I know this is an old thread but I am doing the trans am trail next summer and am sorting out a train for me and my bike and box from Washington to Yorktown. I have seen the reply re the 7.30am train which takes checked baggage so I will plan to get that one. It seems easy enough to reserve the seat for me but I am confused as to how a reserve a space for my bike and bike box. There does not seem to be a step during the reservation process to book my bike and I don't really want to just turn up in the hope that there is space for the bike and box. Does anyone know how I do this step of the process? Do I have to call the reservation line or can I do it on line. I am flying in from the UK to Washington dc a few days before.
If just browsed through the regs from the link given here in this CrazyGuy article
but nowhere can I find any reference to having to have a booking for a bike i.e. as long as you have a ticket for yourself they will take your bike as one piece of checked baggage (limit 2). I've had no experience with Washington DC to Yorktown but this has been my Amtrak experience. I have taken a bike from: Seattle WA, Portland OR, San Diego CA, San Luis Obispo CA, Vancouver BC and Flagstaff AZ. At the latter I just walked in and bought a ticket on the day of the train. There was a family emergency and I didn't have time to book ahead. If you are planning on leaving/arriving from/to a manned
station you won't have any problem. Ive always found Amtrak staff very helpful. What you can do is buy a box and ticket and check your bike in up to 24 hours before you travel but no more than 24 hours. You may want to do this to avoid last minute scrambles.
On the east coast there's plenty of manned stations but out West they are thin on the ground. I had to disappoint a touring companion who was planning on taking his bike to Chemult OR the nearest station to Crater Lake NP. This would have been great, it's about 12 miles from the park and about 200 ft. from the Sierra-Cascades route but unfortunately it's not a manned station so you can't take your bike off even though the train stops there. The nearest manned station is Klamath Falls 80 odd miles S of Chemult.
Another tip. Buy a suitcase from a thrift store ($15 seems to be the going rate) and put your paniers, rackbag, helmet etc. in it. this way you only have one extra bag to check. Then dump it or find another thrift store to donate it to at the other end. This is usually only necessary when flying or possibly going by bus, something I've never done. On my last Amtrak trip I checked my heaviest panier and carried on the remaining 3 and a barbag, a bit of an armful but doable.
I've Googled a bit and it looks like the nearest station to Yorktown is Newport News
which does appear to be manned i.e. it has a ticket office. Do some poking round on CrazyGuy to find out how to get from there to Yorktown. IIR it's not very far but tricky getting from NN to Yorktown (a tunnel you can't ride through). Again see what others have done on this site and CrazyGuy etc..
You'll have a blast.