Amtrak to welcome bicycling passengers by end of the year

Amtrak said it will begin to introduce new baggage cars equipped with bicycle racks on all of its long-distance trains, including the Capitol Limited serving Pittsburgh, by the end of the year.

“This is a service and amenity that we want to make sure we can offer,” Amtrak spokesman Craig Schulz said Tuesday.

“It’‍s great to have Amtrak understanding how important the bike tourism industry is,” said Linda Boxx, board member and former president of the Allegheny Trail Alliance, who has worked for years to persuade Amtrak to provide better accommodations for bikes.

The railroad has ordered 55 new baggage cars with bike racks, and the cars will be placed on all 15 long-distance routes, including the Capitol Limited, which operates between Chicago and Washington, D.C., through Pittsburgh. The eastern leg of the route closely follows the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Towpath, trails that extend from Pittsburgh to Washington.

Amtrak offers roll-on service on a few, but for now, those who want to travel with bicycles on the Capitol Limited must box them as checked baggage. They can’t get off the train anywhere but Pittsburgh and Washington, because the other stations on the way aren’t staffed with baggage handlers.

The policies for the facilities still are being worked out, Mr. Schulz said.

In October, Amtrak allowed 20 bicyclists to take their two-wheelers onto a Capitol Limited train in Pittsburgh in a one-day trial of roll-on service that participants said was successful.

Amtrak said it has begun field-testing the baggage cars in Chicago, New Orleans, Miami and the Northeast Corridor. Testing will continue into October.

Jon Schmitz:, 412-263-1868 or on Twitter @pgtraffic.

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