How to Ship a Car by Rail

  Reviewed by: Michelle Seidel, B.Sc., LL.B., MBA
  Written by: Katie Mills Giorgio      Updated October 18, 2018
Freight Train Locomotive

If your company has a need for shipping a vehicle, whether for a corporate relocation or for business travel, an option to explore is shipping the vehicle by train. The ship-by-rail option is becoming more popular thanks to competitive pricing among several companies. While it may be a slower shipping method, it’s an option that cuts down on pollution thanks to the energy efficiency of trains. That fuel efficiency can also translate to cost savings as shipping rates don’t tend to fluctuate with gas prices. If available in your area, shipping a car by train may just be the way to go especially when shipping a car long-distance.

Decide How You Want Your Car Shipped

You do have some options when it comes to how you want the vehicle shipped. Train shipping offers both open and enclosed carrier cars. An open carrier car has cars visible as the train rolls past. Shipping via an enclosed car is likely to cost slightly more because it offers more protection to the vehicle from the elements and flying debris during travel. This option might be something to consider based on the value of the vehicle. In either case, there are likely to be other vehicles being transported to fill all available spaces on the carrier cars. Having access to a full train container car may be an option, in which case you could ship additional items with the vehicle and get even more bang for your buck.

Get Quotes

To get the best pricing, be sure to get quotes from several rail transport companies. While there aren’t as many companies offering ship by rail options, it’s important to get a sense of cost from multiple carriers. Shipping routes from the northeastern United States to the Southwest and vice versa are more abundant, but with more auto shipping companies getting into the ship-by-rail business, it’s possible to quote a vehicle shipment by rail to any part of the country. When gathering quotes, you’ll need to provide information on the make and model of the vehicle to be shipped so an accurate quote can be provided based on the weight of the vehicle.

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Go Along for the Ride

Amtrak offers an Auto Train Service, touted as the most convenient way to take your car with you on vacation. The train can handle cars, SUVs, motorcycles and other types of vehicles. There is currently only one route (Washington, DC to Sanford, Florida just outside of Orlando) and it requires an individual to ride the same train as their vehicle.

Getting From Here to There

Keep in mind that a truck may still be involved with some aspect of the transport, as you’ll need to get the car from your offices or another location to the train terminal, as well as from the delivery terminal to the final destination. The auto transport company you select should be able to provide guidance and these services. You may also want to check on the possibility of short-term storage if necessary.

About the Author

Katie Mills Giorgio is a freelance writer and editor living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She has been creating content for a variety of websites and publications for the past 15 years.

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