Trains as a tool for transportation

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Transporting a car on a train

When you need to find a way to ship your car from one place to another, especially if the distance is pretty long, you can consider different options. In many cases, car’s owners prefer to apply for a professional transportation company to deliver a car by truck. This option is becoming more and more popular, especially with a great number on new roads appearing on the map of the USA.

But there are still some alternatives you can take into consideration, especially if the price looks pretty high for you. It’s not surprising that everybody tries to make the final price cheaper (from the customers’ perspective), and sometimes such alternative options can be very attractive.

Car transporter trains are one of them. Just 40-50 years ago they were the main transportation type in case you might need to send your car from one state to another. Today, in such a great competition within the transportation industry, trains that transport cars still exist. But there are some essential limitations and special features you may face.

Orientation to the governmental orders

Nowadays, if you are looking for a train to transport car, you may spend a lot of time until you find the rail company which will agree to take your single vehicle. Instead of filling the railway carriages with separate orders from different spots on the way, it’s much more convenient to transport multiple cars of the same customer. In some cases, we are talking about the auto dealers, but even they are moving to the auto transport carriers. Governmental cars, including different equipment, tractors and basically all the kinds of vehicles nowadays are being delivered by rail companies. On the other hand, if there is a free spot and the direction of the route is the same as yours, you can get a chance to transport car via train.

Passenger ticket

Amtrak is one of the very rare examples when the rail company is actively dealing with individuals who are looking for a possibility of transporting a car in a train. And one of the requirements to make it happen is that you (or someone instead of you) travel together with the car on the same train. For this purpose, you will need to buy a passenger’s ticket which will definitely become an unexpected extra cost, especially for those who didn’t plan to accompany the car.

The price for this ticket can be very different depending on the level of the comfort you are expecting to get. But even the cheapest coach seat (89 dollars) will not be worse than a traditional seat on the plane with the only exception that you need to expect to spend there longer. Trains transporting cars may spend up to 24 hours on the way, meaning you will need to be ready for such an inconvenience. On the other hand, you can choose a more comfortable seat, and there are even options for families.

Therefore, if you were planning to go to the final destination and just didn’t want to spend energy and to put extra mileage on the car while driving it on your own, a car transport train will be a perfect decision.


Limited routes

If you check the rail map, it looks like there are no difficulties for the train to transport cars across the whole country. Unfortunately, the reality is not that great.

Amtrak company which we mentioned above has a very specific and pretty limited route on the east Coast of the USA. Meaning, you can basically consider a possibility to transport car with train only if your destinations are located in Washington and Florida. But it’s not the only restriction in regards to the routes.

Imagine, you are located between Washington, DC and Sanford city in Florida. You cannot make the train stop at your spot even if it’s very close to the rail road – you will need to go to one of the main stations only, and in this particular case it does not have sense at all.

Additional logistics

Obviously, train transportation is happening only on the railway. Therefore, you will need to arrange the delivery of the car to and from the stations. Considering the necessity of purchasing a passenger’s ticket, most probably you will need to arrange this logistics by yourself which may require additional time and some preparations. For example, trains that transport cars and other goods have a very strict schedule, so you need to plan your trip to be at the place in time. And considering all the uncertainty on the road, it can require extra attention and will be pretty stressful. That is why when you are comparing the costs of the truck and the train delivery, you need to deal not only with the direct quotes but with all the additional factors you will have like fuel consumption and chances of breaking.

Benefits of the train transportation

There are still some positive moments when we are talking about transporting cars on trains. And one of the most essential is the price. Even if we count together with the price of the car’s delivery and the passenger’s ticket, the difference with more traditional truck transportation will be indeed enormous. In the mentioned above route between Sanford and Washington you can save more than 500 dollars in comparison with any average auto transportation company. And for many people this is the most attractive advantage of the car transport trains which is overwhelming all the disadvantages. Once again, you can use this option only if the route is really applicable for you.

If you have ever seen a moving train somewhere in the rural area, remote from any railway stations, you have an idea about the train’s speed – it’s incomparably higher than any truck. So, the route the auto transportation company will cover by truck in 7-9 days, the train will do less than in a day (in case of the Sanford-Washington route it’s just 17,5 hours). But with one remark – if the route is straight. The main case here is that a lot of railroads are making some ineffective in this regard loops which can lead to the situation when the distance, so short from the first sight, will rise double or even triple when we are talking about the railroads.

Like with the truck transportation, here you will also have a choice – an open or enclosed delivery.

In the first case we are talking about a large open-air hauler when the rail company can place multiple cars. The main factor to consider in this regard is the weather conditions, especially if the route covers many states with different climates. Your car will not be protected from rain, snow and dust, but you still can be sure that the professional transporter will do its best to arrange a safe and smooth trip for your car. Moreover, there is an obligation of some insurance included in the price so applying for a reliable rail company you can expect no damage at all.

Enclosed transportation means that your car will be placed into a special container, sometimes as a share to other cars, sometimes separately. Therefore, it will be covered and protected from all the four sides from any external effect as well as from potential vandalism on the way. This exclusive method of the delivery, like in case of the truck delivery, is more expensive but a good choice for the owners of expensive and valuable cars.

Every particular case is different, and when talking about the enclosed delivery it can not always be a container – some companies just cover a car by a tent. So you need to carefully check all the details before agreeing on some deal.

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