I’ve traveled by train in the US and Europe, in coach, business, and first class, along with private and shared sleeper cabins. I’ve noticed many key differences between rail services in each place, from booking to the ride itself.
If you tallied all the hours I’ve collectively spent on trains, it would add up to multiple days.
I’ve taken local coach trains in the US throughout my life. And nearly a year and a half ago, I started taking long-haul train trips up and down the East Coast, trying out upgraded accommodations from business and first class to private sleeper cabins.
In October 2021, I spent a total of 60 hours on overnight Amtrak trains between NYC and Miami in Amtrak sleeper accommodations, including roomette and bedrooms.
Then, in February 2022, I rode in first and business class on Amtrak Acela trains between NYC and Baltimore. And in August, I spent 10 more hours in Amtrak’s business class from NYC to Niagara Falls, New York.
By October 2022, I was ready to experience something different: train travel in Europe. I traveled by train through four European countries over the course of two weeks — Germany, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland — trying out classes on multiple different lines, including OBB Nightjet, Trenitalia, and InterCity Express, from coach to first class, and sleeper cabins.
During my travels, I learned that train travel in Europe and the US is not the same. Here are the most important differences I learned that I think all US train travelers should know before riding the rails.