Once again we hopped aboard the auto train in Lorton, Virginia and took it to Florida. One of the things that surprised me was how few people were aware what the auto train was. When you’re in a tourist place, people ask how you got there to make small talk, and when we say we took the auto train down, they aren’t familiar with it. Some are, but many are not.
The auto train is a special train that only runs on the East Coast. It’s run by Amtrak, and you can only board it if you also have a vehicle with you. It’s not your typical commuter train. It has one path, and one path only. It goes back and forth between Virginia and Florida. When you buy your ticket, you find you can’t buy a ticket unless you also have a vehicle, and you’ll be paying for that also. You can bring a motorcycle, van, truck or car.
You then also choose if you want to sit in a public coach seat, or if you’d like a private room. The private rooms come in different sizes. The thing is, it’s a 17 hour trip. You leave the station by 4pm at the latest, and arrive by 8 or 9 am the following morning. It runs each day….each way. When the train gets to Florida, you unload, and they unload the vehicles from their special trailers. They then service the train and get it ready to head back for the next trip. The people in Florida load up, and the train leaves by 4pm, and get up to Virginina between 8 and 9am….same thing, over and over again.
They serve dinner on the train in special diner cars, have a lounge car, show movies, and also have a special smoking area and car. There are bathrooms and showers. It’s an interesting experience.
We usually get a small room, and it makes sleeping on the train more comfortable. Seats fold down into bunks, and you doze off around 10 or 11pm, and arrive at your destination in the morning.
If you’d like more information about the auto train, just go to the Amtrak site, and search auto train. It’s a neat experience, and my son loves it. I don’t sleep well on the train, but like having my car with me on road trips. This time we took the train down, and drove back.