Railroading North America

December 26, 2011

Auto Train essentials == Menu, Playgrounds & Stations in Lorton VA & Sanford FL

Amtrak operates a train for you, and your vehicle, nightly connecting Washington, DC (at Lorton VA off the I-95) and Orlando, Florida (at Sanford, FL off Toll Road 417 or I-4).

The rules are simple: No car, no trip for you. Passengers cannot travel on the train without taking their car.
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CLICK to ENLARGE // Lorton, Virginia is just south of Washington, DC on I-95.


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CLICK to ENLARGE // Sanford, Florida, is just north of Orlando, off I-4, Exit 101C. Toll Road 417 also services Amtrak bringing traffic up from the east side.


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CLICK to ENLARGE // Sanford, Florida. Unlike the Lorton, Virginia, station which is adjacent to an Interstate, the Sanford, Florida, Auto Train station is a mile or two east of I-4, and then down a small road.

SANFORD / LORTON // The menu is the same whether traveling north or south (although movies on board are different). Meals are free and are included in the price of your ticket.


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SANFORD / besides plenty of chairs and free baggage carts, this brand new station includes tables beside a snack bar that includes electricity for internet users. Internet is available free at both Sanford and Lorton.


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SANFORD / The station in Sanford, FL, like the one of Lorton, VA, is new, bright and well-designed.


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SANFORD / Drop off you car, collect your luggage and head inside. Amtrak personnel are everywhere to point you in the right directions. The train is steps away from the dropoff area, directly through the station. It is waiting.


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SANFORD / Like Lorton there are several drop off (and pick up lanes) which are covered in case of rain. Drop off and pickup is in the same place depending on whether you are departing, or arriving.


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SANFORD / You first pass through a gate where your reservation is checked and you are given your ticket and assigned a number which will be magnetically attached to the side of your car. Then you will pull forward to the drop off area. As you unload your luggage onto free carts, your car will be videotaped and any bumps or scrapes will be noted. Next, with your luggage, go inside to the ticket counter, select your preferred hour to have dinner ( 5pm, 7pm and sometimes 9 pm) and wait until it is time to board the train. Usually boarding takes place at 2:30 pm and last call to board is about 3:10 pm to 3:15 pm. The train is scheduled to depart at 4 pm, but often leaves early if loading of cars is done and those cars have been attached to the rear of the train.


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LORTON VA / Although you'll probably not see it if you are arriving, there is a playground and a pleasant park in front of the station.


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LORTON / Amtrak has in recent years rebuilt both of the Auto Train stations (there are only two). They are now bright, clean and have free internet available.


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LORTON / The pickup and drop off area. After the train arrives, passengers move into the station and wait for their automobiles to be unloaded. As each car is unloaded, its number is called and the car stops beside the station door in one of several lanes. Occasionally passengers fail to immediately claim their cars causing a pileup. This makes other passengers unhappy and irritates Amtrak personnel a lot.


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LORTON VA / AutoTrain passegers first stop at this guard gate where a number is assigned to their car and where they pick up their ticket. There are no "drive-ins" at AutoTrain. Passengers must have a reservation, and they must have a car or motocycle. No one can travel on the train unless accompanied by a vehicle.

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