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Take Your Car With You on the Auto Train

Aug 3, 2008
The Auto Train offers a unique opportunity for travelers. You can bring your car along with you while you travel in the comfort of a train. The Auto Train is an 855-mile long train service for passengers and their vehicles, which is operated by Amtrak. While there are similar services in other countries, Amtrak is the only service of its kind in the United States. The Auto Train travels from Lorton, Virginia (near Washington, D.C.) to Sanford, Florida (near Orlando).

Perks of Traveling on the Auto Train

The Auto Train leaves Lorton, Virginia around 4:00 p.m. and arrives in Sanford, Florida at approximately 8:30 a.m. Passengers ride either in wide coach seats or private sleeping car rooms while their vehicles are carried in enclosed automobile-carrying freight cars, called autoracks. The train also includes lounge cars and dining cars. The Auto Train service helps passengers avoid the long drive on busy Interstate 95 in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, and expense and of a rental car.

The Auto Train also offers the perk of being able to enjoy the scenery. From the Civil War battlefields of Virginia to the South Carolina lowlands to the Palm trees in Florida, you will see some of the most interesting sights in the southeast. Some points of interest are the Potomac River in Lorton, Virginia. Quantico, Virginia is home to the famous FBI training facility. In Fredericksburg, Virginia the train crosses over the Rappahannock River, which is the river that George Washington tossed the silver dollar across. It is also here that General Lee's army repelled Union forces in 1862 in the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Next is Ashland, Virginia where you take a trip down the middle of Main Street. You can also see Randolph-Macon College. Your journey continues through Richmond, Virginia (the state capital) and you can see the James River.

Types of Vehicles Permitted on Auto Train

According to the Amtrak website, vehicles must be checked in at least one hour before scheduled departure time. Oversized vehicles and motorcycles need to be checked in at least two hours before departure time. Vehicles must meet certain dimension requirements, which can be found on Amtrak's website.

Types of vehicles permitted include:

* Cars
* Vans
* SUVs
* Trucks
* Motorcycles

Limited number of:
*Small enclosed trailers
*Trailers for boats
*Jet skis

Tips for Traveling on the Auto Train

* Be sure you have all travel-related documents together before you leave for the train station. Be sure to bring your tickets and identification.

* Carry-on baggage is limited to two pieces per passenger (with few exceptions). Checked baggage service is available on certain services. You may pack as much as you like in your car but keep any valuables with you. You will not have access to your car during the trip so plan on taking what you will need for the overnight trip on board with you.

* On most Amtrak trains, seating is on a first-come, first served basis. Once onboard, the conductor may assign seats.
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