1. Travel
Send to a Friend via Email

Train Travel on the Amtrak Auto Train

Save Wear and Tear on You and Your Vehicle

By

Amtrak Auto Train

Amtrak Auto Train

Photo: Courtesy of Amtrak
Overview: For auto travel between Virginia and Florida, there is an alternative to driving the more than 800 or so miles along busy I-95. Amtrak offers nonstop train service for travelers and their vehicles on the Amtrak Auto Train, Amtrak's only route that transports vehicles. According to Amtrak, with two engines and over 40 passenger rail cars and vehicle carriers, this unique train is the longest passenger train in the world. The boarding platform at the Lorton, Virginia Amtrak Auto Train station is 1,480 feet long, which is longer than the height of Chicago's Sears Tower.

The Auto Train can accommodate cars, vans, motorcycles, SUVs, small boats, jet-skis and some other recreational vehicles. Reservations are required and are only available to those who are traveling with their vehicles.

Stations: The nonstop Auto Train travels between Lorton, Virginia, which is located outside of Washington, D.C., and Sanford, Florida, which is near Orlando.

Accommodations and Amenities: Accommodations and corresponding price levels range from coach seats to bedroom suites. Meals are included. (Photo of Deluxe Sleeper)

Travel Time: The scheduled trip by train lasts about 17 and 30 minutes versus straight driving time of around 12 hours and 40 minutes to cover over 800 miles without any stops or delays (unlikely) along the way.

Tips for Traveling on the Auto Train: Here are a few tips to help you prepare and enjoy your trip. For detailed information, visit the Amtrak website or call the Amtrak number listed below. All information provided here is subject to change and should be confirmed with Amtrak before making your plans:
  • You must obtain your Auto Train tickets before you board the train and it is a good idea to pick up your tickets in advance if possible. A photo ID is required to pick up your tickets and on the day of your departure.

  • Make sure you have a clear understanding about your required check-in time and allow plenty of time to arrive early. Check-in times vary depending on the type of vehicle you have.

  • Pack a small carry-on bag for your overnight on the train and remember to take everything you will need from your vehicle before checking your car. There is a limit of two carry-on bags per passenger, but less is better with limited space on the train. (That said, many frequent Auto Train travelers recommend taking your own comfortable pillow and a small blanket, especially if traveling in coach.)

  • Because there is no baggage checking on the Auto Train, all other luggage must remain in your vehicle, which will be restricted from access throughout the trip. Valuable items should not be left in your vehicle. (Photo of loading vehicles onto the train)

  • Car alarm systems should be deactivated before you leave your car to avoid the risk of a dead battery upon arrival in the event your alarm goes off during the trip.

  • Meals (dinner and breakfast) are included in the price of your ticket, and snacks are available for purchase in the Lounges. You are permitted to bring your own food and beverages, however, if you wish. (Photo of the Dining Car)

  • Once you arrive at your destination, retrieving your vehicle can take anywhere from about twenty minutes to two hours, so plan your itinerary accordingly.
Additional Information: See Photos of the Amtrak Auto Train. For more about schedules, rates, procedures and reservations, call 1-877-SKIP-I-95 (1-877-754-7495) or visit the Amtrak Website - Auto Train Information.

Important product disclaimer information about this About.com site.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.