Auto Train (Lorton to Sanford)
October 4-5, 2009
I arrived at the Lorton train station a little before 11:00 Am on a Sunday. I had to wait for a short period of time before they allowed cars to enter the station. I had originally made reservations to travel October 29 but circumstances required that I travel at an earlier date. I was forced to reserve a coach seat but while I was sitting in line I had the wild idea of calling Amtrak's 800 number and asking if they had any upgrades. I was told the only accommodation available was a family bedroom, which was sufficient for 4 people.
I made the reservation anyway since I am very uncomfortable sitting up and trying to sleep. I had another wild idea to ask at the counter if they had a downgrade and much to my surprise I was allowed to downgrade to to a roomette with no charge for changing my reservation so I was a happy camper, er, train traveler.
The train departed about 10 minutes early. I have traveled often by train and several times on the auto train. I have always enjoyed the food. I ordered the strip steak medium but when it came it was raw in the middle. The person seated next to me sent hers back to cook some more but I ate mine as it was.
Everyone at Amtrak I talked to was helpful, friendly, and seemed to embody service. Train travel by first class can be expensive but if the service is provided I don't mind. The food car attendants and the sleeper car attendant were all very helpful and friendly.
We arrived at Sanford about 15 minutes early on Monday morning and had to wait outside the station for about 25 minutes before being allowed to pull in. My past trips on this train had it arriving at 8:30 AM but now I see the schedule has been changed to 9:29 AM which allows for freight traffic problems enroute. After we arrived we were held on the car longer than I thought we should but we were still off the train by about 8:35.
It took about 40 minutes before my car was brought off the car carriers and I was on my way by 9:30 AM. All in all, it really beats driving Interstate 95.