I've been planning a trip in November to New Orleans for the annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association. The Sunset Limited from LA to New Orleans will take two days. I'm fine with that on the way to the conference, since that's probably when I'll be writing about my LA bike research for my talk. I definitely appreciate the fact that as a grad student engaged in fieldwork, my time is not so scheduled and I don't mind a long train ride. And coach tickets on Amtrak are cheap city. It will cost $136 to do that trip in mid-November. There's a big jump in price, though, if you want something more than basic coach. If I wanted a sleeping accommodation and meals, I'd have to add $324.
How come there's no middle ground? The Canadian rail system, VIA, has semi-private bunks and other combinations available. Amtrak only gives you a seat and no meals or a private room and all meals. I'd be happy to pay extra for a little bunk, but traveling alone it makes no sense to pay more than double the cost.
I wonder what led them to decide to offer only coach or roomettes and above on long distance trains.