The Cincinnati Union Terminal: Art Deco Temple To Transportation (2023)

Everyone in Cincinnati has a connection to Union Terminal, it'sliterallyconnected to our doorsteps as a building part ofourtransportation system. Our connection to other cities and the World. Cars, Busses,& even the potential for the street car would go into and out of the building itself;interior pick up& drop off.

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The Cincinnati Union Terminal is theone of the largest half domes in the World and is a technological marvel duringits life as a train station.

2018 Restoration

In 2018 the Union Terminal underwent a complete restoration, there were many individuals, companies, civic &other contributors who pulled resources to accomplish the monumental task of restoring & keeping the Union Terminal alive for another 100 years. We thank them sincerely.

The clock on the face of the Union Terminal was restored by Verdin in Cincinnati. The clock underwent a design change as well.

Here is a picture of the Union Terminal clock movement being restoredinside Verdin Clock& Bell Company in Cincinnati. Thank you Tim Verdin for the tour, this meant the world to us.

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Now we are honored to release the "Concourse" watch. Designedafter & inhonor of the clock on the interior of Union Terminal that resided above the now demolished grand Concourse.

The Cincinnati Watch Company likes the Union Terminal for more than the Cincinnati Museum Center which createdan interactive kids' floor paradise,beyond a great place to take our kids.

A portion of the proceeds of every Concourse watchis donated to Cincinnati Museum Center, the children's museum inside of Union Terminal.

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There is a ton of great content by amazing authors about the Art Deco Temple to Transportation Union Terminal but we are going to focus on the aspects that us Watch Nerds Love best.

Union Terminal Technological Wonder for it's Time

  • The technology in1933 Union Terminal was far advanced forits time.
    • First public digital clock!
    • IBM synced all clocks throughout the entire station & campus including offices and engine roundhouse.
    • Electronic & pneumaticcentrally controlled rail yard from Tower A
    • (The Original Airport)
  • An Art Deco Masterpiece, The Rotunda & Tile Masterpiece
  • The Inspiration for DC Comic's "Super Friends" Hall Of Justice.
  • Cars, Taxis, Busses, andStreetcar could enter & exit in & underthe half dome.

First Public Digital Clock West of The Allegheny

In 1933, would someone looking at digitally displayed time know what they were looking at? Time was never displayed like that before the digital clock. The numbers would have looked like a train number, or a train delay notice, a number of things. This is how groundbreaking a digital clock was at the time,

New Time Display Had To Be Labeled TIME

The word "TIME" is emboldened in large letters next to the first digital clock display seen here in 1933 at the opening of the Cincinnati Union Terminal (CUT). If you look at images of the digital clocks at the (CUT) you will notice that the word "Time" sits next to every one.

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How Did A Digital Clock Work in 1933?

We take digital clocks for granted today, but in 1933 a Digital Clock display was an incredible breakthrough.

When the Union Terminal clock was first builtthe time was actually projected onto a panel displaying the appropriate time, like a movie displaying the correct time. (Citation)

Several years after the terminal was built the digital clocks were upgraded by IBM using on and off dots, circles on a board that can either be black or white. But how did the board know what time to display?

The central time keeping device that kept all the clocks at Union Terminal accurate and in sync, like all the clocks in thatday, used mechanical movements to keep time. 3 clocks like Grandfather clocks stood next to each other in the basement space at Union Terminal. Next to a board with a spinning Hour, Minute, and Second gear based off the average of the three clocks.

(The clocks were radio synced every 12 hours as well)

How do you make mechanical clocks digital?

Fascinatingly, IBM attached round drums to where the hands of the clock would normally be connected tothe movement. The movement would turn the drum just like a movement turns an hour hand, minute hand, and second hand. But instead thedrums had metal contacts on the outside of them, and like a music box's music maker, they would make contact allowing an electric current to pass, turning a circle dark or lit.

A music box has a drum with metal contacts, as the drum spins, the contacts hit a musical harp device, or a bell, to pluck a specific pitch or sound. On the first digital clock, IBM built a drum to spin on the mechanical movement that would make contact with wires connected to each circle on the digital clock. As the drum turned, contacts were made allowing electricity to pass through, or stop, turning a circle from black to white. The design of the contacts on the drum told the time.

