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I think by now, Points With a Crew readers will know that I am the resident Amtrak aficionado around here. Living in New York City, I find much of their Northeast network to be convenient, comfortable, and inexpensive, so they’re my go-to choice when traveling in the region. While much of Amtrak’s service is along the Northeast Corridor, some of Amtrak’s most famous routes actually never see the Big Apple. One of Amtrak’s most unique routes is the Auto Train, which carries both people and cars from Lorton, VA to Sanford, FL. This unique service began in 1983 with three trains a week, and was expanded to daily service the following year. Taking the Amtrak Auto Train to Florida can be a great way to travel between Washington D.C. and Orlando, without actually having to do the driving!
The Auto Train has a very specific boarding process, one that is highlighted on the schedule Amtrak publishes:
While the train doesn’t leave Lorton or Sanford until 4pm, you can start boarding your car at 11:30am, with no cars being accepted after 2:30pm. Per Amtrak, only passengers with four-tire, two-axle vehicles or motorcycles may travel on Auto Train. You’ll want to check out all the requirements here, as there are limited on oversized vehicles. It probably goes without saying, but you CANNOT ride in your vehicle on the Auto Train :).
The Amtrak Auto Train’s route is 885 miles from Lorton, VA to Sanford, FL. The trip should take roughly 17 hours, barring any delays along the way. Note that the tracks used by the Auto Train are owned by CSX (for the most part), which means that freight trains will get priority.
On the Amtrak Auto Train to Florida, you can expect the following classes of service: Coach, Business, Superliner Roomette, Superliner Bedroom, Superliner Bedroom Suite, Superliner Family Bedroom, and Superliner Accessible Bedroom.
Looking for a unique vacation? Welcome aboard: https://t.co/ByTgz6efSz pic.twitter.com/6fwbLj3luf
— Amtrak (@Amtrak) March 7, 2017
The above tweet should give you some semblance of what the different types of rooms look like, and what they’re equipped with.
(SEE ALSO: Amtrak Superliner vs. Viewliner – what’s the difference?)
All passengers, regardless of service class, are offered dinner and a continental breakfast. You can access the most up to date menu (as of this post going live) here, as well as the Cafe Car menu here. Please only use these as a guide, as they look pretty out of date–the Cafe Car menu still has the Chase Amtrak card (RIP) on it!
We’ve had many questions over the years about smoking break on Amtrak trains. Both northbound and southbound Amtrak Auto Train services offer one smoking break in Florence, SC. Otherwise, smoking is prohibited at all other times.
Wi-Fi is available on the Auto Train, however, don’t count on its reliability. You also won’t be able to use data-heavy applications, like Netflix, so plan accordingly! A charged laptop and a kindle should get you through the 17 hour trip, no problem!
Using points for travel
It’s possible to cover your entire trip–room and vehicle–using points earned! Take for example this one-way “snowbird” migration:
For 17,492 points (16,617 if you have the Amtrak Guest Rewards World credit card), you can get a Superliner Roomette and a car. Using points saves you $496 dollars–which leaves you more money in your pocket for your time in Florida!
Amtrak Auto Train to Florida Conclusion
Arguably Amtrak’s most unique service, the Auto Train has been transporting people and cars up and down the East Coast for over 30 years. While not a quick as flying, you’ll have the luxury of sitting back and letting Amtrak deal with the driving. Hopefully this post was able to answer any questions you might have about the services offered on the Amtrak Auto Train to Florida.
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Quick question. I’ve a Coastal Starlight booking for the fall, and will be switching from paid with $ to paid with points. We’re eager to take the trip, not so keen on the cost: $1400 (!) or 51k points. I’m planning on using SPG points 1:1 transfer. Anyone have any other suggestions? Looking for best bang for my buck, all things considered.
Amtrak values its points around ~2.8 cpp, which is about what you’d be getting. I’d say typically that’s a decent redemption for SPG points, if you’ve got em
I got an upcoming Amtrak trip from St. Louis to Kansas City and then onto LaJunta, CO. I’ll return a few days later. Previously, I took Amtrak from D.C. to Chicago and Chicago to St. Louis with delays on all segments.
Beside that Northeast Corridor, what is the OTA for trains going between Florida and D.C. or even Philly.
My first time travelling Amtrak Autotrain was December 2015. After thousands of dollars we had the most horrible experience. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. We were offered a credit. We had no email confirmation of the credit or terms of it because that department was not set up to send email confirmations. I was NOT told that the credit was only good for 1 year. I was in a car accident and was under medical care so could not travel during that 1 year period anyway. Finally decided to give Amtrak another chance and tried to use the credit towards the purchase of another ticket. Apparently it had expired 2 months before. Several calls to customer service proved a waste of time. Rude and unprofessional! so I asked for a department where I can submit an explanation. They would not allow me that courtesy.
does anyone know what the policy is regarding animals (specifically a cat) on the auto train?
Most fun I have ever had. Took my vette with me and it was perfect when we got to Florida. Had room with bath and shower very nice. Best way to enjoy a trip without the drive
is going to be my first family trip in Amtrak auto train from Florida to New Jersey please tell me in which cities there is a stations? and how much for adult ticket? we want to go to Dover morris county new jersey or Morristown new jersey.Please send me information.
Does anyone know if you can fit a Ford F250 on the Auto Train to Florida?
I took the auto train twice, once in 2012 for my daughters wedding and then again in 2015. both times I was unaware of points. is it possible that those trips are kept in a computer and can be gone back to in order to get those points credited to us??
Can we get an Auto train from New England to FL