Amtrak is a national inter-city passenger train operator in the United States.
Train routes in Western US
California Zephyr Chicago - Emeryville/San Francisco
Capitol Corridor San Jose - Oakland - Sacramento - Auburn
Cascades Vancouver BC - Seattle - Portland - Eugene
Coast Starlight Seattle - Los Angeles
Empire Builder Seattle and Portland - Chicago
Pacific Surfliner San Luis Obispo - Los Angeles - San Diego
Southwest Chief Chicago - Los Angeles
Sunset Limited New Orleans - Los Angeles
Texas Eagle San Antonio - Chicago
Long distance interstate trains offers coach and sleeper service. Only coach service is offered on regional routes.
How to take Amtrak
Amtrak tickets can be purchased online, through travel agent, by phone, at staffed station, or through QuikTrak machines at selected stations. Fare discounts are generally available on advance purchase. Credit card can be used to purchase tickets. Cash is accepted at staffed stations only.
Most Amtrak trains are "reserved," which means that Amtrak does not overbook passengers and that seating is guaranteed. Reservation is by train and not individual seats.
A government issued ID is required to check baggage and ride on Amtrak trains for passengers age 18 or older. Examples of acceptable forms of ID include driver's license, passport, other government issued IDs (local, state, federal, or foreign), military ID, and university/college/high school student ID. Train crew members may conduct random ticket checks onboard and ask passengers to present their IDs.
Consider that many rural stations do not have ticket sales, tickets can also be purchased onboard the train. Generally the full, non-discounted fare will apply on tickets purchased onboard. On "reserved" trains, there's a chance that non-ticketed passengers may not get a seat and may be directed to get off at the next station. Only cash is accepted (except Capitol Corridor trains, which also accepts credit card) for onboard purchases.
Most staffed stations offer checked baggage service for selected trains. Some stations (including Portland and Seattle) require passengers to show tickets at the gate before boarding the train. At most stations, passengers can just head straight to the platform. Check signs or station staff for the platform/track for your train.
Food service is available on most Amtrak trains. Short distance regional trains provide cafe cars with beverages (including alcohol) and casual food items for sale. Long distance trains offer dining car with seat-down meal service.
Onboard bicycle accommodation varies across Amtrak rail lines. Some lines offer walk-up access for bikes with or without extra charge. On long distance trains, bikes are treated as checked baggage and transported in a box.
Most stations are accessible. Train and station crew members will provide necessary assistance to board and disembark the train.