That is how IBM turned mechanical moments into digital clocks.

Synced Time Throughout the Train Station

What is Time if the clocks in a train station differ by minutes, or seconds? The answer is A MESS of frustration, missed trains, even disaster! IBM put everyone at the CUT on the same time by syncing all of the clocks in the Union Terminal. From the art deco masterpiece adorning the front face of the building, to the office clocks of the admin staff and in control Tower "A", everyone was on the exact same time.

Incredible for 1933, incredible for 2003! Synced time throughout the entire campus of Union Terminal.

How did IBM do it?

We were fortunate to meet with >>>>> who explained and showed us how the clocks at Union Terminal were synced. First, you must understand the movements. Three movements, like three grandfather clocks kept the time. Between the threetheirtimesaveraged and fed to a master control clock.

This clock sent a signal out to all clocks at 5 minutes till every hourstarting a mechanical process that turneda specific shaped gear in the back of every clock. As the main clocks struck the hour they sent another signal and if the clock was not at the hour the minute hand would jump to the hour so at every hour, the clocks are synced.


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The precision necessary tosyncall of the clocks and mechanical ingenuity to perform at scale IBM set Time for all Cincinnatians from the Union Terminal.

Union TerminalRotunda

Whenwe discover the Cincinnati Union Terminal its momentous history fillsus with awe and wonder. Walking in the vast sky and color of the rotunda we're Wowed while giant tile mosaics that pullus into the train station turned Museum Center.

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Hey Cincinnati, when you walk into the rotunda do you point to the mosaic and say to your kids "Look, there's Grandpa"? I do, and I've heard that many Cincinnatians do this on entering the terminal.

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The Rotunda is LARGE!

It is hard to paint the picture of the immense feeling of awe one gets walking into and under the Terminal's rotunda. The size of the Rotunda is set off with vibrant colors where each layer is like another layer of the stratosphere.

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The rotunda is the second largest half dome in the Northern Hemisphere, second only to Sydney's Opera House.

The below excellent drone footage helps demonstrate the size of the rotunda. Thanks Brendan Keef.

The Secret Whispering Drinking Fountains

Because of the unique half dome shape of the CUT there are two spots on opposite sides of the Terminal that if you whisper, the person standing on the opposite side of the Terminal can hear you clearly and distinctly.

The location of these two spaces are in the interior of the main rotunda on the front of the building. There are public drinking fountains on the North and South sides of the front East facing wall.

Have one person stand at one fountain, and another at the other, and it's like having a walkie talkie to communicate secretly. This featuredid notget interrupted in the 2018 restoration still works today.

Departure and Arrival Pick Up and Drop Off Tunnels.

The Union Terminal had side entranceramps that brought people, taxis, cars, and busses into & under the heart of the building in seamless integration with the City of Cincinnati. This feature transforms the building from static to an integral part of the city's transportation system; cooler than any matchbox set, this building built to allow a streetcar to come into, under, and out of in a seemless flow. It's very cool.

You see the Tunnels on the right and left of the Terminal where cars, busses, and streetcar could enter on one side, pick up and drop off, then exit out the other side. Genius.

Sadly, and in typical Cincinnati fashion, the Cincinnati Streetcar Company did not send a streetcar into the Union Terminal even though the building was designed for this. The third tunnel went mostly unused.

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From above you can see The Concourse stretch out over the tracks.In the front of the concourse is Tower "A", the look-out control room were all the pneumatic switches in the yard were manually operated.

From Rotunda to The Concourse

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"To Trains"

The Grand Hall extended over the railroad tracks, the trains came into tunnels under the Concourse dropping people off and picking up passengers on the platforms below.

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The Cincinnati Union Terminal: Art Deco Temple To Transportation (12)

David Lombardi: Virtual Preservation of The Union Terminal Concourse

Below is a digitally enhanced image with color of The CUT Concourse by Cincinnati artist David Lombardi. To see the Concourse is color is amazing since color photography was in its infancy when the CUT Concourse was demolished.

Notice the giant Ronald Weiss tile mosaic murals. For size comparison be sure to see how small the double doors are where people go through to access ramps to the train platform. Use the link below to view David Lombardi's 365 virtual renderings of the CUT Concourse and see every detail up close, every texture, every light, and especially, more clocks!

