Halve Your Shipping Costs With Amtrak

Express shipping from Amtrak is a cost-efficient way to ship packages between cities, sometimes costing half the price of UPS or FedEx.

Here's how it works: you drop your package off at a participating station, Amtrak ships it off, and the recipient picks it up in the destination city.

Because Amtrak always has to futz something up, express shipping isn't offered out of Penn Station, but New Yorkers can still receive packages "(or human remains.)"

Save With Dave: Amtrak Shipping [CBS 13]
Amtrak Express Shipping [Amtrak]
(Photo: reivax)

Comments

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  1. Angryrider says:

    Sounds like an old timey way of sending packages…

  2. pigeonpenelope says:

    actually that sounds smart and energy efficient.

  3. humphrmi says:

    Wow, they even take human remains?

    Time to clean out my basement…

  4. MontanaJen says:

    The closest Amtrak station around here is about 6 hours north of here – but a great alternative to FedEx, UPS, USPS, and Amtrak is the Grayhound bus system.

    We often use it to ship really huge boxes that would cost over a hundred to ‘ship’ in the traditional way.

  5. homerjay says:

    My brother has shipped BIG things (like car fenders) via Greyhound for really cheap. You have to pick-up and drop-off at Grayhound locations but its a huge savings over freight and it gets there within a couple days.

  6. bohemian says:

    Grayhound is dirt cheap for big things. But now we don’t have Grayhound service either.

  7. Bourque77 says:

    As a general rule if its dirt cheap, theres a reason. I had someone send me something through greyhound and it was banged up when it got here. Never had any issues with fedex ups or god forbid the usps.

  8. quarterempty says:

    when I moved across the country from Portland, OR to NYC a couple of years ago, I shipped 11 boxes with amtrak, it was by far the cheapest way to ship that much that far (ended up costing about 50 cents a pound). There are a couple of things to keep in mind though:
    1. if you have anything valuable, pack it well. boxes do get pretty banged up, and label the outside of the box with your info and the destination too.
    2. there are certain stations and lines that they do not deliver to (you cannot ship to detroit, but you can ship to toledo) they wouldn’t deliver my boxes to me in brooklyn, but it was easy enough to pick them up in newark (and stop at ikea on the way back).
    3. as you are shipping with what is nominally a government agency, it is nearly impossible to speak on the phone with someone at amtrak HQ. If you have questions, i strongly recommend calling the station directly, they are the ones who will be actually be handling your packages.
    4. they have some restrictions, even though everything just goes on a pallet, no individual boxes could be over 50 pounds. again, it’s pointless to ask questions of anyone but the old guy at the loading dock at your train station, because only he will decide what gets on the train.

  9. Umisaurus says:

    Amtrak is a great way to ship things over long distances. When my now-husband moved to Olympia from NYC, he shipped all of his large items through Amtrak. I can’t remember exactly how long it took, but everything came back unbruised. The only catch was that we had to drive up to Seattle to pick it up, since they don’t unload freight at the Oly/Lacey station.

    If you’ve got a lot of books, DVDs, etc. I’d stick with USPS Media Mail.

  10. davidfbecker says:

    @ humphrmi at 01:32 PM
    Wow, they even take human remains?

    Time to clean out my basement…

    More like time to clean out my coincidentally human-sized freezer…

  11. Mr. Damage says:

    You get what you pay for.

    Or, in this case, you have to haul the cargo to the station yourself and someone has to pick it up from the station themselves. Depending on where your recipient is, it could end up costing more (figure in your time and gas used) since the service area is strictly limited to what AMTRAK covers.

    Hey, if you have the money, you can move just about anything.

  12. richcreamerybutter says:

    @Damage: I initially moved across the country years ago by shipping my boxes via Amtrak and pickup was kind of a pain in the ass…but still worth it. It’s nice to see this is still an option.

  13. scoobydoo says:

    I wouldn’t even trust shipping myself with Amtrak, let alone anything valuable.

  14. DeltaPurser says:

    Sure, you can buy flip-flops at the supermarket, but that doesn’t make them a shoe store, now does it?! Amtrak should stick with what they do best and let UPS/FedEx/DHL do what they do best.

  15. @DeltaPurser: You fail to realize they’ve always done this, just as Greyhound has. It’s not a new offer by any means.

  16. DadCooks says:

    Bring back the original REA (Railway Express Agency)!

    For you young folks, here is a link to the REA on Wikipedia®: [en.wikipedia.org]

  17. lostsynapse says:

    @davidfbecker: f=”#c5393212″>davidfbecker: Good god man, what is point of knocking someone off if you don’t process it into neat little packages. That way your “human sized refrigerator” can store your eating meats too.

