There's a combination of excitement and nostalgia that happens when a person boards a train. However, there's an added layer of adventure when that experience goes from a simple train trip to a train journey, which is exactly what the Amtrak between Vermont and New York City could be described as.
Not to be confused with the Vermonter, Vermont's newest Amtrak — the Ethan Allen Express — is a route that takes travelers from the city of Burlington straight into New York City's recently-opened station, Moynihan Train Hall. The ride is easy, quick (for a long-distance train), and takes minimal effort to book for first-timers. We know this because we had the chance to ride the Ethan Allen Express train from Burlington to New York City and back, and have all the inside details you need to know before booking this train.
The Ethan Allen Express Amtrak: Comfort, Food, & Amenities
Burlington's newest Amtrack train, the Ethan Allen Express, officially opened for business on July 29th, 2022.
The long-anticipated opening of this fast-track train would allow Vermonters to travel to New York City in less than eight hours.
It also gives them access to New York City at a reasonable time, since the train pulls into Moynihan Train Hall just before 6 PM (or earlier, as ours did!).
Booking the train itself is as easy as heading to the Amtrak website, selecting the Burlington Union Station, and choosing either Coach or Business class.
We rode in Coach, and the experience was far more enjoyable and comfortable than anticipated — so we can only imagine what the seating and amenities in Business class are like.
- Trip Duration: 7.5 hours one way
- Ticket Cost: $162 for round-trip, including taxes & fees
- VT to NYC: The train departs Burlington Union Station at 10:10 AM and arrives in New York City at 5:45 PM
- NYC to VT: The train departs New York City at 2:20 PM, and arrives in Burlington at 9:55 PM
The Ethan Allen Express has a direct route to New York City without any stops that would typically be deemed unnecessary, thus procuring a shorter journey than its sister Amtrak, the Vermonter.
The stops on the Ethan Allen Express are as follows:
- Burlington, VT - Union Station (BTN)
- Ferrisburgh-Vergennes, VT (VRN)
- Middlebury, VT - Amtrak Station (MBY)
- Rutland, VT - James M. Jeffords Station (RUD)
- Castleton, VT (CNV)
- Fort Edward, NY (FED)
- Saratoga Springs, NY (SAR)
- Schenectady, NY (SDY)
- Albany-Rensselaer, NY (ALB)
- Hudson, NY (HUD)
- Rhinecliff, NY (RHI)
- Poughkeepsie, NY (POU)
- Croton-Harmon, NY (CRT)
- Yonkers, NY (YNY)
- New York, NY - Moynihan Train Hall (NYP)
Already, 15 stops on a train ride that's less than eight hours is a great option for anyone going to Burlington, Vermont, or coming to visit New York City.
From our experience, the time spent at each stop was about five minutes or less. The exception was Albany when a bulk of the passengers boarded the train to head into New York City.
This is also where the train takes a brief pause in the route, so the break is more like 15-20 minutes.
However, this allows passengers to get up, stretch their legs, walk around, and just generally move after sitting for so long.
The Ethan Allen Express Train Details: Food
So, what can passengers expect once they're on board the train? Quite a lot, actually. The Ethan Allen Express Amtrak features a café car that features its own national menu.
While other Amtraks have route-specific menus, this one includes enough to satisfy the average traveler, and may even be more than what one might expect on a train.
The full train menu can be found on the Amtrak website, but some popular options include:
- Breakfast sandwiches
- Muffins & pastries
- Deli sandwiches
- Asian noodle bowl
- Greek salad
- Grilled cheese
- Mac n cheese (with white cheddar)
- Hot dogs
The train café also includes a variety of non-alcoholic hot and cold drinks along with adult beverages, including wine, beer, cocktails, and hard seltzer.
This is also where passengers can pick up a 'Comfort Kit' for $20, which is great to have for the first-time traveler or anyone who has forgotten something on their journey.
For those who aren't starving, a variety of popular snacks are available, including cheese and cracker plates, and hummus dip platters.
The Ethan Allen Express Train Details: Wi-Fi & Technology
All Amtrak trains are equipped with their own Wi-Fi and charging outlets, which can be found just under the window at each seat.
There are two outlets — one for each passenger sitting in that row — and they are easy enough to use (obviously, easier for the person with the window seat).
One thing that was completely unexpected was how strong the Wi-Fi was — during the entirety of the trip, there and back, it didn't cut out once.
So, for those who would rather opt to watch Netflix over reading a book, or have their Kindle along for the ride, the dependability of Amtrak's Wi-Fi is pretty stellar aboard the Ethan Allen Express.
With the exception of a few buffering moments, the signal was clear and strong throughout the entirety of the route.
After connecting to the Amtrak Wi-Fi, passengers must also sign in, which consists of following the pop-up to the Amtrak homepage, and clicking 'accept.' It's a good idea to connect to the Wi-Fi for those with iPhones, as well, because the service is somewhat spotty throughout parts of New York State.
The Ethan Allen Express Train Details: Seat Comfort & Leg Room
Another surprising twist on the Ethan Allen Express was the amount of room that one seat held for each passenger.
It was safe to say that there was more legroom — and more room, overall — in one of these train seats than there would be on a plane seat.
