While the best car shipping companies offer quality services and efficient transport, drivers often wonder whether Amtrak car shipping could work equally well. It’s a difficult question to answer, as Amtrak’s Auto Train provides affordable transport for a very specific group of drivers.
If you’re looking for cheap car shipping between the Northeast and Florida, the Auto Train might be worth consideration. For others, it’s likely smarter to compare prices from top auto transport providers to find a cost-effective rate on a route that suits your needs.
How To Ship A Car On Amtrak
For those traveling between the Northeast and Florida, it’s pretty easy to book a spot on the Auto Train. Use the following steps to take advantage of Amtrak car shipping services:
- Book tickets on the Auto Train: You’ll need to purchase a passenger ticket as well to reserve a space for your vehicle on the Auto Train.
- Pack your car: Unlike with most car transport companies, you’ll be able to fully load your vehicle up with personal items when using Amtrak car shipping.
- Drive your vehicle to the station: If you’re starting your trip in Washington, D.C., head to the Auto Train station in Lorton, Virginia. Those beginning in the Orlando area should drive to the Auto Train terminal in Sanford, Florida. Arrive early, as no vehicles will be loaded onto the train after 2:30 p.m.
- Take the train: The trip should take around 17 hours, with the Auto Train leaving each station at 4 p.m. and arriving at its destination around 9 a.m. the next day.
- Retrieve your vehicle: Once the train arrives in either Virginia or Florida, your vehicle will be unloaded and you’ll be ready to head out.
While Amtrak vehicle shipping can be pretty simple, make sure to follow the rules above. If you arrive at either station after 2:30 p.m., expect to miss your trip. And remember, drivers must ride the Auto Train themselves for their cars to be eligible for the trip.
Where Is Amtrak Car Shipping Available?
Amtrak’s Auto Train offers fast and affordable rail service, but it’s only available on a single line that runs from Washington, D.C., to Orlando, Florida. While this route is popular among snowbirds, it means most Americans won’t be able to take advantage of Amtrak car shipping.
The line doesn’t stop along the way, either, so you’ll need to find another option if you’d like to drop your car off in North Carolina, South Carolina, or Georgia. That said, Amtrak car shipping might be worthwhile if you’re trying to get your car from Washington, D.C., Baltimore, or Philadelphia to Orlando and locations farther south.
Where Is Amtrak Car Shipping Not Available?
People in other regions of the country won’t be able to use Amtrak car shipping services. Shipping a car by train may seem like a solid choice, but no other rail companies regularly transport individual vehicles in a manner similar to Amtrak’s Auto Train.
If you’re looking for long-distance car shipping services, consider Montway Auto Transport, Sherpa Auto Transport, AmeriFreight, and Easy Auto Ship. All of these vehicle transport options hold strong reputations and can move your car nearly anywhere across the country.
Amtrak Car Shipping Cost
You can ship your car on Amtrak for as low as $146 per vehicle. Amtrak car shipping comes at an extremely reasonable price for those making the journey. Train transport tends to offer the cheapest price for shipments from Washington, D.C., to Orlando.
Amtrak Car Shipping Rates
Amtrak charges the following one-way rates for the Auto Train:
- Standard vehicle: $208 per vehicle
- Extended vehicle: $239 per vehicle
- Motorcycle: $146 per vehicle
Remember that you’ll also need to purchase a passenger ticket on top of the fares listed above. For an additional $60, drivers can opt for priority offloading to ensure their cars are among the first 30 taken off the train when it arrives.
Compared to the average car shipping cost for the route from Washington, D.C., to Florida, Amtrak car shipping comes at a competitive rate. It’s also a pretty affordable price compared to the cost of gas and accommodations that come with the drive up and down the East Coast.
3 Reasons To Use Amtrak Car Shipping
For those looking to ship vehicles along the East Coast, Amtrak car shipping can be a smart choice. With its affordable rates and simple shipping process, it makes sense for many people.
1. Low Average Cost
It’s never cheap to ship your car over long distances, but very few options beat the rates offered by the Auto Train. Even with passenger tickets included, Amtrak car shipping comes at an affordable price.
2. Ease Of The Journey
Traveling by train takes the hassle out of traveling up and down the East Coast. Instead of crawling through miles of congestion on Interstate 95, those who use the Auto Train can sleep, look out the window, or catch up on work.
