Vehicle shipping by train

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Share on Sunday, April 25, 2021 6:57 AM
Shipping a car by truck vs by train

Modern transportation industry is very different from the one that existed a dozen of years ago. New technologies from one side and a higher demand on the customers from another side led to a fast growth and development. Nowadays less and less people are choosing vehicle shipping by train giving a preference to the more flexible truck transportation. And if before the view of the train loaded with a number of different cars was pretty common, today it’s a very rare case, not only in the USA but across the world.

Here we will compare advantages and disadvantages of the truck and trail vehicle shipping so you will understand the tendency.

Main factors of the choice

Here we will consider only two options – shipping a vehicle by train and by truck, but of course there are some more. For example, you can choose to drive the car by yourself or to hire a professional driver which can be a faster option but will add some significant mileage to your car. This is especially undesirable in case of a brand-new car you are planning to deliver from the dealer’s salon. In case of the international delivery, you also may deal with the huge boats (normally not directly but via appropriate international transportation companies). Finally, if you can afford to spend an essential sum of money for the fastest and the most exclusive car’s delivery, you can always apply for air freight service.

But anyway, there were only two of the most popular and affordable ways of shipping vehicles – by train and by truck. Let’s compare the important features of both methods in the modern reality.

  1. Cost. From the first sight, shipping vehicle by train is a much cheaper option, at least if you compare the price between a rail company and an auto transport carrier. But there are two main points you always need to keep in mind when thinking of the train delivery of your car:

    • in the overwhelming majority of cases the rail company requires you to purchase a passenger’s ticket to accompany the car. At least it’s a rule in the most popular in the USA rail company dealing with non-commercial deliveries. Of course, the price of such tickets can be not too high (starting from 89 dollars) but the necessity to travel on the train can be not so convenient for the car’s owner;
    • there are not too many railway stations at which you can arrange the loading of your car onto or into the wagon. This means that you will need to arrange the transportation of your car to these spots, and these logistics operations can become a significant part of the final price.

    If to combine all these additional expenses the cost of shipping a vehicle by train will not have such a big difference with a truck delivery directly from point A to point B.

  2. Time. Of course, if you consider the original and the final points on the rail route (and, what is more important, if the distance is covered in a straight line without unnecessary loops), the train will arrive much faster than a truck. Just because its speed will be much higher. But in reality, it’s not so easy. First of all, the schedule of the trains is pretty specific and you can wait for weeks unless its departure. Secondly, there can be a range of stops on the way when the train will stay still for a while. Finally, the route may require to change trains, which also will take additional wasting of time. Basically, you should consider a vehicle shipping on train only if you can afford to wait. Delivery on the truck, on the other hand, can happen on any date you are requesting. Sometimes you need to pay for the expedited service but at least you have a possibility to get your car delivered as soon as possible, sometimes even within 1-2 days.
  3. Flexibility. It’s obvious that in regards to the routes the truck has much higher flexibility. That is why you can apply not only for terminal-to-terminal transportation but also door-to-door. And even here you can face some limitations. For example, in big cities there are restrictions for the massive vehicles on the streets so you may need to choose the nearest possible spot for the drop off. But in comparison with a number of the railway stations you can choose from the truck service looks much more attractive. Moreover, the mileage of the nationwide rail and track roads is very different – 140,000 miles and more than 4 million miles accordingly.
  4. Availability. According to recent research we can say that there is only one rail company dealing with privately owned vehicles’ transportation – Amtrak. And its routes lay only on the East Coast. Meaning, there is a very little chance that you will find a possibility for shipping a vehicle on a train in the western or central part of the country. Of course, you may see some trains filled with cars and different vehicles even there, but most probably it’s a publicly-owned transport. That is why before making a choice between truck and train transportation, you need to make sure the first option is available for you at all.
  5. Luggage restrictions. You might think that if the train is so huge and has a much higher weight capacity, you will be allowed to fill your car with some personal belongings which is especially an actual question in case of moving. But in reality, there are strict limitations in regards to the car’s transportation via train. You are not only disallowed to place some stuff inside the car while transporting it on a train, but even an extra equipment which is not from the original factory-made version is not allowed. To compare with the trucks, you can arrange to deliver all your personal belongings and furniture in the same truck together with your car (this service is very popular within moving companies). It may cost you slightly more, but at least you have an option.

Transportation of cars on the railway platform

As we can see here, train transportation is becoming less and less convenient for the cars’ owners, especially in comparison with more popular truck delivery. But in some cases, you can be very interested in it. For example, if you live in Washington state and would like to go for holidays with family to Oregon. The Amtrak’s route covers these districts and your car takes a comfortable family bedroom in the train to enjoy the trip without the necessity to drive the car on your own. At the final station you can just continue your trip.

In many other circumstances the auto shipping transportation will be a better and easier option. Luckily, there is a great number of carriers and transporters across all 50 states, and you can easily arrange a pretty fair price for a good and fast delivery service.

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