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Amtrak Expands Checked Bicycle Service

Old 09-23-16, 10:13 AM
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Vintage_Cyclist
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Amtrak Expands Checked Bicycle Service

Take your bike to the train: Amtrak

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Old 09-23-16, 10:20 AM
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Used the service on the Capitol Limited last fall and this summer. Works great, but on my most recent trip, the baggage guy was a bit huffy with me for taking so long to unload my bike and retrieve my panniers. It took me all of two minutes, but the train was running late. Wouldn't have hurt the guy to give me a hand.
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Old 09-23-16, 11:33 AM
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FYI....There is also a different "roll-on" service offered on some trains, such as the Capitol Limited mentioned above. Two weeks ago I rode the Vermonter with my bike from Philadelphia to Brattleboro, VT to start a tour home. Each car of the train has an open "cubby" where you can hang your bike. You get on and off with the bike yourself and can do so at any stop along the way. As with the checked service, a reservation is required. Cost for the bike was $20. Several people got on and off with bikes at various points during my trip.


Check the Amtrak web site for a detailed explanation of the different services, rules and rates.
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Old 09-23-16, 12:09 PM
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Was just going to say it does cost $20. Pretty good if your strapped for time and you can't source a bike box to pack it yourself.
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Old 09-23-16, 01:45 PM
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The price varies by train and O-D pair and ranges from $20 to free. Here is the web page explaining the different bike options and costs:


https://www.amtrak.com/bring-your-bicycle-onboard
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Old 09-23-16, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Used the service on the Capitol Limited last fall and this summer. Works great, but on my most recent trip, the baggage guy was a bit huffy with me for taking so long to unload my bike and retrieve my panniers. It took me all of two minutes, but the train was running late. Wouldn't have hurt the guy to give me a hand.

Where you able to take your panniers with you to your seat?

It is beyond me why the bike car needs to have an attendant. Regionale trains in Italy and similar local trains in Switzerland have no attendant and it works very well. Only a couple of times did I have an issue where an attendant may have helped but both were due to my own ignorance.

Once from Trento to the Brenner, some cyclists got on midway. A little voice told me to watch them handing their bikes so it does not affect mine. I had a nice scratch after the train ride.

Another time in Genoa, the bike car was locked. Not knowing what to do, I waited for the next train which was the next day (stayed over night in a hotel, been to Genoa before so didn't not want to visit again). What I learned later, if the car is locked, just put the bike between any two cars.
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Old 09-23-16, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
Where you able to take your panniers with you to your seat?

It is beyond me why the bike car needs to have an attendant. Regionale trains in Italy and similar local trains in Switzerland have no attendant and it works very well. Only a couple of times did I have an issue where an attendant may have helped but both were due to my own ignorance.

Once from Trento to the Brenner, some cyclists got on midway. A little voice told me to watch them handing their bikes so it does not affect mine. I had a nice scratch after the train ride.

Another time in Genoa, the bike car was locked. Not knowing what to do, I waited for the next train which was the next day (stayed over night in a hotel, been to Genoa before so didn't not want to visit again). What I learned later, if the car is locked, just put the bike between any two cars.
I could have carried my panniers onto the train, but they were pretty dirty, and there was nothing in them I needed. So I left them with the bike on the floor. The irritated conductor was there to open the door and close it, and not much more. You are kind of on your own.
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Old 10-11-16, 09:27 AM
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Amtrak rolls out train-side check-in for bicycles on its L.A.-Seattle route - LA Times

Amtrak rolls out train-side check-in for bicycles on its L.A.-Seattle route Amtrak's Coast Starlight

By Mary Forgione

Good news for bicyclists who like to go the distance. Amtrak’s Coast Starlight train, which runs between Los Angeles and Seattle, now allows passengers to check their bikes when they board their train — for a low price too.

The cost of checked bicycle service depends on how far you’re traveling, according to an Amtrak news release. For example, an unreserved seat from L.A. to Seattle costs $95 and an additional $20 for the bike.

Passengers must buy a ticket for their bicycle when they buy their train ticket, either online or at the station. Amtrak advises travelers with bikes to check in about 45 minutes before boarding so you can hand off your bike — minus any panniers or saddlebags — to a customer representative, who hangs it on a rack in the baggage car.

The service is available at stations that offer checked baggage (not all do).

Coast Starlight joins other Amtrak train routes that check bicycles, including the Sunset Limited (L.A.-San Antonio-New Orleans), California Zephyr (San Francisco-Denver-Chicago) and the Southwest Chief (L.A.-Albuquerque, N.M.-Chicago).

Amtrak began train-side checked bicycle service last year.
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Old 10-11-16, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by arctos View Post
The service is available at stations that offer checked baggage (not all do).

The nice thing about the service on the Capitol Limited and the Vermonter is that you can get on and off at any station, whether it has checked baggage or not. (The latter doesn't offer checked baggage at all.)
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Old 10-11-16, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
The nice thing about the service on the Capitol Limited and the Vermonter is that you can get on and off at any station, whether it has checked baggage or not. (The latter doesn't offer checked baggage at all.)
Should I bring my panniers on the train or leave with bicycle?
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Old 10-11-16, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Squeezebox View Post
Should I bring my panniers on the train or leave with bicycle?

