Author Topic: Amtrek  (Read 3037 times)

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Offline ddf59

Amtrek
« on: August 12, 2010, 05:13:57 pm »
Has anyone tried Amtrek to get to a destination instread of flying? And how was it carrying a bike?

Offline aggie

Re: Amtrek
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2010, 05:31:32 pm »
You should be able to do a search for Amtrak and see what has been said in previous posts. 

I've traveled several times by Amtrak.  I find it easier and more relaxing to travel by train.  Amtrak sells a bike box that makes it easy to transport your bike.  I haven't had any problems.  If Amtrak goes to your destination and you have the time I recommend it over flying.

Offline whittierider

Re: Amtrek
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2010, 05:56:42 pm »
Amtrak's bike boxes are pretty big, so you shouldn't have to make any heroic efforts to fit most bikes.  Their Pacific Surfliner trains runs have three bike racks in each car, or maybe it's three at each end of the car (I can't remember).  If you're on that kind of train, you just roll the bike onto the train yourself, with no box, and hang it up.  It might be good to lock it to the rack anyway just so someone can't fly out the door with it at one of the brief stops.  If you have panniers and other luggage, you can usually put it on the floor under the bike, but there would be a reasonable limit to what you would be allowed to put there.  The rest should fit in the overhead storage compartments at your seat.  The travel on these trains is very pleasant, with loads of room and very little noise compared to an airplane.  We've been on one of their Coast Starlight trains too IIRC, which seemed smaller, older, and not as pleasant, and they didn't have the bike racks, meaning you would have to box the bike.  Their website is amtrak.com .  Note the spelling-- two a's, no e.

Offline rvklassen

Re: Amtrek
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2010, 10:27:55 am »
One thing to be aware of, is that unless you are on one of these trains with bike racks (and I don't know how common they are outside of the pacific coast), you will need to start and end at a station that accepts checked luggage. 

Offline Tourista829

Re: Amtrek
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2010, 10:12:25 pm »
I really like the train. Riding the train and cycling is a great way to go places. With the club car, it brings back memories of a by gone era. As stated in previous posts, call Amtrak first, to make sure of 3 things:
1. They check the station 2 make sure they have a bike box in stock. (Once they were out of bike boxes & I had to scramble big time!)
2. Go from a manned station, Amtrak doesn't take bikes from an unmanned station even if boxed. (no baggage handlers)
3. If applicable, not sure about bike trailers, when I called once, they said they didn't take them, I offered to box it, the answer was no.
    (I find that hard to believe and may have been an isolated case. They wonder why ridership is dropping)


Offline whittierider

Re: Amtrek
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2010, 11:34:10 pm »
I have found that if you call them at (800)USA-RAIL, they won't be as accommodating.  At the station however, they're not so quick to turn away business.  I have rolled our tandem into the baggage car myself, unboxed, several times.  Three months ago, I was with a group and we got to the station almost too late, and I had tried to clean up a bit really fast in the bathroom and by the time I got out to the train, they said all the bike racks were full.  I cell-phoned one of the others in our party who was already on the train to tell him I guess I was going to have to take the next train and I couldn't go with them, and when one of the attendants beside the train heard me and realized the party would get split up, she radioed to another one to let me put my bike in a secluded baggage area so I could go with my party.  Very nice.  I just laid it on the floor in kind of a dungeon!
« Last Edit: August 13, 2010, 11:36:03 pm by whittierider »

Offline aggie

Re: Amtrek
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2010, 11:44:52 am »
I also had a similar experience on the CA Surfliner.  First the station was out of bike boxes so I had to get a box at LA's Union Station (had to go there anyway).  When I tried to get aboard the train all the bike spots were full (surfboards).  The conductor then had me put the bike in an unused baggage area.  It worked out great.

I've always taken my trailer on the train.  I have a BOB and use the Ortlieb Big Zip bag.  The trailer and some gear easily fit in the bag and since it weighs less than 50 lbs they take it as baggage.  Never had a problem shipping it that way.  The baggage car is a little hard on the bag though.  I guess that since the bag rests on the wooden floor and there is a lot of vibration it rubs small holes in the bag. 

