How much 'Amtrak Express' is carried?

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by unitedstatesfan, Aug 12, 2016.

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  1. Aug 12, 2016 #1

    unitedstatesfan

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    There have been occasional praiseworthy reviews on general websites such as 'Yelp' of the little advertised 'Amtrak Express' service that quite a few who are moving belongings between states have found to be very handy, being cheaper than working through a removalist company:

    https://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?c=Page&pagename=am%2FLayout&cid=1241267371736&WT.z_va_evt=redirect&WT.z_va_topic=Make%20a%20Reservation%20and%20Fares&WT.z_va_unit=Amtrak%20Express&WT.z_va_group=Misc%20Reservation%20and%20Fare%20Information

    How much 'Amtrak Express' in annual kilograms is handled? What is a typical number of packages on a long distance train: a small pallet load?

    If I'm on a typical LD train such as CS, am I likely to see any shipments being loaded en route or is this only done at major stations such as Los Angeles Union, Portland and Seattle? The website suggests that Amtraks offers such 'shipping' to 100 cities but unhelpfully does not state which ones.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 12, 2016
  2. Aug 12, 2016 #2

    CCC1007

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    Amtrak express is offered at almost if not all stations that have checked baggage service, though I don't think NYP can originate a shipment. The lot must be no more than 50 lbs per parcel and no more than 500 lbs per shipment. Larger items can be palletized, but that is only offered where an Amtrak owned forklift is available to load the pallet onto the train.
     
  3. Aug 12, 2016 #3

    seat38a

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    From what I understand, this service is pretty much a life line too some of the remote communities that FedEx and UPS won't touch due to it not being profitable.
     
  4. Aug 12, 2016 #4

    norfolkwesternhenry

    norfolkwesternhenry

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    I've never seen any pallets of cargo being loaded onto any of the Amtrak trains I've been on, I would guess not much
     
  5. Aug 12, 2016 #5

    willem

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    And I've seen a line of six shrink-wrapped pallets lined up for loading, so I would guess a lot.
     
  6. Aug 12, 2016 #6

    igor

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    I moved to the west coast from Ohio in January, and had Amtrak do the shipping. I enjoyed a blog post from another Amtrak fan who did the same thing, and aside from mentioning how cheap such a move is compared to UPS or USPS (Amtrak doesn't care about distance), he also pointed out that there are Amtrak Express stations and Amtrak Express Lite stations, which can't handle more than 250 pounds of shipments. So, not only are there stations that handle checked luggage that don't handle Express (I'm looking at you, Cincinnati), but there are also stations that won't accept your 500 pounds of stuff, should you ship it all at once.

    As an aside, the limits are very soft. If you bring a friend, you can ship 1000 pounds. I assume if you came back to the same station an hour later, you could ship another 500 pounds. I was a bit over on my shipment, and Amtrak didn't really care. They also treated oversized pieces (a guitar and bike) as separate shipments, which didn't count towards the weight total.

    When my shipment arrived, it had been palletized, probably in Chicago. That makes larger shipments easier to keep track of and load. Cleveland clearly didn't have that capability.

    Portland does a lot of Express traffic. When I talked to the guys in the baggage room while picking up my boxes, they said they do a lot of perishables (flowers from the Willamette valley, for instance) as well as other, regular shipments. Last week while waiting for a train in Portland, I watched 5 palettes come off the southbound Starlight at Portland. That's probably part of the reason the Starlight hangs out in Portland for an hour: it takes a while to load and unload the Express packages.
     
  7. Aug 12, 2016 #7

    Palmetto

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    There is not much info available at Amtrak.com about this topic, but that's nothing new. Info at Amtrak is sometimes quite hard to come by unless you call them. They offer shipping to over 100 cities, but there's no list of them. Pretty inadequate. Almost seems like they don't want to offer the service, so they don't give out info.
     
  8. Aug 12, 2016 #8

    SubwayNut

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    I believe you can also send funeral remains abord Amtrak!
     
