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Old 12-24-14, 11:02 AM
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Bike boxes at amtrak

I'm planning a tour of Oregon and will be using Amtrak to/from home. I'm just wondering if anyone has had trouble getting bike boxes at Amtrak and how they solved the problem.
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Old 12-24-14, 11:06 AM
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If the train accepts bikes and the station is one where you can load bikes, they will have boxes available.
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Old 12-24-14, 11:34 AM
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I only worry because I read a trip report where they did not have any at the station. luckily they had a friend bring them one, but I will have no such support on my trip and would hate to be stuck for days waiting for boxes to arrive at the station.
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Old 12-24-14, 11:34 AM
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Call the station and ask! I have had a couple of stations that didn't have any boxes because no one had asked for them before.

My local station usually has them in stock. I ship a couple of bicycles a year up and down the east coast, so they have started making sure they always have them on hand.

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Old 12-24-14, 11:59 AM
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Yeah, when I used Amtrak I called ahead to be sure they had a box. I figured that I'd get a bike box from a bike shop, a big screen TV box, or something on the way to the train station if I had to, but I never needed to since they have always had the boxes when I needed them. Still best to call ahead. Also be sure there is baggage service anywhere you need to get on or off of the train, unless the train allows you to roll the bike on (some trains do).
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Old 12-24-14, 01:22 PM
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if you're at an Amtrak train station, you are most likely to be well within cyling distance of cardboard and packing tape.
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Old 12-24-14, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
if you're at an Amtrak train station, you are most likely to be well within cyling distance of cardboard and packing tape.
Not the ones I am familiar with...

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Old 12-24-14, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by portland View Post
I'm planning a tour of Oregon and will be using Amtrak to/from home. I'm just wondering if anyone has had trouble getting bike boxes at Amtrak and how they solved the problem.
Which station(s) are you going to be using?

I've never had a problem getting a bike box from Portland Union Station. But I haven't had to get a box from other stations.
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Old 12-24-14, 01:58 PM
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Klamath Falls, Or. Not sure how big the station is. I can't seem to find individual station numbers, just the main 800 line.
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Old 12-24-14, 02:10 PM
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Try asking there Yet? 800 is toll free..

Amtrak Coast Starlight stops in K Falls in the middle of the Night. Emeryville to Eugene was a 23 hour Trip. 5 Pm to 4 Pm

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Old 12-24-14, 02:20 PM
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I sat on hold for 15 min but had to go. Plus i'm pretty sure I will get the standard answer that if they do baggage then they will have bike boxes. I was just hoping to get personal experience from folks who have relied on it. How often are they out of stock? or can I truly rely on them having one. Are there other options? Will my panniers also fit in the box?
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Old 12-24-14, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
Not the ones I am familiar with...
Yeah some stations are more or less out in the middle of nowhere. Some in the Southwest are in or near towns with a population of 20-200. Not much is typically available in towns that size. On the other hand, if the OP is starting and ending in a metro area, alternate sources of boxes are probably available close by.
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Old 12-24-14, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by portland View Post
Plus i'm pretty sure I will get the standard answer that if they do baggage then they will have bike boxes.
I personally am inclined to call the particular station I will be using the day before I go there. I know that they don't make it easy to find those numbers, but I have managed to. I forget how I did it though as it has been a while, since I most often fly or drive.

BTW, I have often found a rental car to be both faster and cheaper than Amtrak. I have had bad luck if I walk up to the counter wanting a one way rental, but booking online I have never had a problem.

Originally Posted by portland View Post
Will my panniers also fit in the box?
Probably, the boxes are pretty huge. I strapped my panniers together to make each pair a piece of baggage and carried them on.

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Old 12-24-14, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by portland View Post
I sat on hold for 15 min but had to go. Plus i'm pretty sure I will get the standard answer that if they do baggage then they will have bike boxes. I was just hoping to get personal experience from folks who have relied on it. How often are they out of stock? or can I truly rely on them having one. Are there other options? Will my panniers also fit in the box?
Yes the panniers should fit in the box, might have to get a bit creative.

Station addresses are listed under the stations tab on the Amtrak website, phone numbers are no longer listed, but I suspect a call to 411 or a web search will turn up a local number. Also they list under the station whether bike boxes are available or not, but I would still call. Charleston, SC was the station that didn't have them the first time I wanted one. The last two times I needed one from them they did have them in stock.

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Old 12-24-14, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by portland View Post
How often are they out of stock? or can I truly rely on them having one. Are there other options?
My guess is that they "probably" have them in stock. (If you end there right after the Outback arrives, I'm sure you'll find your share of used boxes!) And if they aren't, there is a bike shop, Hutch's, that is a 1/2 mile from Amtrak. Hutchs Bicycles - Your Bicycle Stop in Central Oregon

Originally Posted by portland View Post
Will my panniers also fit in the box?
Maybe, but the bike box is not wide enough for the panniers to still be attached to the rack, unless the panniers are really skinny or not full of stuff. But the key thing is you are not supposed to but anything else in a bike box besides the bike. If the station sees you, they probably will tell you to stop. And a boxed bike is supposed to weigh 50 lbs or less, and sometimes they do weigh the box. Fully laden panniers can easily put it over the 50 pound threshold.

Last edited by adventurepdx; 12-24-14 at 02:51 PM. Reason: added last sentence
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Old 12-24-14, 03:56 PM
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Go to this page and click on "baggage".........

