How to Ship a Car by Train?

Updated:

Share

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
How to Ship a Car by Train?

You have many options to get your car from one location to another when relocating. You could decide to drive it yourself, but if that is not an option you are considering, then you can go for other transport options. One of the most common choices among movers is to ship a car by train. There has been rapid growth in the number of options that come through shipping a vehicle by train due to the wide availability of rail service as well as its friendliness to the environment.

Some people enjoy loading their car into a train when going for a quick vacation to prevent going through the stress of renting a car at their destination, and in this wise, shipping a car by train makes more sense. Amtrak is the only rail company we discovered that provide service to individual clients and is a large company that operates one particular auto shipping route on the East Coast. Shipping your car by train is faster and cheaper than the normal vehicle shipping if you live closer to Sanford, FL or Washington, DC.

Only a few customers may be able to use train car shipping while others don’t see this as an option as they favor regular freight trucks to train except for those that are financially capable of shipping by air freight. Aside from the lower price, there are other benefits to choosing to ship a car by train. Continue reading on how to ship a vehicle by train to know more about the types of services and pricing that train shipping offers.   

Comparing Auto shipping by truck and train

 

Truck

Train

Availability

15,000+ cities

Only 2 cities

Speed

8 days

2 days

Door-to-door delivery

Yes

No

How does Car Shipping by Train work?

The mode of operation of car shipping by train is exactly as it sounds. You still transport your car from one place to another, but in this case, you put your car on a train while you follow it instead of paying an auto transport company to deliver it using a truck. Of course, you need to get the passenger ticket. It is mandatory that you take the train together with your car; otherwise, there won’t be car shipping. Most of the auto shipping companies include rail transport in their list, but the truth is, they don’t. It is only Amtrak that provides this service, and it is a railroad company.  

Types of Services

Rail service remains one of the cheapest means of shipping a car in the U.S. or other countries. Although the popular means of transporting a car from one place to another in the past is by truck, now the latest is to ship a car by train and guess what, it is cost-effective, environmentally friendly with lesser pollution. Only international shipping service is not available when shipping a car by train. In this situation, you must transport your car by another means, either a ship or a plane. However, when you choose to transport your car by train, there are three common rail services in the United States available for your auto shipping, and they include: 

Ship a Car by Train Amtrak

Train Amtrak operates its own personal rail service specially made for vehicles and owners. These auto trains journey from Lorton, Virginia, through to the Sunshine State, and arriving at Sanford, Florida. This journey takes 855 miles, and it replaces driving on the I-95, one of the most travelled roadways in the Eastern region. Most people prefer this rail shipping method as it saves gas, time, and car mileage for their auto transport from the Northeast to Southeast and vice versa when traveling along the Atlantic. One great start to a move is through a rail service that provides free meals, private bedroom accommodations, or coach seats.  

Auto Transport by Rail

This is also a common rail service many people prefer. This company is unique as it offers door-to-door delivery, meaning that it picks up the car from your location, load it on a truck, haul it by train, loads it on a transport truck again and delivers it at your doorstep at your destination home. You won’t even drive a single mile nor use any gallon of gas all through the rail service that moves across the nation. This company hauls cars by train all over the country, including from the North to the South. This rail service also travels to and from the West Coast, a place where Amtrak’s shipping train only travels to in the East Coast. 

Autolog Vehicle Transport

The door-to-door service is available with this rail service just like auto shipping, and they are permitted to travel across the country with no restrictions. About 100 transport terminals are available across the country, with headquarters located in Linden, New Jersey. This rail company serves families relocating, travelers, vehicle auctioneers, and dealers of a new and old car. 

Enclosed or Open-air Trailer

Rail services also offer open and enclosed car carriers just like other modes of shipping. You have to check with your rail service if you would allow your car to be exposed to the elements or preferred the enclosed option. Enclosed shipping of vehicles by train could help you save some money as your vehicle will not be exposed to weather or debris damage that could be inevitable in the open-trailer option. Kindly read our latest article on open-air and enclosed trailer shipping options for more information.

When you are faced with how to get your car to your destination home, the escape route might be to consider vehicle shipping. However, you have to consider the pros and cons of auto shipping before you decide on what to do. Create a list of questions to ask the shipping company to serve as an assurance that you know exactly what the shipping process is like and also remember to take care of personal tasks when transporting your car for better preparation of the car before shipping. Consider giving your vehicle its best ride rather than you going for yours.    

How much does it Cost to ship by Train?

