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Not to be confused with Car shuttle train.
A MotoRail vehicle at the front of the New South Wales Public Transport Commission's Gold Coast Motorail Express

A Motorail train or accompanied car train (ACT) is a passenger train on which passengers can take their car or automobile along with them on their journey. Passengers are carried in normal passenger carriages or in sleeping carriages on longer journeys, while the cars are loaded into autoracks, car-carriers, or flatcars that normally form part of the same train.

Motorail services are not the same as car shuttle trains or car-carrying train services. The latter usually operate over relatively short distances, on lines passing through a rail tunnel and connecting two places not easily accessible to each other by road. On car shuttle train services, unlike on motorail services, the occupants of the road vehicles being carried on the train usually stay with their vehicle throughout the rail journey.

Examples of Motorail services[edit]


Great Southern Railway provides a Motorail service on their long distance Indian Pacific, The Ghan, and The Overland services.[1][2][3]

Traveltrain in Queensland offer a Motorail service on their Sunlander and Spirit of the Outback trains.[4]

The Victorian Railways once offered Motorail on their Mildura line Vinelander, and Sunraysia and still does offer Motorail on the GSR Overland service.[5] The railways of New South Wales also once offered a motorail service on their long distance lines.


In Austria, several of the regular day and night trains of the Österreichische Bundesbahnen include car-carrier wagons. In English, the service is advertised as "Motorail Trains".[6]


A North American predecessor to the original Auto-Train was a service run by the Canadian National Railway (CN) that allowed passengers to bring their automobiles along on selected passenger trains. This service proved unsuccessful.[citation needed]

The Ontario Northland Railway's former Little Bear mixed cargo-freight train had several flatcars that were used to carry vehicles from Cochrane to Moosonee.


In Chile, EFE (Empresa de los Ferrocarriles del Estado) operates a service called "Autotren"[7] between Santiago and Temuco.

Czech Republic[edit]

Currently, there are two services per day all-year-round to Košice, Slovakia (EuroCity Košičan daytime and Euronight Slovakia overnight) and an additional daily overnight service between Prague and Poprad-Tatry, Slovakia (fastrain Hornád since 1997, now EuroCity Košičan). There used to be a seasonal service between Prague and Split (fasttrain Jadran) which took 24 hours, in seasons 2003–2005 weekly, in seasons 2007–2009 daily.


In Finland, VR (website) has a popular automobile-carrying service on its night trains between the south and the north; the service transports 35,000 automobiles a year. VR recently bought 15 new auto carriers for €8 million. The service operates with trains originating from both Helsinki and Turku first stopping at Tampere; from there they follow the same line to the next stop in Oulu. Thereafter, the line splits with one line going up to Kolari and another line making stops at Rovaniemi and Kemijärvi. These trains also include sleeper cars allowing passengers to sleep well before driving the next morning.[8]


In France, the SNCF's Auto/train service[9] comprises several overnight automobile-carrying trains throughout France. In the past, all of the Auto/trains also carried sleeping cars. Nowadays passengers travel on a separate train to their automobiles. Typically, passengers drop off their car any time during the day and then use a separate train to reach their destination, where they can pick up the car any time the following day.

This service is available between 13 railway stations: the Gare de Bercy in Paris is the main auto-train terminal. There are also terminals in the stations of Avignon (separate station), Biarritz, Bordeaux, Briançon, Brive, Fréjus-St-Raphaël (separate station), Lyon-Perrache, Marseille-Saint-Charles, Nice, Narbonne (separate station), Toulon, and Toulouse.[10] The automobiles are carried in open railcars. Other services are offered to the Auto Train service : a jockey to pick your car up at home, complementary insurances, free bus to leave the arrival station (Bercy, Avignon, Fréjus...), free parking... Since 2012, connections between other cities than Paris have been created, for instance, Bordeaux-Biarritz or Bordeaux-Nice. But to have a reservation for such journey, you'll have to call +333635 and say "Auto Train", because these reservations are made one by one given the wishes of each customer.

Motorail, railway station Neu-Isenburg, Germany, 2011.


In Germany, DB AutoZug[11] has services from sixteen stations to cities in France, Italy and Austria. These are very popular, with 200,000 automobiles transported yearly and half a million passengers. In 2005, DB AutoZug celebrated 75 years of automobile-and-person-carrying trains. Austrian railway ÖBB runs a daily operated EuroNight overnight motorail train from Vienna to Hamburg and will introduce a new daily operated service from Vienna to Dusseldorf in December 2014 as a replacement for Dusseldorf to Innsbruck and Villach services being withdrawn by DB AutoZug.

