You are currently viewing What You Need To Know: Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited

What You Need To Know: Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited is a relaxing way to travel between the Goldcoast (Midwest) to the Eastcoast (or the other way around). This train lets you sit back and relax while you get to your destination.

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited has 25 stops and Amtrak’s Connecting stops. The Limited is one of the Amtrak trains that split or come together during its route.

Here is more information about trains that split.

This article covers the information you need before your next trip aboard Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited. I invite you to get a tasty beverage or snack and learn about this beautiful train route.

The information in this article is meant as a guide and may not reflect your experience. Amtrak can change services and offerings at any time.

Lake Shore Limited Short Term Service Advisory

CSX is performing track work from June 19 through July 21 that will affect Trains 448 and 449 between Albany and Boston. For more information, check out this Amtrak Advisory notice on how this may affect your travels.

Travels with Kev’s podcast on Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited

Why take Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited?

The Lake Shore Limited in Albany.
The Lake Shore Limited in Albany.

Taking Amtrak is a convenient and relaxing way to travel with some scenic views.

A large portion of this is overnight; depending on when you get on, you can plan to see the start and finish and sleep through the middle.

Many of the train’s stops are in the downtown areas of their communities, unlike airports.

Plus, it serves many small communities without access to airports or other transportation, so Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited and its connecting services are essential to the USA transportation system.

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited Quick FAQs

  • The Limited runs daily in each direction.
  • The Limited splits or comes together during part of the route, so the train has multiple numbers.
    • Going East is number 48 for the Chicago to New York section and 448 for Chicago to Boston.
    • Going West is number 49 for New York to Chicago and 449 for Boston to Chicago.
  • This train has Amtrak WiFi, and there are spots along the route without a cell signal.
  • You can buy tickets or make reservations online, via phone (1-800-USA-Rail), or at staffed stations.
    • When boarding, you can use paper or tickets on an electronic device.
    • Do not plan on buying your tickets on the train.
  • Food on Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited
    • The Cafe car is on the Boston side of the train.
      • All passengers can use this car as a lounge car.
      • If you have a get on or off the train between NYP and Albany, you may want to get something to eat before embarking on the adventure.
    • The cafe carries grab-and-go food and drink.
      • The cafe car is open for all passengers to use.
      • It does close overnight and during staff breaks.
    • Sleeping passengers can enjoy Flex dining from the dining car.
  • The Limited uses Amtrak’s Viewliner equipment.
  • Amtrak does not have a check-in process like the airlines or TSA screening like an airport.

Boarding Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited

Lake Shore Limited
Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited in Albany.

When it is time to board the train, prepare your tickets for conductors or attendants to look at and scan.

Listen carefully to the instructions given by the station or onboard staff to avoid confusion. This train is two trains in one, so ensuring you are in the right car is essential.

Coach passengers

Coach seats are assigned on your day of travel as you board the train. With the exception, if the train is not too full or is towards the end of the route, you might be able to pick your seat.

Amtrak helping passenger
Amtrak conductor assisting a passenger to the right car (photo courtesy of Amtrak)

After the train departs the station, the conductors will walk down the aisle to scan your ticket (unless they did so before you boarded) and place a card over your head. This card saves your seat, and it indicates your destination.

Depending on your destination can determine the car you are assigned. Amtrak tries to group passengers traveling to similar locations in the same coach car. Doing so makes it easier for conductors and staff to help passengers off the train with fewer disruptions for those traveling further, especially at night.

Amtrak asks you not to change cars for a “better seat” without first talking to conductors. Amtrak also tries to put groups and families together; this can be more difficult if everyone keeps spreading out.

For Sleeping Car Passengers

You will receive your sleeper car room assignments after completing your reservation.

NYP Loading
Passengers walking to board the Lake Shore Limited at New York Penn Station

Amtrak sends an email with a printable ticket, or if you log into the app, the ticket information is also there.

