Separated by just 95 miles, the NYC to Philadelphia train route is the easiest and fastest way to travel between the Eastern Seaboard’s biggest cities. With an average journey time of just 1 hour 20 minutes, it’s frequented by Philadelphia’s ‘super commuters’, who make the round-trip every day, but it’s popular with tourists too. If you’re thinking about making the journey, we’ve analysed the best train options between NYC and Philadelphia below.
Direct trains depart from Penn Station, New York’s main intercity railroad station. Amtrak operates the direct train service, with over 30 services per day. If you’re not in a rush, there is also an indirect train service operated by NJ Transit. Trains on this service also depart from Penn Station but stop at Trenton in New Jersey. From here, passengers can pick up the SEPTA train transfer. While this option tends to be cheaper, it also doubles the journey time, averaging around 2 hours 30 minutes. All trains alight at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station.
Amtrak is the United States’ leading intercity train city provider, serving 46 US states and three Canadian provinces. The company operates the route with a handful of different trains, including the Acela, North East Regional, Palmetto, Carolinian, Keystone, Pennsylvanian and Crescent. Excluding Acela, there’s little difference between the services for passengers making the short journey between NYC and Philadelphia; the disparities only really become apparent on long-distance journeys. Acela is the fastest and most premium service, with speeds of up to 150mph and more legroom and space than typical airline carriers.
However, Acela trains only offer two classes of service: Business and First Class. In Business Class, passengers benefit from extra legroom, complimentary non-alcoholic drinks and reserved seating. First Class passengers can enjoy priority boarding, complimentary onboard food and beverage services and access to premium lounges in both cities. This makes it a better option for those who are happy to pay more for a premium experience.
At the other end of the spectrum, Keystone, Silverstar, Crescent and Silver Meteor only offer tickets for Coach Class. Each offers accessible seating for passengers with mobility issues, wide and comfortable reclining seats, fold-down trays, reading lights and plug sockets. WiFi is available onboard too. Coach Class facilities onboard the North East Regional, Palmetto, Carolinian, Pennsylvanian and Crescent are exactly the same, but passengers can also upgrade their journey to Business Class services. Perks include extra legroom, complimentary non-alcoholic drinks and reserved seating.
All Amtrak train services between NYC and Philadelphia offer WiFi onboard, plug sockets at seats and ample storage for luggage. Each train features a Quiet Carriage and services offering Business Class also feature a Cafe Car, serving up a selection of sandwiches, snacks, hot and alcoholic beverages. Select services also offer a Bring Your Bicycle ticket for standard bicycles weighing up to 50 lbs.
Currently, Amtrak operates up to 36 train services per day. At the time of writing, the fastest train journey takes 1 hour 10 minutes.
Rates & How to book tickets
You can book tickets up to three months in advance of your travel dates. It’s always recommended to buy tickets in advance, as ticket prices escalate in the run-up to the day. Rates start at $18 for a single journey in Coach Class and $51 for Business Class.
We recommend booking tickets through Omio, a leading train ticket comparison website guaranteed to find the cheapest available rate. The booking process is easy and takes just a couple of minutes, and you don’t even have to create an account either. Book your tickets at Omio.com.
NJT Indirect Service
If budget, not speed, is your priority you could opt for the NJT indirect service. Trains depart from Penn Street, stop at Trenton and arrive at 30th Street. Journey times vary between 2 hours 5 minutes and 3 hours. Tickets can only be purchased at the train station or via the NJ Transit Mobile App. You can also purchase tickets onboard the train if there is no ticket agent available, but a $5 surcharge applies to each ticket.
Where to stay in Philadelphia on a budget
While Philadelphia undeniable oozes small-town charm, it’s still a ‘Big City’. If you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck, it’s worth extending your search to neighbourhoods that require a short trip on public transport. Affordable hostels and hotels within walking distance of 30th Street Railways Station are few and far between. We’ve selected three of the most convenient hostels and hotels in Philadelphia that won’t break the bank.
If you’ve got your heart set on a hostel, hotfoot to Apple Hostels of Philadelphia. Located in South Bank Street, it’s an easy 10 minute trip on the MFL line to the station and a short stroll to the city’s star sights. Guests can choose from a range of rooms, from six-bed dormitories to luxurious Queen Rooms. The latter features all of the creature comforts you might exect from a boutique hotel, including a flat-screen TV and a comfy queen sized bed. There’s a 24-hour front desk and shared kitchen, with free tea and coffee and complimentary dinner and drinks on select evenings.
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For a budget bolthole that won’t break the bank, The Windsor Suites is an excellent option. A 15-minute brisk stroll from the train station, the hotel is located just five minutes from prime downtown city hall. The 24-storey building is popular with a wide demographic, from business travellers to holidaying families. Bedrooms boast crisp linen, tea and coffee-making facilities and large LCD TVs. If you’re feeling lazy, the Irish-themed Con Murphys serves up hearty meals downstairs while upstairs there’s a large rooftop pool with sparkling city views.
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If you’re looking for a mid-range hotel in the heart of the city, you need look no further than The Study at University City. Set close to the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University, it’s only a ten-minute stroll to the station too. Inside, the Nordic-inspired interiors are all clean lines, light wood and leather chairs. Rooms are just as luxurious, some with private sitting areas. Thoughtful touches such as complimentary bottled water, fluffy white bathrobes and toiletries go a long way too. Book as far in advance as you can as rates rise considerably.
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