For auto travel between Virginia and Florida, there is an alternative to driving the more than 800 or so miles along busy I-95. Amtrak offers nonstop train service for travelers and their vehicles on the Amtrak Auto Train, Amtrak's only route that transports vehicles. According to Amtrak, with two engines and over 40 passenger rail cars and vehicle carriers, this unique train is the longest passenger train in the world.
The boarding platform at the Lorton, Va Amtrak Auto Train station is 1,480 feet long, which is longer than the height of Chicago's Sears Tower.
The car auto train can accommodate cars, vans, motorcycles, SUVs, small boats, jet-skis and some other recreational vehicles. Reservations are required and are only available to those who are traveling with their vehicles.
Lorton VA Station
The nonstop Auto Train's northernmost station is in Lorton, Virginia, located 25 miles outside of Washington, D.C. The station's proximity to many northern, major metropolitan areas makes it a great location to attract those in the North headed to Florida or those Floridian's looking to visit our nation's capital and surrounding areas.
- Arlington National Cemetery - 16 miles
- Alexandria, VA - 17 miles
- Washington, D.C. attractions such as Smithsonian Museum - 20 miles
- Baltimore, MD - 64 miles
Amtrak Florida Station
Located in Sanford, the southernmost end of the car train to Florida ends in this suburb that is located approximately 30 miles from downtown Orlando.
Many attractions and popular Florida destinations are within several hours:
- Walt Disney World - 55 miles
- Cocoa Beach - 65 miles
- NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex - 50 miles
- Daytona Beach - 39 miles
- Tampa - 117 miles
Amtrak Auto Train Cost
Accommodations and corresponding price levels range from coach seats to bedroom suites.
Meals are included. ALL meals are included in the price. As with all routes, look for special sale fares. Auto Train tickets have been seen on sale for $95 for coach seats. The costs of your vehicle is an additional charge.
How Much is it to Ship a Car
Costs can fluctuate, just like passenger fares, but expect around $200 for your vehicle to travel on the auto train car.
Travel Time on Amtrak Auto Train
The scheduled trip by train lasts about 17 and 30 minutes versus straight driving time of around 12 hours and 40 minutes to cover over 800 miles without any stops or delays (unlikely) along the way.
Tips for Passengers Traveling on the Auto Train
Here are a few tips to help you prepare and enjoy your trip. For detailed information, visit the Amtrak website or call the Amtrak number listed below. All information provided here is subject to change and should be confirmed with Amtrak before making your plans:
- You must obtain your Auto Train tickets before you board the train and it is a good idea to pick up your tickets in advance if possible. A photo ID is required to pick up your tickets and on the day of your departure.
- Make sure you have a clear understanding about your required check-in time and allow plenty of time to arrive early. Check-in times vary depending on the type of vehicle you have.
- Pack a small carry-on bag for your overnight on the train and remember to take everything you will need from your vehicle before checking your car. There is a limit of two carry-on bags per passenger, but less is better with limited space on the train. (That said, many frequent Auto Train travelers recommend taking your own comfortable pillow and a small blanket, especially if traveling in coach.)
- Because there is no baggage checking on the Auto Train, all other luggage must remain in your vehicle, which will be restricted from access throughout the trip. Valuable items should not be left in your vehicle. (Photo of loading vehicles onto the train)
- Car alarm systems should be deactivated before you leave your car to avoid the risk of a dead battery upon arrival in the event your alarm goes off during the trip.
- Meals (dinner and breakfast) are included in the price of your ticket, and snacks are available for purchase in the Lounges. You are permitted to bring your own food and beverages, however, if you wish.
- Once you arrive at your destination, retrieving your vehicle can take anywhere from about twenty minutes to two hours, so plan your itinerary accordingly.
Amtrak Auto Train Reservations
For more about schedules, rates, procedures, and reservations visit the Amtrak website.
Edited by Lori Mac Brown