Jim Frazier. Photo above by jpmueller99. Mile by mile, trains use 28% less fuel than planes or cars.

Tired of the hassle of air travel? Trains are usually more comfortable and less expensive

IF YOUR NEXT flight is short, you might want to consider taking a train instead. Besides cutting out the long lines at security, you can also relax in more spacious cabins, use your cell phone and laptop (many even have power outlets) and avoid ear popping cabin air pressurization.

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The US Amtrak system isn’t perfect. There isn’t service to every city in the US, and cross-country trains still remain slow and expensive when compared to flying. However, if you’re hopping across a few states, it can be less expensive and sometimes faster than taking a flight.

Consider a 5 hour train ride from Boston to Philadelphia. The equivalent flight takes over two hours; however, after adding in time spent arriving early plus waiting in baggage claim, you can easily spend close to 5 hours in transit. If you take the train instead, you’ll spend $157. The cheapest flight available is $265. That’s a 43% savings over flying, and you can get an additional 10-15% if you are a student, AAA member, or military.

So why are we spending more for flights that continue to raise prices, add fees for luggage, and remove basic services when there is a cheap and comfortable alternative?

We’ve pulled the prices of 21 low cost train routes that beat their lowest-priced airline competitor. To do this, we’ve used a standard set of dates for a Saturday to Saturday roundtrip ticket (to make it fair) and the prices below are accurate at the time of writing. Your results may vary depending on the date, lead time, and the mood of the airline on any given day.

Trains That Are Cheaper and Faster Than Flying

1. Boston, MA to Portland, ME
Amtrak: $48.
Cheapest Flight: $353.
Total Savings: 86%

2. Montreal, QB to Albany NY
Amtrak: $90.
Cheapest Flight: $447.
Total Savings: 80%

3. New York, NY to Philadelphia, PA
Amtrak: $86.
Cheapest Flight: $362
Total Savings: 76%

4. Seattle, WA to Vancouver, BC
Amtrak: $60.
Cheapest Flight: $248
Total Savings: 76%

Amtrak could get a big boost this year, if Congress passes a bill that will give Amtrak $15 billion to improve and expand train service. Photo above by MR38.

5. New York, NY to Albany, NY
Amtrak: $74.
Cheapest Flight: $268
Total Savings: 72%

6. Los Angeles, CA to San Diego, CA
Amtrak: $68.
Cheapest Flight: $245
Total Savings: 72%

7. Vancouver, BC to Portland, OR
Amtrak: $88.
Cheapest Flight: $298
Total Savings: 70%

8. Seattle, WA to Portland, OR
Amtrak: $56.
Cheapest Flight: $165
Total Savings: 66%

9. Philadelphia, PA to Washington, D.C.
Amtrak: $84.
Cheapest Flight: $182
Total Savings: 54%

10. Chicago, IL to Memphis, TN
Amtrak: $182.
Cheapest Flight: $328
Total Savings: 45%

11. Boston, MA to Philadelphia, PA
Amtrak: $152.
Cheapest Flight: $265
Total Savings: 43%

Amtrak concession stand. Photo: Kafka4Prez

12. Baltimore, MD to New York, NY
Amtrak: $122.
Cheapest Flight: $193
Total Savings: 37%

13. New York, NY to Boston, MA
Amtrak: $118.
Cheapest Flight: $155
Total Savings: 24%

14. Washington, D.C. to New York, NY
Amtrak: $138.
Cheapest Flight: $155
Total Savings: 11%

Cheap Trains, Long Rides

(These fares are cheaper, but will take longer than flying)

1. New Orleans, LA to Memphis, TN
Amtrak: $100.
Cheapest Flight: $411
Total Savings: 76%

2. New York, NY to Montreal, QB
Amtrak: $122
Cheapest Flight: $427
Total Savings: 71%

3. Toronto, ON to New York, NY
Amtrak: $184.
Cheapest Flight: $398
Total Savings: 54%

4. Cinnicinati, OH to New York, NY
Amtrak: $283.
Cheapest Flight: $554
Total Savings: 49%

5. San Francisco, CA to Los Angeles, CA
Amtrak: $96.
Cheapest Flight: $165
Total Savings: 42%

6. Charlotte, NC to New York, NY
Amtrak: $188.
Cheapest Flight: $274
Total Savings: 31%

7. Washington, D.C. to Chicago, IL
Amtrak: $174.
Cheapest Flight: $229
Total Savings: 24%

Other Ways to Save

If you’re booking a flight in under 14 days, you might want to compare the corresponding Amtrak fare, as airlines prices tend to increase sharply as you approach the departure day, while train tickets stay stable.

You can book online with Amtrak Weekly Hot Deals

For 10 – 15% off the standard fare, see if you qualify for a Student and AAA Member Discounts.