David Lombardi's virtual renderings of the Union Terminal Concourse are a MUST SEE. They preserve our Cincinnati History in a way that no single image, or even video reel (which there are very few of and their quality is not good) can reproduce.

See David Lombardi Virtual Renderings of the Union Terminal Concourse HERE.

Kinetic Vision created a complete virtual reality of the Concourse complete with headset; you can walk around the Concourse and admire every detail. Short of smelling the tobacco smoke, their digital reproduction is an amazing recreation experience of being in the Concourse waiting for the train.

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The Original Airport Design

The Concourse predated and is the model of all modern airport designs which have concourses of long hallways with gates for arriving and departing airplanes. Magazine & cigarette stands, restaurants, ice cream parlor, barbershops, shoe shines, telephone booths; tile mosaics with windows reaching to the sky extended the length of The Concourse.

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Ronald Weiss Murals including "The Globe"

The rotunda as well as the Concoursewere covered in giant Ronald Weiss murals including "The Globe". The Globe took up the length of the back wall of The Concourse and was 3 times the size of the other giant murals. The tile mosaic Globe extended left to right and featured The United States with two giant Globes on East & West featuring 5 tile clocks across the top marking the American time zones. Each State outlined, where are you going to go?

Above The Globe Mosaic was The Concourse Clock

Above The Globe mosaic was The Concourse Clock, a clock often left out off images of the tile mosaic Globe masterpiece. The Concourse Clock featured a multi layered dial, art deco hands and numerals, an inner ring marking minutes; a beautiful art deco clock in the theme of The Union Terminal. This clock was synced with all of the clocks in the Union Terminal to show the same clock time to everyone on the premises of the Union Terminal.

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We'd like to point out the quality of leather seating provided for people waiting on a train. The CUT was first class, instead of using wooden benches the CUT had tailored leather chairs at every gate. One of ourGreat Grandfathers, "Timer", was the Master Upholsterer who maintained the quality seating throughout the Terminal. Our Grandfather Joe worked there for many years from the tracks tomaintenance.

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A Conversation with Our Children

Torn Down? They ask.

Yes. Demolished to rubbish.

What? they gasp.

The entire Concourse, of marble and stone art deco brilliance. Lit with lamps embedded in & into fixtures, terrazzo floors and red marble walls and chairs of masterful leather comfort, torn down. Demolishedbecause trains could not fit under the tunnels any longer.

In 1972 the Cincinnati Union Terminal Concourse was demolished.

We are at a Significant Moment In Time.

In 1972 when there was a mad dash to save the tile mosaics, to get them somewhere safe and on display, to save The Concourse from being crushed to rubbish, we failed. The Concourse was torn down and so with it, The Globe mosaic.

The Clock, and Tile Mosaic Clocks, Saved!

Sane heads savedwhat they could and the Concourse Clock, as well as the tile mosaics clocks were saved!

In the video below hear how the Tile Mosaic Clocks Were Lost & Found, & Put Back Lost Again.

What happened to the Concourse Clock?

The Concourse clock was saved, brought to city government at the Public Radio station parking lot the clock was stored until it was Below is a video of Cincinnati city workers lifting the clock from its upward facing bubble enlosure. Kudos for WCPO Channel 9 for capturing this action on video.

Here WCPO again is on the scene in Cincinnati! Here capturing the moving of the Concourse clock out of the ground to once again get returned to Union Terminal.

<iframe title="CINCINNATI-Embed Player" width="540" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="true" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src=""></iframe>However Today, The people of Cincinnati have stepped up to save the Cincinnati Union Terminal from collapsing to the weight of time.

WCPO Channel 9 was dialed in at the time to have their team on site for what appears to be one of the last trains into Union Terminal Concourse platform before the beginning of the demolition. This interview with a construction worker and scenes are epic. The train is a Norfolk Southern with a train car 1612 (A year later that car will be painted purple and be in Miami, Florida; Wild World. Wild World.)

