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Old 12-16-2011, 12:21 PM   #1
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Amtrak AutoTrain - any suggestions/warnings???

I live about 15 miles from the Lorton, VA. AutoTrain terminal. A oppertunity to hit Key West with free lodging has come up and am thinking of running me and the bike over and doing the AT down to FL for a few days.

I searched and did not find any detailed reports about doing the AutoTrain with a MC. FYI: the AutoTrain is a nonstop run from Northern VA to Sanford Fl (above Orlando)...the trick is that the train carrys your auto or MC along in special freight cars...while your in a regular train compartment. Runs daily overnight N & S.

Anyone have tales to share, specifically relating to the MC aspects and having a coach seat for 17 hours....

FAW3 screwed with this post 12-17-2011 at 07:10 AM Reason: Added AutoTrain info details...
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Old 12-17-2011, 05:42 AM   #2
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Dont be in the Train car where they put all the children......
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Old 12-17-2011, 05:46 AM   #3
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I'd rather sit on the bike than in the train
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Old 12-17-2011, 06:14 AM   #4
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I've looked at the auto train several times. Unfortunately, it only runs the eastern seaboard. I live in south Florida, if it ran out west I'd jump on it in a second. Having rode a train from NYC to Virginia, I can suggest taking snacks and a drink, something to entertain yourself like headphones and a book. You can buy food and drinks but it's a little pricey. If you get on early, you can grab one of the seats that have nothing in front so you can stretch out. Regarding the bike, I believe you have to bring your own straps, and load it yourself. At least insist you load it yourself and strap it down yourself if they allow it. Make sure everything is locked and powered off. I believe you can not access the bike during the trip so don't forget to grab all the stuff you want with your person for the ride.

+100 on staying away from the screaming brats too!
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Old 12-17-2011, 06:26 AM   #5
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Do not sit on either end of the car, sit in the middle. they have auto doors that make a racket opening and closing. We took it from tampa to nj with wife and two kids and packed snacks etc. other kids playing with the doors made it hell. on the way back we sat in the middle and it was so nice. also they ran out of toilet paper. the train makes alot of stops in fl, not so much out of state.
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Old 12-18-2011, 05:19 AM   #6
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Ride down. It will be faster and more enjoyable.
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Old 12-18-2011, 05:37 AM   #7
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i vote high speed rail ! oh, slotrak ? hell no.

i'd do a craigslist ride-share before i'd suffer amtrak.
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Old 12-18-2011, 05:57 AM   #8
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i took this over the summer running south, and honestly have no complaints about it.

amtrak will strap the bike down with their straps and your help. basically you just sit on it while they do their thing. you drive up a wooden ramp onto a trailer. the people look like they know what their doing. i strapped my helmet and jacket onto the seat for the ride down and it was fine.

once its loaded you will not be able to access your bike. take what you need with you before its loaded. ie, i forgot my headphones, so couldnt watch the movies i loaded onto my iphone.

the seats are coach, but there was a ton of leg room, i'm 5'11" and had no issue, not setup like an airplane

seat recline back and a foot rest comes up, like a lazyboy

there is a power plug at each seat along the window.

smoking is allowed in the designated smoking car.

the dinner meal was pretty damn good imho, plus free wine. breakfast is cereal and bagel with juice, coffee

there are snacks available in the lounge

an evening movie will be played.

you will stop midpoint, so the conductor's can switch out. couple stops here and there for freight trains to clear up ahead, but no passenger stops.

over all a very nice experience, and wouldn't hesitate to do it again

be fore warned when walking from one car to the next can be tricky, little rough. dont really feel it in the car, but notice it between the two. can be a good few inch difference when done at the right time.

door is a little noisy, as stated sit in the middle if possible.

bathrooms are a little bit bigger than an airplanes

GutterTrash screwed with this post 12-18-2011 at 06:13 AM Reason: more details
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Old 12-18-2011, 06:34 AM   #9
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I've always wondered why that I-95 corridor is the only AutoTrain that Amtrak runs. It would be awesome if there was one that ran out West and allowed you to bypass the central plain states. Being in the SE, I'd gladly use one for the bike that ran say from Atl to Denver or something like that.

Its good to hear there have been positive reports so far from this one.
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Old 12-18-2011, 07:08 AM   #10
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Don't do it. On the bike you'd be waaaaay down the road by the time you factor in the train's BS. Besides, there is a pretty much snow free route for you from VA, so not worth it! I know, you didn't ask, as to KW, for me it is a parking problem in what was(key word was)a nice place once upon a time. Way too long a drive/ride for whats there. The water falls way short of the CarribeanRide to MX!) and the place is flat expensive too. Costs more for a place to park my RV/tent than a nice hotel elsewhere. FL St parks are booked up with snowbirds the full 11 months in advance via web reservations. It's a cluster to sum it up. Many do go maybe you'll like it? Not me...
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Old 12-18-2011, 05:25 PM   #11
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Good info y'all...appreciate it!

As to Key West...I've been going down to the upper/middle keys about every 3 years for diving and such since just after high say 35 years..and still love it...down to about MM20. I tend to agree about the KW assessment: been there and I'm well past the get the Mile 0 decal, hitting the HogsBreath, watch the sunset at the bouy, and watching the guy with the trained cats all the time trying not to step in puke or cat sh*t....but I've got some friends going down and a free house to stay's tempting to "go all the way down" this time...

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Old 12-18-2011, 05:38 PM   #12
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I have a bunch of guys thinking about it for Daytona this March. I rode from outside Orlando to Lorton last year and it was fine. Rough nights sleep because I couldn't get comfortable but better than sleeping in a fleabag motel on I-95.

I priced it out recently and I think the price is just over $300. Gas, tolls, food and motel is about that.
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Old 12-18-2011, 07:58 PM   #13
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The 'trick' to doing the Auto Train is to 'reserve' the front seat of the first car.

The very first seat (it's kinda held open for crew use) doesn't have any window and so is never booked or sold. So in actuality, the seat that you are reserving is the 2nd seat --and it does have a window. That leaves you with plenty of room (effectively two seats) to stretch out & use. Also, you wont have any traffic passing through that door. Families usually don't opt for the first car because it's 'too far' from the dining & dome cars.

Sometimes there is one other passenger car ahead of the first Auto Train car, but that is used for Amtrak passengers going between Lorton & Richmond, or Richmond & Sanford. The door is locked so they don't have access to the Auto Train section or any of it's amenities, however the Conductor may occasionally pass between the two sections.

Actually the time I rode the train I brought along a piece of cardboard and used it as a 'mattress' to stretch out on the floor. But then in a previous life I used to hop freight trains too. Think Iron Butt Motel here. YMMV

Cosmic_Jumper screwed with this post 12-23-2011 at 09:46 AM
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Old 02-02-2013, 04:55 PM   #14
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So...reviving an old thread here...

Am I able to just throw my jacket, helmet, etc onto the bike and then secure it via cable lock?

I don't want to take my gear with me to the passenger section, but I don't want to stuff my gear in my panniers (I don't have the room).
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Old 02-03-2013, 05:15 PM   #15
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Never ridden the auto train though I think the idea has meritt. Imagine a train that you could load your bike on then, settle into a comfy seat with Mondo Enduro or On any Sunday on the big screen, cold beer on tap and meat on the grill.
This train would run coast to coast in 2 days and if you choose you could off load in Colorado or continue to the Pacific. The cost would be the equivalent of gas money plus beer and your food.

Probably not going to happen in my lifetime.
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