Auto Train Questions

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Dakota 400

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I expect to have more luggage than will fit in the trunk of my car. I expect to need to have one or two pieces of luggage on the floor of the back seat. I won't pack anything of great value in those bags. I assume that whatever is there will be safe. (Luggage locks will be in place on each piece.) I'd appreciate any reactions to this "plan".

I assume that the Sanford Auto Terminal has a seating area for passengers to wait until the 2:30 P. M. boarding time. Correct or not?

At the Lorton Auto Terminal, what is the situation there while waiting for one's car to be off-loaded? I will be there in January and hope I don't have to be out in the weather/cold while waiting for my car. How does one know when the car is off-loaded and where the car is?

After boarding the Train, will the Lounge Car be open and available for passengers to purchase something before the train actually leaves the station? Or, does one have to wait until the train is underway before the SA opens the Lounge for service?

Thanks for your advice and help!
 

lordsigma

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Your plan sounds reasonable. Yes they have a station waiting area including a convenience store with some minor food items. Same situation for unloading. You get a number for your car and they are announced on a PA and display screen. At Sanford you can also take a bus into the town while waiting for departure there are some nice restaurants there. Just make sure you catch the bus back in time. Not sure on the last one.
 

basketmaker

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Brighton, CO (DEN but FMG-Preferred)
I expect to have more luggage than will fit in the trunk of my car. I expect to need to have one or two pieces of luggage on the floor of the back seat. I won't pack anything of great value in those bags. I assume that whatever is there will be safe. (Luggage locks will be in place on each piece.) I'd appreciate any reactions to this "plan".

I assume that the Sanford Auto Terminal has a seating area for passengers to wait until the 2:30 P. M. boarding time. Correct or not?

At the Lorton Auto Terminal, what is the situation there while waiting for one's car to be off-loaded? I will be there in January and hope I don't have to be out in the weather/cold while waiting for my car. How does one know when the car is off-loaded and where the car is?

After boarding the Train, will the Lounge Car be open and available for passengers to purchase something before the train actually leaves the station? Or, does one have to wait until the train is underway before the SA opens the Lounge for service?

Thanks for upload_2019-5-11_14-55-5.pngyour advice and help!
upload_2019-5-11_14-55-54.png This is Sanford.
 

Railroad Bill

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We take a Dodge Grand Caravan when we take the Auto Train, all luggage is in the back of the van, not hidden. Never had any problem. Always a good idea to keep valuables with you. Car door is unlocked and window down on driver side for convenience of the car movers. Photos above are great view of the waiting area. People watching is always interesting there. And watching the loading of the auto racks is also if the weather outside permits. Have a great time!
 

cubeguide

Train Attendant
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Feb 23, 2019
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41
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Los Angeles, California
Why is there no one in the seats?

Edit: Can a mod remove the photo? I can’t remove it.

MODERATOR NOTE: photo removed
 
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AutoTrDvr

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May 29, 2012
Messages
623
So the auto racks are relatively weather tight if they leave a window open?
They are completely covered. While they aren't "temperature controlled," they are "precipitation controlled." See this video, below.


As for leaving the window open, that is to ensure that the driver has access to the vehicle, should the door "auto lock." Which brings up another point. Be sure to disable any "Passive" alarm. The vibrations will surely set it off, and you don't want to drain your car battery. Very embarrassing to be the car that blocked other cars from getting off. :oops::mad:
 

RichieRich

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Dec 2, 2016
Messages
328
Yes, lounge car is open upon boarding...
Remember back when they had wine tastings, snack bowls, fruit bowls, cookie trays, etc? Heck...I go back so far they actually cooked on-board vs. Press-1 for fish, 2-for meat! Pot-o-boiling water for the frozen vegetables. LOL LOL!
 

Dakota 400

Conductor
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Mar 5, 2014
Messages
2,711
Yes, lounge car is open upon boarding...
Good to know, thanks! I'd like to buy a bottle of wine to celebrate the beginning of this part of my Winter vacation as the train departs from sunny Florida to the wintery North.
 

