Train travel in the eastern US is a more viable option than in other parts of the country. Whether it's cheaper or shorter than air travel depends upon a number of variables and can be researched on a case-by-case basis. However, when booking weeks ahead of time in winter months, the weather is a factor that can affect travel plans. Is one option better than the other when considering the potential for snow? Certainly air travel is often delayed due to snow/ice on the runways; are there any analogous issues with trains?

My initial thought was that perhaps trains can mostly plow through the snow (literally), but that's just a very uneducated guess as I know very little about train travel. I'm specifically thinking about travel between the Philadelphia area and Boston area, but I want the question to apply more broadly.

1 Answer 1


Here's my take, which isn't actually based on anything empirical as much as about a decade living on the East Coast:

If you're along the Acela corridor, served by the Acela Express and the Northeast Regional lines, your best bet is probably the train. This is rooted by two experiences:

  1. Boston Logan is built out in what is essentially the Atlantic Ocean. It also has delays and closures at the drop of a hat. I hated flying out of Logan in the winter.
  2. During the massive snow emergency last year (Winter 2010) in the Eastern U.S., the trains kept running long after the airports shut down. One train I was on was indeed crowded with people from canceled airline flights trying to make it to their destinations, and it was so apparent that Amtrak actually ran a print ad campaign in some East Coast cities about it.
  • Is Providence any better than Boston Logan? I made the mistake once of scheduling the last flight leaving there, only to have it cancelled due to thunderstorms. However, that's obviously not a winter issue and I always want a larger sample size if possible :) Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 22:23
  • No idea for Providence - I've only dealt with NYC, Boston and DC.
    – Fomite
    Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 23:06
  • If you're curious about airports' relative on-time performance, the Bureau of Transportation statistics maintains a web page where you can look up on-time statistics by airport. (In 2016, 82% of flights arrived at PVD on time, compared to 78% at BOS — not a huge difference.) Commented Jan 1, 2018 at 14:11

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