Amtrak Carolinian Train: The Complete Rider Guide

The Carolinian is a daily Amtrak passenger train that connects New York City and Charlotte, North Carolina, with stops in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, Raleigh, Cary, Durham, and Greensboro. The 704-mile (1,133-kilometer) route is the longest state-supported route in the Amtrak network. Northbound trains depart Charlotte at breakfast and arrive in New York in the early evening, while southbound trains depart New York during the morning rush hour and arrive in Charlotte in the evening.

The Carolinian commenced service in 1990 and is jointly sponsored and managed by Amtrak and the North Carolina Department of Transportation. The Piedmont provides additional corridor service between Charlotte and Raleigh. NCDOT markets the two trains under the “NC By Train” name.

The train travels along the Northeast Corridor between New York and Washington, D.C. The North Carolina leg of the line follows the North Carolina Railroad, a state-owned railroad leased to Norfolk Southern.

Trip Essentials: Gear Up for a Smooth Ride!

Get ready to beat the traffic and relax on your Carolina adventure! Here’s what you need to know to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey:

  • Tickets for the Ride: Amtrak offers online, phone, and station ticketing. Get the best deals by booking early, especially if you’re looking at those comfortable business-class seats with extra legroom and Wi-Fi access. Frequent travelers? Check out the Amtrak Guest Rewards program for sweet discounts and perks.
  • Pack Smart: Checked baggage? Stations offer limited service, so check online beforehand. Carry-on restrictions apply, so pack light and efficiently. Think essentials, comfy clothes for the ride, and some snacks and drinks to keep hunger pangs at bay.
  • Your Perfect Seat Awaits: Coach offers a social and budget-friendly experience, while business class pampers you with plush seats, priority boarding, and access to a cafe car stocked with delicious treats. Choose your chariot based on your travel style and budget!

Schedule Highlights

  • Raleigh-Durham travel time is around 30 minutes.
  • Charlotte-Raleigh travel time is around 3.5 hours.
  • The journey time from Raleigh to New York City is around 10.5 hours.
  • The journey time from Charlotte to New York City is around 14 hours.
  • Trains leave Charlotte early in the morning and arrive in NYC in the evening.
  • Trains leave NYC early in the morning and arrive in Charlotte at night.

Visit Amtrak.com to get the most recent schedules and timetables.

The Train Experience

Boarding the Train:

The excitement of your journey begins as you approach the station! Here’s what to expect for a stress-free boarding process on the Carolinian:

  • Timing is Key: Plan to arrive at the station at least 30 minutes before your departure time. This allows enough buffer to check in, find your platform, and settle comfortably on board.
  • Ticket Check:  Have your ticket (printed or on your phone) ready for a quick scan by Amtrak staff. They may also request a valid ID for verification.
  • Accessibility Assistance:  Amtrak prefers inclusion. If you need assistance with boarding, inform the bus station personnel, and they will be happy to guide you. Special seats and ramps are also available for your comfort.
  • Platform Prowl: Announcements and station displays will guide you to your specific boarding platform. Find friendly Amtrak staff who can answer your last-minute questions.
  • Find Your Happy Place:  Locate your designated car and seat number. Stow your luggage neatly overhead or under the seat, and get ready to relax and enjoy the scenic journey ahead!

Amenities on board:

The Carolinian isn’t just about getting you there; it’s about enjoying the ride! Here’s a breakdown of the onboard amenities that will keep you comfortable and entertained:

  • Culinary Delights:  The star of the show is the cafe car, offering a tempting selection of hot meals, snacks, and beverages. Think steaming cups of coffee, refreshing drinks, and tasty treats to satisfy any craving.
  • Rest and Relaxation:  Kick back and unwind in spacious coach seating or upgrade to plush business-class seats for an extra dose of comfort. All seats come equipped with individual reading lamps, fold-out tray tables, and a convenient 120v AC electrical outlet to keep your devices charged.
  • Stay Connected:  The modern world beckons!  Amtrak’s complimentary WiFi keeps you connected throughout your journey, so you can browse the web, catch up on work emails, or stream your favorite shows.
  • A Quiet Escape:  Need some peace and quiet?  Many Carolinian trains feature a designated quiet car, a haven for relaxation and focused work. Be mindful of noise levels and enjoy the tranquility.
  • Necessities Covered:  Restrooms are conveniently located throughout the train, and the Amtrak staff ensures they’re kept clean for your comfort.

Accommodations

Coach Class Seat

Coach class is available on all Amtrak trains and has wide, reclining seats with plenty of legroom, no middle seat option, at-seat trays, reading lamps, and power outlets. There are restrooms in each vehicle. Amtrak Guest Rewards customers who travel in Coach get 2 points per dollar spent.

Business Class Seat

Enjoy the unique benefits of riding in Business Class, a premium, upgraded experience available on most corridor trains across the Amtrak system. Specific characteristics vary per route, but Business Class provides increased legroom, a wide and comfy seat, and a complimentary non-alcoholic beverage (not available in Acela Business Class). Seat selection is available on several routes in the Northeast, making boarding easier and eliminating the guesswork of selecting a seat. Additionally, Business Class travelers earn a 25% bonus on Amtrak Guest Rewards points.

