Taking a Train to New York City

Trains offer stress-free travel to New York City

 Vin Ganapathy

Trains can be a great way to travel to New York City. For visitors from nearby states like Connecticut (and of course, New Jersey), commuter trains offer convenient, affordable access to the city without the hassle of driving through the city or the expense of parking once you arrive. For visitors coming from further away, train travel offers travelers a great chance to see the United States up-close and is an adventure in itself. It's also a good option for people who are scared of flying, who want to reduce their carbon footprint, or who appreciate the convenience of arriving directly into the city center, since NYC-area airports are all located outside of Manhattan. Train travel is also getting faster and more comfortable as companies are investing more in maintaining and expanding railways.

Pros of Train Travel

  • Flexibility in travel plans—other than at peak travel times (holidays, especially Thanksgiving/Christmas), it's usually pretty easy to book a last minute train trip. It's also easier to change your departure time or cancel the trip without extravagant fees.
  • Quicker travel times than buses, as they aren't affected by traffic.
  • No need to make your way from the airport to the city, as trains bring you directly to the city center.
  • Higher chance of having a row to yourself,
  • Food service and sleeping accommodations on longer routes.
  • More opportunity to see the country's landscapes.
  • Reliable Wi-Fi available on most long routes from departure to arrival.

Cons of Train Travel

  • Expensive—depending on when you buy your ticket, it can be cheaper to fly than to take the train long distances.
  • Limited space to walk around, on certain trains.
  • Longer travel times than planes.
  • Long distance service can have limited availability/scheduling.
  • Commuter trains can be crowded at peak times.

What To Know About Train Travel to NYC

  • Reserving seats on commuter trains is not possible—arrive early at peak times to get a seat.
  • Some Amtrak trains offer or require seat reservations.
  • Commuter trains offer discounts during off-peak times and on weekends.
  • You may be asked to present photo ID when boarding Amtrak.
  • Commuter trains don't have checked luggage facilities or luggage assistance.
  • Most trains have a bathroom on board.
  • On long train rides, there is often food service in a designated food car.
  • Trains allow you to bring along your own food and non-alcoholic beverages on board.
  • Many commuter rail stations offer free parking on weekends—check in advance to find out parking policies if you plan to park at a station.

National Train Services

Amtrak: Amtrak is the United States largest train network—with a 22,000-mile route system including 500 stations in 46 states. Long distance routes typically offer dining cars and sleeping accommodations. There are also rail passes available for International visitors and other travelers looking to explore the United States and/or Canada. Trains arrive at New York City's Penn Station. There are 14 Amtrak routes that connect to New York City. If New York is one of several cities you plan to visit you can purchase a multi-city pass. To save a bit of money, there is a 25 percent discount on regional tickets purchased at least 14 days in advance and cross-country travelers can get a discount by purchasing a USA Rail Pass.

Commuter Train Services

Long Island Rail Road: Daily commuter service from Long Island and Brooklyn into New York City's Penn Station.

MetroNorth: Daily commuter service from north of New York City, including upstate New York and Connecticut into Grand Central Terminal

New Jersey Transit: Daily commuter service from throughout New Jersey, including connections to Philadelphia arriving in New York City's Penn Station. Service also connects to Newark Airport.

PATH: Daily commuter service from several New Jersey cities through Manhattan. There are three lines and six stops in Manhattan.