I was living in Redding, California but I had somethings that I needed from home in Kansas City. How would I get it from home to me in California cheaply. After all, the word cheap and FedEx do not really belong in the same sentence. I ended up using Amtrak Express Shipping.
The problem was that I kept wanting to add more books and more things to the shipment until we basically had a box that was about 70 pounds or so and now shipping it using the Post Office was out of the question. It had to be flown somehow or put on the Greyhound, right?
Wrong, Amtrak has a service that is called Amtrak Express Shipping. According to their website, they offer less than truckload services to all major cities. It says the limit is 50 pounds but they let me ship mine that was way over at no extra charge. I must have just got lucky or something.
My experience with Amtrak Express Shipping
After calling them to find out the details, my parents took my box to the Union Station in Kansas City and paid the $65 it cost to send the package. It was pretty easy to set it up and they told them about when it would arrive to me in Redding.
Once the train came, they loaded it and it was off on the Southwest Chief to Los Angeles which takes about 36 hours to make the journey. By the way, that is an amazing trip to make. Click here to see my story about taking the Amtrak as a passenger.
A few days later, I called them in Los Angeles and they confirmed that it has been transfer to the train that goes to Seattle through Redding. They have a tracking system now as I understand it.
Early the next morning, I went down to the Amtrak station and picked up my box without a hiccup. It worked very well and I would use them again if I need to send a package across the country.
What are the limitations?
The big problem I see is not something limited to the cargo divison but the train system itself. There are huge pockets of the country that there is no service to. For example, there is no train that services Nashville or Phoenix or Tulsa.
Despite commitments made to re-establish service in several major cities, I do not see it happening anytime in the near future. They do not go to these cities because it is not profitable to do so. In fact, much of the midwest does not have service because of financial reasons.
The other limitation would be the clear issue that the package can only get there as soon as the train can. There would be no overnight from New York to Los Angeles, for example. Not a big deal unless you have time sensitive product t get to market or something.
Have you used the Amtrak Express Shipping service?
If you have any experience using it, comment below and let me know how it worked out for you. It could be a real option for people moving things around the country!