In General
Getting Here


In General

Location / Name:
Lorton VA, Fairfax County

What's Here:
Amtrak's northern terminal for the Auto Train

GPS Coordinates:  38.708457, 77.200477
Phone A/C: 703
ZIP: 22079

Access by train/transit:
The Lorton VRE station is 3,000 feet north by track, but by road or walking, it is 1.6 miles (according to Google Maps)

The Scoop:

Lorton is one of only two places in the United States you can catch the Amtrak Autotrain at rest.  The other is near Orlando Florida.

The Auto-Train started in 1971 (December 6th from Lorton) as a private undertaking and lasted till April 1981 when it felt the financial crunch and stopped running.  After 22 months, Amtrak picked up the service and facilities and started running the train once more on October 30th, 1983.

Stan Jackowski
Denver Todd

Websites and other additional information sources of interest for the area: VRE Schedules A great page that covers all of the engines and equipment the original Auto-Train

Getting Here

Both railroad attractions in Lorton are easy to get to, and they are both conveniently located to the east of I-95 at exit 163.  Refer to the map below.



  The Amtrak Auto-Train

The picture below is almost 40 years old!

The train leaves daily at 4pm, making picture taking pretty easy except for high winter, especially if you want to catch in say, Doswell which it hits around 4:30.

The whole Amtrak schedule serving Virginia is here or here.

  The main building

   Car loading

  End of the yard and turntable

  Maintenance building

  Auto-rack tracks

  Main building and driveway

  Main entrance off Lorton Road, showing close proximity to I-95

Below, original Auto-Train postcard, with the center photo being taken over the James River in Richmond VA.

  Hostess during the original years in Sanford FL

Closely following the Auto Train departure was another SB Amtrak, taken from the end of Gunston Cove Road.

  Lorton VRE Station

  SB VRE train

Here we have fellow railfan Denver Todd taking a break in between trains.



  Sign guiding you to the railroad station.

            The station is frequented by busses A LOT!


The "RF&P" (CSX) Over Lorton Rd


Track 1 & Auto Train Siding SB Colorlights

There are two sets of signals south of the Auto Train facility - one for both tracks.  The tracks leading into the Auto Train facility come off the western track, and the signal controlling outbound movements is mounted on a cantilever bridge.  The cantilever bridge only has SB signals.

Track 2 NB/SB Colorlights

The signals for the east track is a now standard trackside dual installation, showing up all over the CSX system when they upgrade signals.  Remember that CSX often runs lefthand traffic, keeping the RF&P practice alive.


On the other side of the tracks from the Auto-Train facility, and across from a shopping center, is this "tower", a little further down the road is a pretty nice spot to catch passing trains.

Caught on the way home, June 2016.


Historical USGS Maps

Courtesy of the University of Texas Library, click here for their index page.


I love trains, and I love signals.  I am not an expert.  My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page.  This is something I have fun with while trying to help others.

Please Note:  Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.

If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct.  Once in a while, an error may creep in :-)

My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning.  Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented.  Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost!  I belong to AAA, which allows you to get local maps for free when you visit the local branches.  ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the railroads on them.  If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.  Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.

Aerial shots were taken from either Google or Bing Maps as noted.  Screen captures are made with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it! 

By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous and/or other stuff.

Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given!  Please be NICE!!!  Contact info is here

Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.


doa2005-0607, dob2007-0414c, do2007-0414b, doc2005-1016atl1, 2016_0603novadcN

New: AUG27/2012, SEP17/2017, APR20/2020
Last Modified: 21-Apr-2020