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Is the Empire Builder RORO?

Old 04-13-17, 05:54 PM
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Is the Empire Builder RORO?

I am considering taking the train across country to start my tour in Seattle. I would take the Capital Limited which is RORO. If you just book from Chicago, the Empire Builder asks if you want to add a bike.

Is the Empire Builder RORO too? If so, how does that work? Do you have to transfer the bike yourself? Frankly I would rather do it to see that it gets done. Or at least see it being done to make sure the bike gets on the other train.
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Old 04-13-17, 06:31 PM
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I miss the days before Amtrak, the TSA, and traveling with bikes being common.

BITD - if you took a train or flight with a bike, they looked at you as you were an alien freshly landed from another Galaxy. The standard line was to the effect "you want to bring THAT!. No way we'll take responsibility, if you want to take it, you'll have to load it yourself".
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Old 04-13-17, 06:55 PM
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Amtrak was working towards RORO for trains with baggage - last summer when I took it, it was not.
Not sure this summer, but if long-distance trains are axed this October, they may be holding off.
I mean, why bother implementing something 3 months before service is ended altogether?
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Old 04-13-17, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
I am considering taking the train across country to start my tour in Seattle. I would take the Capital Limited which is RORO. If you just book from Chicago, the Empire Builder asks if you want to add a bike.

Is the Empire Builder RORO too? If so, how does that work? Do you have to transfer the bike yourself? Frankly I would rather do it to see that it gets done. Or at least see it being done to make sure the bike gets on the other train.
Do a search of "bicycle" and it will show the trains that are RORO. Empire Builder is not one of them.

When I've done a connection from a train that is RORO to one that isn't (e.g. Pacific Surfliner to Coast Starlight or Sunset Limited; or Cascades to Coast Starlight); I have generally placed it in a box in the original station rather than use the RORO option.

I don't know for certain, but suspect if you put it on RORO in the first station, they will have you pick it up and box it for the connecting train. As long as there is enough connection time, suspect that can work. However, not sure so best to ask Amtrak.
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Old 04-13-17, 07:07 PM
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We took the Empire Builder from Fargo, ND to Portland, OR last summer, and we had to box our bikes. However, Amtrak has changed some things recently. IME if they ask if you want to add a bike it reserves a hook in the baggage car for your bike.

Usually you just hand them up to the Amtrak employee.
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Old 04-13-17, 07:16 PM
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Spinnaker,
Where are you touring?
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Old 04-13-17, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Tandem Tom View Post
Spinnaker,
Where are you touring?

Part of Vancouver Island and one or two of the San Juans. Interested? But I am guessing with your trip across CA you are going to have your hands full.

With the pending chance long distance trains will be axed, I thought I might bit the bullet and take the train. But I might need to abbreviate my tour to fit everything in and make it affordable,
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Old 04-14-17, 03:50 AM
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Doug64 is correct. The Empire Builder offers what is called Trainside Checked Bicycle Service. It's all explained right here:

https://www.amtrak.com/bring-your-bicycle-onboard
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Old 04-14-17, 04:48 AM
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We are also taking Amtrak from Cleveland to Seattle.

QUOTE=spinnaker;19509848]Part of Vancouver Island and one or two of the San Juans. Interested? But I am guessing with your trip across CA you are going to have your hands full.

With the pending chance long distance trains will be axed, I thought I might bit the bullet and take the train. But I might need to abbreviate my tour to fit everything in and make it affordable,[/QUOTE]
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Old 04-14-17, 07:11 AM
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In 2013, I took Empire Builder to Chicago, then from Chicago took the Capital Limited to Pittsburgh for GAP and C&O. Then a week later, the reverse on the same routes from DC to Chicago and Chicago to home on Empire Builder. Amtrak transferred our checked bags and bike boxes for us just like airlines transfer your checked stuff.

I have no clue on the current system, but if it was me I would box it up and let them move the bike from train to train so I did not need to deal with it.

Empire builder by the time you get to Seattle, their food selection might be limited in the lounge car and dining car. (Lounge car goes to Portland, dining car to Seattle.) You might want to bring some food along for eating on the train. I always ate breakfast in the dining car but other meals I ate food that I brought. One trip I did the roomette thing, that included meals in the dining car.

Amtrak can be a bit rough on bikes in bike boxes. If I was to do it again, if I had anything fragile I would not put it in the bike box. I used steel frame bikes on all my Amtrak routes and I left the rear derailleur and chain attached. But if I had a bike with a replaceable derailleur hanger, I would remove the rear derailleur (and chain) so that it did not stick out towards the side.

The attached photos are of my bike box when I arrived in Portland on one trip. There was no actual damage, but I was nervous until I could inspect the bike.
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Old 04-14-17, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Tandem Tom View Post
We are also taking Amtrak from Cleveland to Seattle.

QUOTE=spinnaker;19509848]Part of Vancouver Island and one or two of the San Juans. Interested? But I am guessing with your trip across CA you are going to have your hands full.

With the pending chance long distance trains will be axed, I thought I might bit the bullet and take the train. But I might need to abbreviate my tour to fit everything in and make it affordable,
[/QUOTE]


After rethinking it I might fly out but take the train back.
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Old 04-15-17, 06:31 AM
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You commented: After rethinking it I might fly out but take the train back.

I think that is a good idea for a couple reasons:

1. Seattle to Chicago is two days of riding the train, a few hour layover to change trains in Chicago and another day on the train to get home. A three day train trip can get a bit boring, but two trips of three days each within a month could be excruciatingly boring.