  18. humphrmi says:

    @DadCooks: YEAH! Let’s let American Express deliver our packages again!

  19. slowshuffle says:

    when i moved to seattle from nj we shipped all our stuff with amtrak. the service was amazing. everything arrived in 4 days and nothing broke. they put all your boxes on a pallet and saran wrap them together, so nothing gets thrown around. all the employees were super nice too! i would highly recommend using them..

  20. Silversmok3 says:

    Amtrak? Oh dear me…..
    If you’d trust a government managed, underfunded and understaffed rail service with your valuables, more power to you.

    When your package dissapears in transit, just dont email consumerist.

  21. @Silversmok3: Erm… Isn’t the USPS g’vt managed, too?

  22. Audiyoda says:

    Interesting there’s no mention of USPS flat-rate service. Up to 70lbs for $8.95. Of course the example was 100lbs – but honestly how many of us are shipping 100lbs items every day?

  23. smackswell says:

    It’s the cheapest way to move a bicycle across the country, trust me. Done it repeatedly and had no problems whatsoever.

  24. groverexploder says:

    @Silversmok3: Seriously. I saw no mention whatsoever of insurance. It’s difficult enough to trust the major carriers as it is!

  25. lemur says:

    @Silversmok3: Like there are never stories of packages lost or damaged by FedEx, UPS or USPS on Consumerist. If you have hard data that shows Amtrak is less reliable than these three, please share with us. Otherwise…

  26. costanza007 says:

    its cheap because you already subsidize it with your taxes.

  27. goodcow says:

    @Audiyoda: For USPS it has to fit in that small, flat-rate box. Who’s shipping 70 pound items that can fit in that tiny thing?

  28. radio1 says:

    @costanza007:

    This is true. But so is the Federal Highway system that was designed to move large amounts of men, armor pieces, munitions and evacuate people in case of a nuclear confrontation with Soviet Russia.

    Plus the fact, that gas was incredibly cheap. These facts allowed long and short haul highway shipping companies to compete with rail.

    Not that I do not like cheap gas, I do. But I’m just sayin’…

  29. costanza007 says:

    Right, but its much more transparent that you’re paying taxes that fund highways and interstates.

  30. AlexTNOA says:

    Greyhound is a great way to ship packages, as has been mentioned before. Here is the website:

    [www.shipgreyhound.com]

  31. BigElectricCat says:

    @Silversmok3:

    Do you have any personal experience with Amtrak, either as a passenger or as a shipper/receiver?

  32. TheBigLewinski says:

    Is it just my dirty mind or is that guy in picture taking a leak between the trains?

  33. Silversmok3 says:

    @BigElectricCat:
    As a passenger, I have ridden Amtrak 6 times between Chicago and Southern Illinois.

    Of those times, Amtrak was late 4 times, early by 10 minutes once, and on one occasion didn’t even finish the trip due to a breakdown.At least when a car fails you can get out.Picture being in a sealed metal can with no air in 90 degree temps.

    The breakdown added 3 hours to a 5 hour ride.We ended up finishing the trip on hired buses.

    At least if FedEx loses your package, you have a tracking number and shipping insurance. Amtrak has neither.So if Amtrak has trouble transporting people 5 hours in the same state,I wouldn’t trust them with any package of value.

    • thomwithanh says:

      I was nine hours late once on Amtrak – had to spend the night at Penn Station, not fun.

  34. clintcurtis says:

    I’ve ridden Amtrak long distance trains many times. Most of them were on time withing an hour (after 45 hours of travel.) Some were even up to an hour early.
    A year and a half ago at Christmas, my train from Seattle was 5 hours late into Chicago. A big storm on the West Coast dumped heavy snow, which resulted in the cancellation of hundreds of flights.
    My connecting train from Chicago to Pittsburgh had already departed. Amtrak had an army of Customer Service Agents at tables in a big room, ready to meet the passengers.
    We were given two options…1) A motor coach would leave within the hour to take us to our destination, arriving roughly the same time as our train. OR 2) A room overnight at the Hyatt McCormick, $100 per diem, and catch the train the next afternoon to our destination.
    Give me Amtrak any day, versus camping out in an airport. With the amount of money that we, the taxpayer, pay to subsidize the airlines, you would think we would be treated nicer.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Shipping with Greyhound is VERY risky. Some of the employees steal (multiple colleagues have reported this experience). I lost an entire wardrobe, supplied all of the requested receipts by returning to my clothier and received the grand total of $345 after much struggle. Letters from Greyhound were mailed to me with red rubber stamped signatures. The Better Business Bureau had to get involved to get the $345. Total worth of the bag contents was over $5,000 and they set the ceiling for insurance much lower. The insurance coverage policies vary from state to state for the same baggage. Be warned…