Thursday, October 17 2013 @ 01:26 PM EDT
Contributed by: B' Spokes
By Malcolm Kenton, National Association of Railroad Passengers
On today’s eastbound Capitol Limited (yesterday evening’s Chicago departure), Amtrak conducted its first over-the-road test of vertically-mounted bicycle restraints installed in the lower-level baggage area of one Superliner coach. This represented the first time unboxed bikes were carried on a Superliner-equipped train since they were carried on the Cardinalbefore the train was re-equipped with single-level cars in 2002.
A selected group of cyclists, myself included, boarded with their bikes at Pittsburgh, Connellsville, Harpers Ferry and Rockville. Some detrained at Harpers Ferry, the rest at Washington. At each station, the side door to the previously unused baggage area was opened, cyclists hoisted themselves and their bikes onto the train, and secured their bikes on the racks by first hooking the front wheel to a padded metal hook, then sliding the rear wheel into a U-shaped metal restraining device that springs up from the floor to prevent the bike from shifting side-to-side as the train moves. Below are photos from my experience.
The test went off without a hitch.
Amtrak is interested in allowing passenger to carry unboxed bikes on long-distance routes, and figures the Capitol Limited is a logical one to start with as its route parallels the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal towpath, two internationally popular bike trails (the former was once a railroad right-of-way that roughly paralleled the tracks the Capitol Limited uses). One concern is that the six bike racks in the Superliner baggage area would not be enough to handle demand in the summer, when thousands of cyclists use the trails between Pittsburgh and Washington.