USA by Rail is now in its 9th edition and has been fully revised to include comprehensive advice on everything from ticket types to tipping as well as a section on the history of North American railways from the early pioneer days of steam trains to Amtrak and the present day.
The author is John Pitt who has travelled more than 80,000 miles along the North American rail network over the past 25 years.
With rail fares typically 50% to 75% less than airfares, travelling by rail can make a relaxing change from flying though travelling times are usually a lot longer.
For anyone planning a long distance train journey across the vast continent of North America, USA by Rail makes the perfect travelling companion. Despite its name, it covers both the USA and Canada
The first part of the book General Information is devoted to the history of the railways in North America and details of the 100 active steam railways, tourist trains and rail museums.
It also covers Amtrak and VIA Rail passes, types of tickets, Thruway services (combined train and motorcoach), the different types of carriages like the Superliner, dining, lounge and sleeping options.
For first time visitors to the USA, there is a short chapter containing general visitor information and the comprehensive appendices cover internet web sites, useful addresses, ticketing agents and suggested further reading.
There are eight regional maps with one showing all Amtrak rail routes, Thruway bus connection services and stopping stations in Florida.
The bulk of the book Trains and Routes in the United States (some 300 pages), details the 37 long distance routes across the USA (25 routes) and Canada (12 routes).
Each route description includes a map with up-to-date timetables, details of schedules, departure and arrival times and stopping points along the way.
Travel times between each station is given in both directions so you can plan your route with ease and the detailed itinerary also includes the sights, countryside and wildlife visible from the track and specific sightseeing and accommodation suggestions in 38 major cities along the way.
In total, over 500 destinations are described including Walt Disney World.
For travellers specifically interested in Florida, the book includes The Sunset Limited (nearly 3 days from Los Angeles to Orlando though curtailed following Hurricane Katrina), The Silver Star and Silver Meteor (New York to Miami) and the Auto Train (Lorton to Sanford), the longest passenger train in the world.
The third and final part On Canadian Rails deals with the Canadian VIA Rail pass, rail routes and steam trains.
Note that most guide books are re-published annually so you can often pick up a bargain if you don’t mind last year’s edition.