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Amtrak is rolling out a new fleet of baggage carts equipped with roll-on bike racks. Check it out here.

http://blog.amtrak.com/2014/06/new-baggage-cars/

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I find the comments about the overhead luggage rack strange.  My wife and I frequently take our bikes on the Illinois Zephyr; and it always goes in the floor level luggage rack or large open space at the end of the car with no problem.  Only once did a newbie conductor ask me to put my wife's bike in the overhead rack.  When I pointed out that official policy says folding bikes can't go in overhead racks, her response was that it wasn't a folding bike. Duh!

Also, Missouri Service trains from STL to KCY have the same type of bike service as Illinois.  Makes for a nice ride on the Katy Trail.

Cameron 7.5 mi said:

Removing the wheel and shoving it in the overhead is allowed on the Illinois Service trains that run downstate.

Mike Zumwalt said:

I never had to box my bike on any train to or from Chicago? But a nice dedicated rack would be sweet, much less hassle than taking off the front wheel to put it over head as I usually do.

In 2012 my wife and I were asked to put our bikes in the overheads on Illinois Service from Joliet to St Louis and on the Missouri River Runner from St Louis to Sedalia.  In both cases we agreed but asked if someone might be able to assist. 

In both cases the conductor said "Never mind.  Just stow them  in the space at the end of the car."   I figured they gave us a pass because we're senior citizens.   A conductor who is also a very active cyclist told me that that was the official AMTRAK written policy at the time.

There are also several CGOAB journals reporting the same bikes in the overhead policy with various levels of enforcement.   I suspect that the enforcement is changing as bicycles are being carried on trains more frequently now than a few years back.


Paul said:

I find the comments about the overhead luggage rack strange.  My wife and I frequently take our bikes on the Illinois Zephyr; and it always goes in the floor level luggage rack or large open space at the end of the car with no problem.  Only once did a newbie conductor ask me to put my wife's bike in the overhead rack.  When I pointed out that official policy says folding bikes can't go in overhead racks, her response was that it wasn't a folding bike. Duh!

Also, Missouri Service trains from STL to KCY have the same type of bike service as Illinois.  Makes for a nice ride on the Katy Trail.

How is the Katy Trail?  I rode the GAP/C&O last year and am looking for a similar ride to make in October/November using Amtrak to get there and back.

We really enjoyed our trip in May 2012, and would consider doing it again some day. 

I highly recommend browsing around http://www.bikekatytrail.com/  Especially check out what might be going on in towns along the way while you're there.  We also found the Katy Trail Guide Book, available from the web site,  interesting and useful in planning

We took Amtrak to Sedalia, biked from Sedalia west to Clinton, then biked back east to St Charles.  The trail surface is well packed crushed stone.  My wife was comfortable riding on 700x32 tires while carrying about 20 lbs in rear panniers.  But I don't think it would be a very pleasant ride on 23s, even unloaded.

We stayed in historic hotels or B&Bs rather than camping.  Our daily mileage ranged from 50 mi to 15 mi. ... sometimes, if we found something interesting, we'd just hang  out in a town for a day rather than riding on.   Be sure to check hours of operation for things you want to see or visit.

Each morning we called around to make reservations for that night or the following night.  Just be aware that the management at B&Bs  can be hard to reach some times.  E.g., the owner may have a day job and only responds to phone calls or email at night.

While we didn't have too much trouble making short notice reservations in May, that probably won't work very well in Nov or Oct.  That is the super busy season there, and some popular places are probably booked up already.

Good Tour!


Tricolor said:

How is the Katy Trail?  I rode the GAP/C&O last year and am looking for a similar ride to make in October/November using Amtrak to get there and back.

Larry, I don't doubt you at all.  But I've been taking bikes on the Illinois and Missouri trains for 25 years; and I am 99.9% sure there never was a policy of putting bikes in the overhead racks.  Amtrak's on board personnel are known to say very strange things in response to questions or situations.  Think of a factory without a plant manager or shop foreman on site.

Once upon a time, you locked or bungeed your bike to the railing in the vestibule of the first or last car - safe, secure, and out of the way.  But this was discontinued for safety reasons - it was felt they might block egress in case of an emergency (i.e., wreck). Certainly, the overhead rack would be more dangerous.

Larry Mysz said:

In 2012 my wife and I were asked to put our bikes in the overheads on Illinois Service from Joliet to St Louis and on the Missouri River Runner from St Louis to Sedalia.  In both cases we agreed but asked if someone might be able to assist. 

In both cases the conductor said "Never mind.  Just stow them  in the space at the end of the car."   I figured they gave us a pass because we're senior citizens.   A conductor who is also a very active cyclist told me that that was the official AMTRAK written policy at the time.

Paul said:

I find the comments about the overhead luggage rack strange.  My wife and I frequently take our bikes on the Illinois Zephyr; and it always goes in the floor level luggage rack or large open space at the end of the car with no problem.  Only once did a newbie conductor ask me to put my wife's bike in the overhead rack.  When I pointed out that official policy says folding bikes can't go in overhead racks, her response was that it wasn't a folding bike. Duh!

Also, Missouri Service trains from STL to KCY have the same type of bike service as Illinois.  Makes for a nice ride on the Katy Trail.

I've done both several times.  The trail surfaces are very similar, although the Katy can be dustier in spots.  I've done both with 25mm tires.  Both use the roadbed of John-come-lately railroads that lost out to older competition on the opposite side of the river.  Both go through areas that time has passed by, and you have to plan overnights carefully.  Unless the Katy Trail gets a hold of the MKT bridge at Booneville, it has nothing to compare to the Salisbury Viaduct.  The biggest difference, other than better Amtrak service for the Katy, is the much denser forests on the GAP.

My favorite overnight on the Katy is the Turner Katy Trail Shelter in Tebbets, MO.

For trip reports with pictures for both trails, see http://biketrain.x10.mx/


Tricolor said:

How is the Katy Trail?  I rode the GAP/C&O last year and am looking for a similar ride to make in October/November using Amtrak to get there and back.

 http://www.columbiamissourian.com/a/178723/supporters-of-katy-bridg...

Work starts next year on one side of Booneville bridge.

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