Amtrak's auto train is the only one of its kind in the United States. It takes passengers and their vehicles from Lorton, Virginia to Sanford, Florida in one 16-hour overnight trip. This time of year, as the temperatures drop, it's an especially popular way for snowbirds to travel to the sunshine state. So come along as FYI reporter Stephanie Hart climbs aboard to ride the rails with the auto train.

Stephanie Hart: “It’s not the destination, it's the journey.” Or so they say. Well, we’re about to find out.

Our MotorWeek Long-term Mitsubishi Outlander phev was loaded onto the auto train bound for Florida.

Fully loaded, Amtrak’s daily auto train can carry about 600 passengers and 300 vehicles.

Larry Chestler: If you add up all of those people using the auto train instead of driving along I-95 each year, we are saving over 95 million miles of roadtrips up and down the east coast, so that’s a tremendous reduction in congestion and also about an 11-percent reduction in CO2.

Stephanie Hart: So, helping the environment while avoiding traffic tie-ups. But at what cost to you? About $700.00 for one roundtrip coach ticket, including a vehicle. A roundtrip sleeper car ticket, including a vehicle, starts at about $1,300.00

Diane Mezzanotte: I’ve just always loved riding on the train. There is a rhythm to it. You get to look out the window and you see parts of the country you don’t see when you’re on the highways. I also like eating in the dining car and meeting other people.

Stephanie Hart: Working up an appetite is pretty easy. This trip is about 16 hours, so be sure to bring a lot of things to keep you busy. Thankfully, there’s free wifi on the train so you can even stream movies.  

One of the best parts about the ride for many passengers is this dining car. Folks get a choice of four entrees, a small side salad and a dinner roll. Plus there’s even dessert.

I quickly found out the coach seats recline surprisingly well, and there’s a lot of leg room. Once day turns into night, these rooms transform into bedrooms. The two lounge chairs fold down and come together. You do need a little manpower but you get the idea. And then there is another bed so essentially you have a bunk bed situation going on here. You can fit two adults in this room.  Granted, it is pretty cramped, but practical. There’s a mattress that makes it more comfortable when you’re sleeping. They have blankets. They have pillows. They have sheets. Pretty much everything you need for a comfortable night’s sleep. It’s not hard to set up, but a train attendant will do it for you if you can’t do it yourself.

It’s important to note: you must buy the premium superliner bedroom in order to have your own bathroom and shower. Otherwise, there are restrooms and showers throughout the train.

Overnight expect it to be bumpy and noisy. Bring ear plugs. And don’t over pack. Leave as much as you can in your car.

In the morning, we woke up in the sunshine state, to nature at its finest. The water scenes were especially fantastic! After only a short wait for our car to be unloaded in Sanford, we were back in our Outlander and headed for the beach! Many thanks to all on board the Amtrak auto train.