Offline bktourer1

Re: Amtrek
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2010, 04:48:37 pm »
Keep in mind not all stops have baggage check.  I cant get from Springfield MA to Boston on Amtrak as Springfield does not check baggage.  In order for me to get to Boston, I had to have a friend drive me 45 minutes to Worcester to get the commuter train off peak to continue to Boston.  I could not get from Springfield to NYC for the same reason

Offline aggie

Re: Amtrek
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2010, 11:05:35 am »
The following page lists Amtrak's policy on bicycles:  http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?c=Page&pagename=am%2FLayout&cid=1241337895554  You will note that there are 8 routes that provide racks for bicycles.  Some may require a reservation as described in the policy.  The timetable for each route will also list all the stations that have baggage service.

Offline peterswim

Re: Amtrek
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2010, 07:27:28 pm »
Traveling by Amtrak is a great way to go.  I took the train from downtown LA to San Luis Obispo 2 years ago and then rode back.  I took a train that accepted unboxed bikes, so I was able to put my bike on the cargo car in LA, take it off the cargo car in SLO, attach my bags and ride away.  Really simple.  I think for sometrains you have to box your bike, but I believe the Amtrak website has all of the information you need to make an informed decision. 

Offline Peaks

Re: Amtrak
« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2010, 06:30:04 pm »
I used Amtrak to go from Boston to DC, and Pittsburgh back to Boston for my C&O/GAP ride in June 2010.  I bought their box in Boston $15 plus $5. handling, and they gave me a previously used box in Pittsburgh.  Boxing the bike was easy.  Just take off the peddles and turn the handlebar.  I would have preferred to board elsewhere down the line, but other stations did not accept baggage. 

If Amtrak goes where I want to start or finish my tours, I'd use it again. 

And, as a bonus, once back in Boston, I unboxed my bike, wheeled it onto an outbound commuter train, and then biked home from a suburban train station. 

Offline RicemanDan

Re: Amtrek
« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2010, 02:01:34 am »
Amtrak is superb and the comfort compared to Greyhounds is a terrifically better.

I sourced a box for free from a bike shop, who kindly left it behind a dumpster overnight. I then got the bike on a train from Beaumont to New Orleans, which is an unmanned station. The conductor was cool and I simply stowed the bike into a large room, with absolutely nothing in! I'm not sure what the room was for, but it was empty and easily accessible - no baggage car opening needed and no checking in required. I didn't even need to box it really, but I think boxing gets the conductor on your side. 

Offline AZBikr

Re: Amtrek
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2010, 09:16:54 pm »
I'm planning to use Amtrak to get from Lewistown, PA to Jacksonville, FL to start a Southern Tour ride near the end of October.  After researching Amtraks bicycle policy and talking to the station attendant in Lewistown, I figured out that I was going to have a difficult time getting my Recumbent bike and BOB trailer on the train. The closest place that would accept the bike as baggage was Philadelphia and getting it there was more trouble than it was worth. I'm still going to take the train, but the bike is going to Jacksonville via UPS. I simply contacted a bike shop there and asked about shipping them the bike and having them have it ready for me when I get there. That service was quoted at around $60 and shipping will run about $45 if I can keep it under the oeversize package limits. RBR recumbents in State College, PA donated the box to ship it in. All in all, it's cheaper than trying to get a regular bike on an airplane and the total time for the train ride is only 22 hours at a cost of $132. I prefer the train if I do not have a big rush to get some where. Just the freedom to get up and move around and room to stretch out most of the time is a pleasant change from the cramped seating and restricted mobility for hours on an airplane. In small towns like Lewistown, you don't need to get to the station 2 hours ahead of time like at the airport, and nobody is going to make you empty your pockets and take off your shoes to get through the door.

I've also made note that the Southern Tier route pretty much parallels an Amtrak route across the country, so if something happens that I am unable to finish my ride, it's never very far to get back on the train and get home.