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Florida Guide > Travelling

The Auto Train to Sanford, Florida

Did you know that you can take a train to Florida? Well if you are lucky enough to live in Virginia, and don’t want to drive down to Orlando, or fly, you can pick up the Amtrak Auto Train from, for a non-stop journey to Sanford, Florida. It is a great alternative to driving and you will see a little of the countryside on the way during this 800 mile journey.

The train itself can accommodate cars, vans, SUVs, motorcycles, small boats, jet-skis and other recreational vehicles. Of course, you need to book ahead to be sure of being able to travel. The train has two engines, and more than 40 passenger carriages and vehicle carriers, and is the longest passenger train in the world. In order to accommodate this leviathan of the rails the platform at Lorton Virginia is 1, 480 ft long – longer than the height of Sears Tower in Chicago! So it really is huge!

Lorton, which is located outside of Washington DC, is where the train originates. Typically, you board the train in the afternoon, ready for departure by the late afternoon. The journey is overnight, arriving in Sanford, Florida at around 9. 00 am the next morning, a journey time of 17 and a half hours. As soon as you board you are invited to choose a time for dining. All meals and snacks are included in the ticket price, and the dining car is beautiful, with white tablecloths and waiter service. There are several dinner entrees to choose from as well as meals for the children. Breakfast is also included. As soon as you embark you are offered snacks such as fruit, cheese and crackers or snack mixes, so this will keep you satisfied during the journey.

There is a choice of accommodation, ranging from a seat to a sleeper car, but of course the latter is the most comfortable way to travel – and the most private. It is much more relaxing to be able to sleep in a proper bed, and the luxury sleeper cars are most comfortable. Early booking is advisable as these sleeper cars are very popular and book up quickly. You will find that some days of the week are cheaper than others, so it is a good idea to check this out before booking. You will need photo ID when you pick up the tickets, and when you depart.

You are allowed to carry on two bags per passenger, but of course space is limited. If you have your car with you must leave any extra luggage in the car itself, but you will not be able to access it during the journey, so make sure you don’t leave anything important, like medications, in the trunk.

On arrival it can take from 20 minutes to two hours for your vehicle to be unloaded – this really IS a long train! So be prepared for this extra time when planning your journey, and it goes without saying that you should arrive in plenty of time for the start of your trip.

We aim to provide accurate and useful information, but if you feel anything provided here is not accurate or out of date, please email us with the address of the page concerned and any comments so we can amend as necessary.

Page added on: 15 January 2011
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