WASHINGTON – Amtrak canceled operation of its Auto Train after cracks in auto carrier underframes were discovered. The daily Auto Train carries passengers and their automobiles between Lorton, Va. and Sanford, Fla.
After the decision to cancel the train, Amtrak personnel offered Auto Train passengers the option of remaining on the trains they had boarded for meal service and use of the accommodations they had reserved, without charge. Full ticket refunds were also offered. Amtrak also provided hotel vouchers to those passengers who chose to rest over night before driving their cars to their destinations.
The popular Auto Train, which carries passengers and their automobiles between the Washington, DC area and the Orlando, Fla. region are also canceled Nov. 19-21, while repairs are made. The repairs involve welding steel plates to the cracked area of the frames. Amtrak has called customers with Auto Train reservations to inform them of the cancellations.
Cracks in the auto carrier frames were discovered late Tuesday, Nov. 18, as Amtrak car inspectors made an in-depth inspection of the area above the wheel assembly of one of the cars that was not in service. This discovery led to inspections of other cars, revealing other cracks, which drove the immediate decision to cancel the trains until repairs could be made.
To make repairs and restore service as quickly as possible, Amtrak has dispatched materials from Indiana and Delaware and deployed welders to join forces with personnel at the Auto Train terminals in Virginia and Florida. The repairs are expected to start today and will continue around the clock until the cars are fixed.
Amtrak owns 80 of the two-year-old auto carriers, which have logged approximately 500,000 miles each since they were built in 2006. All cars require some level of repair, but only approximately 50 auto carriers are needed to restore service.
An announcement of service restoration will be made as soon as a full assessment of needed repairs is made.