Why don't passenger trains carry passenger's vehicles?

I would love to ride my sportbike in the mountains of northern Arkansas, but if I rode it there, I’d be crippled by the time I got there. So I’m wondering, why don’t passenger trains have extra cars to hold some of the passengers’ vehicles? Of course they’d have to pay a little extra for the space. I think my bike would need less space than a passenger (when you divide up the space all passengers use, like eating areas and such) and a car wouldn’t be a whole lot more. It would basically be like a land ferry. So why not?

I believe that some Amtrak routes do carry automobiles.

You can. It can be luggage and in some countries it be be transported with a special “bike ticket” Here’s Amtrack’s guidelines.

Happy Trails!

Now an EV designed to be taken along on the train, that’s pretty cool.

Nothing there about the motorcycle mentioned by the OP though. :wink:

Ah. Sorry. Then he’s stuck with one train route

which does take motorcycles but doesn’t get him from Texas to Arkansas.

Why not? They don’t feel the demand supports more than that route.

Amtrak has 1 train you can put your car on - it goes from the DC area to Orlando. It makes no stops between those 2 stations.

They can do it for one train but not all? I guess east coasters are special. Maybe ol Blue and I can hitch a ride on an 18 wheeler.

I don’t think it’s an issue of geographical discrimination. It’s an issue of how likely any costs incurred by offering such service will be offset by passengers’ actually using the service.

Someone tried, in the 80s, IIRC. It was called Auto-Train. They went bankrupt. Presumably not enough demand. Now, as mentioned, there’s just the one route.

Well, if you’re willing to ride your motorcycle to Europe, things are a little better there…

That one route is the Auto-Train. When the company offering went bankrupt, Amtrak took over the service.

As for why it’s not offered elsewhere, one reason is the height of train tunnels. That’s the reason that the Auto-Train only starts south of Washington, DC.

Another is that the stations have to be designed for it. The infrastructure to load cars on a train takes up a lot of space, and space costs money one way or another. And, of course, the rolling stock must also be designed for it, and that costs money. Amtrak has figured out how to make one high-demand route work, but not more.

Motorcycles would require less space for loading and less dedicated rolling stock per vehicle, but my guess is that demand for trains that can carry motorcycles and only motorcycles is even lower than demand for trains that can carry cars as well.

I’ve never taken it but I believe the Eurotunnel (i.e. chunnel) regularly carries people & their cars. In fact I think that the passengers actually stay in their cars for the whole 30 minute ride!

True, although you can get out of your car and wander up and down the carriage. The same trains also takes motor coaches (buses).

Eurotunnel Website and Picture

I’ve taken the Auto Train from Florida to the D.C. area. They show a film for those interested, have some snacks and a dining car, offer a place that you can use your computers or write. The comfort level for sleeping is about like economy class on an airplance. It takes a long time to unload the cars. You may have to wait an hour in the cold for your car.

I would do it again in a minute.

The trick is to go North in the winter and South in the summer. That way you miss the crowds. I hear that it is sold out during “migration” time.

The loading and unloading of cars from the train takes a good bit of time, and it requires special ramps and a lot of space, at least with the current design of the train auto rack cars. If Mr. Smith gets off at XX station, and he’s the only one, if his car isn’t at the rear of the auto rack, then all other cars that are “in the way” would have to be off loaded first, and then re loaded before the train could continue. If you do this operation too many times, then so much time is wasted that it wouldn’t be worth the effort. This is one reason the current Auto Train has no other stops between Washington and Florida, its end destinations.

I won’t ride the thing across one state and you think I’m going to ride it across the world? (Nevermind getting across the ocean.)

I think this year I’ll do a few modifications to make it more suitable for riding a few hours. I guess I’ll have to rent/borrow a truck and trailer if I want to take it across country. I find it hard to believe there’s not much demand for this. I’ve wanted to do the same thing with my car before and know other people who’d probably do the same. I think more people would take the train instead of flying if they could do this.

I just looked it up and was quite surprised that the UK’s Motorail service only ceased in 2005 after 50 years. What had been a nationwide network was eventually reduced to one route That last service was the one between Penzance (south west tip of Cornwall) and Paddington (London). I live near one of the stations on this line (Newton Abbot) and whilst Motorail facilities are still evident here (there is a ramp leading directly from the car park to Platform 3), any hope of driving a car up there has been long since dashed by the installation of steel railings.

I’m surprised that was ever viable in the UK (aside from the Chunnel, of course), with distances being so much smaller than in the US. It seems to me that the natural way to get your car from one point in the country to another would be to just drive it there.