Celebrating New Year’s en route
_Amtrak passengers are in motion – more specifically loco-motion – when the clock strikes midnight New Year’s Eve.
Depending on their New Year’s Day destination, at midnight passengers may ride a train that’s meandering along Mount Shasta, or that’s passing the lower east coast marshes, or zipping through the Midwest prairie.
The Amtrak Long Distance” trains have lounge cars, and also offer sleeper cars.
Here are a few glimpses of trains running at midnight, and onboard “toasting” opportunities.
Coast Starlight ‘Pacific Parlour Car’
The Coast Starlight runs between Seattle Washington and Los Angeles California. That’s a 35-hour route each way, that accommodates ample overnight passengers.
The Pacific Parlour Car is dedicated to passengers who reserve sleeper cars.
Pacific Parlour is a vintage 1950’s train car that’s been refurbished. It has a full bar, an upstairs lounge and dining area, and a downstairs movie theatre.
Passengers along the route might opt to toast to midnight nationwide — beginning at 8 p.m. local time when the ball drops in New York Times Square, and at midnight in ensuing time zones — until they meet the local ringing in the New Year.
When the clock strikes midnight local time, the southbound train will be meandering through the lower Cascade mountains between Klamath Falls, Oregon and Dunsmuir California. The northbound Coast Starlight train will be leaving the Sacramento station.
Passengers who don’t reserve sleeper cars may celebrate in the Coast Starlight Sightseer Lounge.
The Auto Train runs between the Washington D.C. area to just outside Orlando Florida. This train has enclosed freight cars to carry automobiles. Passengers have the option to bring along their vehicles like cars, motorcycles or boats.
The Dining Car has separate menus for sleeper car passengers.
The Auto Train is the only Amtrak train that allows smoking, on a designated lounge car
When the clock strikes midnight local time, folks on the southbound train will be between Florence and Charleston South Carolina. The northbound train will be cruising along the same area.
City of New Orleans
The City of New Orleans runs between Chicago and the train’s namesake. The whole route takes about 19 hours each way, making an easy trip between the two beloved cities.
When the clock strikes midnight local time, the southbound train will be in the Carbondale or Champaign Illinois area. The northbound City of New Orleans train will be between Carbondale and Memphis.
Love the midnight trains
There are 13 Amtrak long distance routes running New Year’s Eve. Each route runs in both directions, either Northbound and Southbound or Eastbound and Westbound. That makes 26 trains en route as the clock strikes midnight across the nation.
The lounge cars generally close at 11 p.m. or midnight, yet some might remain open longer for the New Year’s midnight toast. No guarantees, but of course. ‘Tis up to the lounge car attendants, and to the “toast” provisions remaining at that time.
Either way, passengers have the option to return to their seats, or their sleeper cars, for a private celebration as the train continues to carry them toward their New Year’s destination. They might even take time for a snooze before they arrive.
More information: Coast Starlight, Pacific Parlour Car, Auto Train, City of New Orleans
Plan your New Year’s Eve train trip
Reserve early to get the best fares. Amtrak allows passengers to book tickets up to eleven months in advance. Military veterans and senior citizens receive discounted fares
For fares and reservations, visit Amtrak.com or call (800) USA-RAIL.
Check out Jacquée T.’s article: Three reasons to love train travel.
*photos courtesy of Amtrak
***this feature was published Winter 2010, and was updated winter, 2017