Carry-On Bicycle (Carolinian & Piedmont)

Part of the appeal of a rail travel is the opportunity to explore the stations along the way, and what better way to do that than by bike? If you want to travel our trains with your bike, we provide a variety of options to carry it aboard. Each train has unique equipment and loading methods that determine what services will be provided. The capabilities of your origin and destination stations also influence how bikes are handled.

The Route

Amtrak Carolinian Train Route

Popular Stops

  • New York City
  • Philadelphia
  • Wilmington, DE
  • Baltimore
  • Washington D.C.
  • Richmond
  • Raleigh
  • Durham
  • Greensboro
  • Charlotte

Train Stations Served by the Carolinian 

Approximate travel time

The Carolinian whisks you away on a scenic adventure through the heart of the East Coast. Here’s a glimpse of your travel time and itinerary:

  • Estimated Travel Time: Buckle up for a comfortable ride! The entire trip from New York City to Charlotte, NC, takes approximately 13 to 14 hours.
  • Layover Lowdown:  The Carolinian stops at various stations along the way, allowing passengers to board or disembark. These stops are usually short (about 15-30 minutes) and should not significantly affect your overall travel time. There are no extended layovers scheduled on the route.

Amtrak Carolinian Cancellation Policy

All Amtrak Carolinian tickets may be canceled for a full refund within the first 24 hours after purchase. If more than 24 hours have gone by, the cancellation policy and cost structure for Amtrak reservations are determined by the kind of ticket you booked.

For Saver Fare tickets, any modifications will incur a 25% cost. If you cancel your trip, you will get an eVoucher for 75% of the original ticket price.

Value Fare Tickets: There are no change costs, and the booking is 100% refundable up to 15 days before departure. If canceled fewer than 14 days before departure, a 25% cancellation charge will apply.

Flexible, Business, and Premium Fare tickets: No change costs and full refund if canceled or altered before to departure.

Tickets are non-refundable and non-exchangeable once the train departs, so make any changes to your travel arrangements as soon as possible.

If you want to amend or cancel your Amtrak Carolinian ticket, contact Amtrak’s customer support at 1 (800) 872-7245. To cancel or amend your booking online, go to www.amtrak.com and choose the “Modify Trip” option in the top right corner.

Helpful Tips

  • Business class seats are available on this train.
  • There is a café car for snacks and small meals, but no dining car, so you may need to carry food.
  • The Crescent train runs from Charlotte to New York City in roughly one hour less time.
  • Between Charlotte and Raleigh, the Piedmont and Carolinian trains make stops at the same stations.
  • Bags cannot be checked at every stop. However, you are free to carry your bags on board at any stop.

FAQs

Do Amtrak Carolinian trains have WiFi?

Yes, Amtrak Carolinian provides WiFi onboard their trains. Although most Amtrak Carolinian journeys will provide WiFi as stated, some trains may not, and onboard WiFi may lose connection in rural areas. To be safe, we recommend bringing a book or downloading a movie. Amtrak Carolinian WiFi is best utilized for browsing the web, reading emails, and chatting with friends; do not expect to binge-watch your favorite show.

Are there power outlets or USB plugs on the train?

Yes, there are power outlets aboard Amtrak Carolinian trains. You can usually find one or two outlets in each row of seats, so be a considerate traveler and check to see if your seatmate wants to charge their electronics as well. The onboard power outlets allow you to charge both a computer and USB devices using a USB power adapter, which is normally included with most phones and tablets.

Because Amtrak Carolinian may sometimes employ replacement train cars, not all journeys are guaranteed to include power outlets. We suggest bringing a power bank to charge your phone for any journeys longer than 2 hours, just in case.

What is Amtrak Carolinian’s schedule?

On an average day, Amtrak Carolinian operates 248 train journeys. However, the exact departure and arrival hours vary according to the day and route.

Can you pick up will-call tickets at the station?

No, Amtrak Carolinian does not provide will-call tickets. Purchase your tickets online and ensure that you have everything you need to board before arriving at the station.

Do you need an ID to get on the train?

Yes, Amtrak Carolinian asks you to submit your ID to a representative before boarding the train. Make sure you have government-issued identification that matches the carrier’s standards. Alternative IDs, such as a college ID, will not work.

Are there bathrooms on Amtrak Carolinian trains?

Yes, there are restrooms on Amtrak’s Carolina trains. The restrooms are rather basic, with a toilet, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer. Most restrooms do not have running water. Please exercise care and hang on to a rail when using a restroom in a moving vehicle.

Are meals or beverages available?

Amtrak Carolinian offers food to keep you satisfied throughout your journey. Make sure to have a credit card and some cash in case you get hungry.

Do you have to print your Amtrak Carolinian ticket?

Amtrak Carolinian does not need a paper ticket to board the train. Instead, when you make your reservation, you will get an eTicket via email. You may show the ticketing agent this eTicket on your smartphone as you board.

Does Amtrak Carolinian offer any premium features like extra legroom or movies?

Amtrak Carolinian goes above and beyond to provide its guests with premium amenities.

Do you find yourself squashed on a standard seat, or do you like having more space to spread out? You’re fortunate since Amtrak Carolinian has extra legroom seats. Because there is no standard for what additional legroom is, the extra space you get may differ across train lines, although having more is usually beneficial.

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