TheCincinnati Union Terminal hastransformedunder a restoration thatsavedit from falling down, becoming fatally compromised.Many people worked very hard and we are grateful;they have saved The Union Terminal from sharing the fate of The Concourse and preserved the "Art Deco Temple To Transportation" for generations to come. (When itbecomes a mag-lev station again we will build a new Concourse!)


The Cincinnati Union Terminal: Art Deco Temple To Transportation? ›

Cincinnati, OH - Union Terminal (CIN) | Amtrak.

Does Cincinnati have an Amtrak station? ›

Cincinnati, OH - Union Terminal (CIN) | Amtrak.

Did the Cincinnati museum used to be a train station? ›

In the late 1980s, two Cincinnati museums merged and renovated the terminal, which reopened in 1990 as the Cincinnati Museum Center. Amtrak returned to the terminal in 1991, resuming its role as an intercity train station.
Cincinnati Union Terminal
Other information
Station codeAmtrak: CIN
OpenedMarch 19, 1933
49 more rows

When did Cincinnati Union Terminal close? ›

Passenger train service ceased at Union Terminal on October 28, 1972, and resumed on July 29, 1991, when Amtrak began operating at Union Terminal.

What did the Cincinnati museum used to be? ›

The original members of the museum center were the Cincinnati Historical Society Library, Cincinnati History Museum, Cincinnati Museum of Natural History, and the Robert D. Lindner Family Omnimax Theater.

Where does Amtrak go out of Cincinnati? ›

Heading westward, the train rolls along the banks of the mighty Ohio River — from the quaint towns of Ashland and Maysville, to the skyline of Cincinnati. From there, your journey continues to Indianapolis, and then northward to Chicago.

Is there a passenger train in Cincinnati Ohio? ›

Amtrak is the only train company serving Cincinnati.

Is Union Terminal still used? ›

It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Today, the station is a major transportation hub for Southern California, serving almost 110,000 passengers a day.

What is the abandoned train in Cincinnati? ›

The Cincinnati Subway was a partially completed rapid transit system beneath the streets of Cincinnati, Ohio. Although the system only grew to a little over 2 miles (3.2 km) in length, its derelict tunnels and stations make up the largest abandoned subway tunnel system in the United States.

Where did the Cincinnati Greyhound bus station move? ›

The new location, 398 E. Galbraith Road, will operate in place of the old downtown location, located on Gilbert Avenue. Greyhound will offer six schedules every day.

Why is the Cincinnati museum closed? ›

The Cincinnati Museum Center is closed temporarily due to a virus that affected its system operations. An ongoing systemwide failure is being blamed for disrupting public operations at two local museums. An ongoing systemwide failure is being blamed for disrupting public operations at two local museums.

What was Cincinnati originally known for? ›

Cincinnati was incorporated as a city on March 1, 1819. Exporting pork products and hay, it became a center of pork processing in the region. From 1810 to 1830, the city's population nearly tripled, from 9,642 to 24,831.

What is the oldest operating museum in us? ›

Downtown Charleston. Founded in 1773, The Charleston Museum, America's First Museum, has been discovering, preserving, interpreting, celebrating, and sharing ever since.

What is the name of the famous train station transformed into a museum? ›

Once a railway station on the left bank of the Seine, the Gare d'Orsay was completed in 1900 as a home for electric trains running to south-west France until 1939. Having been a parcel shipping centre during the war, and at other times a film set, the old station was transformed and opened as the Musée d'Orsay in 1986.

Why was Cincinnati important for the Underground Railroad? ›

Due to its geographic location, with only the Ohio River separating it from the slave- holding state of Kentucky, Cincinnati was an important station on the Underground Railroad. Many slaves made their way up from the South and passed through Cincinnati on their way to freedom in the North.

What art museum used to be a train station? ›

During the 1970's, the Directorate of the Museums of France gave the suggestion to turn the old railway station into a museum. In 1978, a contest was conducted to design a new museum, and three young architects won the contract to design the Musée d'Orsay museum.

Is Amtrak cheaper than flying? ›

Train travel is often cheaper than flying, in part because you can generally take more with you before paying extra baggage fees. It can also be more convenient and relaxing than driving, especially if you'd be driving in an unfamiliar place or driving for many hours nonstop to get to your destination.

