Coming Soon: Amtrak Roll-On Bike Service

Bike_Amtrak - cropped - Don Willott

Photo by Don Willott

Have you dreamed of traveling to a distant state by train with your bike, but cringed at the thought of having to box your bike for the journey? Dream again. Amtrak roll-on bike service is on its way!

Amtrak announced plans to include bike storage racks on its new long distance equipment. The new baggage cars will be installed on all 15 long distance routes by the end of 2014. That includes the Coast Starlight and Empire Builder routes serving Washington state.

“It’s clear that Americans want a national system of intercity passenger rail and Amtrak is moving ahead to build new equipment to meet customer demand,” said Amtrak President and CEO, Joe Boardman.

Washington Bikes executive director Barb Chamberlain is looking forward to switching to trains for her long distance travels.

“Roll-on bike service will make me choose Amtrak over air travel every chance I get. I’ve been waiting for this to transform my vacation choices. This will open up a huge market for Amtrak since bike travel is growing like crazy and legs sometimes need a rest,” she stated.

Bicyclists traveling by train in western Washington and Oregon have been accustomed to roll-on bike service on Amtrak Cascades service sponsored by WSDOT and ODOT. All Amtrak routes in Washington will have roll-on bike service with the expansion to Coast Starlight and Empire Builder routes.

Read complete story from Amtrak blog.

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4 Comments

  1. Ryan
    Posted June 25, 2014 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Finally! I’ve written to Amtrak and voiced my disappointment over their existing, miserable bike accommodations. Now we can travel by train to places like Leavenworth and Sandpoint ID. Or even from Spokane to Seattle and beyond.

    Except there might be a hitch. I just read the Amtrak post and the racks are located on the baggage car. This might mean that stops like Leavenworth and Sandpoint (which don’t have baggage car access) won’t let you remove your bike.

    • Barb Chamberlain
      Posted June 29, 2014 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      We’ve been working with Adventure Cycling Association on this for a while now as part of a coalition of organizations seeking to increase bike access on trains. Kudos to ACA for leading the charge.

      The new Amtrak cars are baggage cars, so as of now this means they are available at stations with baggage service. The racks are not configured to
      handle tandems. Probably not Xtra-cycles either but some measurements would need to be taken to be sure. Amtrak has security concerns about access to
      baggage cars when no staff is present. According to ACA, part of the pilot projects getting under way will involve studying this issue more closely.

      Keep telling Amtrak that you need access at unstaffed stops and need accommodations for bikes of various sizes. We represent a really big market if they meet our needs — they need to keep hearing that.

  2. Susan Hiles
    Posted June 25, 2014 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Need safe bike routes in Bellevue

  3. Nancy K
    Posted June 24, 2014 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    I’m interested in hearing what their policy on tandems might be. We took our tandem on the Empire Builder to Minneapolis 2 years ago. At that time, we were able to telescope 2 boxes together to accommodate our tandem. After we started our trip, the rules changed and this practice was no longer allowed. Lucky for us, our tandem has couplings and we separated it into 2 bike boxes. However, it wasn’t the best solution as some parts were vulnerable to damage.

One Trackback

  1. […] Cascades line is the only Amtrak train that allows bicycles on board that aren’t boxed up (though they’re expanding the service to 15 additional lines soon). Bikes cost an additional $5 and the train’s rack only holds 10, so reservations are […]