Anyone who would prefer to take their car, small van, or motorcycle with them on vacation (but not necessarily drive the entire distance) would enjoy traveling with Amtrak’s Auto Train. This is a unique service available in the United States for those who like to travel along the east coast. Amtrak, the Federally chartered corporation in the United States that runs interstate passenger trains now operates the Auto Train, which was originally a private business.
There are some things to consider when traveling on the Auto Train. Keeping these in mind and planning accordingly will make your trip more enjoyable.
When picking up your ticket and on the day that you depart from the station, please have photo identification on your person. Since Auto Train tickets must be in hand prior to boarding, make sure to pick up your tickets in advance. To that end, arrive early to allow time for any unexpected challenges.
If you are traveling from or through Washington, DC or Orlando, Florida, plan for plenty of travel time since traffic can be especially heavy in these areas.
Auto Train will begin loading vehicles (yours) in Lorton, at 11:30 a.m. on the day of your departure. If you are driving an oversized vehicle or a motorcycle, these must arrive on location no later than 2 p.m. Cars must arrive no later than 3 p.m. We regret to say, there will be no exceptions to these guidelines.
Automobiles, vans, SUV’s and motorcycles are the only vehicles permitted on the Auto Train. A car should be no higher than 65 inches high and have at least 4 inches of ground clearance. A van or SUV can be up to 66 and 88 inches in height with 4 inches of ground clearance. Nothing can be attached to the roof of the vehicle. However, bicycles in bicycle racks can be attached to the rear of the vehicle. Motorcycles can be up to 57.5 inches in height (including the windshield) and needs to have 5 inches of ground clearance. Only standard factory-model two-wheel motorcycles with no sidecars please.
You will not have access to your vehicle during the trip. Please remove all needed items from your vehicle prior to checking it in to be loaded. Please do not leave valuables in your vehicle. Vehicle alarm systems must be deactivated. If your alarm would go off during the journey, you might have a dead battery upon arrival. You may pack luggage inside your vehicle. Amtrak does allow two carry-on bags per passenger, so bring with you what you’ll need for the trip.
Trains sway and jiggle while in motion, so use the provided handrails when moving about the train and wear shoes at all times.
If you are traveling in a sleeping car, your bedding and towels are provided for you, but considering bringing your own pillow to make your trip more comfortable. The beds in the sleeping cars conveniently convert to seats for travel during the day.
You may bring your own snacks even though your meals are included in your fare. The rooms have limited space, so only bring essential items with you.
There is a lot to see on the train! Ask a member of your crew for recommendations on what to see while you travel. Above all, enjoy your trip!