Auto Train Comments
Two Auto Trains depart each day, one heading north from Sanford, FL, about 30 miles north of Orlando and the other heading south from Lorton, VA, about 30 miles south of Washington, DC. Both are scheduled to leave at 4 PM with arrival the next morning at 8:30 AM. The trip covers 900 miles.
Although there was a fatal crash on the northbound train about two weeks before, the service appeared to be perfectly normal. The train left Sanford on time and proceeded north. During the trip, announcements are made about points of interest.
Dinner is served in a dining car with tablecloths and flowers. Dinner is included for passengers who have purchased bedroom accommodations, which a large portion of the passengers do. Dinner is served at one of three seatings. The population tends to be elderly, many of whom seemed to be returning from a winter in Florida. A large number of passengers had taken the train several times.
A movie is shown in the lounge/bar car after dinner.
The bedroom compartments consist of two large facing seats (similar in size to first class airline seats) with a closing glass door from the corridor. This compartment can be used by passengers as a sitting room during the day. At night, a porter converts the two seats to a bed with sheets and blankets. If two persons occupy the compartment, another bunk bed pulls down from the wall. Passengers seemed in agreement that the compartments are fine for one person but tight for two.
Although the train left on time in Sanford, it arrived about an hour late in Lorton. Cars are released in random order and it can take anywhere from five minutes to two hours to get one's car.
Overall, the experience was pleasant for an overnight trip and quite handy if it meets one's travel requirements.
Back to Itinerary Page