Your question makes no sense.
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Old 10-11-16, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Squeezebox View Post
Should I bring my panniers on the train or leave with bicycle?
Originally Posted by arctos View Post
...check in about 45 minutes before boarding so you can hand off your bike minus any panniers or saddlebags to a customer representative, who hangs it on a rack in the baggage car.
you're welcome
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Old 10-11-16, 11:34 AM
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Does anyone know if I can board at New York Penn Station with a bike yet?
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Old 10-11-16, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
Does anyone know if I can board at New York Penn Station with a bike yet?

Board what? How/when you can take a bike on Amtrak is train/service specific. For example, you can board the Vermonter with a bike at NYP but not an Acela or a Keystone service train. I believe there is also at least one Northeast Regional train that allows bikes.


I posted a link to the Amtrak rules earlier in this thread.
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Old 10-11-16, 11:43 AM
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$20 is a bargain if you don't have to pack your bike.
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Old 10-11-16, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Board what? How/when you can take a bike on Amtrak is train/service specific. For example, you can board the Vermonter with a bike at NYP but not an Acela or a Keystone service train. I believe there is also at least one Northeast Regional train that allows bikes.
It appears the only one I can take a bike on is the Vermonter, but then I can only travel to St. Albans. I want to go to Burlington to ride the Island Line Trail.
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Old 10-11-16, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
It appears the only one I can take a bike on is the Vermonter, but then I can only travel to St. Albans. I want to go to Burlington to ride the Island Line Trail.

I don't understand what you are finding so hard about this. You can get on and off the Vermonter with a bike at any stop:


https://www.amtrak.com/bikes-on-the-vermonter-train


"Don't let your bike sit at home while you have all the fun take it with you on your next train trip and explore your destination car-free. It's easy with carry-on bicycle service available on Vermonter trains 54, 55, 56, 57 at all station stops from Washington, DC, to St. Albans in Northern Vermont." (emphasis added).


But note that the Vermonter does not stop in Burlington. The closest stop is Essex Jct. You'd have to ride the 10 miles to Burlington. Or get an Uber. Or something. I will leave that part up to you.
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Old 10-11-16, 04:49 PM
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Here are a few photos from when I took my bike on the Capitol Ltd train back in July, from Cumberland to Pittsburgh. Not the best-quality pics, as I just had my phone and there wasn't much light in the baggage car.

Thoughts:
1. Technically you are supposed to take off your panniers and any other bags. In practice, the baggage car attendant didn't care that we still had our bags on, and some people left theirs on their bikes. I took mine off.
2. Be prepared to lift you bike up a bit to the baggage car door.
3. The website says you will need to take off and stow your front wheel, but none of the bikes on our train did that.
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Old 10-11-16, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
I don't understand what you are finding so hard about this. You can get on and off the Vermonter with a bike at any stop:
... at all station stops from Washington, DC, to St. Albans in Northern Vermont." (emphasis added).
...The closest stop is Essex Jct. You'd have to ride the 10 miles to Burlington. Or get an Uber. Or something. I will leave that part up to you.
Yeah, I'm trying to do too many things at once. I should probably leave this alone until I'm ready for my Vermont trip next year. I just saw the AMTRAK heading, jumped on it, and now I'm half-reading things and taking in nothing. When I read the above statement on AMTRAK's website, I missed the "all station stops" part and read it as if it were saying I could put my bike on the train in Washington and take it off at St. Albans. Thanks for clarifying this, and also for the geography about Essex Jct. and Burlington. Now I'm going to look and see if the Island Line Trail itself passes through Essex Jct. THAT could be the answer for us!
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Old 10-11-16, 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
Now I'm going to look and see if the Island Line Trail itself passes through Essex Jct. THAT could be the answer for us!
Don't believe it does.
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Old 10-11-16, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Don't believe it does.
DAYam!!!! Did you have to hit me so hard with that one?

OK, so I will figure out a way to make it work. Maybe AMTRAK is not the solution to THIS trip, but hopefully some other possibilities are now open.

What has always pissed me off about AMTRAK is the way they name some of their routes -- like the "Capitol Corridor," which one would assume passes through the capitol, as in Washington D.C. Nope, it's in California. Go figure. And there are other routes like that, too, so when I try to find routes that pass through NYC, I get frustrated really fast and usually end up aborting the mission before long.
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Old 10-12-16, 05:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
DAYam!!!! Did you have to hit me so hard with that one?

OK, so I will figure out a way to make it work. Maybe AMTRAK is not the solution to THIS trip, but hopefully some other possibilities are now open.

What has always pissed me off about AMTRAK is the way they name some of their routes -- like the "Capitol Corridor," which one would assume passes through the capitol, as in Washington D.C. Nope, it's in California. Go figure. And there are other routes like that, too, so when I try to find routes that pass through NYC, I get frustrated really fast and usually end up aborting the mission before long.
The Capitol Corridor is so named because it serves Sacramento, CA. The Capitol Limited serves D.C. And finding routes isn't hard. It takes an iota of effort:

https://www.amtrak.com/find-train-bu...s-train-routes

You didn't even vet my belief about the trail not passing through Essex Jct. Do some research yourself. Maybe I am wrong.
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Old 10-12-16, 06:09 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
The Capitol Corridor is so named because it serves Sacramento, CA. The Capitol Limited serves D.C. And finding routes isn't hard. It takes an iota of effort:

https://www.amtrak.com/find-train-bu...s-train-routes

You didn't even vet my belief about the trail not passing through Essex Jct. Do some research yourself. Maybe I am wrong.
No, the trail does not pass through Essex Junction. I DID do the aforementioned research myself. Get off me, man.
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