What stops does Amtrak make in Ohio? ›

Ohio Amtrak Stations
  • Alliance, OH (ALC)
  • Cincinnati, OH – Union Terminal (CIN) (pictured above, Cardinal route only)
  • Cleveland, OH (CLE)
  • Elyria, OH (ELY)
  • Sandusky, OH (SKY)
  • Toledo, OH (TOL)

Is there a train from Cincinnati to Florida? ›

Amtrak is the one and only train line which connects Cincinnati to Orlando. Furthermore, there is only one train per day, so you will have to plan your travel around this limited availability.

Can you go in the Cincinnati subway? ›

The Cincinnati Subway is permanently closed.

What is the public transportation in Cincinnati? ›

Cincinnati is served by buses run by the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA), the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) and the Clermont Transportation Connection. Almost all transit lines, including those of TANK are centered on Downtown Cincinnati.

How often does the Cincinnati Trolley run? ›

The streetcar operates 365 days a year per the following core schedule with extended service hours for select events: Monday through Friday: 7:30 a.m. - 11:30 p.m. Saturday: 8:30 a.m. - 11:30 p.m. Sunday: 9:30 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.

How much are Union Terminal tickets? ›

Why do they call it Union Station? ›

But other stations—such as those in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.—were transportation hubs, serving trains from multiple companies. They were named Union Stations because that's where different lines met up.

What is the largest railroad terminal in the United States? ›

Grand Central Terminal is spread over 49 acres, has 44 platforms and 67 tracks on two levels. It is the world's largest train station by number of platforms and area occupied.

Why is it called the Ghost Train? ›

Plant thought, “What if other vehicles could trigger the same signal in an emergency?” By faking the presence of a train, a vehicle stuck on the tracks could give advanced warning for oncoming trains to stop and stall for time. Hence the name of Plant's invention: the Ghost Train Generator.

Can you ride the Ghost Train? ›

Yes, Ghost Train has a dedicated Ride Access Pass entry.

Do old trains still exist? ›

There are around 200 steam locomotives still operable in the United States in 2022. Preserving those existing steam locomotives has become an important mission for locomotive enthusiasts.

Why did Greyhound shut down? ›

COVID-19 caused a 95 percent drop in ridership. Thus, Greyhound reduced service on March 25, 2020 and suspended six routes on April 5, 2020. On May 6, 2020, Greyhound Canada announced it would permanently shut down all its remaining bus services which it did on May 13, 2021.

Is Greyhound still operating? ›

Greyhound Closes Operations

After 37 years in the industry, Greyhound sadly announced on the 3rd of February 2021 that they will cease services on the 14th of February 2021. Their budget-friendly alternative, Citiliner, will also cease services on the 14th of February 2021.

Who bought Greyhound buses? ›

The company's first route began in Hibbing, Minnesota in 1914 and the company adopted the Greyhound name in 1929. The company is owned by Flix North America, Inc., an affiliate of Flixbus, and is based in Downtown Dallas.

What is happening at Downtown Mural Cincinnati? ›

This mural speaks to the vibrancy of the Downtown community, where larger-than-life figures peer outside their windows to see what's happening in the City around them. Architectural details are inspired by actual lintels and sills found in Downtown Cincinnati.

Is parking free at Cincinnati Museum Center? ›

Cincinnati Museum Center parking is $6 per vehicle (cash or credit) and free for Members. Members can scan their Member Passes at the parking lot kiosk to receive free parking. Please call us if you experience any issues using our parking system by calling (513) 287-7000.

Do you have to pay for the Cincinnati Art Museum? ›

General admission is always free. Exhibition pricing varies. Members receive free exhibition tickets, based on level of membership. Free general admission to the Cincinnati Art Museum is made possible by a gift from The Rosenthal Family Foundation.

What is the oldest town in Cincinnati? ›

Columbia Tusculum: A series of firsts: Cincinnati's Oldest Neighborhood Founded as the settlement of “Columbia” by Benjamin Stites, with 26 settlers from New Jersey, in November 1788.

What is the oldest place in Cincinnati? ›

The Betts House, built in 1804, is the oldest surviving building in Cincinnati, and the oldest brick home in Ohio.

What is the oldest city in Ohio? ›

Established in 1788, Marietta is the oldest city in the state of Ohio, and the first official American settlement territory north and west of the Ohio River. Known as the “Riverboat Town,” it is located at the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum rivers.

