All the differences between 1st and 2nd class on CHEPE- and there are a few.
First of all, I am going to use the terms 1st and 2nd- though as I have said, my friends at CHEPE don’t like those terms. They prefer Primera and Economia.
Actually there are not that many differences. The seating is very similar. The layout of the cars is about the same. Staff and security are very similar. Yes , there is security on both and the train is known to be very secure. I even leave my camera and money bag in my seat as I wander through the train on both classes. This may not be advised- even in the US on a bus or train- but I do it and it testifies to the overall security on the train.
So there are many similarities- the stations are the same and both are operated by the same company.
Ok- the differences:
-1st has carpet and is a bit newer car
-1st has luggage areas at the end of the car
-1st makes less stops, leaves an hour earlier and is a bit quicker
-1st costs double
-BIG DIFFERENCE- 1st has a bar car and a dining area with menus.2nd has a stand up cafe with just drinks and fast food- burritos, sandwiches, ramen, ect- very basic and for starving people only.
So that gives you an idea of how they compare. Here is a big “cultural” idea that sometimes guests don’t understand or appreciate. 1st is ridden by business people and tourists more while 2nd is the train for middle class and Tarahumaras. So the actual people connection experience is very different- and this is huge. On 1st people tend to read books and play cards as the miracle of Copper goes by…hmmm. Conversations are easier to come by in 2nd. While I do enjoy the comfortable and relaxing bar/dining on 1st- not to mention the pleasure of quaffing Negra-Modellosas we shush from Chihuahua to Sinaloa- the cultural connection on 2nd is much more in tune with what we shoot to deliver to our guests.
So…my solution is to use both. Sometimes first and sometimes second- and I spend most of my time leaning out the doors with the wind in my face.