Author Topic: Wondering about Amtrak's rules & handling of bikes  (Read 6226 times)

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Offline sps7

Wondering about Amtrak's rules & handling of bikes
« on: June 23, 2007, 05:39:15 pm »
I plan next month to put my old touring bicycle (having old type components such as non-aero brakes, etc.) on the "Empire Builder" train in Columbus, WI and travel to Williston, ND where I'd begin my bicycle adventure tour by heading north to Saskatchewan and then west to Alberta. I know that Amtrak sells bike boxes and I know one can get a cardboard bike box free at a LBS.

Does Amtrak want to inspect the contents of an unsealed box, or is it OK to bring the box sealed up when it's brought to the baggage car or baggage handler? [I know that the pedals have to be off the crank arms and the handlebars turned sideways when in the box.]

Does Amtrak keep bike boxes standing up so that the bike in the box is as it is on the road in use, or does Amtrak lay the box flat?

I'll have front & rear panniers as well as a stack made up of tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and a spare, twisted 27" tire. I know that Amtrak wants *only* the bicycle inside the box, so since I'll be traveling alone, I wonder how I'll manage to get the panniers, the stack stuff, the spare tire and probably also a smaller handlebar bag into the coach car with me. Is some of this stuff simply left unwrapped in the baggage car or does it have to go inside some big bag or box? [I wouldn't like to have to buy a special, maybe costly bag to hold the baggage and then have to discard the bag in Williston, ND.]

What are your thoughts about this? What are your experiences with Amtrak handling bicycles well or not-so-well? I'd appreciate any other advice you have for me.

Thanks

The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart.

  - Iris Murdoch, writer (1919-1999)

Offline sprout123

Wondering about Amtrak's rules & handling of bikes
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2007, 11:34:22 pm »
I'd be confirm the amtrak policies with Amtrak - here's a link that will probably provide most of the info you are looking for:

http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/Title_Image_Copy_Page&c=am2Copy&cid=1080080554487&ssid=43


Offline nobachi2000

Wondering about Amtrak's rules & handling of bikes
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2007, 02:47:06 am »
You don't need to box your bike on Amtrak.  They have a hook for
bicycles.  Depending on the season, you might have to share the space
with skiers.

One pedal at a time

Offline leo

Wondering about Amtrak's rules & handling of bikes
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2007, 03:38:40 pm »
On some lines you may not need to box your bike. On others you do. Worse, if the station at which you want to load your boxed bike is unmanned, you can't do it. So, having abandoned the TransAm in Kansas last summer, I couldn't take my bike on the train from Hutchinson to Kansas and nor could I take the train in the other direction to catch up my pals.

The Amtrak web site will tell you which lines and, as important, which stations accept bikes and under what conditions.

léo


Offline sam21fire

Wondering about Amtrak's rules & handling of bikes
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2007, 07:35:09 pm »
Another point is that Amtrak's own bicycle boxes (cost about $10-15) are much larger than standard bike boxes...the only thing you have to do is remove the pedals, turn the bars sideways and roll the bike into the box.  I've done this several times in LA and the baggage people have always been very friendly and helpful.

Good luck!
Sam


Offline jan404

Wondering about Amtrak's rules & handling of bikes
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2007, 10:19:37 pm »
Hi,

I spoke with Amtrak this week, apparently on the Empire Builder you have to box your bike.

How big are those boxes? I have a usual bike but it has a rather large frame, thats why I probably cannot fly. As airlines (at least Delta ad Southwest) seem to have this Length+width+Height < x rule. With x beeing always much smaller than what I would need.

Jan


Offline nobachi2000

Wondering about Amtrak's rules & handling of bikes
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2007, 05:26:17 am »
If Amtrak doesn't have a hook for your bicycle, put your bicycle in a bicycle bag and take it as a luggage.  I do that on Greyhound.

One pedal at a time

Offline dlambert

Wondering about Amtrak's rules & handling of bikes
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2007, 10:30:48 am »
Thanks for the great advice.  I'm Amtraking to Portland from Fargo, ND at the end of the month, and returning (mostly) via the L&C route.  I'll get the Amtrak box.

Now, what do I do about BOB?  I'm assuming he'll go in a box and also be checked.  I imagine BOB and I will get along very well on the bike trip, but I just don't want to deal with him on the 33 hour train trip.  

Suggestions would be much appreciated.  Thanks.


Offline ChrisHunt

Wondering about Amtrak's rules & handling of bikes
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2007, 01:38:20 pm »
I found this info after searching the web.  Seems like good info to know...

"An Amtrak bike BOX measures 69 1/2 long, 39 3/4 high and 8 3/4 wide.
It's quite large enough for almost any bike if you just turn the handlebars
and remove the pedals"


Offline ptaylor

Wondering about Amtrak's rules & handling of bikes
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2007, 03:05:32 pm »
Excellent research Chris.

Paul
Paul

Offline dombrosk

Wondering about Amtrak's rules & handling of bikes
« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2007, 01:39:40 pm »
I've had very good experiences on the Empire Builder with my bike.

I've never been asked to open up the box, I've arrived with it sealed up.

I've seen bike boxes lying on their side on the carts going out to the train, but when I asked they told me that they load them into the baggage car upright.

For your other luggage, you might think about checking through a cardboard box that you could break down and discard/recycle at Williston.

The Empire Builder does not have bike hooks... I know that some trains have those, which is very nice for folks who commute by train and bike.

Both times I've boxed my bike I was lucky to get a free box by asking at the station ahead of time--many folks who arrive with bikes just leave the boxes for the next user.  Be careful to check the box, though!  One used box I got had been cut down to a shorter length to make a custom fit for a smaller bike.

Because my bike has upright style bars with bar ends, I needed to pull the handle bar up and out and duct tape it to the top tube.  Not much of a problem, but a good reason to not wait until the night before (or at the station) to box your bike.

Have a great trip!


Offline jerrbeck

Wondering about Amtrak's rules & handling of bikes
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2007, 03:39:25 am »
I have traveled with my bike on the Empire Builder as well as the Coast Starlight. These trains require you to box your bike which is easy to do in the boxes they furnish or your own. You can box it and seal it ahead of time. Additional luggage I have transported by putting it in a large cardboard box, duffle bag, or drawstring sack and checking it as baggage or carrying it on board. Sometimes I strap the panniers together. Containers like a duffle can be mailed home or to your destination for use on the return trip. The passenger cars have luggage racks near the exits as well as above and below the seats. You may be able to check your BOB unboxed.
As indicated, only certain staffed stations can take baggage on or off, so be sure to check.
Have a great trip!

Jerry
Jerry

Offline JimF

Wondering about Amtrak's rules & handling of bikes
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2007, 01:53:45 pm »
Have you looked into the Cello bike and Bob transporter? I used one for crossing the country both ways. One way by air, the other by FedEx Ground. I put the Cello, sans bike and Bob, in Parcel Post, sending it to my stop points. The folks at Cello are also very customer oriented. An excellent product. Good luck.