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Can You Move by Train? The Surprising Answer (2023 Guide)

Freight train with cargo

Trains are an excellent way to ship your items if you’re planning a long-distance or inter-city move. Moving by train takes away much of the stress of traditional transport options. Also, trains are super quick, so you can move your items in less time and money.

However, moving by train can become overwhelming if you’re unfamiliar with all the requirements and details. The process includes specific rules for fragile items, pets, and electronics. It also involves a storage fee for your luggage if you don’t pick it up within 48 hours of arrival.

Precise planning can make moving by train a breeze. But you can only make a plan when you understand all the ins and outs involved in the process. So, let’s understand everything today!

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How Can You Move by Train?

Moving by train requires you to follow a series of steps. These include:

1. Contact the Train Pickup Service

woman calling someone through mobile phone
Image Credit: Timur Repin, Unsplash

First, you’ll have to call the train service and search around for a train with an affordable freight shipping price. If you’re moving to a small town, you may not find a train that stops at your desired location. In such a situation, choose the one that stops at a nearby city and move your belongings through other transportation means.


2. Categorize Items Not Suitable to Move by Train

packing dishes plate
Image Credit: theshots.co, Shutterstock

The next step is to categorize items that aren’t suitable to move by train because of their fragility, weight, and size. Some of these items include:

  • Electronics, including your TV sets, PCs, game consoles, speakers, etc.
  • Antique items
  • Fragile artwork like paintings
  • Furniture
  • Dishware
  • Pets or other living organisms

If you have an automobile, like a bike or a car, you can also move it by train. It saves you a considerable amount of money compared to transporting it via an auto transport company.


3. Get Moving Supplies

cardboard box and tape with scissors
Image Credit: Karolina Grabowska, Pexels

Now, buy all the moving supplies and boxes to pack your stuff. Make sure you fill every box according to its weight and size limits.


4. Pack the Boxes

moving boxes to a new house
Image Credit: kurhan, Shutterstock

It’s time to pack the boxes. The general weight limit for a moving box is around 50 pounds. Make sure you’re not exceeding the weight in any of the boxes. To keep your items safe and sound, put the heavier items at the bottom and the lighter items on the top.


5. Carry the Boxes to the Train Station

Workers unloading boxes from a moving truck
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Take one or two extra boxes and packing tape when dropping your items at the train station. If the authority tells you that a box is too heavy, you can move a few items to the spare box to balance the weight.

Never load or unload your boxes without the guidance of a train station representative. You’d have to submit a shipping form to unload your luggage at a particular area.


6. Load Your Luggage

train cargo terminal aerial view
Image Credit: Jason Thompson, Unsplash

After having the green signal, you can start loading your boxes. Unfortunately, the train station authority won’t provide loading services, so make sure to bring help along with you.

However, some train shipping services also offer moving insurance. You can opt for this option for your peace of mind. It’s better to consider third-party policies, especially if you have a list of valuable items.


7. Ask Necessary Questions

cargo train in transport
Image Credit: Alex Geerts, Unsplash

Whether you’re moving by train for the first time or the hundredth time, it’s wise to ask all the necessary questions from the authorities. Doing so will keep you updated about your luggage, so you’ll rest assured that it’s safe.

Ask the representative about the estimated departure and arrival time, pickup rules, storage charges, etc. But remember not to become annoying.


8. Pick Your Luggage From the Terminal

train terminal
Image Credit: Roman Fox, Unsplash

Lastly, reach the terminal on time to pick up your luggage. Most train shipping services give a deadline of 48 hours for luggage pickup. If you don’t get your items within this period, you’ll be charged additional storage fees.

Like loading, you’ll also have to do unloading on your own. So, don’t forget to bring the necessary help.

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Are There Any Weight Limits When Moving by Train?

The luggage weight limit in train shipments depends on your train service and ticket type. All train shipment services set weight limits for the moving luggage, typically around 500 pounds.

