Auto Train Round Trip
January 26-February 4, 2006
First time on the auto train. Four adults, one in a wheel chair and a mini van on Jan 26,2006, Lorton to Sanford. I was told to bring blankets for the train since only pillows were provided. We had booked the lower reserved coach so my Mom would have easier access to the bathroom,
Arrived Lorton at 1:30pm. Sat in line for 45 minutes. We advised the lot attendant we were traveling with our own wheel chair. When we got to the unloading area it was uneventful and easy to go into the station. There were no seats left so we picked a spot and stood around the wheel chair.
When we checked in we were advised the wheel chair would be boarded early. That did not happen, I guess because we had our own chair. We were caught in the press of folks rushing to board. Not sure what the hurry was since the train was running late and wouldn't leave without us. We had four seats across in the front of the car. This gave us extra space in front of our seats to stow the chair and blankets. Sadly we did not get foot rests.
The attendant offered to bring us our meals so we could eat together, the dining car is located on the 2nd level. That was very much appreciated. The meal was good and the service was fun. Our 'car mates' thought it was nice Amtrak would serve Mom's dinner.
The night was pure misery. The car was HOT with no circulating air. No arm rests on the seats and no foot rest. The seats did semi recline with a leg support but it was not long enough to make our legs comfortable.
We arrived in Sanford late but that was not a problem for us. As we were waiting for the mini van I immediately upgraded our return trip to sleeper cars. We got directions for our final destination at the station and they were fine.
Our return trip was on Feb 4, 2006. Arrived at 1:30 and used the Amtrak wheel chair. This made a big difference in getting help. Check in was easy and we were seated in the handicap area. The train was running on time and we boarded @ 2:30. An attendant took us to our car and Mike took over. Mike was our sleeper attendant and he was wonderful. Helped Mom up the steps to the 2nd level, opened the 'wall' between our compartments to make a suite.
The return trip was very nice and worth the upgrade. I enjoyed the trip enough to book a round trip in May. This is my first post, I hope I have followed procedure and given you information that will be helpful in trip planning.
A few negatives - the coach car was very HOT, the lounge car lower level is the smoking area and the upper level is non-smoking but it still has a very heavy smell of cigarettes. The highlights - clean restrooms and cars, very friendly attendants.