Ship a Car by Train / Auto Transport by Rail

A lot of times when weighing options for shipping a vehicle, you're looking at all the different ways you can do it as well as the cost of each. One of them may be to ship a car by train. This also known as shipping a car by rail or the "auto train". Although not as common, there are many who still use this service.


What It Is


Shipping a car by train simply involves the booking your vehicle shipment using a rail service. Your vehicle, along with many others travels on a train that are also hauling goods and passengers to a destination. All auto train transport is limited geographically since a train only travels to fixed locations for delivery. Commercial auto trains travel to various destinations all over the U.S. Private auto trains (private person; not a large dealer or manufacturer) travel to more limited locations making them less appealing.


Who Does It


There are a few railroad lines that provide the service. Many only do commercial shipping such as CSX and Union Pacific. In fact, CSX states "CSX does not ship personally owned automobiles" right on the auto shipping page to deter such inquires. The one provider that is known by everyone and that the public uses would be Amtrak.


Reasons to Ship a Car by Train


Cost is usually the main reason to use the auto train. You don't plan to fly home and don't mind the extra days enjoying scenery. You have time to check in your vehicle at the train station and the extra time to wait for all the vehicles to be unloaded at arrival to get underway. For long distances, you have ample time available to ride the train. Some also believe there is less likelihood of damage on a train because you avoid hazards with drivers on the highway.




There are limitations to this type of auto transport by rail. Over the years, the railroad system has been cut down as it has played less of a role in travel altogether. There are even fewer trains that actually ship cars. The most common routes that remain only travel up and down the East Coast. Some travel from the Northeast to the Southwest can take just as long as carrier transport and be priced similarly. When shipping a car by train you need to book a passenger ticket. On most routes you cannot just send your vehicle just by itself. Which either way you and will usually want to travel with the vehicle anyway as it eliminates the hassle of getting to the train station to pick it up since the service obviously does not take the vehicle to your door. You do.




To ship a car by train you would have a very specific route, and extra time. You would like to ride the train and see the sights along the way. In many cases those reading this have never heard of the auto train. If you are now just looking for information on it, you may realize that it's not for everyone. To see the routes, visit the Amtrak website or call their customer service. Companies like CSX and Union Pacific work primarily with industrial accounts and do not offer individual shipping.

Need a rate? Fill out our car shipping calculator or call us at 1-800-284-7177 to talk with an advisor and make a reservation.

Carl has a decade of experience in the car shipping industry. He has worked in nearly every aspect of the transport business since 2014, taking charge of various roles in the company such as dispatching, sales, and customer service.

During those years, Carl amassed an invaluable amount of experience which has contributed to his writing of every article and and guide on NX since taking over content in 2015.