Train Boarding Process

What do I need to know about boarding my train?

The boarding process is very easy, but does vary from station to station. Here are some tips to help on your journey, beginning with what you need to know about boarding your train.

Checking tickets at the gate

In Seattle, Portland OR and for long distance service originating in Los Angeles we offer seat assignment, so if you're traveling from these stations you'll need to show your ticket to an Amtrak employee at the gate prior to boarding.

At Washington, DC, Philadelphia - 30th Street Station, New York - Penn Station, Boston - South Station, Chicago and Albany, we invite select passengers to move from the waiting area to the platform first. If you're in one of these groups, we'll need to verify your eligibility for early boarding, so be sure to have your eTicket open on your device screen or printed ticket handy while waiting to board.

  • Amtrak Guest Rewards Select Executive and Select Plus members (for those stations which have pre-boarding for these program members in place)
  • Passengers traveling in Sleeping Car accommodations
  • Passengers traveling in Acela Express First class
  • Passengers traveling in non-Acela Express Business class
  • Senior Citizens aged 62 and over
  • Active Military personnel
  • Families with small children
  • Anyone needing extra assistance

At some stations it may be necessary to close boarding gates three to ten minutes prior to train departure to make sure you can board your train safely.

How do I know the gate/track of my train?

Boarding gates are usually posted 15 minutes prior to a train's departure. Many stations have monitors and signs that display the boarding gate locations for each train.

At many stations, Amtrak customer service representatives will make announcements about boarding times and gate locations

What about at unstaffed stations?

Be sure to look for signs and kiosks that give instructions for what to expect and where to board at unstaffed stations. Check Train Status on Amtrak.com, the Amtrak Mobile Applications or by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL.

Train crews will direct you to the appropriate car and will help with luggage.

When should I arrive at the station?

The recommended arrival time for each station varies, but plan to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to your scheduled departure. If you need help with baggage, tickets or any other services, or if you are departing from a large or busy station, we recommend you arrive at the station even earlier. Auto Train passengers should arrive at the station at least two hours prior to departure.

Safety First

Always remain behind the yellow line on the platform while waiting for trains; trains stop very close to the edge of the platform. In some stations, not all trains stop at the platform while continuing through, so stay clear of these moving trains.

When boarding a train, be mindful of the gap between the platform and the train, always hold handrails for support and hold small children by the hand.