AutoTrain Departure from Florida
Sanford Travel Blog› entry 5 of 6 › view all entries
Following a trip to DisneyWorld, we had decided to try taking AutoTrain on the return to Virginia rather than drive I-95. The service enables rail passengers to take their vehicles along with them, as the name implies. AutoTrain has been in operation since the 1970s, first under a private operator and since 1984 as a unit of Amtrak. Passengers must have a motor vehicle (car, minivan, motorcycle) with them to ride this train. (Amtrak also operates two conventional passenger trains between cities in the Northeast and points in Florida.)
We arrived at the Sanford terminal before 1:00 p.
The train left right on time at 4:00 p.
We passed Jacksonville, Florida, about dinnertime and made our way to the dining car. At bit later at Folkston, Georgia, I noted the official train-watching platform. The railway line here is known as the "Folkston Funnel" as all north-south rail traffic along the Eastern seaboard between Florida and points in the Northeast passes this spot. Railway enthusiasts gather here for photography and train watching. (The observation platform was featured on a segment of the CBS Sunday Morning program.)
There are no intermediate passenger station stops between the Sanford and Lorton, Virginia, end points. The train makes a technical stop in Florence, SC, in the middle of the night for a crew change and servicing. I was awake for this, of course. Amid the activity, a freight train silently passed us in the darkness.