Motorail:  Car-carrying trains across Europe...

Take your car by train...

...to Italy, Austria or Bavaria with Dutch Motorail or Austrian motorail

...to Spain with Brittany Ferries.

 

Motorail:  Trains that carry cars!

On this page you'll find a beginner's guide to the few remaining European motorail services of interest to UK travellers.  But first, a reality check.  Normal passenger trains don't carry cars or motorbikes, just passengers and sometimes bicycles.  Only special Motorail trains carry cars & motorbikes, on car transporters attached to the train.  These run on a dwindling handful of holiday routes, often summer-only and usually only once or twice a week, see the motorail route map below.  You must first take a ferry across the Channel, as motorail trains do not use the Channel Tunnel, they start at either Düsseldorf in Germany or or Paris, but no longer (since 2010) Calais or (since April 2015) Den Bosch in the Netherlands.  Motorail trains carry cars, motorbikes, small trailers & roof boxes, and on some routes you can now take some over-height 4x4 vehicles & people carriers.  However, they can't carry big 4X4s, vans, caravans or campers, as these are too high.  There are no motorail trains within the UK, these ceased in 1995.

Why use Motorail?

Motorail means a relaxed holiday experience, away from the stress & hassle of airports & flights.  It offers door-to-door convenience, taking your own car to the South of France, Italy or Austria with as much luggage & toys for the kids as you like, bringing back as much wine or beer as you can pack in.   The journey is part of the holiday:  No baggage fees, no weight limits, no crowded airports, no expensive airport parking, no car hire bureaucracy.  It needn't take much longer than flying, because motorail trains run overnight, so you leave the UK on day 1 and arrive in Italy or the South of France for breakfast on day 2.  It can save a hotel bill or two as well.  However, don't expect Motorail to be a budget option.

Interactive motorail mapClick a route for information...

Car ferries to Greece Stena Line car ferry to Hoek van Holland Auto Train car-carrying service DFDS Seaways car ferries to Denmark & Holland Britanny Ferries car ferry to Spain

How do I get my car from the UK to..? 

Click your destination to find out how to get you & your car to these countries by motorail train or ferry:

France     Italy     Spain & Portugal     Switzerland     Germany & Austria   Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg   Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland     Eastern Europe, Turkey, Greece   North Africa, Cyprus, Malta    Motorail trains in the UK

Motorail routes, timetables, prices & information...

On this page you'll find information on each motorail operator, with a summary of prices, routes, on-board accommodation & how to buy tickets:

French Motorail   French Auto-Train     Dutch motorail (Auto Slaap Trein)   

German & Austrian motorail (DB Autozug & ÖBB)      Optima Tours      Other motorail trains

Sponsored links...

 

How do I get my car from the UK to...?

 

Who uses motorail?

  Cars on the motorail train above to leave s'Hertogenbosch for Italy.

Well, families and couples for a start.  The door-to-door convenience of taking your own car makes the logistics of a family holiday to the South of France, Italy or Austria easy.

  A classic Jaguar takes the train to Italy...

Classic cars:  It's not just families.  Classic car owners who'd rather drive their vintage Jaguar than a characterless hire car take it with them using motorail. Classic cars are usually allocated a place on the lower deck.

  Motorbikes on the Dutch Motorail train to Italy...

Bikers:  Motorail is a bikers' favourite too...

Here are the options for getting you & your car from the UK to the main holiday areas of Europe:

UK to France...

UK to Italy...

UK to Spain & Portugal...

UK to Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg...

UK to Switzerland...

UK to Germany & Austria...

UK to Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland...

UK to Eastern Europe, including Turkey & Greece...

UK to North Africa, Cyprus, Malta, Egypt, Israel...

Within the UK, to Scotland & Cornwall...


French Motorail...

All French Motorail trains from Calais were discontinued in 2010...

French Motorail from Calais to Southern France was operated by Rail Europe through their parent company SNCF (French Railways).  In early 2010, Rail Europe announced the complete closure of the French Motorail service from Calais, due to rising costs and poor exchange rates.  It may never run again.  A great shame, it had run for many years and had many loyal customers.

... but 's Hertogenbosch is the new Calais!

