Car Transport By Train: What Is It?

Open auto transport by rail

Simply put, car and auto transport by rail is the process of moving your vehicle on a train instead of on a truck. There are a few inherent advantages to auto shipping by rail, though those are mostly archaic and not applicable to the industry today. Generally, it is cheaper, and many customers are starting to look at locomotives for their auto transport needs because of its lower cost. With the rising cost in fuel prices (and, in turn, the rising cost of auto transport services) more and more customers are looking at car transport by rail as a practical, convenient, cheaper solution to their car shipping problems.

How to Arrange Car Transport By Train

You would think shipping your car by rail would be easy, however you will quickly find that major railroad lines won’t service customers with one or two vehicles. These companies include Amtrak, CSX, Union Pacific, and Burlington Northern Santa Fe.  They book all available space monthly with auto transport companies who already ship cars. The problem is that the rates and routes are constantly changing as the railroads use the space mostly for commercial customers, so whatever is not booked for the next month with commercial shippers is sold to the transport companies. The result is some auto transport by rail companies have great rates on some routes, high rates on other routes, or, most frustrating of all, no availability on some routes.

Should You Ship Your Car By Train?

In the past, auto transport by rail was predominantly used for Northeast-to-Southwest shipments and vice-versa. This hasn’t changed much despite more and more auto shipping companies getting into the car transport by rail industry. Granted, you’ll probably still need to haul your vehicle to the train station, and also pick it up from the receiving station upon delivery. What’s great about that is many major cities still have working train stations and it makes it a lot easier to get your vehicle upon delivery. We would recommend auto transport by truck if you’re in a hurry, as it’s generally quicker. Auto transport by rail can take two weeks or more depending on the distance between pickup and delivery. But it’s generally better to ship by rail if you’re concerned about price. If you are looking for a quote to ship your car on a 10 car carrier vs by rail you can get a car shipping quote on our home page. 

Shipping Your Car By Train: Open vs. Enclosed

Enclosed auto transport by rail
Enclosed auto transport by rail

Just like with shipping your car on a truck, there’s a difference between open and enclosed auto transport by rail. It’s virtually the same as with a regular auto transport truck, though, at least in principle. Open rail transport exposes your vehicle to inclement weather and the occasional bug on the windshield, dirt on the side paneling, but all-in-all is a relatively safe and secure method of transportation. Enclosed transport by rail places your vehicle in an enclosed train car that will protect it from all the bugs, dirt and debris that comes from being outside, and is generally more expensive than the open transport alternative. We recommend enclosed auto shipping by rail services for customers that need to ship rare, expensive, valuable, classic, or collectible vehicles, as these types of vehicles typically cannot be exposed to outside conditions for extended periods of time.

Whether you need auto transport by truck or by rail, you can use American Auto Shipping to help you out. Fill out our online quote request form to get a no-obligation car shipping quote immediately. A minute is all it takes to submit your basic information, and you’ll receive your quote after filling out the form. You can speak to a representative about transport by rail services and more by calling our toll-free telephone number at 800-930-7417. They can also give you the lowdown on auto transport by rail and answer any other questions you may have.

Dave Armstrong
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