That in itself would be enough to put the most anxious traveler's mind at ease, as there was little chance of bumping elbows or knees with the person next to them.
With that being said, the aisles themselves were a tight squeeze — it was not uncommon to hear a few apologetic 'sorry!'s coming from onboard passengers, especially once the train got crowded toward the end of the journey into New York City.
Thankfully, the room in front of each seat, as well as the shelves above, were more than ample for each person's luggage.
Arriving At Moynihan Train Hall
Moynihan Train Hall is nothing short of an excellent addition to New York City's Penn Station.
Whereas Amtrak travel was a bit of a headache prior to the opening of this station back in 2021, it is now a breeze to get in and out of the city through this magnificent train hall.
If the ease of service alone doesn't win you over, then the modern amenities and services certainly will.
After exiting the train, it's time to make your way to the surface. Those familiar with neighboring Penn Station are aware of the flurry and sense of urgency that comes with making your way to the street exits, but this semi-chaos does not exist at Moynihan Train Hall.
Keeping the Amtrak trains separate from the LIRR and the subway lines have led to a calmer and more manageable atmosphere, and it's one that would be just as easy for a newcomer to navigate as it would be for a local.
There are signs indicating track numbers downstairs and at either end of this hall are stairs, which lead to the lobby of Moynihan Train Hall.
This lobby is — in a word — stunning. A glass atrium ceiling makes it feel open and airy, and the entire lobby is two floors that are easily navigated. A visitor might be able to make the rounds to every shop in less than an hour — that's how easy to navigate it is.
Speaking of shops and eateries, here's what can now be found in the new train hall:
- Moynihan Food Hall (Concourse Level)
- Alidoro (Food Hall | Concourse Level)
- Birch Coffee (Concourse Level)
- Blue Bottle Coffee (Concourse Level)
- Burger Joint (Food Hall | Concourse Level)
- The Bar (Food Hall | Concourse Level)
- Chopt Creative Salad Company (Food Hall | Concourse Level)
- Damselfly Flowers (Concourse Level)
- Davey's Ice Cream (*Coming Soon)
- Duane Reade by Walgreens (Concourse Level)
- E.A.K. Ramen (*Coming Soon)
- H&H Bagels (Concourse Level)
- Jacob's Pickles (*Coming Soon)
- La Maison Du Chocolat (Concourse Level)
- Lovepop Cards (Concourse Level)
- Maman (Food Hall | Concourse Level)
- Naya: Middle Eastern Counter & Grill (Food Hall | Concourse Level)
- Gotham News (Concourse Level)
- Magnolia Bakery (Concourse Level)
- Post Office (Level 1)
- Pressed Juicery (*Coming Soon)
- Sauce Pizzeria (Food Hall | Concourse Level)
- Starbucks (Concourse Level)
- Threes Brewing (Concourse Level)
- Vesuvio (Concourse Level)
We stopped at Magnolia — as a New York City local, it's an absolute must (especially for those with a sweet tooth). Additionally, the Amtrak waiting room is just as state-of-the-art as the hall itself.
Featuring plenty of seating, the waiting room also has long tables that have desk lamps and charging stations.
There are also outlets underneath every bench and seat in the waiting room, so the last thing any traveler needs to worry about is charging their electronics!
Travelers will need to show proof of their train ticket in order to use the Amtrak waiting room.
Those who have some time and are interested in the art and history of the station can take a stroll and find these locations:
- Elmgreen & Dragset "The Hive" (Concourse / Level 1)
- Kehinde Wiley "Go, 2020" (Level 1)
- Stan Douglas "Penn Station's Half Century" (Ticketed Waiting Room | Concourse Level)
- Farley Building, Penn Station & Moynihan Train Hall History Mural (Baggage Claim | Concourse Level)
Bathrooms can also be found on the concourse and first levels of the train hall, as well as in the Amtrak waiting room.
These are clean, well-maintained, and don't get confused — that third faucet in the sink is actually a hand dryer!
Those catching a subway into another part of the city or catching the LIRR out to Long Island only need to cross the street (directly across Eighth Ave) in order to make their way to Penn Station.
The Ride Back To Burlington Union Station
Finding the Ethan Allen Express train back is as simple as heading to the ticketed waiting room and watching the screens that are posted throughout. These are also posted throughout the train hall, so it would be quite difficult for one to miss their track number being called.
Additionally, these are announced over the loudspeaker — so no worries if one happens to be in the bathroom or elsewhere when it happens.
Be sure to arrive early — at least a half hour early — as the track numbers are called about 10-15 minutes before the train begins boarding. Once the track number is announced, get in line at the escalator that leads down the track.
While the lines can be long heading out of New York City, the help of train station staff is greatly appreciated when it comes to keeping everything moving and organized.
The train back to Vermont will likely be crowded, but the crowds will begin thinning out after stops between Albany and Saratoga Springs.
All in all, for those who don't mind a relaxing train journey, the Ethan Allen Express is now the perfect way for a New Yorker to visit Vermont's best city and vice versa.
Whether it's a long weekend or simply an overnight trip, it's an easy one to book and take.