3. Plenty Of Packing Space
If you’re planning to bring many possessions on your trip, the ability to fill your vehicle with personal items comes as a bonus. Auto shipping providers rarely allow people to move valuables in their cars, and a traveler who drives may have a tight squeeze when their vehicle is filled to the brim.
3 Reasons To Avoid Amtrak Car Shipping
Amtrak car shipping isn’t a great option for drivers who value speed or require an origin or destination outside of the Northeast or Florida.
1. Slow Train Speed
The Auto Train takes 17 hours to make the journey from Washington, D.C., to Orlando, and that’s not including the time it takes to load and remove your vehicle. It only takes about 12 hours to drive from one city to the other, making Amtrak car shipping a somewhat slow process.
2. Minimal Availability
You’re out of luck if your origin and destination locations are outside of the Northeast or Florida. Midwesterners, West Coast residents, and those in between should instead look into the best auto transport companies.
3. Service Limitations
Auto carriers usually offer both enclosed transport and door-to-door transport services, which Amtrak car shipping won’t provide. If you’re fine using an auto shipper that only offers open transport services, the Auto Train may suffice. Otherwise, enclosed carriers from top car shipping companies make for better choices.
Ship A Car By Train
If you need a way to ship a car a long distance, shipping a car by train is a great option. As you read, Amtrak is the best option for sending a car by train and is much easier than many other car shipping providers. The only downside to shipping a car by train is buying a passenger ticket and riding along with your vehicle.
How To Ship A Car By Train
- Pick the best train shipping company for your needs
- Find out the prices that the company charges
- Take anything out of your car you might need during the shipment
- Drop off your vehicle at the correct location
- Pick up your vehicle at the correct location
If you follow these steps, you will have an easy time when shipping your car by train.
Amtrak Car Shipping: Conclusion
Even if Amtrak car shipping isn’t the right option for your needs, there are plenty of ways to quickly and effectively ship your car. Montway Auto Transport and AmeriFreight can meet your auto transport needs while offering affordable prices for the trip.
Amtrak Car Shipping Competitors: Our Picks
Montway Auto Transport: Best Overall
Montway Auto Transport has been shipping vehicles across the United States since 2006, and its depth of experience is a major benefit. Because the company knows what it’s doing, Montway Auto Transport can offer convenient and hassle-free shipping services while keeping prices low.
According to Montway Auto Transport reviews, car carriers used by the company tend to be professional and efficient. They also are required to carry comprehensive cargo insurance, meaning your vehicle will be protected from damages that could occur during shipping.
Montway Auto Transport provides both regional and cross-country auto transport services, along with car shipping to Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, and international locations.
AmeriFreight: Best For Discounts
While Amtrak car shipping offers exceptional rates for rail transport, drivers can also find affordable pricing when they choose AmeriFreight due to its impressive array of discounts. Some of the most common are:
- Military members: $35 off
- First responders: $35 off
- Medical personnel: $35 off
- Students: $25 off
- Senior citizens: $25 off
- Early birds: $35 off
- Return customers: $50 off
- Multi-vehicle: $50 off
Only the early bird discount, which applies if you schedule a shipment within 48 hours of receiving a shipping quote, can be stacked with other offers. AmeriFreight reviews often mention the company’s willingness to price match the rates from any company with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and an excellent 4.8 out of 5.0 in customer reviews on the website.
Below are some frequently asked questions about Amtrak Car Shipping:
FAQ: Amtrak Car Shipping
How We Rate Auto Shippers
Our review process aims to deliver consistent and unbiased assessments of car shipping companies. While there are multiple qualities that make an auto transport provider successful, our review team focuses on those we believe are the most important for consumers:
- Cost: Cost can be difficult to compare between providers because so many factors impact auto shipping rates. To determine our cost score, we perform a secret shopper analysis for a variety of vehicles and routes.
- Services: Our team of experts looks at the types of services available, as well as insurance coverage and the ability to guarantee pickup and drop-off dates. Ratings also take into account whether the transport company is a broker or a carrier.
- Reputation: It’s important that a car shipping provider is able to deliver your vehicle in a safe and timely manner. Companies with a strong rating from the BBB score well in this category. Established providers with a long history of reliable service also receive positive marks.
- Customer Experience: We comb through consumer reviews on sites like the BBB to learn about customer experiences. Car transport companies with a low volume of complaints score well in this area.
*Data accurate at time of publication.