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Amtrak Car Shipping Guide

Learn about Amtrak car shipping and what you need to know about the Auto Train. We explain the rail line’s prices, shipping process, and availability.

From our #1 rated provider, montway_logo


10/01/2023 02:03 PM

The Gist:

  • The process to ship a car with Amtrak is quite simple, with one main rule: you must ride on the train in order for your vehicle to be eligible for shipping.
  • While there are many benefits of shipping a car with Amtrak, one of the most unique is the ability to store personal items in your vehicle during the shipping process.
  • Depending on what type of vehicle you’re shipping, it will cost between $155 and $325 (this doesn’t include your own ticket to ride the train).

While the best car shipping companies offer quality services and efficient transport, drivers often wonder whether Amtrak car shipping could work equally well. It’s a difficult question to answer, as Amtrak’s Auto Train provides affordable transport only for a very specific group of drivers.

If you’re looking for cheap car shipping between the Northeast and Florida, the Auto Train might be worth consideration. For others, it’s likely smarter to compare prices from top auto transport providers to find a cost-effective rate on a route that suits your needs.

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:

Vehicle TypeMaximum DimensionsAmtrak Car Shipping Cost
Standard vehicle16 feet in length,
85 inches in height,
84 inches in width
$285 per vehicle
Extended vehicle18 feet in length,
85 inches in height,
84 inches in width
$325 per vehicle
Motorcycle102 inches in length,
72 inches in height,
51 inches in width
$155 per vehicle

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 Reputation

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.

Montway Auto Transport Best Reputation
BBB Rating : A+ Phone : 844-601-0286 Coverage : 50 states
Pros & Cons
Pros Strong reputation, customer satisfaction, and industry ratings Carrier vetting Large network of 30,000+ carriers Offers expedited delivery Competitive pricing Cons No real-time tracking or mobile-app; must contact company for tracking info No guaranteed pricing $249 cancellation fee No specialty shipping services for recreational vehicles (RVs), boats, trailers, or other watercraft Intrusive Pop-up Ads

Montway Auto Transport is a reputable auto transport broker offering several car shipping services and cheap car shipping rates. We named it the Best Reputation car shipping company for 2024.

AmeriFreight: Best Shipping Service Options

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.

AmeriFreight Best for Discounts
BBB Rating : A+ Phone : 855-460-6609 Coverage : 50 states
Pros & Cons
Pros Affordable rates and several discount opportunities available Thorough carrier vetting process Excellent reviews on BBB; A+ rating and accreditation Offers a guaranteed price option Delivers coast to coast Cons No real-time GPS tracking or mobile app Charges extra for insurance No locked-in rates No international shipping

AmeriFreight is a leading car shipping broker that partners with over 10,000 car carriers to deliver a wide range of auto transport services. The company also works with government agencies, vehicle manufacturers, and retailers to deliver outsourced logistics services and shipping on a large scale.

FAQ: Amtrak Car Shipping

Below are some frequently asked questions about Amtrak Car Shipping:

How much does it cost to ship a car on Amtrak?

It costs $285 to ship a standard vehicle using Amtrak car shipping in one direction. Amtrak’s only auto transport route is the Auto Train, which runs between Washington, D.C. and Orlando, Florida. To use Amtrak car shipping, you’re required to purchase a passenger ticket and ride the train as well.

Does Amtrak ship cars?

Amtrak offers car transport between Washington, D.C. and Orlando, Florida via the Auto Train. There are no train routes offered by Union Pacific or CSX that provide similar auto transport in the United States.

How can I send my car by train?

To send your car using Amtrak car shipping, you’ll need to book a ticket on the Auto Train. Pack your vehicle with possessions before driving it to the Amtrak terminal, where your car will be placed onto the train. From there, you’ll ride the train until it reaches your destination.

Can I ship my car by train to Florida?

Yes, you can ship your car by train to Florida. We recommend using Amtrak to send your vehicle to Florida using a train.

How long does it take to ship a car by train?

It takes about 17 hours for Amtrak’s Auto Train to ship your vehicle between Washington, D.C. and Orlando, Florida. Trains depart from both stations at 4 pm and arrive at their destinations the next day around 9 am.

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.