Posts Tagged ‘Bicycles aboard Amtrak’

Bike Racks Added to Michigan Amtrak Trains

March 18, 2020

Amtrak is providing limited onboard bicycle storage on three routes linking Chicago and cities in Michigan.

The passenger carrier is allowing passengers to store bikes in an open area at end of a coach. No reservation is needed.

The cars have been assigned to the Chicago-Grand Rapids Pere Marquette, the Chicago-Port Huron Blue Water, and the Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) Wolverine Service trains.

“We are receiving lots of requests from the cycling community, both the consumers and the advocacy community, and we’ve been wanting to be able to accommodate that,” said Derrick James, Amtrak’s senior manager of state government affairs.

Jeff Martin of the Michigan Department of Transportation said new cars on order for Midwest corridor services will come with bike racks that will increase the number of bikes that can be carried per train.

Baggage Car Now Operating on the Pennsylvanian

October 2, 2019

Amtrak has added a baggage car and checked luggage service to the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian.

The service, which began on Oct. 1, provides checked luggage service at Pittsburgh, Johnstown, Altoona, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Newark and New York.

The baggage car also has space to carry up to six bicycles, which can be checked for a $20 fee to any of the aforementioned stations.

Checking of bikes and luggage is only available at stations that still have a station agent.

An online reported indicated that the baggage car was added at the insistence of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which helps to fund the Pennsylvanian.

Bikes to be Allowed on Wolverines

July 25, 2018

Bicycles will be allowed onboard Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) Wolverine Service trains effective July 26.

The service will be available at all stations and cost $10 per bike.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said bicycle reservations are required and bike tickets must be presented to the conductor when boarding the train.

Passengers can reserve space for their bikes by selecting “add bike” when booking their reservation at Amtrak.com.

Bike reservations can also be made by calling 800-USA-RAIL (800-872-7245) and at Amtrak ticket offices. Only four bicycles are permitted per train.

Passengers will be provided a bike tag by station employees and by the train crew at unstaffed stations. Passengers must present their bike tag to retrieve their bike from the train crew at their destination.

Amtrak is advising passengers carrying on bikes to arrive 45 minutes before  train departure to allow sufficient time to obtain their ticket and baggage tag, and to get their bike onto the train.

Only one standard size bicycle will be permitted per passenger. Large seat/saddle bags must be removed from the bikes. These items can be carried on the train and will count as a carry-on item.

Passengers must be physically capable of lifting their bicycle up to shoulder height to an employee standing in the vestibule of a passenger car.

Passengers may stow their bicycle in open spaces at the ends of the car. They may not be stored in the vestibule.

Upon reaching their destination, passengers will be responsible for preparing their bicycle prior to detraining. A bike should be positioned in the doorway, so the passenger can lift it off the car with the chain facing away.

Most Amtrak Long-Distance Trains Now Have Trackside Checked Bicycle Service for $25 Fee

September 20, 2016

Amtrak has begun checked trackside bicycle service on most long-distance trains.

Amtrak logoThe service is available only at stations that have checked baggage service.

Passengers with bikes must check in with a station agent, obtain a claim check/baggage tag for their bike, and then give that to a crew member inside the baggage car of their train.

Passengers must retrieve their bikes from the baggage car from a crew member once they reach their destination.

The new procedure has ended the need for passengers to break down and box their bikes on long-distance trains. Checked bikes also require payment of a $25 fee.

The service is not yet available on the Portland section of the Empire Builder, the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited or on the Coast Starlight.

Amtrak said checked bike service will begin on the Seattle-Los Angeles Coast Starlight at a date to be announced.

Amtrak’s 70 new Viewliner II baggage cars have racks to hang bicycles.

Capitol Limited Bike Program Launches

September 15, 2015

The long-awaited bicycles aboard the Capitol Limited program began on Monday.

Passengers at any station served by Nos. 29 and 30 between Chicago and Washington, D.C., will be able to roll their bikes along the platform and onto the train. They will need to secure their bikes on a rack in the baggage car.

Passengers with bikes must arrive at a station 30 minutes prior to the train departure to allow time to transport their bike to the baggage car. Only standard bikes will be permitted.

Large seats and/or saddle bags must be removed from the bike and checked or carried on the train. There is a $20 bike service fee.

Reservations are required and passengers must have a travel document (ticket) for their bikes, which can obtained by selecting “add bike” when booking travel on Amtrak.com.

Reservations can also be obtain by calling 800-USA-RAIL or visiting a staffed ticket office.

Amtrak stations with ticketing and baggage service that currently provide boxed bike service will continue to offer this service. Standard bike policy and charges apply on trains where applicable.

Amtrak worked with Adventure Cycling Association and other bicycle and passenger rail groups to form an advisory bicycle task force to oversee this project to establish walk-on bike service on the Capitol Limited.

“We’ve worked with the cycling community to identify solutions and bring new ideas to expand services for passengers who travel with their bikes,” said Deborah Stone-Wulf, Amtrak’s vice president of sales and customer Service in a news release. “We look forward to measuring the success of this service with an eye to expansion to additional routes across our national network.”

