Free Train Rides For Writers

All Aboard!

Check this out:
Inside Amtrak’s (Absolutely Awesome) Plan to Give Free Rides to Writers.


Amtrak developed  “writer’s residencies”–free round trip train rides for writers to write. The Wire blog post by Ben Cosman says it all started with a twitter conversation that Zach Seward started, “I wish Amtrak had residencies for writers.” Jessica Gross took the ball and ran with it. “How much momentum do we have to gain for this to become real, @Amtrak?”

Amtrak responded, “We’d need a test run. You two up for a trip to Chicago and back?”

TrainThis is a perfect public relations opportunity for Amtrak. They have one small no-brainer requirement of their writing guests–to write about their experience on social media and to agree to a company blog interview at the end of the excursion.

Jessica Gross, the first “writer in residency”, wrote “Writing the Lakeshore Limited” in the Paris Review.


It’s not free, but it’s priceless. Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway offers train rides from May through October. Click on the photo for the Minnesota Transportation Museum website.

Amtrak Social Media Director Julia Quinn said that Amtrak is open to offering residencies to writers with a variety of writing back-grounds, focusing on those with a strong social media presence.

You can’t actually sign up for this, yet.

Amtrak is working out the details. But competition will be fierce. So, if you want a writer’s seat, tweet. That’s how this train ride got started.

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