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Date: 11/14/20 09:13
Auto Train Advice
Author: andersonb109

Having never ridden the Auto Train, I'd appreciate any advice from those who have. Particularly:  1. Car positions.  What  are the line numbers  up front next to the locos for north bound train? I wouldn't want to be up front with no baggage as buffer.  2. Dining. Amtrak's Web site still indicates traditional dining. I don't trust their web site for accurate information. So does that mean same or similar menu to what was served on the western LDT's before the "enhanced" dining was implemented?  3. Is it worth it to pay the premium for faster vehicle unloading? What's the approximate wait time difference?   Any other recommendations appreciated.
 



Date: 11/14/20 09:21
Re: Auto Train Advice
Author: SANSR

No baggage car in that consist.



Date: 11/14/20 09:24
Re: Auto Train Advice
Author: SANSR

Go in mid June for at least some views of the VA / NC countryside when traveling Southbound.  More daylight.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/14/20 09:26 by SANSR.



Date: 11/14/20 09:29
Re: Auto Train Advice
Author: Lackawanna484

Sleepers are behind the locomotives, northbound, I believe. The size of the train will determine how far back they are on a southbound.

Posted from Android



Date: 11/14/20 09:32
Re: Auto Train Advice
Author: SANSR

If you feel that you need to be on your way in your car as soon as possible then opt for the early unload.  After multiple AT trips in the past my longest wait time for vehicle delivery was about 90 minutes.



Date: 11/14/20 10:02
Re: Auto Train Advice
Author: 2904

Standard consist for northbound #52 is as follows:

Engine
Engine
Crew Dorm
5245 Sleeper
5243 Sleeper
5241 Deluxe Sleeper (all bedrooms upstairs)
Sleeper Lounge
Sleeper Diner
5240 Deluxe Sleeper
5242 Sleeper
5244 Sleeper
5212 Coach
5211 Coach
5210 Coach
Coach Diner-Lounge
Auto Racks

The Auto Train isn't wyed at either terminal, so for #53 reverse that consist with the coaches up front and the sleepers toward the rear ahead of the racks.  The sleeper diner is still full service with a chef in the kitchen.  The menu varies a bit from time to time, but you can safely bet on a beef, chicken, fish, and pasta option. The below menu was current last I checked.

https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/projects/dotcom/english/public/documents/menus/routes/Auto-Train-Dinner-Menu-Sleeper-011420.pdf



Date: 11/14/20 10:23
Re: Auto Train Advice
Author: RevRandy

SANSR Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> If you feel that you need to be on your way in
> your car as soon as possible then opt for the
> early unload.  After multiple AT trips in the
> past my longest wait time for vehicle delivery was
> about 90 minutes.

Also, if the train is on time, not being on the road asap may be beneficial in the long run -- 95 northbound can still be rather stalled at 9am, but by 10am it is likely to flow freely.  In the long run an hour's wait for auto delivery may be only a matter of a few minutes by the time you get to Baltimore and way less stressful. 



Date: 11/14/20 10:47
Re: Auto Train Advice
Author: Lackawanna484

Yes.

If the train is running with 12-14 passenger cars, you'll have your car in no time at all. If the train has 20 passenger cars, it may be a while. My longest wait was about two hours. Average is under an hour for me.

Posted from Android



Date: 11/14/20 12:35
Re: Auto Train Advice
Author: emd_mrs1

andersonb109 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Having never ridden the Auto Train, I'd appreciate
> any advice from those who have. Particularly:  1.
> Car positions.  What  are the line numbers  up
> front next to the locos for north bound train? I
> wouldn't want to be up front with no baggage as
> buffer. 

Northbound has the sleepers next to the engines. I could clearly hear the horns but it didn't bother me. Another passenger said he couldn't sleep a wink. The rattles and track noise were more annoying than horns.


2. Dining. Amtrak's Web site still
> indicates traditional dining. I don't trust their
> web site for accurate information. So does that
> mean same or similar menu to what was served on
> the western LDT's before the "enhanced" dining was
> implemented? 

https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/projects/dotcom/english/public/documents/menus/routes/Auto-Train-Dinner-Menu-Sleeper-011420.pdf

This appears to be the current menu. I have not traveled recently on AT but the fish and chicken dinners were great on previous trips. The beef tips have apparently been replaced by the steak. There is a small salad and roll pre-set at each place. They include a choice of several dressing packages large enough for 10 salads. The food is overall good, I am no gourmet. I don't use alcohol so I cant speak for their drinks. Sweet Tea with dinner was good. Deserts are basic but quite good. Tipping is a subject for debate - your choice.

3. Is it worth it to pay the
> premium for faster vehicle unloading? What's the
> approximate wait time difference?   

Unloading autos takes perhaps 30 minutes to begin. It takes a while to get passengers off the train so that is not actual sit and wait time. Those who paid priority get theirs first. I never pay the extra so my vehicle (pickup truck) comes off afterwards. Sometimes its been a 15 minute wait, another time it was probably next to last off with an hour or more wait. The station is very comfortable so its not a bad wait.

Since northbound AT comes in around 9am its better to accept the delay and save $50 than to join in DC area rush hour traffic.

