Shipping Vehicles Across Country by Train

When you’re moving, you have quite a few options of getting your vehicle from point A to point B. While the most obvious choice is to drive it yourself, a lot of times this option can prove to have more expenses and downsides than anticipated. Thankfully, there are other methods to transport your car across the country. Transporting a vehicle across country by train has become an increasingly popular choice among movers. This can be an effective option as long as you’re able to drop off your car at the departure location and pick it up from the delivery station. Also, door to door is often available for transport by train however, it can be rather costly.

To help you better understand what mode of vehicle transport is best for your move, we’ve outlined all the details involved in shipping vehicles across the country by train. We’ll go over why this method of transport may be worth considering, what you can expect to spend as well as some general tips to ensure that the process is as smooth as possible.

How ship a car by train?

Car transport by rail is relatively similar to transporting your car across the country on a truck, but in some cases it’s actually cheaper. While not the most common auto transport option, shipping a vehicle by train is growing in popularity as more train lines are offering vehicle shipping along with their services.

One of the most desirable reasons to choose this method of auto transport is because it allows you to load your car up with moving boxes or other personal items prior to being loaded onto the train. Since this is not typically allowed with shipping your car by truck, it gives you the opportunity to possibly save money on the shipping costs of your belongings. It may even spare you the expense of hiring movers or renting a moving truck, provided you don’t need to ship any furniture or other large items that will not fit into a vehicle.

What are the downsides to transporting a car by rail?

The main downside to shipping a vehicle by rail is flexibility. You are limited in the pick up and drop off location options as they are only at the rail stations along the line. Also, shipping a car by train generally takes longer than shipping by truck.

Depending on the distance or if you are shipping out of the country, it can take two weeks or more for the delivery of your car by train. This is mostly due to the fact that rail transporters wait to fill up all the available spots on the train before departing. As opposed to only taking a few days by truck, by rail you’ll likely have to wait several weeks for your vehicle to arrive to its final destination.

How much does it cost to ship a vehicle by train?

In general, shipping a vehicle by train can be less expensive than shipping by truck because they require multiple cars to be shipped at a time. Also, the relative amount of fuel that trains require to run is much less. While we still recommend doing your research to receive an accurate quote, according to CostHelper, you can expect to spend around $600 to $1,000 for coast to coast transport of a sedan and $800 to $1,070 for an SUV, pick-up truck, or small van.

However, the total cost that you will pay for rail transport of your vehicle will depend on the following:

  • The particular service or rail line that you choose to ship your vehicle
  • The total distance that your car will travel to reach its final destination
  • Whether you choose to transport your car in a closed or open container
  • Whether or not your current location or the destination location has rail terminals in close proximity

One other cost factor to consider is whether or not you’d like to opt for door to door services. Some rail shippers offer this option for a rather considerable additional fee. If you purchase door to door services, the rail shipper will also provide the transport of your vehicle to and from the rail terminal and your home. In this case, you will not ever have to drop off or pick up your car from the train terminal. However, keep in mind that some rail shippers do not offer this service. You may have to arrange it yourself by hiring a third-party professional auto shipping company.

Regardless, when searching for rail shipping or general auto shipping companies, make sure that you’re getting the best deal by gathering quotes from at least three companies.

Open vs. Enclosed Rail Shipping

Similar to when you ship a vehicle by truck, you’ll have the option of shipping your car in an open or closed container. Open rail transport will always be the most cost-effective option, but your car will be exposed to the elements during its journey, including possible severe weather. Though it’s incredibly rare, your vehicle is susceptible to damage when you use open container shipping. Aside from needing a good wash to remove any bugs or debris, you should have very few issues with this option.

On the other hand, enclosed rail transport will be a more expensive option, but you’ll have the peace of mind and assurance knowing that car will be delivered exactly how it was when it was loaded on the train. For most movers, having their vehicle enclosed isn’t a major concern. However, if you want to ship an exotic, antique, rare, valuable, or any vehicle that needs an extra level of protection, consider going with enclosed container shipping.

How do I get my vehicle ready for rail transport?

When shipping a car by train, it’s essential that you take all the proper steps to prepare it for its journey. At Ship Vehicles, we’ll help walk you through all the information that you should know about how to prep your vehicle for train travel. However, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Remove any valuables. Like previously mentioned, you may have chosen rail transport to have the ability to ship your belongings in your car. However, do not place anything in the vehicle that you don’t want to risk losing.
  • Make sure your car is in good condition. Have the vehicle’s battery, tires and oil checked prior to travel so that it can be driven off the lot when it arrives at the end terminal.
  • Document any existing damage. If you’ve chosen open container transport, some light damage is possible. You will have the rail shipping provider’s liability outlined to you in advance and this will include any claims that you are entitled to make after delivery. For safety, take plenty of photos of your car’s current condition before it is placed onto the rail in case you need to provide proof that the damage didn’t exist before.

Whether you require assistance with vehicle shipping by truck or by train, look no further than Ship Vehicles. Fill out our online quote request form or give one of our auto transport experts a call today for your no obligation car shipping quote. Our live representatives are always available to give you the rundown on shipping a vehicle by train and answer any questions you may have!