A couple of weeks ago, Bill and I took Amtrak (Coast Starlight) up to Seattle. I have taken shorter train trips, but this was 24 hours and we got a “roomette” (translation: a closet with seating and fold out bunk beds).
We learned a lot on our trip — like only take what you absolutely need on the train, and check the rest. There is no place to put your luggage in a roomette.
Now for the fat-friendly aspects of this type of train travel. Not horrible, not perfect. The bathrooms are about the size of airplane bathrooms. I could use it, but it was not easy to “clean up” – so anyone who is fat but not supersized, they should have little or no problems. AND, the Amtrak does have “accessible” bathrooms on the lower levels of sleeper cars; and the (regular) bedrooms have their own private toilet and shower (but I have no idea how fat friendly those are).
The seats in the roomette were quite wide and comfortable, recline and have foot rests. I’m thinking they are probably about the same as the “reserved” coach seats, but I’m not sure.
The lower berth is about as wide as a twin bed and if you think I tried to get my big butt up into the upper berth – you must be high (and I don’t mean on life). Bill took the upper – no place for anyone with claustrophobia – no window up there. They have “steps” to get up it, but it is just little ledges/places you can put your feet to step up and not a staircase or ladder – and getting down again can be an adventure (just ask Bill). I’d say sleeping on the bottom bunk is comparable to sleeping on a fold out sofa; and it’s very sturdy.
Getting anywhere means dealing with fairly narrow halls – about the width of the aisles on an airplane, but there is a lot more swaying and bumping going on than on a plane. I pretty much had to walk kind of sideways everywhere.
Be warned, the dining tables are all booths, and the tables are not movable. They also expect you to sit next to somebody – I told them, no, that was not going to happen because I took up too much room. They were not happy about it, but they didn’t do anything about it, and they didn’t give me any trouble about it. If you have a regular bedroom, you can have your meals brought to you.
The dining is all upstairs, so if you use it, you will have to deal with the stairwells. OMG. These are even narrower than the hallways and steep. I found it pretty difficult to maneuver in it. You can’t see the stair you are stepping on (because it is so steep) and it circles. Another, if you are claustrophobic, you don’t want to do it.
All that said, I had fun traveling on the train. I liked the privacy and comfort of our seats. We had coffee, water, and juice 24/7 at the end of the corridor. They do have showers (downstairs – so there are those flipping stairs again); but I didn’t try them. Bill did, and he thought I could have managed. We met some wonderful people on the train, and one nasty old lady. The staff is very nice and helpful.
We had such a wonderful time in Seattle, we’re hoping to do this again (and again), so maybe next time we’ll do the regular bedroom and I can tell you about that. Ditto with coach (for maybe a shorter trip down to LA).
Traveling by train is slower and just as (if not more) expensive than plane. If you are not supersized you will probably have no problems with the train accommodations. For supersize folks like me, train travel is not especially fat friendly, but I bet it can be pretty comfortable and accessible if you do your research more thoroughly than I did and take advantage of some of the options. Like I said they have accessible bathrooms (which I did not check out), and having a lower level compartment would mostly avoid the stair issues. The seats are wide enough that I can’t see them ever needing to charge someone for a second seat. I saw quite a few fatties checking in for coach.
So it is definitely something you may want to check out for yourself when you have time to make the trip (and not just the destination) an important part of your travels.