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Sue

Guest
We were thinking about taking the auto train from Washington to Sanford. Has anybody done this? Did you like it? Does this train run late often? What is the best time to check your car in and not have a long wait. We would be going in mid August.

Thanks,

Sue
 

AlanB

Conductor
Honored Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2002
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28,406
Location
Queens, New York
Sue,

I've done the Auto Train several times. In my opinion it's one of Amtrak's better trains.

You may wish to read over these hints & tips from On Track On Line to answer many of your questions.
 

Hanno

OBS Chief
Joined
Sep 19, 2008
Messages
584
Location
South Central PA
We were thinking about taking the auto train from Washington to Sanford. Has anybody done this? Did you like it? Does this train run late often? What is the best time to check your car in and not have a long wait. We would be going in mid August.

Thanks,

Sue
We have taken the Auto Train every year for the past ten years or so and sometimes twice a year. We love the Auto Train. It sure beats driving I-95.

The train is seldom late and in fact often arrives early. As far as departure is concerned the earlier you get there the less time you have to wait in line but then you will have to wait in the terminal until the boarding process starts. Sometimes the train leaves before 4:00 PM departure time so you may be able to board the train earlier. An announcement will be made. Beware of the traffic getting to Lorton. Depending on what day you are traveling and which direction you a coming from there can be delays, especially with perpetual construction.

Another reason we like to get there somewhat early (around 1:00 PM) is so we have our choice of dinner seatings. The seatings are 5:00 pm, 7:00 pm, and 9:00 pm. It is first come first served as far as chosing the time and if the train is full you might not get the choice you want.

Enjoy your trip. We have never had a bad experience on the Auto Train!
 

dlagrua

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Nov 24, 2009
Messages
3,168
Location
Hillsborough, NJ
The AutoTrain is a 17 hour trip to and from Florida. For us it is a very pleasant and quick trip.

This is how it is for sleeper passengers. Don't know about coach as we never travel in coach.

You check in at the terminal in Lorton before 2PM. We usually get there around 1- 1:30. You will board the train at 3PM and be called for a complementry wine chesse and snack hour. You are entitled to 4 glasses of wine per man, but they seldom count. At 5 PM they start calling people for the first dinner reservation ( times are 5, 7 and 9 PM) You will dine on some very good food, then go back to your romm. You can relax and "couch out" for a couple of hours. Most people chose to have the bed put down at 10 PM. You go to sleep, rise at sat 6:30AM shower and go to the breakfast (no reservation required) Its a cold continental breakfast (except for coffee)and its not that good but it is something. By the time breakfast is finished you are maybe 1 hour away from Sanford. At Sanford they will call your car number and bring the car right ouside the terminal.
 
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sue

Guest
it is nice to hear from somebody who rides the train so often. Glad to hear it is usually on time. Thank you for the advice about getting there around 1:00 in order to get our best time for dinner reservation.

I am so excited for our trip. Wish August wasn't so far away.

Sue
 
S

Sue

Guest
Glad to hear the food is good. I like that the majority of the trip is dinner, sleep and breakfast!! We plan on getting a family bedroom. It looks like that is only on the lower level of thr train. Is that right?

Thank you for the information.

Sue
 

amtrakwolverine

Conductor
Joined
Mar 14, 2008
Messages
4,002
Location
Warren MI
Remember the Auto train makes no stops except for crew change points and to refuel the locomotives. it is also the only amtrak train that still has a smoking lounge.
 

dlagrua

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Nov 24, 2009
Messages
3,168
Location
Hillsborough, NJ
Glad to hear the food is good. I like that the majority of the trip is dinner, sleep and breakfast!! We plan on getting a family bedroom. It looks like that is only on the lower level of thr train. Is that right?

Thank you for the information.

Sue
The family bedroom is one one side of the lower level. It runs the full width of the train and has four beds, for two adult and two children.There is a bathroom/shower right outside the door. At the other end is the handicapped room and in the middle of the hall there are four roomettes. Its very private down there but it can get a bit noisy from the sounds of the train wheels. Don't take too much more than an overnight bag as space in these rooms is limited. If you have a laptop; movies in the room are nice but they also show a "G" movie in the lounge. Don't miss wine and chesse hour at 3 PM and enjoy the dinner. You can also buy adult beverages in the lounge. Due to schedule contraints breakfast is a "continental" but you'll have hot coffee, juice, roll/butter and cereal and still have a chance to chat with some nice folks. The A/T usually is a pleasant trip and its ontime record is excellent.
 

Pastor Dave

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Oct 31, 2009
Messages
410
Location
Wind Gap, PA
We've done the AT yearly the last 5 years. It is a great experience. Usually leaves on time or early and we've never had any bad delays.

I would suggest bringing a book or some kind of activity for the wait at the station. Lorton has a shopping center nearby but the stores aren't much to wander around. I've never wandered far from Sanford, but it doesn't look like there is much to do during the wait.
 

dlagrua

Conductor
AU Supporter
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Nov 24, 2009
Messages
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Hillsborough, NJ
I you get there around lunch time there are a couple of good places to eat close to the Amtrak station. If you go out the access Rd to the A/T station , make a left and go about 1 1/2 miles to Rt 1 there is a mini-mall there with a supermarket, a Dollar Tree a Chinese Restaurant and a great Chicken place called "LaBrassa" where they slow cook a very pleasantly mildly spiced type of Peruvian Chicken over a wood fire. All you can buy at the ststion are snacks . If you get to the Lorton area super early the Lorton Mall, one exit South is the bigger shopping area.
 
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Sue

Guest
Thank you everybody. Lots of information for me to think about!

Sue
 
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gpcvv

Guest
My family is traveling on the auto train, coach only was available. Does anyone have tips on best place to sit for a family of three - two adults, one teenager, and we want to be someplace quiet and with space. We are planning on getting there early, so your tips are appreciated.
 

dlagrua

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Nov 24, 2009
Messages
3,168
Location
Hillsborough, NJ
My family is traveling on the auto train, coach only was available. Does anyone have tips on best place to sit for a family of three - two adults, one teenager, and we want to be someplace quiet and with space. We are planning on getting there early, so your tips are appreciated.
Family bedrooms are few as there are only 1 per sleeper car but with a teenage son it is probably not the best fit (unless he is short). There are two adult beds there and two beds for small children in the FBR.

You can get there early and ask at the check in counter if something has opened up. You can get by with two roomettes or 1 bedroom and 1 roomette but it could end up being a bit costly.

The A/T trip is only 17 hours and much of it is overnight, so coach should be relatively comfortable. I don't believe that any one place in coach is better than the next. I suggest bringing pillows aboard to make sleeping more comfortable. Enjoy!
 
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