On this train, all of the sleepers are not together.

Amtrak places the sleeper on the ends of the train, often the “Boston” sleeper in front and the “New York” on the tail.

Car attendants or conductors should be outside the car to check you in and help direct you to your room.

Usually, the car attendant will visit your room after the train takes off to help you get familiar with your room, the train, and meals.

Do not switch to another room without talking to someone first because rooms can often be reserved for someone later down the line.

If the train is busy or during meal time and the attendant has meals to grab, it could take them a while to get to you.

What paperwork do you need to ride Amtrak?

You need two things to ride an Amtrak train: your ticket and a government-issued ID.

You can use paper or electronic tickets to board the train, including the emailed one.

Amtrak ticket readers will randomly ask the conductors to check ID, this hasn’t happened to me yet, but it has happened to travel my companions. So, it is best to have things ready.

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited Schedule

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited takes 20.2 hours to travel 959 miles from Chicago to New York and 22 hours to travel 1018 miles between Chicago and Boston.

Below is a brief look at scheduled departures from larger cities.

Overview Look at the schedule

Eastbound Train 48/448
(Read from top-down)
StopsWestbound Train 49/449
(Read from bottom-up)
9:30 pmChicago, IL10:12 am
3:15 pmToledo, OH6:33 am
5:50 amCleveland, OH4:03 am
9:05 amBuffalo, NY12:39 am
4:10 pmAlbany-Rensselaer, NY7:05 pm
8:32 pm448 Boston, MA (South) 44912:50 pm
6:42 pm48 New York, NY (Penn) 493:40 pm
The times are departure times and can change at any time.

The Route Broken Down by Day

Train 48 and 448 are the same train from Chicago to Albany-Rensselaer, NY; that is where it splits into the two trains. Trains 49 and 449 run as two until Albany-Rensselaer, NY, where it becomes one train to Chicago.

For more about this, check out my article about trains with multiple route numbers.

DIRECTIONCITY SECTIONSDAY OF TRAVEL
#48/488 WestboundChicago, IL – South Bend, IN1st Day
#48Elkhart, IN – New York, NY (Penn)2nd Day
#448Elkhart, IN – Boston, MA (South)2nd Day
#49 EastboundNew York, NY (Penn) – Rochester, NY1st Day
#449Boston, MA (Sout) – Rochester, NY2nd Day
#49/499Buffalo-Depew, NY – Chicago, IL2rd Day

What is Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited on-time reliability?

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited’s percentage of on-time customers in May 2021 is 56%.

Delays happen with most transportation forms, which are often not Amtrak’s fault.

Most delays were freight interference, “acts of God,” and poor weather conditions. But at times, it is Amtrak’s fault, such as mechanical issues.

To learn more about the delays, watch the video or click here.

Delayed trains can make up some of the lost time, and do not let this deter you from booking a trip. When planning your adventure, add extra travel time to your itinerary.

Who owns the tracks that Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited uses?

Amtrak does not own most of the tracks they run on but uses rails owned by others.

The owners of those rails are called the host railroads. The Lake Shore Limited runs on tracks owned by Amtrak, Norfolk Southern Railway,  CSX Transportation, Metro-North Railroad, and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

Checking the train status

You can use the Amtrak app, website, or third-party site to see if the train is running on time, late, or early. If the train is running early, it will wait at that stop until its departure time unless it is a drop-off only stop.

Additionally, you can sign up for text or emails when booking to stay alert.

If you forget, you can sign up later, or the people picking you up can get them./b

Baggage on Amtrak

Checked baggage is unavailable for all stops, but you can carry your gear.

You are responsible for your belongings while on the train.

Carry-on

21" Travelpro Bold
Luggage

Amtrak’s generous carry-on policy allows for two twenty-eight-inch suitcases and two personal items; all bags must weigh fifty pounds or less. Links below for more info.

Coach passengers can use the storage shelf above their seat or the luggage rack at the end of the car.

