Packing our belongings, loading them onto a truck and getting it transported from one location to the other. This is what a typical moving process looks like for most of us. But how is it when you have to ship your car from one place to the other?

Of course, the most probable option is to drive your car to the new location. But for some, this may not be the most feasible option, especially when moving long distance or across states. Fortunately, for all such situations, we have the options of getting our car shipped through a truck carrier, by train or if you’re a bigwig with moneybags, then transporting your car via plane could also be your option

Out of all these, shipping a car by train seems to be a popular choice because of the cost effectiveness it offers. If you’re wondering how the process of shipping a car by train is like, and if that is the right choice for you, just read along. Apart from a description of what the process is like, we’ve also mentioned the costs that you could incur and how you could prepare your car for the shipping process. Let’s get started right away!

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Should You Shift Your Car By Train?

Getting your car shipped by a truck carrier is probably the most common option that many people choose. But if you’re looking for a more economical option, then shifting your car by train could be a good choice. Not only is the process going to save you a few bucks, but it also has some very clear advantages.

Firstly, it’s the most environment friendly option and also probably one of the safest. In most cases, the chances of damage while your car is in transit, are fairly low when shipping your car by train. Not to forget, one of the best advantages of using rail for your car transport is that you can easily stack up some of your belongings or boxes inside the car before it is loaded. This may not be an option for you if you choose a truck carrier to shift your vehicle. Besides, if you do not have a lot of furniture and are even traveling on the same train your car is getting shipped in, then you may also end up saving the expense of renting a truck.

However, before you make a choice of shifting your car by train, know that this option is only limited to some rail connecting areas. If you’re traveling on the East Coast, specifically around Lorton, VA and Sanford, FL, then rail transport would be an easily available option for you. But for most other parts in the country, this may not be feasible. Another thing to take note of is the fact that your pick up and drop off points would become limited to the stations along the rail lines.

Additionally, you may have to plan the entire process with quite some time in hand, as trains usually might make a trip only after all their available space is filled. So, chances are that it might take a few weeks or even longer till your car actually gets delivered. Basically, shifting your car by train is a budget friendly option, but you may not have a lot of flexibility when arranging for the same.

Also See: Should You Ship Your Car Or Tow It Behind Your Moving Truck?

How To Arrange Car Transport By Train?

If you’ve decided to ship your car by train, know that most railroad lines will not deal with you as single customers. What we mean by this is that, you will have to get in touch with an auto transport company that has their tie ups for regular rail services. Some of the major railroad services are offered by Amtrak, CSX, Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific.

Many auto transport companies book all the available space on a monthly basis. So, the best option for you is to get in touch with such a company and plan the shipping of your vehicle with them. Also, an added benefit of going through an auto transport company is that they could work out another option with you, if it isn’t very feasible to shift your car by train.

Good To Know: If you’re moving around areas like Lorton and Sanford, you could also check out Amtrak’s Auto Train service. They have daily trips for travellers and can easily transport your car in an enclosed shipping container as well. You could have a look at their official website to get further details about the requirements of this process.

Open v/s Enclosed Carriers

This is one common aspect between shipping your car by train or by a truck – you get to choose either an open air carrier or an enclosed carrier. While both of them are safe methods to get your car transported, they also come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Open Air Carriers are the more common option opted by most people. And it’s not difficult to guess why. In most cases, open air carriers are going to be cheaper than enclosed carriers. If you have to move more than one vehicle, then this is surely going to be a more budget friendly option. But as the name suggests, these carriers are open on all sides, without any roof. So naturally, if your vehicle is getting shipped through an open air carrier, it would be vulnerable to inclement weather conditions, dirt on the side panels or occasional bugs on the windshield. There could also be a rare possibility of thefts or break-ins in an open air carrier. While the chances seem really low in case of a rail transport, we would still suggest that you don’t leave your valuables scattered bunglingly in your car.

The other option offered by some companies is the enclosed rail transport carrier. If you’re transporting classic cars, antiques or high end cars, choosing an enclosed carrier would definitely be a better option for you. With roofs and sides covered on all ends, you can be assured that your car will most probably reach your new destination the same way you left it at the previous one. An enclosed train carrier will protect your car against any debris, bugs or dirt that it may be exposed to if transported in an open air carrier. But this extra safety and assurance would come at a price. Enclosed carriers are generally more expensive than open carriers for the extra level of security that they provide.

Overall, open rail carriers are the cheapest mode of getting your car shipped, while an enclosed carrier can guarantee the safety of your car. You could choose the one that best suits you, but if you ask us, we suggest that open air carriers are a good option for your regular everyday cars. All you would need is a clean wash for your car after the delivery, and your car would be good to go.

