Amtrak's Bike on Train Demo
Earlier this month as part of the League of American Bicyclists National Bike Summit, Amtrak provided a demonstration of their bike equipment to attendees. According to Amtrak, in 2016 their trains carried more than 30,000 bicycles on 31 routes. My colleague, Erin Potter, and I learned about three types train cars that have been retrofitted to carry bikes with roll-on/roll-off service. No longer do you have to box your bike up to bring it along with you!
This first is the Amfleet I Coach, which uses the space from a modified luggage rack to accommodate one bike per car. When the racks aren't in use, the shelves can be folded down to store luggage. Of note, the front wheel must be removed so that the bike does not encroach on the walkway space. Take this train from DC all the way to Vermont.
The second type of train car is the Superliner Coach-Baggage Car, in which the unused space from the smoking cabin has been fitted with vertical hanging bike racks. The bikes are secured with a tie-down strap and can be locked in place using a standard u-lock. This space can fit up to 8 bicycles per car, and even has space for non-standard bikes like recumbents, cargo bikes or your favorite mid-fats mountain bike. This type of car is available on the Capitol Limited line which goes out to Chicago.
The last train car is the Viewliner II Baggage Car which operates on Amtrak’s Long Distance fleet and a number of State Corridor trains. These cars have room for 12 vertical racks and since they are higher off the ground, Amtrak staff will assist in lifting the bikes on and off the train.
When asked what the most popular route out of Washington DC is, the most enthusiastic response was “Pittsburgh!” Now you can take the train all the way to Pittsburgh and ride home along the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Trail, which makes for a nice multi-day, 300+ mile ride.
For more information on Amtrak’s service check out Amtrak.com/bikes.
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