Sleeper cars have spaces above the doors to store your things. Bedrooms do offer more space than roomettes. There is not a place to put excess baggage.

FYI, rooms only lock when you are inside them.

Checked bag service

Again, check bag service is not available for all stops.

Mack at the Omaha Station
Mackenzie with her backpack on grabbing her bag before heading to the train,

Checking the availability of checked baggage ahead of time prevents a day of travel surprise and allows you to pack accordingly.

Below you can click the link for the station you are going to or leaving to check if checked baggage is available. Also, the website and app often let you know if the checked service is available during booking.

If any stations on your trip are unstaffed, you cannot check pieces of baggage.

But if an intermediate station and destination allow for check bags, you can check them en route. See the red box below for details.

When you connect with another train, your checked bags will transfer with you, with the possible exception of bus transfers. When in doubt, ask the onboard or station staff.

If you check your bags, you will not have access to them, so don’t pack anything you need during the trip, such as medication or medical devices.

According to Amtrak rules, you must check your bags at least forty-five minutes before the departure of the train. Some stations may bend these rules, but it is better to plan that they won’t.

Food and alcohol on the Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited

You can bring food aboard Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited

Amtrak Food
You can buy in Amtrak’s Cafe car back to your seat

If you want to be a good travel companion, avoid bringing food with pungent odors on the train.

For example, not everyone enjoys the smell of egg salad sandwiches.

Also, avoid overly crunchy food for late-night snacks.

Due to FDA regulations, you cannot bring food or drinks into Amtrak food service cars you didn’t purchase onboard. Food for babies and toddlers is the exception.

Also, Amtrak cannot store or heat the food you brought aboard. If you need to keep medications cool, bring a cooler to store them in; if required, Amtrak may get you ice.

Bringing alcohol on board Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited

Beer on Amtrak
Beer from the sleeper lounge on the Lake Shore Limited

You may transport adult beverages in coach class but cannot partake from your stash as you travel.

Sleeping car passengers can bring adult beverages aboard and consume them only in their room or travel buddy’s rooms.

If you break this rule, you may get kicked off the train and fined. Also, you can get kicked off the train if you get out of hand from drinking too much.

Adult beverages are available in the cafe or Sleeper Lounge for passengers with accommodations.

Amtrak café car (for all passengers)

Lunch
Amtrak café attendants use cardboard trays to make transporting your food more accessible.

The cafe car is open for all passengers and offers meals, snacks, and beverages, including adult ones.

The cafe’s hours can vary, so listen to the onboard announcements, but typically it is open during the day except for the attendant’s break times.

There is seating on both sides of the retail space to enjoy your purchases. You can hang out in the car but be respectful of others.

You can find the cafe car in the Boston Section of the train.

There is no cafe service on trains 48/49 between New York Penn and Albany,

Sleeper Lounge (for sleeping passengers only)

The Lake Shore Limited serves Amtrak’s flex dining.

Amtrak Flex Meal
Amtrak’s Asian Noodle flex dinging entree with dinner roll, salad, dessert, and beer.
  • Amtrak offers a menu with hot and ready-to-serve choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus cold and light breakfast options.
  • While eating, you can enjoy a selection of wine, beer, and spirits (the first one is on Amtrak during dinner).
  • You can get unlimited soft drinks throughout the journey, the selection below.
  • Exclusive onboard lounge to dine and socialize or complimentary room service provided by your attendant
  • Flexible dining does not need reservations.

Complimentary beverages include Coffee – Regular & Decaf, Hot Tea, Milk, Orange Juice, Iced Tea, Bottled Spring Water, Sparkling Water, Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, and Ginger Ale.

Scheduled Meals

The times you get on and off the train determine what meals you receive, so ask your onboard staff about service hours.

For those sleeper car passengers traveling from end to end, you can expect; if the train is running late, Amtrak can add meals

DayEastbound 48/448Westbound 49/449
1No meals due to late departureLunch* & Dinner
2Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner*Breakfast & Lunch
*Indicates meal on Bosten section only.