2. I do not know how flexible your schedule is, I am retired and have a flexible schedule. I hate to be focusing my trip on a predetermined end date far in advance. I like to be able to travel at my own pace instead of holding to an itinerary. Amtrak has more flexibility than airlines for making reservations on short notice, I have had very good luck making Amtrak reservations for my trip home less than a week in advance without the price getting absurd.
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Old 04-17-17, 09:29 AM
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I just checked the Amtrak reservation service online and the Empire builder has "roll on" service at their baggage car. Technically you have to hand it to a baggage attendant but you don't have to box it. Either way, it's pretty easy. I've used their boxes before and all you have to do is remove the pedals and turn the handlebars to roll it in.

Marc
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Old 04-17-17, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by irwin7638 View Post
I just checked the Amtrak reservation service online and the Empire builder has "roll on" service at their baggage car. Technically you have to hand it to a baggage attendant but you don't have to box it. Either way, it's pretty easy.
For future reference, posted above:

https://www.amtrak.com/bring-your-bicycle-onboard

While Trainside Chcked and Carry-On don't require boxing, you still have to remove panniers, bags, etc. I did Carry-On on the Vermonter back in September. I had to remove the rear panniers just to get the bike around the tight vestibule corners then remove the front panniers to hang the bike. I did cheat and leave my tent strapped to the rear rack because it weighs less than 3 lbs.
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Old 04-17-17, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by irwin7638 View Post
I just checked the Amtrak reservation service online and the Empire builder has "roll on" service at their baggage car. Technically you have to hand it to a baggage attendant but you don't have to box it. Either way, it's pretty easy. I've used their boxes before and all you have to do is remove the pedals and turn the handlebars to roll it in.

Marc
Marc,

I looked at the Amtrak site and I could not find any roll-on service for the Empire Builder. Could you post a link to the site. The Cascades train has roll on , but it did not show for the EB.

Thanks
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Old 04-17-17, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
Marc,

I looked at the Amtrak site and I could not find any roll-on service for the Empire Builder. Could you post a link to the site. The Cascades train has roll on , but it did not show for the EB.

Thanks
See my post directly above his. As he notes, it's not true "roll on" (Amtrak calls roll on service, "Carry-On") but rather than Amtrak calls Trainside Checked, were you had the unboxed bike to the baggage attendant.
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Old 04-17-17, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
Marc,

I looked at the Amtrak site and I could not find any roll-on service for the Empire Builder. Could you post a link to the site. The Cascades train has roll on , but it did not show for the EB.

Thanks
Search a reservation for Chicago to Seattle. Under The Empire Builder there will be an option to "Add a Bike." That's only available for trains that have "roll on" service. Others require you to box the bike and check it as baggage.

Marc
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Old 04-17-17, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by irwin7638 View Post
Under The Empire Builder there will be an option to "Add a Bike." That's only available for trains that have "roll on" service. Others require you to box the bike and check it as baggage.

Marc

For the sake of accuracy, there are two types of service where you don't have to box your bike:


1. "Trainside Checked", where you hand you bike to the baggage attendant and he/she hangs it on a rack in the baggage car, and


2. "Carry-On", where the passenger takes his or her own bike onto the train and hangs it from the rack provided inside the passenger coach.


"Add a Bike" is available when either of those services is offered.


It's all explained in the link I posted--twice.
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Old 04-17-17, 11:10 PM
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You are correct. My logistics chief informed me that they added it to the long distance routes last fall. We missed it by 6 weeks coming back from ND.

I also did not scroll down far enough on the linked site—my mistake.
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Old 04-19-17, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
You are correct. My logistics chief informed me that they added it to the long distance routes last fall. We missed it by 6 weeks coming back from ND.

I also did not scroll down far enough on the linked site—my mistake.
This is good news.

It looks like there is limited trainside loading?

If limited (and there is no space left on the day of my departure) can the bike still go as luggage as long as it is boxed?


Seems from the link Indyfabz posted, it can always at least go as luggage but not entirely clear. I suppose as long as the station has baggage service?

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Old 04-19-17, 05:23 PM
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Yes, your bike can go boxed as checked baggage if all the hooks are reserved. We ran into that on the Coast Starlight.

You are correct, the station need to have baggage service for boxed bikes. Stations with baggage service are also the the only stations that sell bike boxes.

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Old 04-19-17, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
This is good news.

It looks like there is limited trainside loading?

If limited (and there is no space left on the day of my departure) can the bike still go as luggage as long as it is boxed?


Seems from the link Indyfabz posted, it can always at least go as luggage but not entirely clear. I suppose as long as the station has baggage service?
I believe they reserve hooks the same way they reserve seats. So, if you make a reservation, and specify that you're bring a bike, they'll save you a hook.

(go to the horses mouth, and get this straight from Amtrak).
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Old 04-19-17, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
I believe they reserve hooks the same way they reserve seats. So, if you make a reservation, and specify that you're bring a bike, they'll save you a hook.

(go to the horses mouth, and get this straight from Amtrak).

Yep I see that. There is add a bike button. Right now it is enabled for my selected days so I guess I am good so far. I should be pulling the trigger in a day or two after I confirm my itinerary.

and as I recall, calling Amtrak is like calling the IRS. You never know what answer you are going to get. But I might try calling the station I might get a better answer.
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Old 04-20-17, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
I believe they reserve hooks the same way they reserve seats. So, if you make a reservation, and specify that you're bring a bike, they'll save you a hook.

This is correct. There are X number of spaces for bikes and they won't allow additional reservations for bikes once that number is reached. No worries that the hooks will be overbooked and your bike beat up and dragged off the train.
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Old 04-20-17, 04:12 PM
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Pulled the trigger. Made my reservations and was able to add a bike. There was a $40 charge. I thought bikes went for free? Or is the charge for the RORO service?
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