my first sleeper car in a train

I took Amtrak to and from the Society for Risk Analysis Annual Meeting. I took an overnight train home and reserved a sleeper car (a “roomette”). It was fantastic! The room was about two seats wide and long enough for me to lie down. In the tiny room was  retractable sink and toilet. A second bed could be lowered from the ceiling for a roommate. During the day, the bed could be converted to two seats. My trip was entirely overnight, so I only experienced the room in its nighttime mode. The roomette was a bit pricey ($194 plus the purchase of a regular train ticket), but it is comparable to a hotel stay and includes meals and excellent service. It is a real treat if you only fly/ride coach like me.

I took a few pictures of my roomette because I was so happy with it. Sorry the quality was so bad–I had to use my phone camera and tablet camera, neither of which take good pictures.


A picture of a roomette (from Amtrak). The room has a door that closes and locks for privacy.

A picture of a roomette (from Amtrak). The switches above the bed control several lights in the room. This was one of the many thoughtful details in the room.

A picture of my roomette bed.

Roomette sink and toilet

Roomette sink and toilet (folded up)

Roomette amenities included drinks, soap, towels, and dixie cups.

The toilet--seen with the lid on here--is literally in front of the door and window (open to the aisle). If you close the door and blinds, you have privacy.

Roomette sink and toilet

Roomette sink and toilet (open!).

Roomette sink

A closer look at the roomette sink. As you can see, there are outlets here for charging my laptop and using other electronics.

A closer look at the folded up roomette toilet. This was the only place to keep my luggage while sleeping.

Amtrak gave me my own little roll of toilet paper. It is the cutest toilet paper I have ever seen.

Those of you who have spent time in Europe may used to nice train accommodations. I have enjoyed the Amtrak service here in the Eastern United States, but it’s not equivalent to the trains in Europe. The sleeper car experience was a pleasant surprise that I will certainly try again.

What is your best train experience?

7 responses to “my first sleeper car in a train

  • Anna Nagurney


    Thanks for this wonderful blogspot on overnight train travel in the US and especially for the photos!

    When I was a child, my parents would take us on overnight train trips but, as you were speculating, indeed, some of the most memorable train trips (at least for me) have been in Europe and especially the 8 hour train trip from Bergen to Oslo in Norway, plus the great train rides in Austria, Switzerland, and, of course, on the TGV in France.

    Tomorrow my undergrads in my Transportation & Logistics class will be doing their team project presentations and there will be several on trains!


  • Michael Trick

    I think you did better than our recent Beijing-Xi’an overnight train trip. Two aspects: first, they don’t light up the scenery at night so “seeing the countryside” really doesn’t work, and, second, if the “squat” toilet at one end of the car is really disgusting, the “western” toilet at the other end is unlikely to be a pleasant experience.

  • Laura McLay

    Tim, you might if you curl up a bit. The beds are narrow, so there is only so much curling up one can do. The beds are apparently 6’2″ – 6’6″ long and can comfortably accommodate someone 6’6″ in height. I am tall (for a woman), and fit comfortably.

  • Laura McLay

    Mike, thank you for your toilet comments. I thought that the toilet pictures might be a bit gross, given that the toilet is literally touching the bed in the Amtrak train. It sounds like it could be much worse.

    I didn’t exactly miss the scenery on my trip (I took a daytime train to the conference, and let’s be honest, Virginia and the Carolinas are not as exotic as China). When taking overnight trains through Europe, I definitely missed my time staring out of the train windows. It’s a tough choice: sleep or scenery.

  • David Smith

    Coincidentally, there has been some serious discussion about the future of sleeper trains in the UK. Gradually the number of them has decreased, and now there are only two routes (we are a small island!) The UK Government has pledged to support the sleeper train between London and Scotland
    That train is described in

    The UK sleeper service is celebrated in “Cats” with “Skimbleshanks”

    An OR-related problem for the train operator will be the number of sleeping cars to purchase, as they can only be used as sleepers (unlike couchette cars in Europe). So, for every service that you run, there must be enough sleepers to come and the same number to go, plus spares for maintenance.

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