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Things You Should Know
About Amtrak Train Travel

Things You Should Know
About Amtrak Train Travel

Things you should know about Amtrak train travel including: seating, train etiquette, smoking, movement through the train, sleeping car space, dining car, lounge car, restrooms, pickup in train station, luggage, stereos, radios, video games and the onboard staff. This document applies specifically to the Amtrak California Zephyr and Amtrak Desert Wind, but I think that most of its contents apply to most Amtrak trains in general.

Welcome Aboard

Things You Should Know

In General

This is a reserved long distance passenger train. Station stops are made throughout the trip, day and night about every 90 minutes. Most stops are just long enough to let customers on and off the train. Some of the service stops are longer.


If you are traveling by yourself, you may be asked to sit with another passenger traveling solo. We do this so that parties of two or more have the opportunity to sit together. We don't know why, but for some strange reason, spouses want to sit next to each other on a long cross country journey. (Our marketing department is trying to determine if this is a trend.) Lower level seating areas are reserved for those with mobility restrictions.

Train Etiquette

It is important to remember a few things. We try to maintain a pleasant, family atmosphere. We ask the folks traveling with children to monitor the behavior of the children in their care. Please respect the privacy and comfort of your fellow travelers by avoiding loud conversations and unruly behavior.


This train is designated as smoke-free. For our smoking guests, we make smoking stops throughout the trip. Announcements will be made as we approach these stops and you will be given the opportunity to step onto the platform to smoke outdoors. There will be no exceptions to this policy. Please stay close to the train and be prepared to reboard when called back. (The train in which I was riding had one of the newly converted "Smoking Lounge" areas. This is a Coach/Baggage Car that has had one section of the car converted to a "Smoking Lounge". From what I have been told, this lounge is downstairs and has no windows, but at least you don't have to step out into the cold to smoke. Personally I don't have a problem with this arrangement as I don't smoke.)

Movement through the train

Rail passenger travel allows you the freedom of mobility. It is a major reason why people choose to trake the train versus other modes of transportation. When moving through the train, it's like driving in America, keep to the right side of the isle. Please give way to folks carrying baggage, babies or food and step into a vacant seat until they pass. You can tell the experienced rail travelers from the inexperienced by the way they move between cars. The railroaders always use the handrails between the cars. Only one word of caution: keep your shoes on when moving about, especially from one car to another.

Sleeping Car Space

Sleeping car space is often available on the train. See a crew member to find out if today's train has space in the sleeper available. Prices vary by type of room and distance. The conductor will have an exact price available. Dining car meals are included with the price of a sleeping accommodation.

Dining Car

We proudly feature a full service dining car on this train. Announcements will be made regarding the service times and the menus. Evening meals are offered by reservation, while breakfast and lunch are on a first-come first-served basis. One benefit to eating in the diner is meeting new people. Often demand is great and we do seat strangers together. Seatings sometimes go longer than scheduled (The food is so good folks don't want to rush). Please wait until your seating time is announced before making your way to the diner. Your coach seat is the waiting area.

Lounge Car

Click here for the full Lounge Car menu. We have snacks, sandwiches and souveniers available. Listen to announcements for the hours of service for the lounge car. Lounge seating is unreserved and open to all guests. Allow others a chance to enjoy the lounge car, please no holding seats for others. Items purchased in the lounge can be enjoyed at your seat or in the lounge. You may enjoy food that you brought on the train at your seat. Sorry we are unable to heat or refrigerate any food or medication you may have brought on board with you. Federal health laws prohibit us from offering this service.


All restrooms are located on the lower level of the car. Please advise your train attendant if the restrooms require some attention. (Note: One of the 4 restrooms in each Sleeping Car is located upstairs in the center of the car across from the coffee service area. All restrooms are downstairs in the Coach Cars and Lounge Car. There are no restrooms in the Dining Car.)

Pickup at Train Stations

Friends and family that will be picking you up can get information regarding our arrival time by calling the local station or 1-800-USA-RAIL.


Luggage can be stored in the lower level racks or the overhead luggage racks. Please keep that seat next to you open and available for guests joining us down line.

Stereos, Radios, Video Games

All electronic equipment should be used with headphones. (Even my calculator?)

About Us

Your hosts on the train have several titles and duties. We are all here to serve you. A TRAIN ATTENDANT helps folks on and off the train and keeps the coach car tidy. The CONDUCTOR and ASSISTANT CONDUCTOR collect tickets and along with the ENGINEER safely move the train along. Conductors are the best source of local information along the route. In the Dining car the STEWARD is the restaurant manager and the SERVICE ATTENDANTS are the wait staff. The folks that prepare the meals fresh on the train are the CHEFS. Service on the train is supervised by the CHIEF.

Thanks for traveling with us.


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