• Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

  by scratchyX1
Iirc, weren't two of the derailments from wheel cracks in their cars?
  by west point
The drive to Florida from the various locations in the north are -------- CHI and to north in WI and to the west of CHI is I-65 Nashville with west coast FL continuing and east coast Florida I-24 to CHA with the terrible 2 lanes the last 20 or so miles till I-75 then to FL. Canada , Detroit, CIN, and envirions catch I-75 to Florida east and southern west coast. Then you have the mountain route I-77, I-26, I-95 to east coast and I-4 from Daytona to FL west coast.

But any auto train to Florida from any of the originations suffers one great problem . That is the only rail gateway is Jacksonville. That for any persons traveling by rail for any location east of Tallahassee for the north Gulf coast est of TLH. . Lost was the very non direct ACL Valdosta - Lake city , Fl - Gainesville - Tampa route .

Now if in 40 or so years a HSR line(s) asre concentrate on CIN and follows the RAT Hole SOU route to CHA and then a completely new route around ATL an on to Manchester or Macon. The many geoological problems from CIN to south of ATL will be expensive. But that HSR could easily handle a constant speed 70 MPH Auto train. It is about 900 driving miles now CIN - Orlando and 770 air miles. CIN - Orlando would be a conservative 12 - 13 hours by that 70 MPH Auto train. The SOU
Royal palm took about 23 hours from CIN - ORL with a connection at JAX.

Guess what present Auto train enroute times 17 hours scheduled. Lorton <> Sanford. (1700 - 1000) That would solve the would solve to enroute time problems that now exist by any routing midwest - Florida..
  by electricron
Love your 17 hours elapse time for the new Auto Train. Who will be willing to fund that new HSR corridor Cincinnati to Atlanta? Then assuming someone will, will the HSR train company allow Amtrak lo run an Auto Train on the same tracks going 70 mph with HSR trains going 150 to 200 mph? I think not.
  by Gilbert B Norman
west point wrote: Tue Nov 01, 2022 12:19 am The drive to Florida from the various locations in the north are -------- CHI and to north in WI and to the west of CHI is I-65 Nashville with west coast FL continuing and east coast Florida I-24 to CHA with the terrible 2 lanes the last 20 or so miles till I-75 then to FL..... But any auto train to Florida from any of the originations suffers one great problem .
Mr.(Officer, Captain?) West Point, I couldn't agree more, the 24 Monteagle through Chattanooga to the intersection with the 75 is always "challenging".

An off topic note, I prefer the 57 from Chi to the 24 near Marion IL; considerably less traffic of the 18 wheeler varietal, no possible congestion at Indy or L'vle - and no $4 toll to X the Ohio at "baseball bat city". :-D

But as EKG found out, an AT journey from any Midwest point to FL is simply too long. If you can live on one overnight Chi-Fla, as I did during "bright college days", you could beat the Dixie Flyer.

The Amtrak Floridian wasn't even in the race (even though circa '77, Amtrak did try to put their best foot forward with such).
  by Jeff Smith
Louisville may be a convenient, logical point on a map. I think better Chicago or somewhere in "Joisey" (what exit, you say?). The worst part of my drive to FLL is through DC. EOS. Nothing wrong with Lorton, of course. Mssr. Norman rightfully points out that AT customers aren't railfans. Well, mostly. Mssr. Norman, I think you'd still be better off parking your Lexus on the AT and relaxing. Side note: it wouldn't hurt to extend the AT past Sanford down to the Miami/FLL area.

Methinks the Florida area will soon be dominated by Brightline. I could certainly see them running an AT if they could get rights, particularly if they expand to JAX.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Sgt. Smith, let it be noted that I do have friends in both Atlanta and Nashville - and I like to see them on occasion lest I keep them as such.

But reiterating, the rates Amtrak commands, and apparently gets, simply renders too little benefit for the net of 400 miles of driving, and one night in a "three star" hotel (Hampton, Express, Fairfield) will save me.
  by bostontrainguy
Jeff Smith wrote: Sat Nov 05, 2022 5:52 am Side note: it wouldn't hurt to extend the AT past Sanford down to the Miami/FLL area.
God no. You would miss the entire rest of the state . . . Walt Disney World, Universal Parks, all of the theme parks and entertainment venues in the middle of the state, the Villages (largest retirement community in the world) and all of the other retirement communities in the middle of the state (think thousands of snowbirds traveling back and forth). No one will drive south to Miami to go north. You realize how large the state of Florida is? You could drive north and be in South Carolina (a quarter of the way to Lorton) before getting to Miami driving south.