AutoTrDvr

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Remember back when they had wine tastings, snack bowls, fruit bowls, cookie trays, etc? Heck...I go back so far they actually cooked on-board vs. Press-1 for fish, 2-for meat! Pot-o-boiling water for the frozen vegetables. LOL LOL!
They no longer have these things??? They did up until (at least) 2014... the last time I took it. And while the "good stuff" (Shrimp, wine tasting, etc.) was not available in he lounge until "All Aboard" time (3:00p), the lounge was open and the dry snacks were still there, that I recall
 

RichieRich

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Dec 2, 2016
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BRING IT. You wouldn't believe what it co$t$ on-board. I pack the liquor first. And my own snacks.
gone Gone and GONE 3 years ago. Then there was the Great Amtrak Banana Famine! Yes, they quit serving bananas at "breakfast". Back now though. Fired the "chef" and quit cooking on-board. Fired the dishwasher = cheap plastic plates (from COSTCO?). Expecting "sporks" on any trip. Paper coffee "cups". "Breakfast" pastries pre-packaged from Sam's Club. The "Continental breakfast" isn't worth the walk to the dining car. Would bet it's even worse in Coach. Since the Accountants took over Amtrak...75 cents IS change-for-a-dollar! LOL The AT has degenerated to no more then getting your human body & car from here-to-there, occasionally on time! I've LEFT SFA at 10:00PM and have had 3 cancelled trips. But it still beats driving or flying so I do use it at least every other month.
 

AutoTrDvr

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gone Gone and GONE 3 years ago. Then there was the Great Amtrak Banana Famine! Yes, they quit serving bananas at "breakfast". Back now though. Fired the "chef" and quit cooking on-board. Fired the dishwasher = cheap plastic plates (from COSTCO?). Expecting "sporks" on any trip. Paper coffee "cups". "Breakfast" pastries pre-packaged from Sam's Club. The "Continental breakfast" isn't worth the walk to the dining car. Would bet it's even worse in Coach. Since the Accountants took over Amtrak...75 cents IS change-for-a-dollar! LOL The AT has degenerated to no more then getting your human body & car from here-to-there, occasionally on time! I've LEFT SFA at 10:00PM and have had 3 cancelled trips. But it still beats driving or flying so I do use it at least every other month.
Unfortunate.... Glad I'm not taking it anymore, then. :(
 

Dakota 400

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Be sure to disable any "Passive" alarm. The vibrations will surely set it off, and you don't want to drain your car battery. Very embarrassing to be the car that blocked other cars from getting off.
My Buick LaCrosse has a theft-deterrent alarm system that is activated when I lock the doors. I don't think this is what you are referring to as a "passive alarm". But, I want to be sure. According to the owner's manual, if my alarm system would be activated, the horn/lights would only be "on" for 2 minutes. That amount of time ought not drain the battery. Surely agree: I don't want my car to block others from getting off.

Your reaction, please.
 

AutoTrDvr

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My Buick LaCrosse has a theft-deterrent alarm system that is activated when I lock the doors. I don't think this is what you are referring to as a "passive alarm". But, I want to be sure. According to the owner's manual, if my alarm system would be activated, the horn/lights would only be "on" for 2 minutes. That amount of time ought not drain the battery. Surely agree: I don't want my car to block others from getting off.

Your reaction, please.
That is precisely to what I'm referring. But, as RichieRich said, the cars are left "unlocked." They'd have to be, as I believe the keys are left inside the car. This is also why the driver's window is left down, so the door can be unlocked from the inside in the event it "auto locks." Also, some aftermarket alarm systems have a "kill" switch that disables the passive feature. Point being, the vibrations of the autorack, while underway, woud set off the motion sensor and thus the alarm, and could, potentially, do so repeatedly. It would be enough to drain a battery.
 

PVD

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The typical passive alarm will arm when the keys are removed from the ignition and the doors are closed. They don't have to be locked. Not requiring a separate action to arm is what separates passive from non passive alarms, and is why they command a greater insurance discount. And many alarms will reset and rearm after they go shut off, that can certainly result in battery drain when they keep going off all night.
 