Any other
> recommendations appreciated.

Prepare for the possibility of being late or very late or vary very late.
Take a few favorite sodas and snacks just in case.
Dont take more baggage than you actually need for a night and next day.
Leave everything else in the car.
When you leave your room put something in the aisle window like a jacket so it will make it easy to find your way back. All the cars and rooms look very much the same.
A scanner may be entertaining.
Staff vary from excellent to passable.

Enjoy your trip.
Michael



>  



Date: 11/14/20 12:57
Re: Auto Train Advice
Author: Lackawanna484

My recollection is there's just one electrical outlet above the seat in a roomette. I packed a small power strip in case I needed to run any appliances (scanner, tablet, phone, spouse's gear, etc) beyond the battery capacities.

I also pack a small  battery pack to run phone / tablet.

 



Date: 11/14/20 18:06
Re: Auto Train Advice
Author: amtrakbill

I travel the Autotrain every 60 days sometimes more often

First class has traditional dining but most people elect to eat in their rooms

The wait for your car should be under 30 mins when traveling NB this time of the year

Train horns are hardly noticeable and the rooms usually have music piped in

This is without a doubt the most relaxing way to travel between Florida and the northeast

I’m taking the SB Autotrain next Thursday

Enjoy!

Posted from iPhone



Date: 11/16/20 02:58
Re: Auto Train Advice
Author: andersonb109

Thanks to all that responded. Driving through DC would not be an issue.Heading to Michigan. Trip would need to be in Winter...visiting friend in Florida that is seasonal resident.  Since someone indicated most tend to eat in their rooms, I assume a single such as myself would have a table alone in the diner? Typically I enjoy the company of strangers but in the current environment is probably not the best idea even though I 'm not nearly as paranoid about the virus as many others (2 flights, 7 Amtrak overnights and 28 hotel nights since March taking normal precautions as required and no issues at all). 



Date: 11/16/20 04:56
Re: Auto Train Advice
Author: Lackawanna484

Fuel prices vary by state, but we've found that filling up in Florida can save some money.

Posted from Android



Date: 11/16/20 14:10
Re: Auto Train Advice
Author: bigmc83

One thing I recall when I rode (it was a few years ago though) was the breakfast was "continental" style only.  IE: prepackaged muffins, fruits, etc that were still served in the dining car.  I honestly don't recall if that's because we were running late, or that was just the standard breakfast fare on that train for some reason.  The more recent riders can confirm/deny that.  Overall it was a fun trip.

-Sean



Date: 11/16/20 14:12
Re: Auto Train Advice
Author: PRR1361

MD fuel usually about the same as FL away from interstates; PA very much higher. Top off in Sanford is good advice.



Date: 11/16/20 14:31
Re: Auto Train Advice
Author: Lackawanna484

Breakfast has been a piece of fruit, packaged cereal, muffin, fruit yogurt, OJ, etc

I've noticed small changes, like croissant for muffin, now and then.

Posted from Android



Date: 11/16/20 15:51
Re: Auto Train Advice
Author: emd_mrs1

andersonb109 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Thanks to all that responded. Driving through DC
> would not be an issue.Heading to Michigan. Trip
> would need to be in Winter...visiting friend in
> Florida that is seasonal resident.  Since someone
> indicated most tend to eat in their rooms, I
> assume a single such as myself would have a table
> alone in the diner?

My last travels were before the current situation, and the diner crew liked to cram as many people into as few tables as possible. Chances of getting your own table was about zero.

Prior to dinner seatings, the attendants would be called to the diner to pick up meals for those who requested in-room dining or those who were unable to make a trip to the diner. This is probably how the process works now.

Typically I enjoy the company
> of strangers but in the current environment is
> probably not the best idea even though I 'm not
> nearly as paranoid about the virus as many others
> (2 flights, 7 Amtrak overnights and 28 hotel
> nights since March taking normal precautions as
> required and no issues at all). 



Date: 11/17/20 18:33
Re: Auto Train Advice
Author: wilewil

andersonb109 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
 Driving through DC
> would not be an issue.Heading to Michigan.

Lorton is not downtown DC, but it is well within the commuting traffic zone.  There are ways to get from Lorton to I66 west to I81 north to I70 west, without using I395 and the Beltway - check VA  611 (Lorton Road right outside the terminal) to VA 123, to VA 286 (Fairfax County Parkway) for a relatively lighter traffic route. I395 to I495 (beltway) to I270 is the usual route in Google maps etc.  The I66/I81 route is generally quicker when traffic is heavy.  I must admit I don't have any idea what the Covid traffic levels are by any route.

AutoTrain has been great for me, I've used since preAmtrak Orange and Purple.  The meals have always been good enough (with some variance in style like the short lived separate prep and table cars system), though I haven't been aboard since last Christmas time. They used to give you a coffee mug if you were the very last car off, I have 3.  They don't do that anymore. On my last trip I was the third car behind the priority. You never know since the cuts are different at Sanford and Lorton. It's usually less than an hour in any case.  Beware that significantly early arrival may mean waiting longer for the cars, since the unloading crew may arrive after the train.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/17/20 19:07 by wilewil.



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