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.

Priority boarding

At 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
  • Passengers traveling in Sleeping Car accommodations
  • Passengers traveling in Acela First class
  • Passengers traveling in non-Acela Business class
  • Senior citizens aged 65 and over
  • Active duty military personnel
  • Families with young children
  • Anyone needing assistance to board

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.

Checking tickets at the gate

In Seattle, Portland, OR and for long distance service originating in Los Angeles and Albuquerque 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.

Assigned seating is available when booking a ticket in First Class on select Acela trains so you can reserve your preferred seat prior to boarding the train.

How do I know my train's gate and track?

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.

If you're departing from Washington, DC or Philadelphia - 30th Street Station, you can get gate and track notifications right on your phone. Just download the Amtrak app and make sure "Trip Updates & Status" is enabled in the settings.

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 and the Amtrak mobile apps before arriving at your station.

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.

There are special boarding procedures and check-in times for Auto Train, so passengers should arrive at the station at least two hours prior to departure.

Safety first

Always remain behind the yellow line and safety strip 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.