Amtrak will be getting new baggage cars on their long-distance trains. Those trains include the Lake Shore Limited, a twenty-hour train between New York and Chicago, and the Cardinal, another train that travels between Chicago and New York but takes twenty-six hours. The most exciting part of the baggage cars is that they will enable passengers to bring their bicycles on the train without boxing up the bikes.
The new baggage cars will be used on all 15 long-distance routes, which means the benefits of improved reliability and an enhanced climate-control environment for baggage will be available to our long distance customers by the end of 2014 . Also, the new cars will be equipped with built-in luggage racks that will be able to secure unboxed bicycles…
Yes, it’s exciting to see one nineteenth-century form of transportation (the train) supplement another nineteenth-century form of transportation (the safety bicycle). It also makes taking a train a viable and affordable option for traveling to distant bicycle events, such as October’s Hilly Hundred in Indiana. Last year, I had to box up my bike, take it to Newark, and then ship it to and from Indianapolis.
As great a step forward this is, it’s still not the same as allowing bicyclists to walk their bikes onto the train, as is the case on certain trains in California and the Midwest. It’s also nice to have that option aboard our the Metro North and Long Island Railroad commuter lines.
Allowing bicycles onto Amtrak trains that run north of New York City would immediately open up new destinations in upstate New York, such as Rhinebeck and Hudson, and parts of Vermont for some great foliage rides.
And if you want to read about today’s passenger rail travel in the United States, Kevin Baker takes a long-distance trip on the “Twenty-First Century Limited” in this month’s Harper’s.