Approximate cost of a private car trip on Amtrak?

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me_little_me

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I know I probably can't afford it but I have always dreamed, for our 50th Anniversary next year, of taking a private car trip to El Paso or Albuquerque from Atlanta.

We could easily get down to ATL (in the car or on our own) where our son, D-I-L and 2 grandkids would get on) board then on to Birmingham where our other son and D-I-L would board) to NOL. We would then attach to the Sunset Limited to El Paso. We'd like to spend a week traveling (sans train) in NM where we got married and the kids grew up then return. Even a one-way (either way) with the other way being in Amtrak rooms would be acceptable.

We'd need 4 bedrooms (3 couples, 11 y/o and 3 y/o) with meals and everything included. It would be a trip of a lifetime but then again, 50 years of marriage is something a lot fewer people accomplish these days.

We've never done a real private car trip before and I have no idea what I am looking at for cost. I assume that the cost wold include use of the car, food, a person to cook (we don't need a gourmet chef) and clean up, the cost of linen and cleaning services afterwards, mileage and transfer charges by Amtrak, tipping the person(s) who are with us, pay for their time, profit for the owner and getting the car to/from Atlanta back to home station and paying for car (even without us) to return from El Paso.

Since ATL and Birmingham are both daytime to NOL, we could even all take Amtrak there then meet the private car on the Sunset Limited. This would eliminate meeting the car in ATL, an extra train and having to pay for the overnight cost of keeping the car powered in NOL.

I would assume El Paso would be a lot cheaper than Albuquerque because that trip has a lot more miles plus another train (ATL-NOL-CHI-ABQ on the Crescent, CONO, SWC or ATL-WAS-CHI-ABQ (Crescent, Capitol Limited or Cardinal, SWC).

Could anyone give me an idea of what this would cost?
 
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neroden

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Well, unfortunately, Amtrak's current restrictions on private cars make your proposed trip very difficult -- Amtrak doesn't switch cars in El Paso, so the private car would have to run all the way from New Orleans to Los Angeles.

Amtrak DOES switch cars in Albuquerque, so CHI-ABQ by private car might well be cheaper.

Similarly, they don't switch in Atlanta, so taking a private car from there south would mean attaching the private car in NY (or possibly WA).

Because private cars generally have to make a full circuit back to their "home base", you're going to pay a similar amount for a custom one-way trip (plus the owner's cost to return) as for a custom round trip. Positioning costs are expensive.

The quotes tend to be measured in the thousands.


"Typical pricing for a trip is along the lines of a high-end cruise. On average, the all-inclusive costs typically can run between $2,500 and $7,000 or more per car per day."

If you're willing to take most of the trip by Amtrak and minimize your private car charter time so as to keep the costs down, your best bet may be to charter Chicago-Albuquerque. There are several private cars based in or near Chicago. Or DC-New Orleans, since there are also several private cars based in or near DC. Or New Orleans-Chicago.

I will say that there are economies of scale involved: since the cost is pretty much per-car per-day, if you add more people it doesn't really increase the cost much (unless you completely fill up a car and need a second car as a result).
 

fdaley

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Paging Seaboard92. I don't have a clue what the cost of such an adventure would be, but I love the idea. If you've not been there, check out www.aaprco.com if you want to see some of the cars that are available for charter -- and where they're based.
 
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TinCan782

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Check the links on this page which includes rates, inspections, etc.

Or here...
 

Seaboard92

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I know I probably can't afford it but I have always dreamed, for our 50th Anniversary next year, of taking a private car trip to El Paso or Albuquerque from Atlanta.

We could easily get down to ATL (in the car or on our own) where our son, D-I-L and 2 grandkids would get on) board then on to Birmingham where our other son and D-I-L would board) to NOL. We would then attach to the Sunset Limited to El Paso. We'd like to spend a week traveling (sans train) in NM where we got married and the kids grew up then return. Even a one-way (either way) with the other way being in Amtrak rooms would be acceptable.

We'd need 4 bedrooms (3 couples, 11 y/o and 3 y/o) with meals and everything included. It would be a trip of a lifetime but then again, 50 years of marriage is something a lot fewer people accomplish these days.

We've never done a real private car trip before and I have no idea what I am looking at for cost. I assume that the cost wold include use of the car, food, a person to cook (we don't need a gourmet chef) and clean up, the cost of linen and cleaning services afterwards, mileage and transfer charges by Amtrak, tipping the person(s) who are with us, pay for their time, profit for the owner and getting the car to/from Atlanta back to home station and paying for car (even without us) to return from El Paso.

Since ATL and Birmingham are both daytime to NOL, we could even all take Amtrak there then meet the private car on the Sunset Limited. This would eliminate meeting the car in ATL, an extra train and having to pay for the overnight cost of keeping the car powered in NOL.

I would assume El Paso would be a lot cheaper than Albuquerque because that trip has a lot more miles plus another train (ATL-NOL-CHI-ABQ on the Crescent, CONO, SWC or ATL-WAS-CHI-ABQ (Crescent, Capitol Limited or Cardinal, SWC).

Could anyone give me an idea of what this would cost?
Send me a private message and I'll see what I can do for you.
 

Bob Dylan

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If you ride the Crescent to New Orleans, spend a night and time it so you can use the Sunset Ltd to Houston( 3 days a week) the Patrick Henry's Creative Promotion PVs are based there @ Union Station, and I have seen them on the Sunset Ltd and the Texas Eagle, but dont have any idea as to Costs, but I'm thinking it would be cheaper than going to Albuqurque.

