Amtrak w/ Bike

I’m strongly considering doing the Shiner GASP century in May, and traveling to Austin from Illinois via Amtrak. Has anyone here ever taken Amtrak and taken their bike with them?  I know they have cheap bike boxes, but I’m not sure what all is involved.  Do you have to do anything more than loosen your headset to put your handlebars parallel to your wheels?

7 Replies

jwsknk, February 7, 2011 at 4:21 pm

depends on the train.On some Amtrak trains you can roll your bike up to the train and secure it in a bike rack, unboxed. Onboard bike space is limited and is not available on all trains. On some trains you can check your bike as baggage. Not all stations or trains have checked baggage service. (like any in Iowa between Omaha and Burlington) but your in Illinois.
In Australia I had to remove pedals & front tire too, just like boxing it to fly.


“Bicycle Bill”, February 8, 2011 at 2:14 am

The Amtrak box is taller and longer than the ordinary run-of-the-mill bike box you would find at your local shop, so all you need to do is remove the pedals, the seat/seatpost, and rotate or remove the handlebars.  Most regular bikes will fit without the need to remove the front wheel.

If you get a box from a bike shop, however, you will need to do more to make your bike fit; the advantage is that the box is a little smaller in overall dimension so it would be easier to schlep it onto and off of the train.

Check your train and see what type of equipment they are using.  If the train uses the Superliner cars (the double-deck cars) there might be a baggage storage area in the underpart of your coach or sleeper, and perhaps you could walk your boxed bike into there…….  No guarantees, mind you, but if you talk nicely and far enough ahead of time to your station agent (and he is willing to talk nicely to the conductor of the train) good things could happen.



ngless, February 8, 2011 at 7:56 am

Awesome, thanks for the responses guys.  My plan is to take the Texas Eagle (a superliner) to Austin.  I’ll call ahead to figure out the boxing situation.

Have either of you actually done this?  Was it a pleasant enough experience?


jwsknk, February 8, 2011 at 8:28 am

not yet, have been looking for a way to go from Ames to New Orleans so that was an option I have been looking at. Couple years ago Council Bluffs to Burlington, some people that were on here did it, those are both station with baggage check agents.


Bartaped, February 8, 2011 at 8:57 am

I did Amtrak the year that it went CB to Burlington. I used my hard case and boarded in Grand Junction,Co. I went with a charter so they had my case at Burlington and just boxed my bike and shipped it back to Co. THERE is NO BAGGAGE SERVICE ACROSS IOWA. There was not even a depot person in Burlington. I would check with Amtrak as to what they will accomidate from you boarding station. I do know they will provide you with a box for $5 at most locations. IF it was me i would make sure my bike was boxed for protection, both from damage and theft. Good Luck………. it was a great way to get to the ride and back.


bivy Iverson, February 8, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Here is what I remember from 20 months ago.  We were able to put our bikes, panniers and all, on the commuter train from Portland to Boston.  The next day we rode them to the Depot in Boston, right to the Baggage room.  There we were given large boxes to put bikes in, after we loosened and turned the headset and removed the pedals.  We took the pedals with us – they pointed out the box could develope a hole, and we might lose them, or any other item that was loose in the box.  We were also able to check our panniers at this time.
I would recommend calling ahead to the train station you mean to depart from to ensure they have a box ready and waiting.  I was told that they do not necessarily keep boxes there, so let them order one for you in advance.  I think the cost was only $15.  There are some differences from train to train, so check the train you want to ride.


jwsknk, February 8, 2011 at 4:29 pm

yep, bartaped  is right no check baggage in Burlington or even anybody there. Ft. Madison has someone there at least but no check baggage either.


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