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Amtrak Car Train--Lorton Va. to Sanford Fl.

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  • Amtrak Car Train--Lorton Va. to Sanford Fl.

    Has anyone ever used this method of travel? Experiences -- good or bad. Recommendations for overnight berths etc.

    We will be almost there close to Lorton while visiting our son in Alexandria Va. in late Feb. so thought we'd head south from there.
    Bill Coates-Canfield, Ohio
    2003 -THE GREY GHOST- MSG, Saddle with Saddle dash kit, door panels, boot and visors

  • #2
    Jane has used Amtrak going to Montana. Only problem is the oil and coal trains take precedent ...delays..

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    • #3
      It's expensive! I haven't done it. But after looking into it, I would rather drive to Florida. Unless you don't like driving, take two days and enjoy the drive.

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      • #4
        I haven’t done it but know some who have. They all enjoyed the experience. From NJ the worst part of a drive to FL is from here to VA. If I could catch the train closer to me I might consider. The ride down I-95 is very boring. You’re going to be nearby anyway so why not try the experience once to see what you think.
        .

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        • #5
          I've done it a couple of times. It is VERY expensive, especially since my wife insisted on a private room with a toilet. The room is extremely small, just enough space to get up and down from seating. Also, the dinner is mostly defrosted meals, some of which are actually tasty. No private seating. There are booths for four, so you will dine with people you don't know, which could be great or a nightmare depending on who sits with you. Lastly, the beds are very small. Two can sleep on the lower bed, but it is a bit cramped, or each of the two passengers could sleep bunk bed style; however, the upper bunk is a ways up and just under the train car's ceiling and is accessible via a steep ladder.

          On the positive side, the ride is comfortable. The train does jar back and forth, but it is a train. The trip is mostly an overnight run although Greg is right; the freight trains delay the trip. The train usually leaves around 4:00 and gets to Florida in the morning. The loading and unloading of cars onto and off of the train takes a long while, so prepare to sit in the station for a minimum of two hours. Especially during the winter, the train is packed! I would strongly suggest priority unloading ($50 extra), or you could wait for an hour or two until your car is unloaded.

          After two near tragedies with aircraft (both happening while I was in the service), I've become very weary of flying. The drive from NJ to VA is tedious, but if you're going to be in VA anyway, there's no problem. So despite all I've said, we'll probably take the train again because my wife injured her back, shoulder, and knee, so driving for any long time in a car is extremely painful for her. Hope this helps!

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          • #6
            My Dad and Aunt (his sister) took the Amtrak California Zephyr from San Francisco to Lincoln, NE last year. My Dad had been waxing nostalgic about the train ride he took from California to Norfolk, VA for his initial training cruise in the Navy. He couldn't afford to fly, so he took the train. No sleeping arrangements... just a seat. He'd loved the scenery of the trip. I told him, "Why don't you take a train here next time you visit?" He though that was a GREAT idea. Of course, a few years had passed between the ride he remembered and now. He's in his early 80s and she's mid 70s. They got a room with a couple of high tech seats, two fold-down beds, and a private bathroom. They described it as others have here... extreme economy of space. The trip took a couple of days (maybe 3, I don't recall). They both enjoyed at least some aspects of the trip... the scenery, meeting nice people in the lounge and dining car. BUT, when I picked them up at the station around 3:00 AM, they both looked so stiff that I though a strong breeze might knock them over! Neither one of them seemed to look forward to the prospect of the return trip. My Dad said it wasn't so bad. My Aunt said never again! (and if it wasn't for the fact that she was traveling with her brother, I'm pretty sure sh would've bagged the return trip and booked a flight home).
            Kevin - Lincoln, NE
            2005 Evening Black Premium, Black Hardtop, Black Accent.
            Plus: White Hardtop, Chrome Hood Scoop Bezel, Borlas, and more.

