, a professional Scrabble player from Michigan, and even a musician who played music for us on the trip from Boston. So grab a coffee and strike up a conversation.
Amtrak passengers with a same-day travel ticket (departure or arrival) in First Class or sleeping car accommodations are eligible to access Lounges.
On the Lake Shore Limited Route there are Lounges for only 3 stations. Arriving early is recommended as trains usually board early from these origin locations. Why not? There is free drinks and food before your journey.
Boston, MA — South Station
Chicago, IL — Union Station
New York, NY — Penn Station
They will announce when your train is boarding, where to go, and you will be given priority boarding access.
Amtrak employees usually do not expect tips. Unless they provide personal services to you. This is not a set price table, and some people do not even tip at all. But be courteous.
Sleeping Car Attendant: $10 at the end of trip.
Dining Car Attendant: A couple dollars at a meal
Conductor: No Tip Expected
Red Cap Service: $10 for service
There is no definitive guide to how to ride in a sleeping car, but usually when you go to eat and want your bed to be converted to chairs you’ll leave your door open so the attendant sees. Usually an attendant won’t bother you when your door is shut and curtains are closed.
Roomettes and Bedrooms can run expensive. So let’s talk about the more affordable option of taking the ride in Coach. There are many reasons people. would take coach instead of driving or flying, so it is not unusual.
Sleeping in Lake Shore Limited Coach Cars
Good luck. This journey is popular for families, there will probably kids and possibly babies. So expect noise. Also you might need to sit next to someone when the train is busy. Lights and announcements will be turned off during the night time. Food, sleeping assistance, and other luxuries will not be provided.
Bring your own food. Cafe food can run expensive on trains.
Bring sleeping gear, you won’t be the only one. People bring pajamas, blankets, pillows etc.
Bring something to cancel noise or excess light.
If there’s any additional questions feel free to ask.
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Also. I’d love to hear about your trip experiences! Enjoy the ride.