Amtrak Quiet Cars
Amtrak Quiet Cars

Amtrak Quiet Cars: What you need to know

Amtrak Quiet Cars are available on eight regional trains and are open to coach passengers who want a more peaceful train ride. Passengers need to follow some rules if they wish to use these cars. There are no additional fees to passengers, but in most cases, they are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The exception is for passengers of Amtrak’s Acela, which is an additional step to ride in this car, but don’t worry; it is free and easy, with more info below!

If your next train has a Quiet Car, this article will help you prepare if you choose to use it.

What are Amtrak Quiet cars?

Amtrak Quiet Car
These signs hang from the ceilings of the Quiet Cars so you know to be quiet.

An Amtrak Quiet Car is a standard coach-class car designated for passengers who want the loudest background noise to be the grumbling wheels on the tracks and clicking computer keys, not the conversations of others.

There is only one of these cars per train.

Don’t worry; you can still hear announcements while traveling, so you will know when your stop is coming and other info.

Amtrak wants passengers to maintain a library-like atmosphere while they ride in these cars, more on the rules further down.

The cars offer the same accommodations and amenities as coach-class cars but with less noise.

Who can use Amtrak Quiet Cars?

As said in the intro, anyone in coach class can use an Amtrak Quiet Car, provided there are open seats. Acela passengers check out the next section.

Business or first-class passengers would need to downgrade their reservation if they want to use it, but whether it is worth it is up to them.

Acela Quiet Cars

Acela in 30th street station
My first Acela pulled into the 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, PA.

As said before, using the Quiet Car on an Acela route requires an added step, but fear not—it is not hard.

How to move your reservation to the Quiet Car:

  • Open the Amtrak app or go to the website.
  • Click on your Acela reservation.
  • Click the View/Change My Seat button.
  • Find the Aclea Quiet Car, the number 2 car.
  • Pick your seat and finish up the process.

If you print out your ticket, in most cases, you should still be able to use it even though it shows the wrong seat assignment, but you can always print out your ticket if you want.

Why use the Quiet Cars?

Everyone has reasons for sitting in Amtrak Quiet Cars, and some have reasons not to (that is the next section). Here are a few common reasons some like them:

  • It allows passengers to transfer gradually between work and home mode.
  • Passengers can listen to headphones at a lower level because they do not need to drown out others.
  • Some people like to meditate as they ride.
  • Passengers can finish their TPS reports peacefully before heading home or beat that punch-in deadline.
  • Some people like to close their eyes, take a quick nap, or meditate while traveling.
    • Please refrain from this car if you want to sleep and snore loudly.
Amtrak's Hiawatha
Amtrak’s Hiawatha 334 at Sturtevant, WI, on June 20, 2021, my train is heading to Chicago.

Who should avoid Quiet Cars?

The Quiet Car is not for everyone, and it’s essential to be realistic about what you want from your trip and what you can handle.

If you have a phone call or want to chat, the Quiet Car may not be the best fit. However, rest assured, there are plenty of other coach cars available that cater to different preferences and needs.

Those traveling with younger companions who struggle to be quiet may prefer the other coach cars. I know adults with this problem so that they can be in good company in the other coach cars.

I wouldn’t say I like pure quiet, but I enjoy the calm of this car with the addition of the soundtrack I pick (via my headphones).

Rows of Amtrak Venture car seats
New Amtrak Venture car coach seating

How do you know if you are in an Amtrak Quiet Cars?

Amtrak Quiet cars have signs posted; they often hang from the ceiling.

Often, the Quiet Cars are in a set spot, but that spot could vary based on the direction of the train. For example, the Acele Quiet Car is the number 2 car, but for other trains, it could be the last car in the direction of travel.

On the Acela and Northeast Regional trains, you may be able to walk directly to the Quiet Car, but on other trains, you may need to walk through one or more cars to get to the happy place.

Feel free to ask a conductor when boarding as to where the car is, but there is a guide later on that can help you.

Overhead luggage racks in one of the Amtrak Quiet Cars

Trains with Amtrak Quiet Cars and the location

As you learned, these cars are on eight train routes, but remember that not all train sets on that route may have them. Note that the location can change, so confirm where it is with onboard staff if it is not like below.

