How to Ship Your Car by Train

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When shipping a car across the country, your mind probably goes straight to truck transport, where vehicles are loaded on an open or enclosed car carrier. But what many vehicle owners don’t know is that there are other methods for auto shipment. Train shipping is often overlooked, but it in fact is an easy and reasonable option.

Keep reading to discover how to ship a car by train, its benefits, how much it costs and more.

Why ship a car by train?

It may seem like a strange alternative to transporting your vehicle on a truck, but shipping by train comes with a number of advantages, including:

  • Cost. Your total spend will include the charge for transporting the car, plus a ticket for yourself (if applicable). With truck transport, you’re charged a certain amount per mile traveled, which may add up when moving across the country. 
  • Efficiency. With trains traveling all over the country at any given time, there may be stops relatively close to your starting location and destination. 
  • Flexibility. Shipping by train still offers owners the choice between open and enclosed transport. See more about each of these below.
  • Eco-friendliness. Trains have lower carbon emissions than cars, airplanes and other forms of transportation. 
  • Convenience. If you use Amtrak, the only consumer line to offer car shipping, you can ride to your destination along with your vehicle.

How shipping a car by train works

Car transport via auto train is rather straightforward. You’ll drive your vehicle to the train station where it will be loaded, the vehicle will be transported and then you will pick it up once it’s unloaded at its destination. 

Prior to bringing your vehicle to be loaded onto the train, there are a few things you should do in preparation:

  • Remove valuables: Don’t leave important documents, medications or other irreplaceable items in the vehicle.
  • Check tires and battery: You’ll still have to drive it from the station to your final destination, so ensure everything is in working order.
  • Wash, clean and declutter: It’s easier to document existing dents or scrapes when the car is clean—take pictures prior to transport so you can identify any damage incurred in transit. 
  • Lock the doors: Reduce the risk of theft by keeping the doors locked while on the train.

Cost to ship a car by train

Generally, vehicle shipping by train is more affordable than other methods. But the total shipping cost you can expect is based on a number of factors:

  • The rail service or line you use
  • The distance you need to transport your vehicle
  • Whether you select an open or enclosed container
  • Starting location and destination
  • The size and weight of your vehicle
  • The make and model of your car

While commercial users can ship cars by rail, the only option for personal vehicle owners is  Amtrak. Amtrak offers an auto train where you and your vehicle can be transported between Orlando, FL and Virginia Beach, VA. Fares start at $89 for a one-way passenger ticket, plus the cost to transport your vehicle. Since this route is typically an overnight trip, you may need to include a sleeping room which will add $400 to $800 to your trip. 

Passenger ticketBedroom carStandard vehicleExtended vehicleMotorcyclePriority vehicle offloading
$89 and up$313 and upStarting at $269 Starting at $307Starting at $149$89 each

Prices are estimates, based on August 2022 and subject to change. 

Types of train car shipping

Just like when using auto transport via truck and trailer, shipping by train may give you the opportunity to choose either an open or enclosed carrier. 

  • Open transport: A totally reliable and safe option but does leave the vehicle uncovered and exposed to the elements. In most cases, the car is only left with a little dirt, dust and the occasional insect left on the windshield. 
  • Enclosed carrier: Your vehicle is stored in a train car and therefore protected from weather and debris. It is a more expensive option, and therefore mostly utilized for antique or luxury cars.
Map of the United States, car hauler, and man on computer speaking through a head piece

Simple auto shipping, anywhere in the country

In certain circumstances, vehicle transport by train can be a convenient and efficient way to get your automobile across the country. However, there are other options that could be better suited to your location, vehicle type and desired shipping dates. 

Montway Auto Transport is a leading car shipping broker that serves vehicle owners all over the country. We specialize in matching vehicle owners with the best carrier for their needs, no matter what type of vehicle they need to ship or where in the country it needs to go. By selecting our door-to-door service, an experienced driver will pick up your car, truck, ATV, motorcycle or another vehicle and transport it to your destination. Get an instant quote or call us at 888-666-8929.

“Wonderful customer service. They delivered our car right on time and in great shape, from Oregon to Iowa! Great price as well when I compared to the other companies online. Thanks!”

★★★★★ Jeangrace Killion, June 3, 2023

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