But all is not lost.  Dutch Motorail runs from 's Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands (3 hours from Calais, 2 hours 30 from Dunquerque, 1 hour 15 minutes from Hoek van Holland) to Alessandria & Livorno in Italy.  Dutch motorail trains have proper sleeping-cars as well as couchettes, and in many cases there's a proper restaurant car too.


Auto Slaap Trein

  Auto-Slaaptrein logo
 

All Autoslaaptrein service is discontinued as from April 2015...

After DB Autozug gave up, the only remaining motorail to Italy, Autoslaaptrein now says costs have risen too much and it too is throwing in the towel.  However, a Dusseldorf to Verona Motorail train has been saved, and will operate in summer 2015, see www.treinreiswinkel.nl/autotrein/italie/auto-express-italia-dusseldorf-verona.


Treinreiswinkel's Auto Express Italia

Düsseldorf (Germany) to Verona (Italy)

As Autoslaaptrein threw in the towel in April 2015, another Dutch company, Treinreiswinkel, started its own Motorail train.

Website:

www.treinreiswinkel.nl/autotrein/italie/auto-express-italia-dusseldorf-verona.

Online booking:  

Yes, see www.treinreiswinkel.nl/autotrein/italie/auto-express-italia-dusseldorf-verona

Phone:

See website.

Terminal:

Trains depart from Düsseldorf, a 3 hour 45 minute (245 mile) drive from Calais, 3 hours 20 minutes from Dunquerque, or 2 hour 30 minutes from Hook of Holland (157 miles), Rotterdam or IJmuiden (Amsterdam).  The motorail terminal is next to Düsseldorf Hauptbahnhof.

Routes:

Düsseldorf to Verona in Italy.

Dates & times:

To check times & dates, see their website .  But here's a summary to give you a rough idea:

The Düsseldorf-Verona motorail service runs once a week from 3 July to 14 August 2015. 

It runs southbound on Friday nights leaving Dusseldorf at 20:05 (check-in 17:30-19:30), arriving Verona at 09:02.  The Verona-Dusseldorf service runs on Saturday nights leaving Verona at 20:10 (check-in 17:00 to 19:15) and arriving Dusseldorf at 09:07.

How much does it cost?

See website.

Vehicles carried:

See website.

Accommodation on board:

5-berth couchettes.  Sleeping-car with 1, 2 & 3 berth compartments with washbasin.

Pets:

Yes, dogs and other pets can be carried.

Suggested ferry connections

The cheapest option is to use the short sea routes, Dover-Calais or Dover-Dunkirk, see www.poferries.com & www.dfds.comTop tip www.dfds.com Dover-Dunkirk (formerly Norfolkline) always seem by far the cheapest operator, typically charging £45-£70 return for a car and occupants when Dover-Calais operators persist in charging over £100 return. 

The more direct option from East Anglia or the North of England is to use www.stenaline.co.uk (Harwich-Hoek van Holland), www.dfds.co.uk (Newcastle-IJmuiden overnight cruise ferry), or www.poferries.com (Hull-Rotterdam overnight cruise ferry).


DB AutoZug

 

DB Autozug logo

Book online here

Düsseldorf (Germany) to Munich & Vienna

DB AutoZug is a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn, German Railways.  Their Autozug Spezial fares from just €149 (£129) for car+driver make them the most affordable motorail operator, and they have easy online booking.  Düsseldorf is 3 hours 45 minutes drive from Calais, 3 hours 20 minutes from Dunquerque.  However, massive cutbacks have hit DB Autozug in 2014, with almost all motorail services from Dusseldorf discontinued.  Only two remain, to Munich and Vienna.

Website:

DB AutoZug website.

Online booking:  

See the online booking system below or go to DB AutoZug website

Phone:

See website

Terminal:

Trains depart from Düsseldorf, a 3 hour 45 minute (245 mile) drive from Calais, 3 hours 20 minutes from Dunquerque, or 2 hour 30 minutes from Hook of Holland (157 miles), Rotterdam or IJmuiden (Amsterdam).  The DB Autozug motorail terminal is next to Düsseldorf Hauptbahnhof.

