Amtrak's Auto Train has the unique job of carrying passengers and their vehicles between Virginia and Florida, covering 855 miles with just a refueling stop.

It is, Amtrak says, the world's longest passenger train.

One train runs in each direction each day, both starting at 4 p.m. Complimentary dinner and continental breakfast are served during the 16-hour overnight ride.

Amtrak took over the Auto Train in 1983 from a private operator who found he did not have the financial resources to recover from a serious derailment.

Amtrak took over the Auto Train in 1983 from a private operator who lacked the money to recover from a serious derailment.

Amtrak started with a three-times-a-week service between Lorton, Va., and Sanford, Fla. Daily service began in 1984, and Amtrak added specially designed lounge cars in 1997.

The Auto Train carried 234,000 passengers in 2000, according to Amtrak, one of the most popular and successful routes of the nation's passenger rail line.

The congressionally created Amtrak Reform Council reported this year that Amtrak made money in 2000 only in the Northeast and on the Auto Train.

Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., whose district includes Amtrak's station in Sanford, has proposed transferring control of the Northeast Corridor and the Auto Train to the U.S. Department of Transportation, which would consider turning them over to private operators.

Amtrak, organized with public and private ownership, was formed in 1971 to relieve freight railroads of the cash-draining responsibility of carrying passengers.