  9. Aug 12, 2016 #9

    AmtrakLKL

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    From my limited geographical perspective, express volumes have picked up this summer. Lots of household goods being shipped across country both loose and on pallets.
     
  10. Aug 12, 2016 #10

    Palmetto

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    Yes, you can. They refer to the move as "human remains".
     
  11. Aug 12, 2016 #11

    unitedstatesfan

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    igor, thank you for such a great example as I will soon visit Portland. Five pallets is quite a lot of freight.

    Presumably every time someone mentions 'Amtrak Express' publicly a few more USA residents become aware of this valuable service. It's all part of increasing public awareness - and hence support - for Amtrak in a nation with vast distances, and many who migrate from say New York to California, Florida or Chicago, or vice versa, for work or personal reasons.

    I hope someone at Amtrak reads this and provides the information on its website as to which stations it accepts Express (or 'Express Light') to and from. That would help to encourage usage.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 12, 2016
  12. Aug 12, 2016 #12

    Bob Dylan

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    Yes you can, but they have to be loaded and unloaded by a Licensed Funeral Director. Amtrak staff and passengers cannot perform this service!
     
  13. Aug 13, 2016 #13

    Palmetto

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    Frankly, at that point in time, I wouldn't care who loads or unloads me! :p
     
  14. Aug 15, 2016 #14

    unitedstatesfan

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    One way in which 'Amtrak Express' could be promoted is for contributors to these fora to mention it to family and friends, and spread the word.

    I wish however that Amtrak would post more details about it on its website.
     
  15. Aug 15, 2016 #15

    railiner

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    I really wonder if Amtrak wants to expand its Express shipment business substantially....while the small amount carried today does add to the revenue a nice amount, a large expansion thru aggressive marketing may lead to overwhelming the personnel and facilities that handle it...

    They would have to hire more people, that would be necessary only for "train time", and have nothing to do the rest of the day, on most routes carrying express....
     
  16. Aug 15, 2016 #16

    ToniCounter

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    in case anyone is thinking of using Amtrak Express as a way to move things across states cheaply.

    I just helped someone move to Illinois. We packed up everything and stuffed them into 7 big 24x24x24 boxes, each weighing from 30 to 47 pounds. Took them to FedEx and shipped with FedEx Ground. There's currently a $5 off $15 coupon you can print from FedEx's website. After the coupon, each box was only $23 to $27. Total weigh of all 7 boxes was 262 pounds. Total money paid(after 7 coupons) was just $177. The boxes took just 2 business days to travel across 4 states. We drove to the new place the day before that. The next day, the FedEx Ground truck delivered all 7 boxes and even carried them up to the 3rd floor apartment (!!!). I tried to give the FedEx guy a $20 for his troubles, but he refused.

    Since the old city and the new city were both served by Amtrak Express, I did get a quote ahead of time, but realized FedEx Ground was much cheaper. (plus the fact that they deliver right to your door, even on the 3rd floor)
     
  17. Aug 15, 2016 #17

    igor

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    You can also have UPS and Fed Ex pickup at your house (if you're willing to hang around all day)

    FedEx bases pricing on size, weight and distance. Amtrak charges on weight alone, so if you're moving a series of small, heavy boxes, or moving across the country, Amtrak is often cheaper.

    Clearly Amtrak Express comes with more limitations: pickup and deliveries at stations that handle packages, shorter hours at the station, but my experience is that for long distances it's cheaper.
     
  18. Aug 15, 2016 #18

    ToniCounter

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    true... We only went with FedEx Ground after comparing the quotes from USPS, UPS, FedEx, Amtrak, as well as a regional package service. FedEx was by far the cheapest(helped by seven $5-off-$15 FedEx Ground coupons for this month), as well as the delivery to 3rd floor apartment with no elevators.
     
  19. Aug 16, 2016 #19

    Triley

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    One minor thing that irritates the former retail worker in me...that coupon was only suppose to be valid once "per customer, per visit, per shipment." So be thankful that they applied it to every shipment, but I wouldn't plan on that happening every time!
     

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