Routes:

Trains run from Düsseldorf to Munich, and from May 2015 every day to Vienna in Austria run by partner ÖBB.  All other routes discontinued as from late 2014.

Dates & times:

To check times & dates, use the online booking system below.  But here's a summary to give you a rough idea:

The Düsseldorf-Munich motorail service runs most Friday nights all year - check dates & times using the online system.  Motorbikes are not carried.  Northbound, it runs on most Sunday nights.  Cars transported by road, passengers take a Friday night City Night Line sleeper train or Friday, Saturday or Sunday daytime ICE train.

Dusseldorf to Vienna will run daily all year from May 2015.  Run by partner ÖBB (Austrian Railways) it's the EuroNight train shown here which will have car transporters attached.

How much does it cost?

Use the online booking system on the DB AutoZug website.  Ferry crossing not included.

Vehicles carried:

Cars & motorbikes are carried to Vienna, cars only (no motorbikes) to Munich.  See the DB AutoZug website for full details.

Accommodation on board:

Pets:

Yes, dogs and other pets can be carried.

Suggested ferry connections

The cheapest option is to use the short sea routes, Dover-Calais or Dover-Dunkirk, see www.poferries.com & www.dfds.comTop tip www.dfds.com Dover-Dunkirk (formerly Norfolkline) always seem by far the cheapest operator, typically charging £45-£70 return for a car and occupants when Dover-Calais operators persist in charging over £100 return. 

The more direct option from East Anglia or the North of England is to use www.stenaline.co.uk (Harwich-Hoek van Holland), www.dfds.co.uk (Newcastle-IJmuiden overnight cruise ferry), or www.poferries.com (Hull-Rotterdam overnight cruise ferry).

How to reach Düsseldorf Autozug terminal:  Leave the autobahn and follow the signs for Düsseldorf city centre, then follow the signs for 'Hauptbahnhof' ('main station').  Near the Hauptbahnhof, you'll pick up signs saying 'DB Autozug'.  If you have a Tom-Tom satnav, the DB Autozug terminal is listed as a 'point of interest' in Düsseldorf.  It's not difficult to reach, it's down a side road at the north east side of the Hauptbahnhof, the address is DB Autozug Terminal, Schlägelstrasse, 40210 Düsseldorf.

Autozug - bequeme,staufreie Anreise-Alternative

 Book German Motorail online...

DB Autozug is the only motorail operator to offer 'live' online booking, and this form links directly to the DB AutoZug website.  You book online and print out your own ticket.  Booking tip:  If you select 'Couchette car, 5 berth' you'll get berths in a 5-berth couchette compartment shared with other passengers, this is the cheapest option.  Select 'Couchette car, compartment' if you want private use of a whole 5-berth couchette compartment just for your party.  With sleepers on Autozug you'll always get a private room.

 
   

If no form appears above, click here to go to the DB AutoZug website

 

Auto-Train

Paris to Nice, Geneva, Avignon, Biarritz, Marseille, Tarbes, Narbonne, St Raphael, Toulon, Toulouse


Optima Express

Villach (Austria) to Turkey (Edirne):  www.optimatours.de...

Loading the Optima Tours motorail train to Turkey   Couchette compartment on Optima Tours motorail train set up as 2-berth

Loading the Optima Tours motorail train to Turkey...

 

Couchette compartment on the Optima Tours train set up for 2-person occupancy.


Other motorail services

Austria:  Vienna to/from Innsbruck, Feldkirch, Villach (Austrian domestic), Vienna-Hamburg (Germany), Vienna-Florence (Italy), Vienna-Düsseldorf (Germany)

See http://www.oebb.at/de/Reiseplanung/PKW_Motor-_und_Fahrrad/Autoreisezug/index.jsp.

Czech Republic:  Prague-Poprad Tatry, Prague-Kosice

See www.cd.cz/scripts/detail.php?pgid=628.  Cheap overnight Motorail services.

Croatia:  Zagreb-Split

The daily summer-only Zagreb-Split overnight sleeper train also has a car-carrying wagon.  Information about this isn't readily available online, ask at the station when you get there.

Finland:  Various domestic routes...

See www.vr.fi.


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