There is no Sleeper Car Lounge on 448/449 between Boston South and Albany; sleeper passenger meals may be available from the cafe. After Albany 448/449, sleeping passengers may use the sleeper lounge.

The 25 stops of the Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited

Station types

The Lake Shore Limited serves various stops, including staffed stations, unstaffed stations, flag stops, and platform stations or stops.

You can click on the stations to see the current amenities.

*Stations with connecting bus services.

The Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited line-up

Car numbers

When walking up to the train, look for a four-digit number found by the door.

Sleeper car Number
Amtrak’s four-digit code indicating this car is on train 30, The Capitol Limited, and number 01.

Occasionally these numbers are not updated, so pay attention to the last two digits.

Still, the second part of the number should match your ticket in either case. The attendants or conductors are looking for you, and all the sleepers on this train are together.

Once again, your ticket contains this information for sleeping passengers, and coach passengers get assigned cars and seats while on the platform.

The order of cars for the Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited

The following is approximate based on the information I could find at the time. So, do not take this as set in stone. Amtrak often changes the consists based on the season plus car and staff availability.

Westbound Car NumbersEquipment TypeEastbound Car Numbers
4820Sleeper (BOS)4920
Cafe
4841Coach (BOS)4941
4840Coach (BOS)4940
4833Coach (NYP)4933
4832Coach (NYP)4932
4831Coach (NYP)4931
4830Coach (NYP)4930
Sleeper Lounge
4811Sleeper (NYP)4911
4812Sleeper (NYP)4912

This information could change, and Amtrak may add or subtract equipment.

Connecting with other trains or transportation

This train does have connections with other transportation. You can also connect with other Amtrak trains in Chicago and Westcoast stations.

Sleeper and coach car layout

Below are layouts of passenger cars you may find on the Lake Shore Limited, including coach and sleeper Amtrak has new sleeper cars coming into service, so your sleepers may vary from these.

Nevertheless, the diagrams will help you find your room in your sleeping car. The placement of passenger rooms has not changed.

Sleeping car numbers (this is of the Amfleet I sleepers (blue interiors))

Amtrak Viewliner 1 Sleeper
A look at the layout of an Amtrak Viewliner Sleeper car.

New sleeper cars (burgundy interiors) have a bathroom across from the shower and the attendant’s room 11 or 12. There are no longer toilets in the roomette.

Coach Cars

Amfleet II Coach car
Amtrak’s single-level Amfleet II coach car

Amtrak Café Car/Sightseer Lounge

These cars can vary, but there is at least one restroom, and the retail area is always in the middle.

Amtrak cafe car
Amfleet cafe car

Notable views and fun info of the Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited

My dad looks out the window of a Viewliner roomette on Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited.

In New York State, you’ll pass through the Finger Lakes area on your way to Albany, the capital of the Empire State. From there, travel through the Berkshires and stop in Pittsfield house, where Herman Melville wrote Moby Dick.

In Boston, connect to Providence and Mystic Seaport on our Regional service.

You can get off that train in Albany to watch it become two trains or come together, or you can decide to stay aboard. While Amtrak is splitting the train or combing it, you will not have power onboard the train. During this stop, you cannot get water or flush.

Much of this route is overnight, so it may be hard to see some of the lake shores.

Fresh air (smoking) stops.

Fresh air breaks allow you to get off the train, stretch your legs, and get some fresh air, as the name implies.

Getting off the train can add to your travel experience, and your body may welcome the ability to stretch out and walk on stable ground. These breaks often happen during crew changes, fuel stops, stops with baggage service, or if the train arrives early.

Not every stop is a fresh air stop!

If you decide to get off the train at a fresh air stop, follow the conductor’s directions, and don’t wander too far from the train. Your responsibility is to return to the train on time because it can and will leave without you. Often you will hear a few blasts from the train’s horn, indicating it is time to reboard the train, and conductors will give you the “all aboard!”

