Lonely Planet Writer

Enjoy a train journey through eastern USA with Amtrak’s Autumn Express

Travellers will soon be able to take a slow train journey through the fall foliage of the Eastern USA – on tracks where passenger trains haven’t run regularly in years – as Amtrak brings back the Autumn Express.

In this photo, the Capitol Limited rounds a horseshoe curve in Mance, Pennsylvania amidst fall foliage.
In this photo, the Capitol Limited rounds a horseshoe curve in Mance, Pennsylvania amidst fall foliage. Image by Amtrak

America’s intercity passenger rail service has announced that its seasonal service, the Autumn Express, will operate this year on 29 and 30 October, taking travellers on a day-trip through areas of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The train will travel through small towns, historic tunnels and landmarks – and will even travel through an area of Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley that has not seen passengers trains since the 1960’s, according to Amtrak. The Autumn Express will leave from New York’s Penn Station, heading under the Hudson and stopping to pick-up passengers in Newark, New Jersey. The train will also please fans of the history of rail, switching from electric to diesel power before heading along the former Lehigh Valley Railroad and through the Musconetcong Tunnel, which opened in 1875.

Close-up of train track with branch of maple leaves.
Close-up of train track with branch of maple leaves. Image by Owen Luther/Getty Images

The train will then head to Allentown, and take the former route of the Queen of the Valley passenger train, which also hasn’t been regularly used as a passenger rail in decades, before following the route of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s historic Blue Ribbon Fleet. The train then returns at high speed to Newark and New York. Tickets are available online and cost $149 for adults, while children travelling with adults cost half price. Customers will also receive a boxed lunch, souvenir tote and lapel pin with their purchase.

If you can’t make the train trip, but are seeking out the beautiful fall colours that blanket much of the US in the autumn, there is a new interactive map that helps travellers find the best time and place to see the beauty of the changing of the season. The Fall Foliage Prediction Map, from SmokyMountains.com, uses predictive data to help people around the US find the fall colours at the optimal time.