Nos. 29 and 30 run parallel with The Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal towpath between Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.

Bike Program to begin on Capitol Limited

August 29, 2015

Amtrak plans to begin allowing passengers to take bicycles aboard the Chicago-Washington, D.C., Capitol Limited.

Although no date has been set, an Amtrak spokesperson said it could be as early as next week.

Passengers with bikes must have a reservation and pay a $25 fee for the service. For some, that might exceed the price of the ticket.

Amtrak’s website shows that roll-on service is available on nine of its routes. Of those, four offer the service for free, two have a $5 fee and three have a $10 fee.

Bicyclists will also be responsible for taking their bikes aboard the train, securing them and removing them once they’ve reached their destination.

The service will be available at all stations served by Nos. 29 and 30 with only standard-sized bikes permitted on board.

The service has been particularly anticipated in Pittsburgh, which is the western terminus of a trail that extends to Washington.

Two major bicycle trails – the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Towpath – run parallel to the route of the Capitol Limited east of Pittsburgh.

Amtrak expressed interest in providing the service five years ago and ran a one-day test with 20 bicyclists in October 2013

At present, Amtrak policies require that bicycles be dismantled and packed in boxes that can only be loaded or unloaded at staffed stations.

There are no staffed stations between Pittsburgh and Washington. Other staffed stations on the route include Cleveland, Toledo and South Bend, Indiana.

In the past, Amtrak has cited a litany of reasons why it has not implemented a bike aboard program on the Capitol Limited until now.

Deborah Stone-Wulf, Amtrak’s chief of sales distribution and customer service, addressed those in a guest blog post for the Adventure Cycling Association’s website (adventurecycling.org) last year.

“We understand and appreciate the synergies between rail and bike travel, and continue to work hard to better serve the bicycling community,” she wrote. “We, however, have many challenges, primarily with our core infrastructure. Among the key issues are finding space for bicycles on our trains and developing the ability to safely and efficiently load and unload bicycles.

“Much of Amtrak’s fleet is quite old with many cars more than 40 years old and bikes were not a consideration during the original design. The good news here is new equipment for long distance trains is on the way, featuring design elements that will help on this front. That still won’t help with our station platforms, however, which are of varying heights and present an obstacle for loading and unloading bicycles.”

Sara Snow, travel initiatives coordinator for the Adventure Cycling Association, based in Missoula, Montana, said her organization worked with Amtrak in identifying the Capitol Limited as one of two eastern routes that would test roll-on service. The other is the Vermonter.

Snow said that many of the organization’s 48,000 members use Amtrak to travel to or from biking excursions.

“We identified [roll-on service] as a huge need for making bicycle traveling easier. People have been advocating for this for a long time,” she said.

Capitol Limited to Host Bike Storage Trial

October 14, 2013
The westbound Capitol Limited pulls into the historic station at Harpers Ferry, W.Va., on June 7, 2012. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

The westbound Capitol Limited pulls into the historic station at Harpers Ferry, W.Va., on June 7, 2012. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

The Chicago-Washington, D.C., Capitol Limited is part of an experiment to be conducted on Tuesday, Oct. 15, of carrying unboxed bicycles in the lower level baggage area of a Superliner coach.

During the trail run, a select group of cyclists will travel with their bikes on No. 30 from Harpers Ferry, W.Va., to Rockville, Md., to Washington.

Some other cyclists will be able to try loading and unloading their bikes from the vertically-mounted bicycle holders.

The route of the Capitol Limited on tracks owned by CSX is parallel to bike trail between Pittsburgh and Washington.

If the trial is successful, Amtrak might install bike racks in most Superliner baggage holds and allow roll-on bike service on more trains..

Blue Water to Begin Carrying Bicycles

August 30, 2013

The Blue Water will begin accepting bicycles beginning on Sept. 6, Amtrak announced.

The train, which operates between Chicago and Port Huron, Mich., serves two cities with large state universities and, hence, a lot of students who wish to transport bikes.

The schools are Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo and Michigan State University in East Lansing.

Amtrak modified cafe cars used on Nos. 364 and 365 to create an area to securely carry up to four bikes per train. There is a $10 charge for transporting a bike, in addition to the rail fare.

Cyclists will be encouraged to lock their bikes onto the brackets mounted in the cars when they walk their bicycles onto the trains.

“We’ve worked with the cycling community to modify these railcars so bikes can be secured without disassembly,” said Derrick James, Amtrak Director of Government Affairs-Central. “We look forward to measuring the success of this service with an eye to expansion to additional routes across our national network.”

“Bicycle travel and tourism is important in the state of Michigan,” said Tim Hoeffner, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation Office of Rail. “Amtrak inclusion of bike service on Blue Water trains is beneficial for Michigan travelers.”

MDOT helps to fund the Blue Water service, which also serves the Michigan cities of Lapeer, Flint, Durand, Battle Creek, Dowagiac, Niles and New Buffalo.