You Can Own a Private Rail Car and Hook It Up to an Amtrak Train

published Nov 10, 2022
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Are private rail cars the new private jet? For some lucky travelers, it looks that way. 

You hear about it endlessly if someone on Instagram takes a private jet. But it seems a new kind of luxury transportation is gaining momentum. Described as “An Extraordinary Way to See North America,” Amtrak is willing to hook up your privately-owned rail car attached to their trains in specific locations across the country. 

While it’s unclear how long the option has been available, many first became aware of it last week when a tweet from Sheel Mohnot went viral. 

“TIL you can own your own private rail car and attach it to an Amtrak train. Only ~100 private cars in operation in the U.S., they are extremely expensive (~$300k+) plus Amtrak charges ~$5/mile. But there are 100 rich train lovers out there!” Mohnot wrote. 

Amtrak’s website includes a page about privately-held rail cars, which details the services they provide when you hitch your rail car to theirs.

“We also provide many services, including 480cv standby power, water, ice, septic, car wash, parking, and switch,” the Amtrak page reads.

In addition to, well, owning your own rail car, the user pays an annual registration fee of $497, as well as a mileage rate that’s based on the number of cars on that specific train.  According to their rate addendum dated October 15, 2022, the mileage rate is $4.09 per mile. It also costs $3,885 per month to park your rail car, and there are several other additional fees ranging from car washing and waste tank service. Apartment Therapy reached out to Amtrak regarding the $300,000 price tag of private cars but did not receive an answer to that specific question.

During the height of the pandemic, the private rail car trend was heralded as “the ultimate social distancing escape.” After all, you could see the stunning landscape of the country from the windows of your luxury rail car, which is far more enjoyable than sitting in the middle seat on a flight. However, it seems that the mileage rate, which was $3.74 back in 2020, has gone up a bit. Apparently, inflation has come for the private rail car industry, too.

By the way, if you happen to be unfamiliar with the fact that there are people out there who own their own rail car, it turns out that there are plenty of them. There’s even an American Association of Private Rail Car Owners (AAPRCO), through which you can charter your own rail car. The group describes its mission as to “promote the operation, ownership, and enjoyment of the private passenger railcar.” 

Of course, if you want to take your rail trip outside the United States, there are plenty of options. In fact, luxury sleeper cars are available all over the world, heading through Transylvania, Australia, and everywhere in between. For anyone who’s eager to ditch the not-so-luxe experience of going through airport security, train travel sounds like a perfect fit.