  • Acela
    • It is the Number 2 car, between the First Class and a business class car.
    • You need to move your reservation to this car.
  • Wolverine
    • Often, the opposite side of the train from the cafe car, but verify with the conductors.
    • Not all trains on this route have them.
  • Northeast Regional
    • Next to Business Class car
  • Keystone Service
    • Next to the locomotive
  • Hiawatha Service
    • The rearmost car, or sometimes the southernmost passenger car, please verify with the conductor.
  • Capitol Corridor trains
    • Check with the conductors.
    • Not all trains on this route have them.
  • Blue Water
    • Often, the opposite side of the train from the cafe car, but verify with the conductors.
  • Empire Service Corridor trains
    • Near the locomotive.
    • Not all trains on this route have them.

How do you verify that your Amtrak train has a Quiet Car?

Not all trains on the above routes may have a Quiet Car, so it is best to confirm before you go!

Checking by using the Amtrak app when booking

  • Hit the bottom Book button.
  • Enter your info into the app and hit the green Find Trains button.
  • Click the train you want.
  • Hit the details section.
  • Look at what is offered for Quiet Car on the list (see the photo).
The Amtrak Quiet Car app indicator
The Amtrak App shows this train as a Quiet Car.

Checking by using the Amtrak website

  • Enter your info and hit the green Find Trains button.
  • Pick your train
  • Hit Trip Details found under the arrival time.
  • Then, hit the Services button.
  • Look for Quiet Car on the list.

If you see Quiet Car when you do this, your train should have one, but if you do not, you can pick a different train or adjust your expectations.

Rules for Amtrak Quiet Cars

The Amtrak Hiawatha in Sturtevant, WI
The Amtrak Hiawatha pulling into Sturtevant, WI

There are a few simple rules for the Quiet Car:

  • Amtrak asks passengers to limit their conversation and speak quietly. Think of being in a library and follow that.
  • Refrain from making phone calls while in the car.
    • If you need to make phone calls, you can go to another coach car or use the vestibule between cars.
  • Silence all portable electronic devices used headphones
    • Using headphones, keep the volume low enough so other passengers cannot hear them.
    • If you are using your computer to work but listening to something from another device, make sure to mute your computer as well. We do not need to hear you got an email or the other noises we forget those things create.
  • If you need to chat, whisper and keep the conversations short, or go to a different car.

The conductor often reminds new passengers about Quiet Car etiquette.

What is the difference between Amtrak Quiet Cars and business class?

One of the most significant differences is the cost, but business is not always quiet. There are more differences, but that is the important one for many.

You are guaranteed a seat if you have business class, but not in quiet cars.

What if no other seats are open but for the Quiet Car?

If you get stuck in a quiet car because it is the only one with open seats available, you still need to follow the rules and respect your fellow passengers.

I get that this car can be some people’s worst nightmare! But if this is the lot you have to deal with, you can try to move to the next stop.

One way to do that is to hunt for a new seat when they announce the next stop. People get up to move as the train pulls into the station, so you can seek a new seat as those people get off and before the new passengers board.

If the train has a cafe car, you can always hang out there if you need to make a call or not be in that car.

An Amtrak passenger
Amtrak passenger using a tablet aboard an Amtrak train,

Kev’s wrap-up

In the early days of my Amtrak travel, I accidentally sat in these quiet cars, and after realizing it, I moved to another coach because I was not a fan. As time has passed, things have changed, and I now love the quiet car and often head for it when given a chance. If I travel solo, I love these cars because I can put my headphones in and enjoy the trip more peacefully.

This car is not for you when you ride with a friend and want to chat.

If you get stuck in the Quiet Car on a packed train, check if seats open up after the next stop. You can always ask a conductor when the walk-through is,

Happy planning and safe travels!

Kev

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Kevin Monteith

Kev Monteith has been traveling on Amtrak since 2012. With over a decade of experience, he has been on over 800 trains, covering over 200k miles of rail. Kev enjoys helping others achieve their travel dreams by providing support and information. Outside of travel, Kev enjoys making music as an organist and outings with family.

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