How Much Does It Cost To Ship A Car By Train?

Compared to a truck, boat or plane, shipping a car by train is an affordable option for many. For the most part, that’s because a train uses a significantly lesser amount of fuel to run. Like for your typical move, the cost of shipping a car by train would vary depending on the auto transport company you choose. But on an average, you can expect those costs to be between $480 to $890.

Do keep in mind, that this is a rough estimate for moving your car through a rail auto transport company. Your final cost would actually be dependent on a few other factors like:

  • The distance your car needs to be transported to.
  • The auto transport company or rail line that you choose.
  • The availability of rail terminals in the regions you’re planning your move in.
  • Whether you choose to ship your car in an open or an enclosed carrier.

If you’re looking for more convenience, then you could also opt for door to door services offered by some auto shipping companies. They would pick-up your car from the terminal and get it delivered to your preferred location. But this service would be an additional cost to your total. You could check if your rail transport company offers this service, otherwise you would have to get it arranged by a third party service provider.

If you’re traveling between Washington, D.C. and Florida, then you could also check out Amtrak Auto Train services that allow passengers to directly ship their car. But to avail this service, you would also have to purchase a passenger ticket and ride on the same train as well. You can expect your overall costs to be around $500, if you plan on going the cheapest way through Amtrak Auto Train.

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How Do I Prepare My Car For Rail Transport?

Not only is shipping a car by train the most inexpensive option, but it is also amongst the safest. In most cases, your auto transport company shall guide you all along the process. But before you begin with the process, there are certain things that you could ensure in order to prepare your car for rail transport.

Keep valuables separately: Now we’ve mentioned before that you could keep a few belongings or boxes in your car, before it gets loaded onto the rail carrier, but it is better that none of your valuables are left unattended in your car. Don’t get confused. What we mean is that all your valuables like any important documents, medical supplies or your personal items, should always be on your person, as far as possible. Though rail transport generally provides a safe environment, the last thing you would want to worry about is missing items at your arrival destination, right? So, it’s better that you don’t leave anything in the car that you most definitely couldn’t risk losing.

Check the vehicle battery and tires: You’ve finally managed to get your car transported to the drop off point, but can’t move it further because of dead battery or flat tires. This surely isn’t how you want the process to be like, right? So, before you load your car for shipment, make sure that your car battery is fully charged and all tires are in place, properly inflated.

Clean your vehicle and keep photo proofs: Now cleaning up is definitely a task that you would have to do after receiving your car at the new location. But the reason we are also suggesting you to follow this step before shipping your car is so that you know in which condition your car is getting shipped. If your car is properly cleaned, it will be much clearer in the photos that could be used as proof in case of any damage or insurance claim. Also, make sure that you take photos of your car from all angles and have them clearly dated.

Insurance: You would have probably gotten vehicle insurance at the time of purchasing your car, but does that insurance also cover your vehicle during auto transport? In many cases, your auto transport company may provide you with some kind of insurance for your vehicle when in transit. But this would probably be limited to any damage caused by the transporter.

However, if the damages are caused by natural calamities or any unforeseen circumstances, then most likely your insurance company will have to cover it for you. So, just like you would ensure coverage for your other valuables while moving, we suggest that you check for your car insurance to be in place as well.

See Also: 11 Important Car Shipping Prep Tips

What’s The Cheapest Way To Shift A Car Across Country?

From a price perspective, the cheapest way to shift a car would be by train. But since this option may not be feasible for some locations, shipping a car by an open truck carrier would be your next best bet. Most auto shipping companies offer open truck carriers at reasonable rates to transport your car. If you’re ready to spend a few extra bucks but are looking for a safer option, then enclosed carriers could be a good choice for you.

See Also: List of Cross Country Moving Companies in the US


Can I Put My Car On Amtrak?

Yes, as mentioned before, Amtrak Auto Train services does allow passengers to put their car on the train as well. However, do keep in mind that this service is only available for people traveling between Washington, DC and Florida, just outside of Orlando, as of now at least.

How Much Does It Cost To Take The Amtrak Auto Train?

The cost per passenger on the Amtrak Auto Train starts from $89 for a coach class ticket and goes up to around $488 for a superliner bedroom ticket. The price would vary between these two figures, depending on the ticket type that you choose. If you’re planning to ship your car on the train as well, then the additional cost for a standard vehicle is around $210.

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Now that you’ve got some understanding of what the process of shipping a car by train is like, you would have realized that it’s comparatively a fast and cost effective process. However, the only catch here is that this option may not be available at all locations. In that case, you could consider getting your car shipped via trucks designed for auto transport. That’s an easily available option opted by many. Have a look at the Best Car Shipping Companies that we recommend, if that’s an option you’re planning to choose.