How to Read Train Schedules

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The complexity of reading train schedules should lessen as the ability to comprehend arrival and departure times, local and express stops and gate information increases. Although somewhat challenging, familiarizing yourself with the basic format of a train schedule will help you travel practically anywhere in your region.

  • Locate the time you wish to depart the station. A train schedule lists the departure times from morning to night. Departure times are commonly located in the section located on the top of the charted schedule. Timetables for trains like the Septa in Philadelphia, New Jersey Transit, and Metra train in Chicago are examples of this format. Mark the time you plan to travel.

  • Locate the arrival city on the left side of the train schedule. Once found, drag your finger across the row until it connects with the departure time column. Next, mark the departure time and slowly drag your finger down the column until the point meets with the arrival city. This point is known as your arrival time.

  • Check the legend for peak hours, fares, wheelchair accessible stops and holiday information. Peak hours are represented by shaded areas on the schedule. Fares increase during morning and evening peak hours.

  • Double-check the days you wish to travel. Train schedules are organized by weekdays, weekends and holidays. It is very important to find the correct day and time of travel.

  • Read the direction of the train. Since trains travel in opposite directions, be sure to read the correct inbound or outbound schedule. For instance, New Jersey Transit’s train line, the Northeast Corridor, runs from Trenton to Pennsylvania Station in New York City. When taking this train, you must choose either the New York-bound schedule or the Trenton-bound schedule.

Tips & Warnings

  • If at all possible, purchase tickets before boarding the train. There might be a surcharge for buying tickets on the train.
  • Arrive at the train station at least eight to 10 minutes before your scheduled departure.
  • Always allow at least an additional 10 minutes in your estimated travel time.

References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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