The operator of motorail services in Germany Deutsche Bahn announced the withdrawal of all motorail trains by December 2017 as these trains are not profitable.[12] Deutsche Bahn is now testing a new concept of transporting passenger's vehicles called "Auto+Zug". On the former classical operated national lines Berlin/Düsseldorf - Munich the cars and motocycles are now transported on lorries by DB Schenker, whereas the passengers travel in normal long-distance or overnight services in First Class and pick up their vehicles at the destination. All international services will be withdrawn in December 2014, in the timetable period of 2015 there are only the national Hamburg-Munich (part of the DB City Night Line network) and Hamburg-Lörrach services left. [13]


In Italy, Trenitalia operated national Motorail services, advertised as “Auto e moto al seguito”. As of 12th December 2011, all of these services have been withdrawn.[14] After the withdrawal of motorail services by state-owned Trenitalia the private-owned railway company Arenaways started overnight motorail trains running from Torino in the north of Italy to Reggio Calabria and Bari in the south. Talgo train coaches from RENFE group in Spain were used for the services. [15] After the bankrupty of Arenaways due to massively manipulated rules by state-owned Trenitalia to exclude the competitor from the market, all services were withdrawn. [16]

Today, two international Motorail services operated by state-owned Austrian railway ÖBB connect Verona and Livorno with the Austrian capital of Vienna.[17]


A Japanese "car train" in Nagoya in 1988.

Several overnight "car train" (カートレイン) services were operated by the Japanese National Railways and its successor JR Group between 1985 and 1999. The first such service operated between Shiodome Freight Terminal in Tokyo and Higashi-Kokura Freight Terminal in northern Kyushu. At various times during the 1990s, similar services were operated between Nagoya and Kyushu, between Tokyo and Hokkaido through the Seikan Tunnel, and within Hokkaido.

The freight terminal at Ebisu Station was used as a terminal for car train services prior to its closure for redevelopment as the Ebisu Garden Place complex, at which point such services were moved to Hamamatsucho Station.

There were a number of problems with these services which contributed to their eventual cancellation, including fairly severe size restrictions on the vehicles that could be transported, lack of on-board dining facilities, revenue sharing issues between regional operating companies following the privatization of JR, and competition with both long-distance car ferries and combination air/rental car travel products.


The AutoSlaapTrein service runs in the summer months from 's-Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch) in the Netherlands to Koper in Slovenia, to Alessandria and Livorno in Italy, and Frejus and Avignon in the South of France.


In the early 1980s PKP offered motorail services between the following stations: Szczecin Dąbie, Trzebiatów, Gdynia Główna, Warszawa Główna, Poznań Główny, Katowice, Kraków Główny, and Zakopane. Services ran overnight and passengers were carried in sleeping cars and couchettes.

By the end of the 1990s PKP operated only a single motorail service on overnight trains between Gdynia and Zakopane. The service never gained essential popularity and ultimately was withdrawn in 2004. Among many factors which led to closure of this service, it was criticised for being too cumbersome: while in Zakopane the passengers' cars were available almost immediately, it took nearly two hours to load or unload cars in Gdynia.


In Switzerland, several car shuttle trains run, called Autoverlad; no motorail services exist.


The only motorail train of Turkey is running between Villach/Austria and Edirne/Turkey mainly for the Turkish workers abroad, passing through Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria. The whole journey completes 1400 km in 30 hours. The train is operated by Optima Tours.[18]

United Kingdom[edit]

Further information: Motorail (British Rail)

British Rail operated Motorail services from 1955 serving various destination, but had discontinued them by the time the state-owned body was wound-up in the mid 1990s. Privatised train operator First Great Western went on to revive the service between London and Penzance in 1998, operating it until September 2005.

United States[edit]

Main article: Auto Train

Amtrak operates their dedicated Auto Train between Lorton, Virginia (near Washington, D.C.) and Sanford, Florida (near Orlando), a distance of 855 miles (1,376 km).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Indian Pacific Motorail". Archived from the original on 2008-07-19. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  2. ^ "The Ghan Motorail". Archived from the original on 2008-03-28. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  3. ^ "The Overland Motorail". Archived from the original on 2008-07-20. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  4. ^ "Australian Adventures with Rail - Traveltrain Holidays - Motorail - Overview". Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  5. ^ "AX automobile transport". Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  6. ^ Motorail Trains
  7. ^ website
  8. ^
  9. ^ website
  10. ^ (French)Guide auto-train 2008
  11. ^ website
  12. ^ "DB zieht die Notbremse: Das Aus für den Autoreisezug" (in German). Retrieved 2014-10-29. 
  13. ^ >DB Autozug connections in Winter 2014/2015
  14. ^ (Italian)abolition of national motorail services in Italy
  15. ^ "RENFE rents out train units for train company in Italy" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2014-10-29. 
  16. ^ "Private-owned railway company in Italy is on sale" (in German). Retrieved 2014-10-29. 
  17. ^ (German)ÖBB's website with current operated Motorail services
  18. ^ Uysal, Onur. "The Motorail Trains Connecting Europe to Turkey", Rail Turkey, 20 February 2014

External links[edit]