There are 2 Cars, a Dome,/ Observation/Diner and a Sleeping Car.

Google up Patrick Henry Rail Cars, this looks promising, I got to tour the Cars once in St Louis while on the Texas Eagle and they are pretty nice!
 

crescent-zephyr

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If you ever wanted to know I would be happy to publish some basics. I just need to understand what all he wants so I can figure it out. That would be a lot of posts to get an idea.
I’d love to know a ball park cost for a sample trip. Let’s say a round trip on the zephyr!
 
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me_little_me

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Depending on how and where we go, there might be some opportunities to buy some portion of the car's trip while it is deadheading. Or, if anyone is interesting sharing costs for their portion, we might even make it a two-car thing. One of my sons and his wife work so they might fly one way possibly freeing up a room.

A lot of it depends on where the car is that we chose, given we do this. That would determine direction and where we would get on but I don't think we'd likely want to go all the way to Houston to pick up a car. But one never knows. Price and convenience are both considerations.
 

Cal

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I know I probably can't afford it but I have always dreamed, for our 50th Anniversary next year, of taking a private car trip to El Paso or Albuquerque from Atlanta.

We could easily get down to ATL (in the car or on our own) where our son, D-I-L and 2 grandkids would get on) board then on to Birmingham where our other son and D-I-L would board) to NOL. We would then attach to the Sunset Limited to El Paso. We'd like to spend a week traveling (sans train) in NM where we got married and the kids grew up then return. Even a one-way (either way) with the other way being in Amtrak rooms would be acceptable.

We'd need 4 bedrooms (3 couples, 11 y/o and 3 y/o) with meals and everything included. It would be a trip of a lifetime but then again, 50 years of marriage is something a lot fewer people accomplish these days.

We've never done a real private car trip before and I have no idea what I am looking at for cost. I assume that the cost wold include use of the car, food, a person to cook (we don't need a gourmet chef) and clean up, the cost of linen and cleaning services afterwards, mileage and transfer charges by Amtrak, tipping the person(s) who are with us, pay for their time, profit for the owner and getting the car to/from Atlanta back to home station and paying for car (even without us) to return from El Paso.

Since ATL and Birmingham are both daytime to NOL, we could even all take Amtrak there then meet the private car on the Sunset Limited. This would eliminate meeting the car in ATL, an extra train and having to pay for the overnight cost of keeping the car powered in NOL.

I would assume El Paso would be a lot cheaper than Albuquerque because that trip has a lot more miles plus another train (ATL-NOL-CHI-ABQ on the Crescent, CONO, SWC or ATL-WAS-CHI-ABQ (Crescent, Capitol Limited or Cardinal, SWC).

Could anyone give me an idea of what this would cost?
By the way, congrats on your 49th year anniversary. :D
 

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In my view what the private varnish rental market needs is a simplified and streamlined booking process. Imagine pricing your next Amtrak trip and one of the options is labeled "Reserve your own private car..." You click the link and it shows you which specific cars are bookable for that route and date. Insurance covering potential maintenance and positioning issues is included in the cost to cover replacement hardware or a full refund as appropriate. I'm guessing these cars typically start around $10,000 per reserved trip on the long distance network, which is going to put them out of reach for most, but it's also possible that very few who could afford it ever call someone to find out.
 
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Cal

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In my view what the private varnish rental market needs is a simplified and streamlined booking process. Imagine pricing your next Amtrak trip and one of the options is labeled "Reserve your own private car..." You click the link and it shows you which specific cars are bookable for that route and date. Insurance covering potential maintenance and positioning issues is included in the cost to cover replacement hardware or a full refund as appropriate. I'm guessing these cars typically start around $10,000 per reserved trip on the long distance network, which is going to put them out of reach for most, but it's also possible that very few who could afford it ever call someone to find out.
Yes but, what about private cars that the owners want to hook on? They wouldn't show up and they would still have to go through the same way they do now.

I think maybe streamlining it would be good, but not in that way.
 

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I'm saying that if Amtrak and the PV market could come to a standardized agreement they could both benefit from more rentals being booked by new customers who either never considered traveling in a private car or who assumed it was more hassle and expense than it was worth. Create something like a new "Railbnb" service maintained by private owners and sold by Amtrak. I know contracts don't write themselves but how is this not a thing already?
 
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Palmetto

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I've been on the AAPRCO website, where available cars for charter are listed, and what type each car is, as well as its capacity. In reality, I do not think there are enough cars to support a daily service on all the Western trains [if indeed, that is the goal]. Also, there are multiple types of cars, so accommodations would vary from one trip to the other. And some are lounges only--no sleeping accomodations for an overnight trip. And since all avaiable cars are single level, they would match better the Eastern trains anyway.
 

jis

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Well, unfortunately, Amtrak's current restrictions on private cars make your proposed trip very difficult -- Amtrak doesn't switch cars in El Paso, so the private car would have to run all the way from New Orleans to Los Angeles.

Amtrak DOES switch cars in Albuquerque, so CHI-ABQ by private car might well be cheaper.
On the Sunset Route Amtrak does switch PVs in New Orleans, Houston, San Antonio, Tucson and Los Angeles. So if you want to go to El Paso westbound, your PV will have to run all the way to Tucson before it can be unhitched.
 
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