Compared with most of the country, New York enjoys extensive rail service and utilizes it heavily, especially in and out of New York City. As a result, rail service tends to be not only convenient but on time and reliable. Amtrak routes traverse two key regions in New York: the Hudson Valley, running south–north from New York City through Albany and the Adirondacks to Montréal; and central New York, running east–west across the state from western Massachusetts through Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo before heading down into Erie, Pennsylvania, and on into Ohio. Both of these routes are extremely scenic, especially the Hudson River run. There are also several major Amtrak routes in the northeastern United States that cut through New York City, most of them connecting stations on the Washington, D.C.–Boston corridor. New York City's Penn Station is the hub for all of the state's Amtrak service except for the central New York runs.
Nowhere else in the country can you find more comprehensive commuter-rail service than in greater New York City. From Manhattan, Metro-North Commuter Railroad trains take passengers from Grand Central Terminal to points north of the city, both in New York State and Connecticut. For trains to Long Island and New Jersey, take the Long Island Railroad and New Jersey Transit, respectively; both operate from Penn Station. The PATH trains run between Manhattan and the New Jersey towns of Newark and Jersey City.
You can often save money by avoiding travel at peak periods (generally Friday and Sunday on Amtrak, and weekdays during rush hour on the commuter rails), when tickets are generally more expensive. Amtrak occasionally offers deals that allow a second or third accompanying passenger to travel for half price or free. Amtrak's USA rail pass allows unlimited travel within the United States and Canada during any 15-, 30-, and 45-day period ($389–$749).
Tickets can run 10% to 50% higher if you don't purchase them seven days in advance. The following are approximate one-way fares, trip times, and routes on Amtrak (times and fares vary depending on the train service and number of stops): Boston to New York City, 3½–4¼ hours, $62–$93; Washington, D.C., to New York City, 2¾–3¼ hours, $72–$103; Montréal to New York City, 10 hours, $62; Chicago to Buffalo, 12–14 hours, $72; Toronto to Buffalo, 2¼ hours, $38; Toronto to Rhinecliff (mid–Hudson Valley), 8¾ hours, $96; Philadelphia to Syracuse, 8–10 hours, $62–$89; New York City to Niagara Falls, 9 hours, $55–$78; Cleveland to Albany, 6 hours, $45.
One-way fares on the commuter lines are usually $5–$12, and the cost is highest during peak hours (morning and early-evening rush hours). Also, you pay a surcharge if you purchase your tickets on the train rather than at the station.
Amtrak. 800/872–7245; www.amtrak.com.
Long Island Railroad. 718/217–5477; www.mta.nyc.ny.us/lirr.
Metro-North Commuter Railroad. 718/330–1234; www.mta.info/mnr.
New Jersey Transit. 973/491–7000; www.njtransit.com.
PATH. 800/234–7284; www.pathrail.com.