Capitol Limited - Carry On Bicycle Service

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by IndyLions, Jul 23, 2019.

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  1. Jul 23, 2019 #1

    IndyLions

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    IndyLions

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    Does anyone here have experience with Carry-on Bicycle Service? I'm getting ready to take the Capitol Limited round-trip from South Bend, IN to Washington DC - and I see it is available for an extra fee. Because I don't fully trust everything I read on Amtrak's web site (or an Airline's web site for instance) - I thought I'd check with the forum.

    Here's how the service is described on Amtrak's web page (https://www.amtrak.com/bring-your-bicycle-onboard):

    Carry-on Bicycle Service
    Standard full-size bicycles may be carried on and stored onboard in bicycle racks on these select certain trains.

    Specially Designated Spaces Only

    Bicycles must be stored in the designated racks within the body of the car. On trains with unreserved carry-on bicycle service, racks are available at a first-come, first-serve basis. When the racks are full, bikes will no longer be accepted onboard.


    I have personal experience with the (now defunct) Hoosier State - which was not highly organized - but the crew's attitude and execution made that a good experience. On this Capitol Limited trip - I'm going to be in a sleeper - so I'm guessing my bike would go somewhere else on the train and I'd need to lock it.

    Any experience / knowledge would be appreciated!
     
  2. Jul 23, 2019 #2

    PVD

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    South Bend has checked baggage, and I think if the bike was in a bike box it could be checked to Washington instead of carry on...
    https://www.amtrak.com/onboard/baggage-policy/baggage-special-items.html
    If you already have a container, and don't have 2 bags to check, it may be an option. Like all things Amtrak double check, and if it is an option remember to allow plenty of time..
     
  3. Jul 24, 2019 #3

    spinnaker

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    The bike travels in the bag car. This is not to be confused with the baggage car at the front of the train. This car will be somewhere mid train. It is a have coach half baggage car. The conductor will open the door and you load and unload the bike yourself.

    Usually there is a rack. Hang the bike in the rack. There is a cable to secure the bike but you need to provide the lock. I would take a key lock as they are quicker to unlock. There is often not much light in the car so you might also want to have a flashlight ready.

    On my last trip on the CL, there was no rack. I was not happy about this as there was no way to lock the bike and there would be multiple stops at night. I can only hope that the door is only open when a rider needs to load or unload a bike. If there is no rack then just lay the bike down. Do not lean it because it won't be in that potions when you go to retrieve it. ;)

    If you carry on, you need to prebook for the bike. There are only 6 places per train, which is ridiculous because there is plenty of more room for bikes.
     
  4. Jul 24, 2019 #4

    PVD

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    That contradicts the website which says 8 sots for carry-on on the CL, but the web page being wrong wouldn't shock me. The question I hope gets answered is whether he also has the option of sending the bike as a checked item, since his stops have baggage service. The website seems to say that, but like all things Amtrak verification is important...
     
  5. Jul 24, 2019 #5

    spinnaker

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    One bike is a contradiction really? :rolleyes::rolleyes: Does it really make much of a difference??? Point is, there is a limit.

    Shipping the bike in the baggage car is a PITA. Not as bad as boxing the bike for regular shipping but still a PITA. A lot easier to make a reservation and use the RORO service.

    Plus you can only box at stations with a baggage service, RORO works at every stop (at least east of Pittsburgh).
     
  6. Jul 24, 2019 #6

    PVD

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    He said he was boarding in South Bend, that was why I mentioned Checked. If he has a container, it is cheaper. Actually the difference is 6-8 which is 2, not a large number, but by percentage, significant. I wasn't pointing it out as a contradiction for that reason though. The purpose was to point out that conflicting information from different sources is a real problem with Amtrak and that anything you here or see usually warrants verification.
     
  7. Jul 24, 2019 #7

    spinnaker

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    Typo on my original part. Meant to type 9. Just going from memory. I thought CL was 9. I think the EB and CZ is 8 Cascades has a 10 bike limit, Again it does not really matter unless you have a group that needs all of the slots. The important thing is to know there is a limit and it is fairly small. So book early.

    Maybe cheaper but a lot more hassle, especially if it is your own box which is going to be smaller.

    Amtrak helps a lot with their huge boxes but they are not always available and cost $16 when they are. But even those big boxes ar a pain. Well worth the $20 for me to no have to box.
     
  8. Jul 24, 2019 #8

    PVD

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    With the pace of elimination of checked baggage stations your thoughts make even more sense......
     
  9. Jul 24, 2019 #9

    spinnaker

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    No reason at all why every Amtrak train should not have the same service. The Pennsylvanian has nothing at all. I have been wanting to take it to ride a bike trail out east but my only option is to pick another mode of transport or ship the bike ahead.
     
