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Thread: Auto Train

  1. #1
    Ride Safe! MDCRUISER's Avatar
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    Auto Train

    I'm taking a holiday with the Mrs. during Spring break -- we are taking the auto train down to Florida, staying at Cocoa Beach for a few days (taking in a Nationals Spring Training game, Cape Canaveral and the Ocean and the ocean). Then she flies and I ride home.

    Do any of you have experience with the Auto Train? Do they take good care of the bikes? Do we board first/disembark first, as is the custom on ferries? Do they provide tie-downs? Thanks for any info. And if any of you are in Cocoa Beach from March 9-12, let me know!

  2. #2
    Novice Adventurer Newstar's Avatar
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    We took the auto train a few years ago. When you arrive, they will direct you to that area and as I recall, it was a short wait before an attendant came to oversee the loading. so you are not waiting in line with all the cars. They have pallets where you ride your bike up the ramp and park it. You can also oversee the tying down of your bike. then they load it in whatever order they choose. This means you do have to wait at the other end.

    We opted for coach seats which was fine for the ride down. The train was not full and we were able to spread out. The club car showed two movies. Dinner and breakfast were suprisingly good. The facilities were adequate but I recommend taking bottled water for brushing your teeth.

    The ride home was...well, let's call it entertaining. Be prepared for the snow birds! The train was filled with senior citizens returning north and you might have thought we were on a middle school field trip! This one complained loudly that so-and-so was sitting in her seat. (She ALWAYS takes the train and ALWAYS sits in the same seat.) Another one insisted that she be allowed to watch her "stories" on the tv. (The tv's only play videos, not individual stations.) There was bickering over who's pill bags were next to who's and which couple got to sit where during meals.

    All in all, it was an experience and I'd do it again however I'd go for the sleeper car next time.

  3. #3
    Ride Safe! MDCRUISER's Avatar
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    Thanks, Newstar! Useful info!

    We're only going one way (and yes, we did reserve the sleeper car). I'm riding back (and my wife is flying back).

  4. #4
    dlearl476
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    Quote Originally Posted by Newstar View Post
    All in all, it was an experience and I'd do it again however I'd go for the sleeper car next time.
    FWIW, depending on space available, a sleeper can sometimes be had for the price of a discreet tip to the sleeper car's porter, once disembarked.

  5. #5
    Almost famous firebird's Avatar
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    I took the auto train a couple years ago, but I was in my car. I didn't have a motorcycle then. My advice is to take pictures of your bike before it's loaded on the train and check it over. When you get to FL and your bike is unloaded, check it over and take pictures so that way if something has happened to the bike, you have documentation. There is always a insurance man there from Amtrak who will give an estimate of repair cost and write out a check right then and there. No fuss, no muss.

    I suggest sleeper car also. The ride down and back a year later was very comfortable and relaxing. Enjoy your trip down.
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  6. #6
    Ride Safe! MDCRUISER's Avatar
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    Thanks to all for your tips. We did reserve (tremendously low prices -- I think this is one of those "unbalanced" seasons where snowbirds are taking the autotrain north, so they have fire-sales on the trips south) for March 8.

    Once down there, I think we'll go to Cape Canaveral. If any of you all have been, is it worth the trip? Gonna go see the Nats beat the Tigers, too.

    Cheers,
    Michael

  7. #7
    Novice Adventurer Newstar's Avatar
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    Completely forgot!

    Quote Originally Posted by Firebird View Post
    My advice is to take pictures of your bike before it's loaded on the train and check it over.
    Oh, I forgot! Before loading, there was an Amtrak attendant with a camera taking pictures of the cars and bikes. I'm sure it's also for Amtrak's protection as well as their riders. Granted, the pictures belong to them but then again, I doubt they would have time to doctor it from one end of the line to the other.

  8. #8
    Chuck Berry cberry's Avatar
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    Auto Train

    Michael,

    The train is a great adventure! By all means get a 2 bunk sleeper. I've made the trip several times and never been able to sleep. What a misnomer!! The food's better too, if you get a sleeper. I've done it with my R1200RT, a sedan, and a pick-up. No problems with any, although the bike will be subject to the Wx. As I recall, Amtrak has the appropriate strapping material to secure the bike. Pack comfort items and snacks in small bags to bring onto the train for the duration. The offload wait can test your patience.

    I lived in 20854 for 20 years before moving to Havre de Grace, MD in '95. That place is now my second home and I now live in Satellite Beach FL. I hope we can get together while you're here. Our Space Coast BMW Club has a Wednesday dinner meeting if you've time to join us.

    I'm taking the auto train myself on 2/28 to VA and returning to FL on 3/5. It's a quick trip to check my HdG house. Then, I leave on 3/13 for a short visit to see friends in northern Manitoba, Island Lake.

    I'm starting to plan a trans Canada trip for next summer. Maybe you can give me some tips....

    Chuck Berry
    Indian Harbour Beach, FL
    R1200RT
    49 states, 5 provinces, + New Zealand in the past 2 years
    "Keep the dirty side down!"

  9. #9
    mrich12000
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    Where do you get the train and what are the costs?

  10. #10
    Ride Safe! MDCRUISER's Avatar
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    Chuck,

    Thanks for all this info! I'll PM you some info -- maybe we can meet during our stay. We've stayed at the Vandiver Inn in Havre de Grace, and loved it. Been all across Canada (except Newfoundland) and lived there for more than half my life -- so will be pleased to give you tips.

    Michael,

    The train runs from Lorton, VA (about 25 miles south of Washington, DC) and runs to Sanford, FL (about 25 miles north of Orlando). Cost varies greatly as demand fluctuates -- I got a great sale price because demand is mostly northbound in March (Canadians and other snowbirds returning home) -- good time to travel south.

  11. #11
    mrich12000
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    Arrow Train of thought

    Thanks for th info, to-bad it doesn't start in Toronto

  12. #12
    Dum vivimus vivamus ted's Avatar
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    Here is an article I wrote on my experience with the Autotrain:
    http://www.verrill.com/tripreports/F...utotrain.shtml

    A bit dated, but I believe it is still valid.

    Ted
    Ted
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