Greetings everyone. I have taken the auto train round trip twice recently, but otherwise have not traveled any long distance trains. I have a business trip coming up that is bringing me to central Florida, followed immediately by DC suburbs. I'm coming from CT.
I have booked the Auto Train for this trip even though I don't necessarily need my car this time. I am second guessing whether I should change to Silver and eliminate the 5 hour ride to Virginia. I booked AT because my perception is that compared to the Silver services that make many stops, the Auto Train runs direct and is less likely to have issues, is a "better" train, is familiar to me since I've already taken it, and in a worst case scenario (I'm in Florida and trains aren't running) I can just drive back. Plus, it's easier to pack for this 10 day trip.
That being said, the drive to Lorton is stressful and it would be much nicer to leave from NYC. And it's somewhat less expensive (sleepers in all cases). Cons are I would need to add a Regional/Acela leg to get back from DC, travel "lighter" and pack more strategically. Plus, my timing from Florida to DC has very little cushion, meaning, I really would need the Meteor to be on time and it seems it's less likely to be on time than AT. And then there's a cab/Uber/rental car needed, etc.
What would you experienced east coast train fans do?