Dakota 400

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Thanks for the responses. From what I understand, I don't need to be concerned about this issue.
 

AutoTrDvr

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The typical passive alarm will arm when the keys are removed from the ignition and the doors are closed. They don't have to be locked. Not requiring a separate action to arm is what separates passive from non passive alarms, and is why they command a greater insurance discount. And many alarms will reset and rearm after they go shut off, that can certainly result in battery drain when they keep going off all night.
How would you disarm it, though, before opening the door to enter the car? I haven't encountered a system that arms just upon closing the door and not locking it. Not unless there's some "keyless entry" type push button that does it or there's a kill switch that disables it. My car's alarm won't arm unless the car is locked.
 

PVD

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Most if not all of those did have a kill switch or button to temporarily disable the alarms for valet/garage situations. With today's cars, keyless entry push button is the norm. They will actually lock the car after a waiting period. Compustar would be a typical example.
 

lordsigma

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Decent sale this week for AT sleepers - free companion - includes both roomettes AND bedrooms.
 

FormerOBS

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Maryland, but a native of Ohio
I expect to have more luggage than will fit in the trunk of my car. I expect to need to have one or two pieces of luggage on the floor of the back seat. I won't pack anything of great value in those bags. I assume that whatever is there will be safe. (Luggage locks will be in place on each piece.) I'd appreciate any reactions to this "plan".

I assume that the Sanford Auto Terminal has a seating area for passengers to wait until the 2:30 P. M. boarding time. Correct or not?

At the Lorton Auto Terminal, what is the situation there while waiting for one's car to be off-loaded? I will be there in January and hope I don't have to be out in the weather/cold while waiting for my car. How does one know when the car is off-loaded and where the car is?

After boarding the Train, will the Lounge Car be open and available for passengers to purchase something before the train actually leaves the station? Or, does one have to wait until the train is underway before the SA opens the Lounge for service?

Thanks for your advice and help!

The passenger portion of your car will be unlocked, with the keys inside, so the contract drivers can drive it on and off the cars. When the train is underway, the auto carrier doors are locked. If I were you, I would put the most valuable items in the trunk, with less valuable items in the passenger compartment.The driver needs to be able to see well, and space to drive your car on and off, but it's OK to fill other space inside. Both terminals have large waiting rooms where you can wait to board the train, or wait until you hear your auto number announced on the PA for claiming. There are snack shops at both terminals, and the lounge cars should be open upon boarding. Amtrak has announced significant changes to food service in mid January. These will affect the coach section moist seriously. Onboard staff are not happy about the new procedures they will have to follow.
 

AutoTrDvr

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Messages
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The passenger portion of your car will be unlocked, with the keys inside, so the contract drivers can drive it on and off the cars. When the train is underway, the auto carrier doors are locked. If I were you, I would put the most valuable items in the trunk, with less valuable items in the passenger compartment.The driver needs to be able to see well, and space to drive your car on and off, but it's OK to fill other space inside. Both terminals have large waiting rooms where you can wait to board the train, or wait until you hear your auto number announced on the PA for claiming. There are snack shops at both terminals, and the lounge cars should be open upon boarding. Amtrak has announced significant changes to food service in mid January. These will affect the coach section moist seriously. Onboard staff are not happy about the new procedures they will have to follow.
Also, understand that the loading/unloading area of each terminal area is carefully video monitored. It would be very difficult for any of the contract drivers to "creatively acquire" anything large in size from a vehicle. And "bulges" in the driver's clothes or coveralls would be suspect. Of course, it wouldn't stop them from lifting very small things (jewelry, cash, coins, etc.), but I doubt that would happen. Being "contractors," if there were complaints from Amtrak pax. about thievery, that contract would disappear quickly. I, personally have tested their loyalty by leaving some loose change in the car to see what would happen. Nothing ever did. Then again, it was just loose change and they (drivers) are probably looking for that as a test. If I'd left a roll of Franklins in the car, the outcome might have been different... but I seriously doubt it, for the reasons just stated.
 
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