'Two-wheelers' now welcome on Amtrak trains

Passenger railroad to accept unboxed bicycles as baggage on most long-distance routes
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Amtrak Assistant Conductor Tony Brey punches a bicyclist's ticket for the eastbound Empire Builder on Monday. Amtrak will now accept bicycles without disassembling at most station stops for long-distance trains.
Steve Glischinski
Amtrak Assistant Conductor Paul Trossen loads a bicycle into a baggage car on the Empire Builder Monday.
Steve Glischinski
A bicycle loaded on to an Amtrak baggage car in St. Paul, Minn., on Monday.
Steve Glischinski
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Amtrak on Monday debuted roll-on bike service on its national network of long distance trains. For a fee, usually $25, passengers will now be able to take unboxed bikes on trains on all long-distance routes with the exception of the Coast Starlight, where pricing issues have temporarily held up the service. Amtrak and the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority in Minnesota announced the new service Monday at Union Depot in St. Paul. Previously, Amtrak required bikes to be partially disassembled and boxed for transport.

The service was made possible by the introduction of 70 new Viewliner II baggage cars to the Amtrak fleet. Built by CAF USA in Elmira, N.Y., each car includes racks in which bicycles can be secured, ready for use. Passengers will now have the the ability to take bicycles with them on any train that offers checked baggage service, making car-free trips more convenient. The service will allow two-wheeled exploration of many of the 500 destinations Amtrak serves, including smaller communities that may not have a place to rent a bicycle.

Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle discussed the expansion of cycling at a brief ceremony Monday in the depot's waiting room.

“It’s no longer just a recreational activity; many people now use it to go to work,” Zelle says of bicycles.

He says Amtrak recognizes the interconnectivity of transportation from buses to trains and bicycles, and highlighted the fact that the new service will be as “seamless as possible” for pedal pushers.

After brief remarks by Rafael Ortega, Chairman, Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority and Derrick James, Senior Manager, Government Affairs for Amtrak, cyclists moved to the station platform to load bikes on board Amtrak’s eastbound Empire Builder traveling from Portland, Ore., and Seattle to Chicago.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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