Shipping a car by train is an option that most people don’t consider, but for some, it is most certainly what you should do!
Is it a good idea to transport your car via train?
That’s exactly what we’ll answer in this article but here’s a quick preview.
You won’t hire Amtrack or another rail line, even for shipping your car by train, you’ll work with an auto shipper.
See our list of the top auto transport companies in the nation!
Shipping a car by train is pretty similar to shipping a car by truck. However, it can often be less expensive and provide other benefits.
Some of the main benefits of shipping your car by train include:
- Will likely save you money
- It’s the most eco-friendly option
- May work well if you’re moving other things by train
- Ability to fill up your car with other things
- Take the same train your car is on
- Less chance of damage
Why You Should Consider Other Options (Cons)
There are certainly plenty of benefits to shipping your car by train. However, this option doesn’t fit well for everybody or every situation.
Shipping a car by train doesn’t offer much flexibility. You drop off and pick up points will be limited to the stations along the rail line, which might present issues.
When you choose to ship your vehicle by train, it will likely be slower than shipping it by truck. Typically, trains will wait until they fill up all the available space, and then they will make the trip.
You could be left waiting a few weeks or even longer for your car to arrive at the final destination. However, if you have the time to wait, shipping your car by train might make sense.
Another disadvantage of shipping your car by train is the lack of availability. While it’s probably an option on the East Coast, the rest of the country has a smaller rail infrastructure.
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Open vs Enclosed Car Carriers
When you ship your car by truck, you get to choose between an enclosed carrier and an open truck. The same is usually true when shipping a car by train.
You’ll pay more to ship your car in an enclosed container, but it might be the right option. If you don’t want your vehicle to be exposed to the elements, shipping in an enclosed transport makes sense.
However, if you’re looking for the cheapest option and you’re not worried about the weather or other hazards, shipping in an open container will provide the cheapest price. There really isn’t much to worry about with open transport rail shipping. Just plan on getting a car wash when your vehicle arrives.
Enclosed container rail shipping does make sense for antique vehicles, classic vehicles, or any vehicles you want to fully protect. If you’re shipping a regular, everyday vehicle, it probably isn’t worth the extra cost.
In most cases, this is the most cost-effective way to ship a car cross-country. Since the train requires less fuel to run, it will likely be your cheapest car shipping option.
It’s important to get exact quotes from a carrier, but the range typically runs from $500 to $900. The actual cost will depend on a few factors, including:
- The rail service you choose
- Total distance
- Whether you choose enclosed or open container shipping
You can also pay extra for door-to-door delivery, which is offered by some auto transport companies. This may cost quite a bit extra, however.
With door-to-door transport, you won’t need to go to the train station to pick up your vehicle. Instead, a shipping company will pick it up and transport it to your chosen location by truck. This service may need to be arranged with a third-party as most rail vehicle transport companies won’t offer door-to-door service.
You won’t work directly with Amtrak, CSX, Union Pacific, or Burlington Northern to book your car shipping by train. Instead, you want to work with an auto transportation company.
Many of the best auto shipping companies will offer multiple options making it easy to compare shipping by train and by truck. You’ll be able to see which option fits your needs best, whether you’re looking for the cheapest or the fastest car shipping option.
Preparing Your Vehicle for Rail Transport
Once you’ve booked your car transport option, it’s time to get your vehicle ready for shipping. There are certain things you want to do before your vehicle goes on the train.
1. Remove Anything of Value
All your valuable things should be taken out of the car before it’s loaded on the train. You want to remove anything you don’t want to lose, such as documents, medical supplies, personal items, or anything else of value.
It’s best, when moving, to always keep your most valuable items with you. The last thing you want is to arrive at your new destination and find out you lost something you treasure or the documents you need.
2. Check the Battery
Before sending your vehicle off, make sure the battery is fully charged and ready to go. You don’t want your vehicle arriving and it cannot be moved off the train due to a dead battery.
3. Check the Tires
It’s always a good idea to check the tires before shipping your vehicle. Make sure the tires are in good shape and inflated based on the guidelines provided in the owner’s manual.
4. Take Pictures
Before shipping your car by train, make sure to take pictures. Light vehicle damage is possible, especially if you choose an open container. You’ll need proof of the damage if you need to file a claim with your insurance company or the rail shipping provider.
It’s important to know what the rail shipping provider will cover before you ship your car by train. Make sure you understand what’s expected if you need to file a claim and take plenty of pictures.