You think everyone on the AT is heading to Miami? Sorry but this is a terrible idea. Sanford works very well.
  by lordsigma12345
You wouldn’t want to give up the central Florida/Orlando market. On my last auto train trip which was a northbound from Sanford in October I saw multiple families on board in Disney regalia - obvious where there were coming home from.
  by eolesen
I've never considered Miami as a family oriented destination.... and that plus retirees is who AT caters to.

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  by STrRedWolf
I think we're now getting down to the 2022 edition of "Is the AutoTrain worth it as a tourist?"

So, two end points:
  • Lorton, which is near Washington, DC and has multiple museums and galleries, plenty of theater and night life, and a half-decent subway system that only reinforces the "you don't drive in DC" mentality.
  • Sanford, which is near Orlando, FL and has multiple theme parks including Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld... which itself has plenty of theater and night life. Unfortunately, it has only bus service and no subway service connecting the deep sprawl. In other words, you have to use a car.
Now, If you're going to Lorton for tourism, you're not going to use your car much because of how well transit is and how it puts you "in the middle of the action." So why even bring it if all you're going to do is take transit all the time and maybe a Uber or Lyft to your hotel and back? In that case, you might as well of taken the regular Silver services from Orlando.

Sanford, you got to use a car. If you take the Silver to Orlando to get to Disney World, you'll have to take three buses (one provided by Disney) because there is no complementary transit from the train station to the resort's hotels. None. I checked. None. I didn't even see the same for taking the airports. You're using the LYNX service to a transfer station and then to a Disney shuttle.

This of course is putting aside what the movie studios are doing these days, how it's going to take a few years for them to dig out of the hole they dug before the pandemic, and how messed up politics are in that area of the US is.

So if you're dead set on going to a man trap made by a mouse (or the other resorts there), and want to save on car rental fees... well, better take your car and hit up the AutoTrain. If you're not, well, it doesn't make sense to even go.
  by eolesen
Honestly, where rental fees have been, using Uber or Lyft can be cheap enough to get someone to one of the captive resorts where a car is nice to have but really isn't needed. $50 to $70 each way depending on traffic for an hour ride is still cheaper than the freight to bring your own or to rent a car.

We've done a couple Mouse pilgrimages and both of the last two we stayed on property with little to no reason to leave.

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  by west point
Sanford is also a great place for west coast persons. Although the hurricane has downgraded many available facilities to stay at especially Ft Myeres south thru Naples. Even St.Pete lost a lot of stay at loctions.

MIA location of AT? No way.
  by justalurker66
Ok ... how about this:
Keep the current AT end points but add another one in Florida closer to Miami. Drop the passengers and the car carriers with their cars at Sanford and roll the rest of the train south. On the way back north pick up passengers and the car carriers with their cars.

The primary issue I see is the length of the ride. The current Lorton to Sanford is just about right to have the train arrive, split for unloading and turned for the return journey. Additional miles in either direction means less time to turn the train or more train sets to allow for an overlap. With four train sets schedule the arrival in the Miami area to be after the departure of that day's train. The time between southbound and northbound in Sanford could remain the same.

Providing a NJ endpoint in addition to Lorton could be done with the same scheme but providing two endpoints at each end of the route would get complicated with switching car carriers. It is a lot easier when all northbound trains end at the same location or all southbound trains end at the same location.

As for a second route ... find something with similar travel times as Lorton-Sanford in the direction you want to serve. Put the end points at good places for a hub where (especially on the north end) interstates from different major cities could connect to the train.
  by RandallW
What I've noticed is that people using the Auto Train have no qualms about packing their vehicles full--which you can't do if you're checking bags. (Put another way--the Auto Train is the only travel service where you don't need to worry about schlepping bags to check in counters or on public transit, excess baggage fees, space in Uber/Lyft/Taxi services.) I have stayed at an Orlando resort where I used the car only to get there, but given that I choose a suite with a kitchen, being able to pack in and pack out my normal groceries (and avoid the ridiculous cost of meals) and avoid I-95 was worth using the Auto Train. (FWIW, I live ~45 minutes from the Auto Train without using an interstate highway, so I may be its ideal market.)
  by Jeff Smith
Okay, okay, no Miami lol! Mssr. Norman, I understand. I do think northward from Lorton does make sense though. It seems to me that most of the trips probably originate there, and the return trips from Sanford, thus, Lorton is not a destination, just an embarkation point. All that being said, the point about crews and servicing is duly noted.
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