What is the largest USA museum? ›

The Smithsonian Institution is the world's largest museum, education, and research complex. We are a community of learning and an opener of doors. Join us on a voyage of discovery.

What is the largest museum in the world? ›

By size, The Louvre, in Paris, France is the largest museum on Earth, with nearly 73,000 square metres of exhibition space. By reputation, it's also one of the best and holds works from antiquity to the 19th Century, including the world-famous Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa.

What is America's oldest public art museum? ›

The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art is the oldest continuously-operating public art museum in the United States, opening its doors to the public in 1844. The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art was founded by Daniel Wadsworth, one of the first major American art patrons.

What cities in Ohio does Amtrak go to? ›

Amtrak offers three passenger train routes through Ohio, serving the major cities of Toledo, Cleveland, and Cincinnati. The major cities of Columbus, Akron and Dayton do not have Amtrak service.

Does Amtrak run Cincinnati to New York? ›

What train companies travel from Cincinnati to New York? Amtrak is the only train operator serving this route.

How much does it cost to take a train from Cincinnati to Chicago? ›

Information on this train trip
Daily Trains1
Minimum Price$80
Average Ticket Price$84
Minimum Trip Duration9h19m
Average Train Trip Duration9h19m
2 more rows

How much is Amtrak from Cincinnati to New York? ›

Information about this train trip
Daily Trains1
Earliest and Latest Train Departures3:37AM
Minimum Price$126
Average Ticket Price$249
Minimum Trip Duration18h46m
2 more rows

How much is parking at Cincinnati Amtrak station? ›

Amtrak Cincinnati parking and boarding – how it works

Fill out the form with your make, model and license plate, and you will be charged $6 per day to park.

Can I take a train from Ohio to Florida? ›

Trip Summary

There are usually 2 daily train trips available from Columbus to Orlando. Traveling by train from Columbus to Orlando usually takes 44 hours and 39 minutes, but the fastest Amtrak train can make the trip in 43 hours and 23 minutes.

How much is it from Ohio to New York by train? ›

Overview: Train from Columbus, OH to New York City

There are direct train services available. You can get the cheapest train tickets for this route for as low as $112 (€97), but the average price of train tickets is $112 (€97).

Is there an Amtrak train from Cincinnati to Florida? ›

Amtrak is the one and only train line which connects Cincinnati to Orlando. Furthermore, there is only one train per day, so you will have to plan your travel around this limited availability.

How much is bus to New York from Cincinnati? ›

The average bus ticket price from Cincinnati to New York is $139. The best way to find cheap bus tickets from Cincinnati to New York is to book your tickets as early as possible. Prices tend to rise as your travel date approaches, so book in advance to secure the best prices!

Can you buy train tickets on the train? ›

Buying tickets

Like all train companies*, you must buy a ticket before you board, or risk getting a penalty fare. Only undiscounted Anytime fares will be available from the conductor** - note that these are more expensive than purchasing before you travel.

Why is it so expensive to ride Amtrak? ›

Conclusion: The Cost of Train Travel

Taking trains in America is often much more expensive than flying because railways are owned by freight companies and charge Amtrak for their use. In addition, the government hardly subsidizes any part of passenger rail, which drives up prices.

Is it expensive to travel by Amtrak? ›

But one thing you'll note with Amtrak is that despite not being the best or fastest mode of transport in the U.S., it's still among the most expensive ones. In many cases, it's cheaper to fly than use Amtrak for your trip. So, why this difference?

What is the 52 hour Amtrak? ›

The California Zephyr Amtrak route travels between Chicago and Emeryville, California through the scenic Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada. This multi-day trip through Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California takes about 52 hours.

How much is the train into NYC? ›

For most riders, the subway fare is $2.75. Reduced fares are available for people 65 and older, people with disabilities, and low-income New Yorkers. Learn more about fares.

What is the closest city to Cincinnati Ohio? ›

As the 5th most populated city in Greater Cincinnati and the largest city in Northern Kentucky, Covington sits just 1.6 miles south of Cincinnati. This makes Covington the closest city to Cincinnati with a population of over 20,000.


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