Walking around the train

First-time train riders should know a few tidbits about walking around a train. It is not hard, but often not what people are used to when traveling.

Amtrak Viewliner Roomette Hallway
Looking down the hallway of roomettes on a Viewliner Sleeper Car

Trains are linear, meaning one car is in front of another. You may need to walk through a few cars to get to the one you desire.

The walk can be a great way to stretch your legs if you have been sitting for a while.

Remember, trains are moving, so they sway as they go down the track.

Use the seatbacks or luggage racks for support. Avoid stepping where the plates come together when passing between cars, and use candy cane striped handles for support.

The isles of trains are narrow and do not allow two people to walk in opposite directions to pass simultaneously.

If you have two seats to yourself, people may step into “your space” for a second to let another past; therefore, be courteous of others as you walk through the train.

Smoking and marijuana on the train

You cannot smoke or vape any subsistences on Amtrak’s trains.

The conductors can remove those caught smoking on board the train and issue a fine.

While marijuana is legal in many states, it is still illegal to transport or consume it on the train because Amtrak is considered federal property.

Bathrooms and showers

Amtrak Shower
A Viewliner Shower for sleeper car passengers.
  • Coach passengers
    • You can find two lavatories at one end of each coach car.
      • If those are in use, you can go to another car.
      • There is also one in the cafe car.
    • There are no shower facilities for coach passengers.
  • Sleeping passengers
    • Each room contains a sink
    • There is a shower in every sleeper car
    • Roomettes may have a toilet in the room, depending on the vintage.
    • New cars have a restroom at the end of the car across from the shower. These cars do not have toilets in the room.
    • Bedroom accommodation (rooms “numbered” A-B) contains a lavatory and shower.

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited wrap-up.

Lake Shore Limited
Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited in Albany.

The Limited is a safe, relaxing, and fun way to travel to your next adventure.

Food overview

You can bring your food aboard or use the food services offered by Amtrak (or do both).

Amtrak cannot store, chill, or heat the food brought aboard the train; as of now, coach passengers do not have access to the sleeper-lounge car.

If you need to keep medication chilled and bring a cooler with ice, Amtrak may provide additional ice if needed depending on the current supply.

Station Lounges

Boston South Lounge (photo courtesy of Amtrak)

Sleeping car passengers leaving or passing through Chicago, Boston South, and New York Penn can use the station lounges.

WIFI and streaming

This train does have WiFi, and if you plan on using WiFi on your journey, read this article on Amtrak WiFi before your trip.

Traveling with electronics

Bring an extension cord, charger, cables, or battery pack to keep everything running. There are outlets for each accommodation and in the cafe car.

Use headphones for any noise-making device (phone, games, etc.), and turn down or silence your phone, especially at night.

Thoughts on binging entertainment on Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited

Amtrak provides scenery rolling past your windows, but anything beyond that is up to you.

smart phone
Smartphones can provide entrainment while traveling.

The right entertainment can help pass the time, including book(s), videos, games, a good playlist, or more entertainment ideas.

Something simple like a deck of cards or puzzle book can go far.

If you plan to use an electronic gadget, have a few apps that do not need WiFi.

Try downloading ebooks and podcasts to give you a variety of entertainment. I love learning from a podcast or an audiobook while looking out the window. There is always the Travels with Kev Podcast you can binge.

Most of all, bring your patience.

I hope this helps you plan and enjoy your next trip aboard Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited. Remember, if I can travel, you can too; experience comes from doing, not waiting.

Safe Travels!

Kev

Kev

Kev has been traveling with Amtrak since 2012, celebrating his tenth year this year. Over those years, he has been on over 700 trains covering over 200,000 miles of rail. Kev enjoys helping others achieve their travel dreams by assisting them to get started. Kev enjoys making music as an organist.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.