Shipping a car by train or by truck?

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Shipping a car can be a daunting task, especially for a first time shipper. Here in Corsia Logistics we love cars, trucks and trains. Many of you have seen cargo trains crossing the country and many of the them carry automobiles. You have also seen car carrier trucks on the interstate highways.

Should you ship a car by train or by truck? It is a common question people ask when researching online.

Transporting a car can be done with either a train, a truck, an airplane or a marine vessel. What works for you depends on pick-up and delivery location, whether you are shipping internationally or domestically, on your time frame and budget, and certainly your personal preferences.

Here we will learn when and why you can ship your car by train and certainly why shipping by truck is more popular.

Shipping a car by train

If you want to ship your car by train, there are two things that you should consider beforehand:

  • should you contact the railroad company yourself
  • should you get a management company to arrange the shipping for you

Just like in most other industries, there are carriers and management companies who consult and manage the process. It is the same with the auto transport industry. Customers will find auto transport carriers and auto transport management companies.

Going to the railroad company directly

For instance, Amtrak allows you to ship your car along with your household stuff and you in the auto train. Amtrak trains travel between Washington, DC and Orlando on a daily basis. Their coverage is very limited, mainly to the east coast. On their website you can find out more about prices, sleeping accommodation and more details about shipping.

As you can see there are limitations when it comes to using the Amtrak auto train. The limitations are quite important as they have to do with the route and the personal items you can load. Moreover, you can not choose your own route and your car will not be delivered to your door.

An auto transport management company can help you arrange a pickup of your vehicle with a local carrier that takes your vehicle from your door to the closest rail terminal.

It is very important that your car is in good condition and empty of personal belongings. All anti-theft systems must be deactivated and it must have only ¼ or less of fuel in it, otherwise they might not take it on the train.

Time and price also vary depending on the space availability on the train, geographic location, weather conditions.

When the distance to be traveled is longer than 750 miles, then shipping your car by train might be cheaper than shipping with a trucking company. Still the best thing to do is to collect several auto shipping quotes and then compare the prices.

If you think that this is the way to go, here are a few steps to follow in order to ship your car by train:

  1. Select a reliable, fully insured and reputable auto transport rail company.
  2. Check whether you need to arrange a local truck to pick up your car and take it to the train.
  3. Be sure to arrange the service about 7 to 14 days in advance.
  4. Give the train company up to a month for delivery based on distance.
  5. Choose the type of transportation  – opened or enclosed rail car.
  6. Make sure your vehicle is ready for shipping at the day of pick-up.

Shipping a car by truck

Shipping a car by train is a great way to move your vehicle across the country. However, working with a car shipping company is usually faster and easier.

When shipping a car by train you still first need a car carrier to take the vehicle to the train. Instead of doing two loadings and un-loadings at pick-up and two at delivery, you may as well just do one.

It’s not a secret that America runs on trucks and it is for a reason. Transporting by truck is efficient in terms of money/time ratio, affordable and usually faster than a train. An auto transport trucking company can often arrange a pick-up the same day if there is a truck in your area.

Probably one of the biggest advantages of shipping your car by truck is that it is a door to door delivery service. A car carrier comes to pick-up your car from your home or office and you can receive it at any desired address.

When booking your service make sure the carrier company of choice is licensed and insured. In order to check the licenses of the company you can go to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website and check the auto transport company’s MS and USDOT numbers.

When choosing an auto transport company you often have two options. One is to use a car carrier truck and the other to use a drive-away service. Booking with a spot on a car carrier is the standard and the best option. However, you can also opt for a drive-away service.

Hiring a driver does take some of the burden off your shoulders by reducing the time, stress and sleepless nights on the road. However, the miles are still piling up on your vehicle, which will make it harder to sell in the future. On top of that you have to cover your own insurance and hope that the driver handles your car with caution.

How much does it actually cost to ship a car?

The coat to ship a vehicle depends on a few factors. It is not a one sided, easy to calculate price. Yet there is a difference when it comes to shipping by train and by car carrier.

Booking your shipment with Amtrack, for example, will be cheaper than booking with a car carrier shipping company. The reason is that the train moves along specified route and can carry hundreds of vehicles at once. A car carrier can carry up to 10 vehicles and can deliver door-to-door. This makes a huge difference in the price.

For more information on what determines the price of shipping a vehicle by truck, take a look at our cost to ship a car guide. To be sure you are receiving a realistic and fair price, request several auto transport quotes from different companies and compare the rates. This way you will be able to see the spectrum of prices and position something in the middle.

To learn more about how auto transport works and why the best is to ship a car with a auto transport company, browse our websites and review our guides. Learn more about all modes of car transportato such as open and enclosed carriers and shipping a car by airplane. Visti our questions section to find answers to common questions or just call us to discuss your options and oreferences. Thank you.

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About the Author:

Teodora Georgieva - a business and economics graduate with a curious glitch. Don't be fooled! As boring and ordinary the disciplines she studied may look, she is anything but. Born curious and creative, she always thought that there is more to life than what convention demands, which is why she started pursuing photography (in and out of her studies), food-ism and naturalism, yoga and the best of all - writing. Writing can elevate you and it can also bring you down, just like life does, which is why she enjoys it - it's real. You can follow her on her life's endeavors on her instagram profile or her flickr page.
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