This figure would be enough if you are a solo mover or have minimal belongings. However, if you have a large family, you may need to divide your luggage into several sets and then ship them individually.

How Many Days Does It Take to Move by Train?

There is no doubt that moving by train is way faster than moving by other transportation options. If you’re moving cross-country, for instance, it will take around 7–10 days to get your belongings moved.

But remember that this duration doesn’t include time spent decluttering, arranging, packing, dropping, labeling, and loading the boxes to the station. Also, it doesn’t include the time required to pick up the luggage from the station and move it to your new home.

If you consider all these factors, the entire process will take many weeks to ship your items to the final destination. But it’s still faster than traditional means.

Can You Move Internationally by Train?

You can move internationally by train until it doesn’t involve crossing the water. So, if you’re planning to move from Canada to the US, trains can be a safe, cost-effective, and quick option to get your items across the border.

train on the railway
Image Credit: Aleksey Shkitenkov, Unsplash

Is It Expensive to Move by Train?

As with all the moving options, the cost of moving by train also depends on the weight and size of your luggage. Before you opt for this option, set a budget in your mind and then search the market accordingly.

If it’s your lucky day, you may find a train shipping service that offers a flat rate for all types of items. But even if you can’t find any such company, you’ll still be making a cost-effective decision since trains consume less fuel than typical moving vehicles.

However, there are trucks involved in moving by train too. You’ll have to rent a truck or U-Haul to carry your boxes to the train station. So, that could be costly. But overall, it’s a safer option since trains have fewer accidents than cars¹.

Moving your car through an auto train will cost anywhere from $500–$600¹ for a medium-sized vehicle. This includes vans, SUVs, trucks, cars, and any auto that is in its original length.

Don’t forget to add your ticket cost to this price, which could be an extra $100–$500, depending on your traveling class. Considering the convenience and comfort of moving by train, you’ll be happy to spend a few more dollars.

Tips to Plan for Moving by Train

Moving by train may seem exciting and fun, but don’t let your emotions overshadow your focus on crucial factors. Here are a few tips to help you map out everything flawlessly before making a decision:

  • Note Down All the Necessary Materials. Take a piece of paper and a pen and list all the necessary materials you’d need to transport your luggage by train. Remember that you’ll be responsible for dropping, loading, and unloading your belongings. So, gather all the supplies, boxes, and packing tape. Also, arrange a vehicle to carry the boxes to the train station and a dolly for loading and unloading.
  • Take Photos of All Your Boxes. When you’re done packing, take photos of all the boxes. This will help you verify that your entire luggage is shipped during the pickup.
  • Label Your Boxes Clearly. Labeling will help you keep track of your items. It is easy to number your boxes and put a code next to them. For example, if a box contains your books, you can write “#1: Bks.”
  • Choose Smaller Boxes. Smaller boxes prevent you from packing unnecessary things and exceeding the weight limit. The smaller the boxes, the more precise you’ll be.
  • Arrange an Alternative Way for Items That Can’t be Shipped by Train. Don’t forget to book or rent a vehicle to ship those items you can’t do with trains.
  • Divide Your Shipment. If you have many items to ship, break up your shipment according to the weight limit. You can inquire about this from your train shipment service. If you didn’t do it beforehand, you can carry extra boxes and packing tape to do that at the train station.
  • Check if You Can Move Large Pallet Shipments by Train. Some train stations may allow you to move large pallet shipments. So, always inquire about it from your train shipment service to benefit from this perk.

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Conclusion

Moving by train is a quick and budget-friendly way to ship your belongings cross-country or internationally. Whether you’re looking to relocate to a new city or just moving your items long distance, train shipment will offer you convenience and comfort.

However, you should take care of a few important things to avoid the hassle. For instance, ask your train shipment service about the items you can’t move by train, weight limits, costs, arrival time, etc. This will keep you updated about the safety and location of your luggage.


Featured Image Credit: Oleksiy Mark, Shutterstock

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