Shipping a car from Lorton, VA, to Sanford, FL, on Amtrak’s auto train will cost between $297 and $761. The class of your passenger ticket and additional service like priority offloading could affect the price. The cost of shipping a standard size vehicle is $208, while the lowest passenger ticket costs $89. If there has been no alteration to your vehicle’s (an SUV, a car, van, or truck) original length, then Amtrak’s pricing would count it as a standard size. 

How does this cost compare to normal auto shipping for a similar distance of 855 miles? UShip, an online marketplace that has over 2 million vehicles at its disposal, was contacted. The company gave us an average of $825 to transport a car on the same route where the Amtrak auto train would also pass. The cost is $528 higher than the less expensive rail option, and $64 higher than the most costly rail option with a comfortable bed and priority loading added to it. The quote received from uShip is on the average, which implies that there are transporters who would offer you a lesser deal. Even at that, no transporter would match the cheaper price you received from Amtrak’s pricing.  

Auto transport costs: Train vs. truck

Amtrak (most expensive)

Amtrak (least expensive)

Average uShip

$761

$297

$825

 Below are a few things to note on the cost of transporting a vehicle.

  • It cost about $800 to $1,070 to transport a pickup, small van or SUV from California to New York. The cost of shipping a larger model of these vehicles is about $900 to $1,170. The price is on the high side during summer.
  • The cost of coast to coast shipping for a 4-door sedan is between $600 and $1,000. The cost is cheaper when you ship during winter while higher during summer.
  • It costs about $1,010 to ship a car between Washington, Seattle, Juneau, and Alaska, and it includes 15% of fuel surcharge. If the car was driven onto the deck by the mover, then the cost is reduced a little.

Transporting sedans between New York and Florida by auto shippers cost about $650 to $850 while vans, pickups, and SUVs $800 to $1,000. Larger versions of these vehicles cost between $900 and $1,100. 

Pro Tip

Get your vehicle ready for the shipping by giving it a thorough cleaning both the interior and exterior and detach any lose items that might shift during the transport and to damage. Also, remember to take photographs of the car’s exterior for documentation and reference. Read our ultimate car shipping checklist.

Additional Costs

  • Terminals are where vehicles are being loaded for shipping. Vehicle owners living in the far distance to a terminal will pay additional fees to have Seattle, Washington are serving their car sent to an embarkation point just like deliveries in Alaska. 
  • Shipping a vehicle across the country during summer costs $200 to $300 more than to ship a car during winter months. 
  • There are other options for land shipments. For instance, a vehicle being transported to New York City may arrive in a New Jersey terminal where the owner may pick it up. An additional $180 may be required for transport to New York City. Request for terminal locations from the car shipper as well as the costs for pickup and delivery. 
  • You will be charged a fee for loading difficulties if the vehicle is not working.  
  • The cost of loading exotic or classic cars into closed containers using full lift gates cost an additional $800 to $3,000. 

Discounts

  • Discounts are available for military and veterans
  • Some auto shipping companies offer a discount to their clients if they ship more than a vehicle to the same destination
  • Discounts are available for senior citizens and students.
  • Some shippers also offer a terminal-to-terminal discount. The car owner drives the vehicle to the loading dock and picks it up at the destination terminal

Pro Tip

Ensure your gas tank is not filled beyond one-quarter to reduce the weight of the car. 

How to Prepare a Car for Rail Shipping?

Preparing your car for shipping is very important and must be done properly, even when you ship a car by train. You will be given all the information you need to know about getting your vehicle ready for train shipping by a reputable and professional car shipping company; however, the following tips might come in handy. 

  • Inspect your car’s tires and battery before the trip: You want to keep your vehicle operational even when it gets to its destination. Make sure your car’s battery and tires are in perfect shape to enable continuous usage when it gets to your destination terminal. 
  • Take out all valuables: Although you may be permitted to ship personal items in your vehicle while shipping by train, however, you should not risk losing any of your valuable items. This may include medical supplies and important documents, as well as sentimental or highly-valuable personal possessions. It is always safer to move with these items in person.  
  • Take pictures of any present damages: To be on a safer end, you are advised to take pictures of the current condition of your car before making the trip so that you can have proof in case there is a need to sue for a claim. Although there may be slight damage to your vehicle while in transit, especially when you choose an open container in rail shipping. You will be duly informed of what is being covered by the rail service’s liability before the trip, as well as any claims you are eligible to upon delivery of your vehicle if needed.

