From Portland Afoot
Amtrak, the brand name of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, is a federally owned passenger rail company that operates in Portland from Union Station, just north of downtown. Portland is served by the Amtrak Cascades to Eugene and Vancouver BC, the Coast Starlight to Los Angeles and Seattle, and the Empire Builder to Chicago.
Amtrak trains offer probably the most comfortable way to reach Seattle, Eugene, Vancouver BC, The Dalles and other nearby cities without using a car. See our city pages for guides to reaching each city car-free.
 Tips for long-distance train travel
Writing for Wall Street Journal Magazine in a piece that named the Coast Starlight as one of his three favorite routes in the Amtrak system, interior designer David Netto offered several useful advice for long-distance, high-budget train travel:
- Spring for a sleeper car. "There's no point in doing trains on the cheap or you'll be just as miserable as in the air. ... Be sure to get a private car, not a shared roomette. ... If you are not alone, get two adjoining rooms and suite them up. When I travel with my wife and two young daughters, we do this and giggle the whole time, visiting through the sliding door from one room to another."
- Make the most of the food options. "Let's just say the food isn't the point. Pack some sandwiches." If you're traveling alone, enjoy the chance to talk to strangers in the dining car. "Despite paroxysms of terror at sliding in to round out a four-top, I have never finished a meal without being surprised at turns in the conversation. Once I had dinner with a man who had met the Russian revolutionary Alexander Kerensky."
- Don't bother with the shower. "Ignore the apparatus in your room that turns the entire bathroom into a shower. It's ridiculous. Get off in Chicago if you want to bathe."
- Enjoy the trip itself. "Instead of losing a day to get to where we're going, our vacation starts the minute we board. ... Nowadays, people think convenience is luxury. But take a moment to consider whether hours of endless quiet, talking to your children and the blissful monotony that comes with staring at the unfolding American landscape don't also fall under your definition of luxury."
As of July 2011, a "family bedroom" for two adults and two childen on the 30-hour one-way ride Portland to Los Angeles goes for $1,000. (Netto's two-bedroom recommendation would cost $1,700 each way.) But it adds up to a far better experience than plane travel, Netto concluded.
"Your wallet may be lighter," he wrote. "But you can keep your belt."
 See also
- wireless Internet on Amtrak
- Union Station
- bicycles on Amtrak
- Pacific Northwest high-speed rail corridor
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