  10. Jul 24, 2019 #10

    PVD

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    Well, there is one big reason. When a train is a state supported route, the state(s) that pay the bills get to set many of the service levels and amenities. Penns is a great example.
     
  11. Jul 24, 2019 #11

    spinnaker

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    Well that figures. ;) It is Pennsylvania. Maybe I will contact my rep. ;)
     
  12. Jul 24, 2019 #12

    IndyLions

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    Thanks for the tips. I’m booked - not exactly early (day of departure) - but I got a slot. Glad to hear it is in a bag car - and I’ll be ready with my bike lock and cell phone flashlight. And I’ll be sure to lay it down if there is no rack.

    $20 each way is very fair - and I am thrilled I won’t have to box it.

    Renting a nice road bike is often very expensive. I spent $100 for a 24 hour rental in LA. This is an excellent alternative to renting.

    I’ll let everyone know how it goes.
     
  13. Jul 25, 2019 #13

    PVD

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    And speaking of PA, a whole bunch of folks are getting on and off 193 in Philly as I type this.
     
  14. Jul 26, 2019 #14

    PaulM

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    I've used the CL RORO bike service several times, including right after it finally started. If I recall, I described it at that time as a no-brainer and the conductors were very accommodating.

    Just to clarify some of the posts, the car is a coach-baggage, i.e., instead of lower level seating, there is baggage space, which now contains bike racks.

    Just to confuse matters more, I think there were 7 racks; but in one case I saw an eighth bike bungeed to the wall.
     
  15. Jul 26, 2019 #15

    anumberone

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    I'm curios how things workout in DC with the bike.
     
  16. Jul 29, 2019 #16

    IndyLions

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    Overall – it was a fantastic experience. The tips I got on this forum made the bike transport go off without a hitch. The eastbound CL had bike racks on the wall, the westbound yesterday did not (so I laid the bike down flat).

    While rolling through Union Station in DC yesterday, an on-the-ball Amtrak employee called out to me and reminded me I needed to get the bike tagged for my destination – which I did. On the way to DC, that step didn’t happen – although it probably should have.

    Instead of hanging out in the first class lounge like I usually do – since I had the bike and I didn’t want to check it, I was directed to wait in the general gate area near the sliding door while they lined up the coach and special-needs passengers. After that occurred but before general boarding and before sleeper boarding – they let me through to the train first to get my bike up to the bag coach car. There I loaded it myself with an Amtrak employee standing by.

    In terms of the bicycling experience in DC itself, that was outstanding. In my opinion it is a great city in which to own a bicycle. Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings I got in about 20 miles of riding each day between 6 and 8 AM while my wife and daughters were sleeping-in like they always do.

    I explored the Mall, Navy Yard, Anacosta Trail, and Rock Creek Trail along with some other parts of the greater DC area. It was a lot of fun and as a fairly experienced bicyclist I never felt unsafe for sure.
     
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  17. Jul 30, 2019 #17

    PVD

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    I was in DC from Weds night through Friday evening. I noticed quite a few bike shares, as well as scooter rentals. Glad it went well.
     
  18. Jul 30, 2019 #18

    anumberone

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    I was curios how D.C. Would work out, sounds like your plan of rideing early is the way to go. Otherwise, renting and parking with no worries seems good for later in the day
     
  19. Aug 1, 2019 #19

    spinnaker

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    Funny I have never been asked for my claim ticket on the CL. Kind of disturbing. It has been spotty on other trains. On the EB, this year my bike was at the baggage car door. No one around.
     
  20. Aug 3, 2019 #20

    IndyLions

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    On the return, the South Bend personnel definitely asked me for my claim ticket when I removed the bike from the Coach-Baggage car and seemed relieved when I had it.

    Outbound, it was never asked for in DC, and since I never tagged my bike in the first place I guess that’s a good thing :)

    In my (pitiful) defense, I was familiar with the process on the Hoosier State (just bring it on the train with you in Coach/BC) - which has no baggage service.
     
  21. Aug 3, 2019 #21

    TiBike

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    And the world didn't end.

    There's no legitimate reason bikes can't be rolled on/rolled off by passengers on any Amtrak train.
     
  22. Aug 3, 2019 #22

    IndyLions

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    I agree. And I know us bicyclists aren’t a HUGE market, but despite my own 53 year-old age - I’m guessing most bicyclists are part of a younger demographic that Amtrak would really like to reach...

    On one trip with my bike - (IND-CHI) I wouldn’t have gone on the train w/o the bike service. The whole purpose of the day trip was to ride the bike trail along Lake Michigan.

    On the other trip (SOB-WAS), I was going to DC on Amtrak either way, but the ability to take my bike & explore DC that way made me anxious to take Amtrak again to explore the next destination.
     
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