Amtrak celebrates Auto Train’s 25th birthday, has (very limited) fare sale

Ever heard of the Auto Train? Yeah, I didn’t think so – it’s not too well-known outside of railroad and frequent-Amtrak-passenger circles. The Auto Train is actually Amtrak’s most unique long-distance route. For one thing, it doesn’t make any stops between its terminals in Lorton, VA (suburb of Washington, D.C.) and Sanford, FL (suburb of Orlando). It’s solely an overnight trip, meaning that you board in the evening and, if it’s on time, you arrive at your destination in the morning. Both dinner and continental breakfast in the recently-revamped Dining Car are included, no matter what class of service you travel in. And, oh yeah, there’s the small matter of bringing your car with you. That’s right, you get to store your automobile in a special car-carrier rail car and bring it with you, so you can use it on the other end.

It normally runs about $100 per person in off-peak season for coach tickets – plus the $200 vehicle charge. But, to celebrate 25 years of Auto Train service, Amtrak is selling 25% off tickets. Not too bad, eh? Oh yeah… the catches. First of all, your travel must begin on a Tuesday or Wednesday in February 2009. Additionally, you must purchase your tickets on October 25. (That’s on October 25, not “around” or “by” October 25.) And, the sale is on the ($100 per person) rail fare, not the $200 vehicle charge. So you really save about $25 per person. Which isn’t chump change, I’ll admit… if you’re already planning on traveling on a weekday in February and you are going to finalize your travel plans by Saturday.

Ah, well, maybe we’ll just have to wait for the 100-year anniversary and snatch up the discounted tickets then.