How To Ship A Car On Amtrak
Those traveling between certain locations in the Northeast and the state of Florida can take 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 first 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 load up your vehicle with personal items when using Amtrak car shipping.
- Drive your vehicle to the station: If you’re starting your trip in the vicinity of 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 pm.
- Take the train: The trip should take around 17 hours, with the Auto Train leaving each station at 4 pm and arriving at its destination around 9 am 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 to check in at either station after 2:30 pm, expect to miss your trip. And remember, drivers must ride the Auto Train themselves for their cars to be eligible for the trip.
Amtrak Car Shipping Availability
Amtrak’s Auto Train offers fast and affordable rail service, but it’s only available on a single line that runs between Washington, D.C. and 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, 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 or locations farther south like Miami–or vice versa.
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 have strong reputations and can move your car nearly anywhere across the country.
Amtrak Car Shipping Cost
You can ship your vehicle on Amtrak for as low as $285 per car or $155 per motorcycle. Vehicles like larger trucks and SUVs cost $325 for a one-way ticket. Amtrak car shipping comes at an extremely reasonable price for those making the journey. Train transport tends to offer the cheapest price for shipments between Washington, D.C. and Orlando.
Amtrak Car Shipping Rates
Amtrak charges the following one-way rates for car transport services on the Auto Train:
Remember that you’ll also need to purchase a passenger ticket on top of the fares listed above. You can simply purchase a seat, or roomettes with beds are available for an additional cost. For an additional $95, 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 between the D.C. area and Florida, Amtrak car shipping comes at a very competitive rate. It’s also a pretty affordable price compared to the cost of gas and accommodations that come with a drive along the East Coast. It can also be a more time-efficient way to ship your car, however, it is limited in availability and routes.
3 Reasons To Use Amtrak Car Shipping
With its affordable rates and simple shipping process, Amtrak car shipping can be a smart choice for those looking to ship vehicles along the East Coast.
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 factoring in the cost of passenger tickets, Amtrak car shipping comes at an affordable price. Taking the train will also help you save on gas costs that would normally accompany a long road trip.
2. Ease Of The Journey
Traveling by train takes the hassle out of a road trip up or down the East Coast. Instead of crawling through miles of congestion on Interstate 95, those who take advantage of the Auto Train service can sleep, take in the scenery, or catch up on work. It’s also a great option if you don’t enjoy driving long distances, or if your traveling party needs the extra space.
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 is 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 between Washington, D.C. and 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. If you are in a hurry to get your vehicle from point A to point B, we recommend driving your vehicle or having it shipped by another car shipping provider.
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.
Amtrak Car Shipping: Conclusion
Since Amtrak train shipping for vehicles only makes sense for those with a final destination in or near Washington, D.C. or Orlando, the train works for very few drivers. However, if this shipping method suits your auto transport needs, Amtrak car shipping can be both affordable and enjoyable.
Yet Amtrak car shipping isn’t the right option for your needs, there are plenty of ways to quickly and effectively ship your car. We suggest that you request a free quote from at least three other auto shipping companies to find the best, most cost-effective option for your needs. Montway Auto Transport and AmeriFreight can meet your auto transport needs while offering affordable prices.
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. Montway Auto Transport offers 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.
Read our review of Montway Auto Transport to learn more.
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. The company’s early bird discount, which applies if you schedule a shipment within 48 hours of receiving a shipping quote, can even be stacked with other offers.
Available discounts combined with the provider’s strong reputation make for a solid option in the vehicle shipping industry. To find out more, our AmeriFreight review takes a deep dive into what it has to offer.
FAQ: Amtrak Car Shipping
Below are some frequently asked questions about 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.