Klamath Falls, OR Train Station - Map, Routes, Parking & More | Amtrak

"The number of bike boxes is limited, so boxes may not always be available. For further assistance, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL."

edit: I've always had good luck finding a box available at Amtrak

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Old 12-24-14, 04:11 PM
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I have called 3 or 4 days in advance for smaller stations to make sure they have them in stock. You might have to do a google search to find the phone number for the specific station. Make sure that you are going into and out of a station that handles luggage. Their website will tell if if a station handles luggage and if they sell bike boxes there.

A couple years ago I did a loop where I left from the same station where I arrived a couple weeks before. I called in advance and asked if I could store my bike box there and pick it up up later. After a long pause they said yes if they had the storage space available. I brought a sheet of paper that I taped on the box labeled with "Property of " and my name, and "Leaving <name of station> on <date>." The box was still there when I wanted it.

If you have not put a bike in a bike box before, plan to spend some quality time doing so. And make sure the day before that your pedals are loose enough that you can get them off the bike, some bike shops put them on tooooooo tight. Most people say you can leave the handlebars on but turned sideways. My bike is big enough that I have to remove the handlebars.

Don't be surprised if things are not handled with care. I have no clue how this happened but fortunately nothing broken.



I usually put two or three empty panniers and empty water bottles on the bike, one or two on front and one on back in the box. Sometimes I use one pannier as one of my carry on bags.



This photo is after arriving in Portland OR while waiting for a bus to Astoria.



I know someone that got off the train but his bike did not. Thus, I always say to one of the train staff that I have a bike that needs to get off with me. They always look at me as if I offended them for saying that, but I continue to do that anyway.
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Old 12-24-14, 04:13 PM
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We stayed in K Falls on a tour last summer. We went over to the train station to check it out. It was closed so we could not ask them about boxes, which was our intention.

We did talk to a bike tourer that was taking the train out, southbound, the next morning, but I'm not sure if she knew of checked on boxes.

It is really hard to do, but try to get a local number.

Empty panniers will fit into Amtrak boxes. My wife and I each carry a very lightweight duffle when using the train or flying.

Everything from the panniers goes into the duffle, and the empty panniers are just left on the bike for additional padding. You will need tools to remove/replace pedals and loosen stem on steerer tube. Put pedals in zip-lock bag and store in empty panniers.

This is an Amtrak bus that connects Seattle to Vancouver, BC. Our boxed bikes are in the cargo bay, the gear is stacked in front of my wife.

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Old 12-24-14, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
You might have to do a google search to find the phone number for the specific station.
That's a good idea to bypass the 1-800 Amtrak number. The local station knows their inventory the best. Just make sure you call during their open hours. Superpages gives this number for Klamath Falls Amtrak: 541-884-2822
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Old 12-24-14, 04:35 PM
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'nother thing I thought of... If the station(s) you are using serve more than a single train, make sure the train YOU are going to be on has baggage service. Found this out when I was in Lancaster, PA. Some of the trains have baggage service and others don't.

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Old 12-24-14, 04:37 PM
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Interesting thread, once delayed 12 hrs., at Whitefish Mont. Glacier NP, Amtrak gave us deluxe sleeper's for the night. Bike boxes for all 4 of us to nap on in the station, two boys 7 & 8 fit in one. Great memory.
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Old 12-24-14, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
'nother thing I thought of... If the station(s) you are using serve more than a single train, make sure the train YOU are going to be on has baggage service.
Good point! But for the sake of this thread: Klamath Falls, Oregon does have baggage service, and there is only one train going through, the Coast Starlight. So yes, a boxed bike at K-Falls is fine.
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Old 12-24-14, 09:39 PM
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Using your empty panniers as extra padding is a good idea. Also, if you remove your bars and stem, which I do,secure your bar to the top tube with some type of padding and zip ties.

Added: We've been told by Amtrak folks that as long as the panniers are empty, it would be OK to leave them on the bike. However, this may vary, depending on who you are talking to. Total weight is about 35 pounds. Includes empty panniers, frame mounted pump, small seat bag, and empty water bottles.

I've had minor damage twice, and a possible 3 rd time on Amtrak.

The Amtrak employee is picking up my boxed bike from the pavement after it fell off the baggage cart.


I can't figure out how this gets bent in the Amtrak boxes. The barrel adjuster for my front brake.



Twice! That is why I recommend securing the bar to the top tube.



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Old 12-24-14, 10:08 PM
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I remember reading somewhere that Amtrak only wants the bike in the box, no other baggage. This might annoy some tourists, but I think the lighter the box the less likely it will be dropped and having extra luggage in there seldom acts as padding and is more likely to move around making the box difficult to handle. It took me all of five minutes to pack my bike. I removed the pedals and turned the bars sideways and the bike slid right into the box. The Amtrak even clerk offered me some tape. Because the box weighed around 20lbs it was easy to lift and the clerk mentioned that he wished all the bikes were as light. I took my saddlebag and handlebar bag on as hand luggage. Traveling lightly makes everything easier.

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Old 12-24-14, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
We've been told by Amtrak folks that as long as the panniers are empty, it would be OK to leave them on the bike. However, this may vary, depending on who you are talking to.
Yeah, it's definitely a "who you are talking to" type of thing. Amtrak's pretty notorious for their employees interpreting policies differently, especially when it comes to bicycles. If you want to see a horror story on that..
After complaints, Amtrak clarifies: folding bikes always allowed as carry-ons - BikePortland.org

This is a good time to remind folks of Amtrak's official bike policies:
Amtrak - Plan - Onboard - Bring Your Bicycle Onboard

As for extra stuff in the bike box, I know from experience that they won't let you put extra stuff in the box at Portland beside an empty water bottle. They even gave me resistance once when I had my helmet strapped to the handlebars in the box. But other stations aren't as particular.

And Doug64, is that the Albany, Oregon Amtrak station in your photo?
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