            Also posts as atest (test account) and SR-71 (original non-admin account)

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            • #7
              Originally posted by doc View Post
              I've done it a couple of times. It is VERY expensive, especially since my wife insisted on a private room with a toilet. The room is extremely small, just enough space to get up and down from seating. Also, the dinner is mostly defrosted meals, some of which are actually tasty. No private seating. There are booths for four, so you will dine with people you don't know, which could be great or a nightmare depending on who sits with you. Lastly, the beds are very small. Two can sleep on the lower bed, but it is a bit cramped, or each of the two passengers could sleep bunk bed style; however, the upper bunk is a ways up and just under the train car's ceiling and is accessible via a steep ladder.

              On the positive side, the ride is comfortable. The train does jar back and forth, but it is a train. The trip is mostly an overnight run although Greg is right; the freight trains delay the trip. The train usually leaves around 4:00 and gets to Florida in the morning. The loading and unloading of cars onto and off of the train takes a long while, so prepare to sit in the station for a minimum of two hours. Especially during the winter, the train is packed! I would strongly suggest priority unloading ($50 extra), or you could wait for an hour or two until your car is unloaded.

              After two near tragedies with aircraft (both happening while I was in the service), I've become very weary of flying. The drive from NJ to VA is tedious, but if you're going to be in VA anyway, there's no problem. So despite all I've said, we'll probably take the train again because my wife injured her back, shoulder, and knee, so driving for any long time in a car is extremely painful for her. Hope this helps!
              I have a daughter who lives in Chesapeake,VA and between Virginia and New York/New Jersey they take US 13 all the way to the New Jersey Turnpike. It follows the coast going through Dover and is a slower speed limit but a less crowded road and it seems quicker than driving west to I95 and then dealing with Washington, DC and Baltimore.
              sigpic

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              • #8
                Thank you, Calvin. The worst part of the drive is going through all the traffic, twists, and turns of Baltimore and DC.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by doc View Post
                  Thank you, Calvin. The worst part of the drive is going through all the traffic, twists, and turns of Baltimore and DC.
                  An alternative to that is to take US 301 after you cross the Delaware Memorial Bridge. Follow 301 south to Ashburn, VA where you can get on I-95.
                  .

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by wcoates View Post
                    Has anyone ever used this method of travel? Experiences -- good or bad. Recommendations for overnight berths etc.

                    We will be almost there close to Lorton while visiting our son in Alexandria Va. in late Feb. so thought we'd head south from there.
                    IS THIS THE TRAIN? https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/am...cid=spartanntp

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Quickdraw View Post
                      Dang Harry it sure looks like it. Did see a picture somewhere that showed cars being loaded and unlike a truck car hauler the cars were loaded at a 90* angle into individual spaces. Those doors on the posting sure look like it.

                      I believe that the third fatal train crash in about 40 days takes the pressure off going forward. Wife sees that picture and I have no prayer off getting her on it.

                      As of now she wants to get to Alexandria and then inquire about the train. Amtrak folks say a middle of the week late Feb. early March south trip should not be a problem. Coming back late April---forget about it.

                      (Wife just came in as I'm typing to tell me about it --that Today show!)
                      Last edited by wcoates; Feb 4, 2018, 06:16 AM.
                      Bill Coates-Canfield, Ohio
                      2003 -THE GREY GHOST- MSG, Saddle with Saddle dash kit, door panels, boot and visors

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                      • #12
                        Another AMTRAK train crash this morning....not a good track record.
                        Be just what you is, not what you is not. Folks what do this is the happiest lot.....Mr. Wizard the Lizard

                        The trouble with quotes on the internet is that you can never know for sure if they are genuine.....Abraham Lincoln

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                        • #13
                          That’s not the Autotrain (not that it really matters). The train involved is a passenger train that originated in NYC. Autotrain doesn’t load at 90 degrees. They’re driven on to a double decker freight car and secured in the normal position.
                          .

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                          • #14
                            Gene is right. Also, I believe the only autotrain runs from VA to Fl. I don't think there is a second one that runs anywhere else.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by 007Cruiser View Post
                              Autotrain doesn’t load at 90 degrees. They’re driven on to a double decker freight car and secured in the normal position.
                              Dang Gene's always right!

                              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ni7mCAMfSQ4

                              Bill Coates-Canfield, Ohio
                              2003 -THE GREY GHOST- MSG, Saddle with Saddle dash kit, door panels, boot and visors

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