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  • Car Shipping by Train: Beating the Logistics of Vehicle Drop Off and Pick Up

    Auto transport by rail has long been a favorite method of shipping vehicles for people changing careers or otherwise moving to a different part of the country. Even in this day of truck-based vehicle transportation, moving vehicles by rail has many advantages.

    Rail-based car transport typically offers greater protection by way of enclosed railcars. Charges for train transport tend to be slightly less expensive, because railroads can move goods more efficiently than trucks. Finally, the railcars allow your vehicle to travel flat (rather than stacked at angles on a multiple car carrier), offering greater protection to your car because it does not need to be secured so tightly with chains.

    One issue that must be overcome: how do you get your car to and from the rail terminal? As the railroad network in America shrinks, fewer terminals are available in convenient places where people live. But auto relocation companies are well aware of this, and they have largely figured out how to make this part of the relocation process easy and simple for the consumer. Let us explore the possibilities.

    1. Truck
    Most auto relocation companies will offer to transport your car to and from the train terminal by way of truck. This will either be a flatbed truck able to accommodate one or two cars, or will be a standard multiple auto carrier like you might see transporting new cars to a dealership. The relocation company will not necessarily include the truck-based drop-off and pick-up in your total quote. Verify with them if this is included, and make sure that they "break out" the charges so that you know how much the truck part of the quote is costing you.

    2. Taxi
    Most urban taxi services will be able to pick you up at a rail terminal and bring you home after you deliver your car to the terminal. With this option, you avoid having to ask a big favor from a friend, and you keep your schedule flexible. However, keep in mind that since these rail terminals are often located in remote places, the taxi service will likely charge substantial rates for this service. Additionally, even though taxis are usually good at finding obscure addresses, you might expect some delays as they try to find the location.

    3. Amtrak Auto Train
    The entire issue of drop-off and pick-up is eliminated when you use Amtrak's Auto Train--because you never go home. With Auto Train, you drop off the car at the rail terminal, and then immediately board the train as a passenger. At the destination point, you disembark the train and drive your vehicle straight out of the terminal. The disadvantage to this option is that you must travel on the train - no exceptions. Also, Auto Train provides extremely limited schedules and it travels only between Lorton, VA and Sanford, FL.

    Explore the possibility with your auto transporter of adding door-to-door (rather than terminal-to-terminal) service. With this option you avoid dealing with rail terminals in unfamiliar parts of town, and it is never necessary to arrange separate transportation to these areas. Door-to-door service is clearly the easiest and most seamless way of relocating your vehicle.

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