Car Transport Customers Should Consider Shipping Cars by Train Rather Than by Truck

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Most of the time, car owners don’t need to think about car transport. But there are times when you might need to ship your car (a cross-country move, for example), and it’s good to have a basic understanding of the options.
While land-based car transport is traditionally via truck, it can also be done by train, with some key benefits. Jerry covers the details, and weighs up the two options.

How to ship a car by train

An Amtrak train on a railroad
Amtrak offers their ‘Auto Train’ service for car shipping.
According to research by Better Homes & Gardens, the best option for transporting your car by train is probably Amtrak Auto Train.
It’s important to note that this option is only available on the East Coast, with starting and ending points near Orlando, FL and Washington, D.C. When you use Amtrak’s Auto Train service, you’re required to ride the train to your destination as well.
While some freight rail companies offer car transport, many limit their services to commercial uses, and information about private shipping is limited. If you have a particular route in mind, though, it wouldn’t hurt to contact freight companies directly to ask if they accept private customers.

Pros and cons of car transport by train

The biggest argument in favor of shipping your car by train is the lower cost. Better Homes & Gardens found that shipping a car down the East Coast with Amtrak could cost half as much as shipping it by truck.
They recorded that in one instance, Amtrak provided a quote in June of around $350 for transport (including passenger) whereas highly-rated truck-based auto transport provider, AmeriFreight would charge roughly $750 for a Buffalo, NY to Orlando, FL trip.
The industry average is apparently around $1,200, making Amtrak highly affordable in comparison, although rates can change based on current conditions.
You’d probably have to enjoy train travel to go for this option, because you cannot ship your vehicle with Amtrak unless you accompany it.
If you like train travel, then it’s a win-win! You get to appreciate the leisurely, scenic trip as a passenger while your car is safely transported. You can also pack personal items in your car, which isn’t an option when shipping by truck.
Car transport by train has some drawbacks, though. Amtrak’s Auto Train only serves the East Coast of the U.S., so it’s not an option for other routes.
Train transport also takes longer than shipping by truck, according to Nationwide Auto Transportation. If you need your car moved quickly, it might not be the right choice.
Also, while many traditional car shipping companies offer a choice of open or enclosed transport, open is pretty much the standard with Amtrak. You may not want your car exposed to bad weather and debris during travel, especially if it’s a luxury or collector vehicle.

The best services for car transport by truck

If shipping your car by train isn’t feasible, Better Homes & Gardens recommends two traditional car transport companies: Montway and Sherpa.
While the cost of truck-based transport is usually higher, you’ll have more destinations available and your car’s journey will probably be faster, especially if you pay for expedited shipping.
Depending on the car transport service you use, there might be a range of convenient services to choose from, like door-to-door pickup and delivery, and enclosed transport.
Insurance coverage is critical when transporting your car, no matter which method you choose. Better Homes & Gardens explains that car transport services generally offer some coverage, but you’ll want to check with your own car insurance plan to make sure you’re comfortably covered.
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