Ok, you all know I'm old, but when I was younger train travel was not so limited so since my mom and dad didn't have a car for many years we took the train to grandmas. Train travel was still available when I was expecting my second baby and my daughter and I took the local to visit my parents. That was my last train ride until 4 years ago when I was in California traveling from Oceanside to Bakersfield to San Jose. This was my only experience on an Amtrak train but I found it not only clean and comfortable but very reasonable. I was riding California Amtrak and it is a combined train and bus system. My total for traveling on two different days was just $74.00.
I boarded the train at Oceanside and delighted in the part of the trip that was right along the Pacific Ocean. At San Juan Capistrano the train took an inland course and stopped several places. One was in Anaheim and the Amtrak station happened to be right across the road from the Anaheim Angels Baseball Stadium. We went into the Los Angeles Train Station where I transferred to an Amtrak bus for the jaunt to Bakersfield. I would have to say the Amtrak buses were the cleanest buses I've ever been on. After visiting in Bakerfield I boarded the Amtrak train there for the trip north through the San Juaquin Valley to Stockton. This was also a comfortable ride. The train was clean and there was a cafe car where light meals could be purchased. You could sit on upper or lower levels on the California Amtrak trains and I chose the upper. This portion of the trip afforded me the chance to see lots of orchards and vineyards as the valley is the heart of farm country in California. But the down side is that the tracks take you through the industrial areas of the cities they service and everyone knows the industrial areas are usually older and dirtier thay farmland. I had one man sit at a table with me in the cafe car and talk about the cattle we saw in a field along the route. He said they were prize Angus beef...no better eating. Well I'm an Iowa farm woman and I know Holsteins when I see them. I told him these cattle were Holstein feeder calves. He snidely said he thought I was wrong and then asked where I was from, just as snidely. When I said Iowa, he got up and left. LOL
I arrived in Stockton later in the day and had to ride an Amtrak bus back to San Jose, a distance of about 70 miles. Again the bus was clean and the driver helpful.
When I arrived in the San Jose Amtrak station, my host was delayed in picking me up. I tried to call him but no one was home. The people at the ticket desk were very nice. One woman was getting off her shift and told me that he might have done to the Greyhound station by mistake and she would be glad to give me a ride there. I thanked her but said I'd better stay put because I was sure he'd show up. Well he finally arrived and had been at the Greyhound station waiting even though I'd made sure he knew I was to be at Amtrak. Sometimes older people get things mixed up. The Amtrak employee had driven to the Graehound station and looked around to find someone like the person I'd described. She found him and asked if he was waiting for someone on the Amtrak bus from Stockton. He was so she told him I was at the Amtrak station waiting. That is "service beyond duty", or just a very nice woman
After my stay in San Jose I boarded a bus back to Stockton to visit friends there and once again had a very nice driver and could sit in the front seat since I was the only passenger on then. We chatted about different things. I left Stockton by car and flew back to Iowa from Sacremento.
If there is one thing that worried me on the train trip north it was that you had to handle your own baggage and large pieces all sat in a baggage area near the door. I was afraid someone might make off with mine while I was sitting in the upper level. If it would have fit up the narrow stairway I could have taken it with me but it was too large. No one took it on any of the stops, but I did go down to check on it a couple of times.
All in all I would recommend Amtrak travel. It was a nice way to travel if you have the time to do it.