Want to hop between major east coast cities in the United States on a train for as little as $5? Amtrak has announced new low-cost Night Owl fares on late-night departures between New York City and Washington, DC that will help travelers save big.

To score the savings, pick a departure between 7pm and 5am between select stations on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, which includes DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia and NYC. A one-way ticket between Washington, DC, and Baltimore or Philadelphia and Baltimore costs just $5, while a longer journey between DC and New York is only $20. This train line also includes stops at Baltimore International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport, making it a good option for travelers arriving or departing on late-night and early-morning flights.

Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station in New York, US, on Tuesday, March 22, 2023. Bloomberg via Getty Images

Night Owl fares are available for coach seats and include wi-fi access and at-seat power outlets. Passengers are allowed to bring two bags and two personal items at no additional cost.

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Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor is the busiest rail line in the United States, with more than 2100 passenger trains daily. The rail route is also used by Amtrak’s Acela trains, the only high-speed service in the country, though the Night Owl fares are not an option on these services. Acela trains are undergoing a major overhaul, and the upgraded trains are expected to launch later this year and have taken a stronger stance on sustainability. The new fleet is set to reduce carbon consumption by almost half, add 25% more seats, and have more spacious restrooms, storage compartments and seating areas. The upgraded cafe cars will have more food and drink options that come in eco-friendly packaging.

Long-distance overnight Amtrak trains elsewhere in the country are also being overhauled. Ten companies have submitted ideas for modern replacement railcars, and Amtrak will issue the formal procurement request later this year for the new long-distance carriages. Amtrak’s upgrades are thanks to the $1.2 trillion federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed into law in 2021. The portion of the funding dedicated to rail is expected to also open new routes and reconnect cities that have lost their train connections.

The interior of Amtrak's new line of Acela trains aims to encourage more travelers.

While the US rail system has a long way to go before its coverage, speed and efficiency is anywhere close to Europe and Asia, it is possible to explore the majority of this vast country by train. Like the Night Owl fares, Amtrak’s USA Rail Pass can be a great deal depending on your travel itinerary: it offers 10 journeys in 30 days at a set price of $499, which is sometimes knocked down to $299 when the pass is on sale. Modeled on the Eurail Pass, which allows travel around 33 European countries, Amtrak’s USA Rail Pass might get you across only one international border (with Canada), but it’s just the ticket to a car-free “road trip” across the country.


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