Is Passenger Ticket a Requirement for Car Shipping by Train?

Yes. A passenger ticket is required by Amtrak auto train before you can ship your car, and you must also ride on the same train. Your ticket price will be determined by the level of comfort you are going for.

Amtrak auto train cost per passenger

Ticket Type

Price

Superliner bedroom

$488

Family bedroom

$424

Superliner roomette

$296

First class

$280

Business class

$115

Coach class

$89

What is the Reason behind Shipping a Car by Train?

Rail auto shipping is similar to auto shipping by a truck just that the former is mostly cheaper. Although this option is not as popular as the latter, however, it is gaining recognition day by day as more train lines now include auto transport in their services. Most movers prefer this shipping option not only because it is cheaper but also because they can load some of their belongings in their car and get shipped to their destination, unlike the truck auto shipping option. In the end, you might save a lot of money in moving your items as well as a truck rental if your belongings don’t include furniture or items that won’t fit in a car. However, one of the limitations is flexibility. Pickup and drop off are done only at rail stations along the line, and this could be a big issue. Also, car shipping by train may be slower compared to the truck option. That is because the available spots on the train must be filled up before they can start the trip. That could cause you to wait for some weeks or more before you can receive your car at the final destination.  

Cons of Shipping a Car by Train

The routes available to movers who prefer train transport are not much, and even rail services that serve each of those routes are not much. Certain number of train shipment companies partner with professional auto shipping companies to get your car moved from one place to another even though the price might be cheaper in some situations. In most cases, the best move here might be to contact professional auto transport companies and ask if your car shipping can be partly done with them using a train, rather than contacting train companies that don’t have much competition.  

Pros of Shipping a Car by Train

If your home happens to be closer to the area, which is often serviced by trains that can ship cars, then you may want to contact nearest vehicle shipping companies for the cost of shipping a car by train. This may drastically reduce the wear and tear on your car as its journey through the first part of its shipping, and can also enable most of your vehicle’s journey to be eco-friendly.  

Should I choose Car Shipping by Train?

Car shipping by train may be the nicest option for customers whose house is closer to Lorton, VA, or Sanford, FL, who doesn’t mind riding on the same train with their cars, and want the shipment done quicker and cheaper than the common truck auto transport. We are not quick to make a recommendation for services, but shipping a car by train just deserves it. You can opt for two-for-one on Amtrak auto train if you are heading for the South for your winter vacation and want to ride beside your car. However, if you live farther to Sanford FL, or Lorton, VA, then shipping a car by train is not even an option for you. In this situation, we advise that you research further on shipping a car by truck.   

Can I go for Car Shipment by Train if my Place is not closer to Amtrak?

No. you need to live closer to any of Amtrak’s two terminals in Lorton, VA, or Sanford, FL. Other railroad services like Union Pacific, Sante Fe, and CSX only offer service to commercial clients like car dealerships, so shipping by train with them is not possible for regular customers. However, you can get car transport by truck in most cities in the United States. Contact your auto shipping company to see if it can ship through your specific route. You can focus on using one of our 6 top vehicle shipping companies if you are not living anywhere closer to Amtrak’s two terminals. You can select from the following:

  • Zoom Auto Transport
  • US Auto Shipping
  • uShip
  • eShip
  • Sherpa Auto Transport
  • Ship Your Car Now

Conclusion

Make sure all personal items are removed from your vehicle before you ship regardless of any shipping method you decide to go with. Make sure your broker gives you a signed bill of lading during drop-off and also conducts such inspection for damage during pickup after it arrive your destination. Car shipping doesn’t have to involve stress regardless of the reason you are doing it, whether for vacation or moving to another part of the country. Benefit from the options presented by shipping your car by train and commit the remaining task into your broker’s hand while you take a rest.  

For more information on the car shipping process and auto transporters, people also read…

David Cohen
David Cohen
He has a degree in literature from Stanford University and a profession in Mass Communication. David is a member of the Moving Feedback research team, an expert in writing educative articles to help readers make the right buying decisions. He is well versed in moving industry matters to give the best advice on moving needs.
David Cohen
David Cohen
He has a degree in literature from Stanford University and a profession in Mass Communication. David is a member of the Moving Feedback research team, an expert in writing educative articles to help readers make the right buying decisions. He is well versed in moving industry matters to give the best advice on moving needs.

More To Explore

Leave a Comment

Table of Contents

Get FREE quotes from Professional Movers