WhiteBlaze Pages 2022
A Complete Appalachian Trail Guidebook.
$5 for printable PDF, AVAILABLE NOW. $9 for interactive PDF(smartphone version)
Read more here WhiteBlaze Pages Store

Results 1 to 20 of 20

Thread: Amtrak Problems

  1. #1

    Default Amtrak Problems

    The ATC called me today to verify aproblem that is arising w/ Amtrak and I told them I would post it here. For those who will use the train, they are now becoming much more strict on the size of baggage. A person can only carry one bag that is the same size as used for the airlines, and It should be no more than 50 lbs. I have not been able to find the regulation on the internet. There have been several hikers not allowed to board with packs outside these specs unless you pay extra for the "extra" cargo. When Amtrak was called they confirmed the info but said it was conductor depentant. My question was what if you change trains, the first lets you carry the pack and the second does not. The basic answer was carry baggage with in the specs.

    I will post any extra info as I come across it. I will also put on my opening page any info that will be helpful.
    Profile '00
    www.hikerhostel.com

  2. #2
    Springer - Front Royal Lilred's Avatar
    Join Date
    07-26-2003
    Location
    White House, TN.
    Age
    64
    Posts
    3,100
    Images
    19

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by PROFILE
    The ATC called me today to verify aproblem that is arising w/ Amtrak and I told them I would post it here. For those who will use the train, they are now becoming much more strict on the size of baggage. A person can only carry one bag that is the same size as used for the airlines, and It should be no more than 50 lbs. I have not been able to find the regulation on the internet. There have been several hikers not allowed to board with packs outside these specs unless you pay extra for the "extra" cargo. When Amtrak was called they confirmed the info but said it was conductor depentant. My question was what if you change trains, the first lets you carry the pack and the second does not. The basic answer was carry baggage with in the specs.

    I will post any extra info as I come across it. I will also put on my opening page any info that will be helpful.

    What if you packed your gear in a suitcase and mailed the pack to a hostel? Just a thought.
    "It was on the first of May, in the year 1769, that I resigned my domestic happiness for a time, and left my family and peaceable habitation on the Yadkin River, in North Carolina, to wander through the wilderness of America." - Daniel Boone

  3. #3
    692 miles tribes's Avatar
    Join Date
    10-02-2002
    Location
    NJ Highlands
    Age
    46
    Posts
    145
    Images
    67

    Default Amtrak

    I took the amtrak from NYC to Washington DC. And then hopped another train to Harpers Ferry this summer with my pack, poles, etc.... No problem whatsoever. I even had my poles strapped to the outside of my pack. I feared they might make me check it. I was wrong. It sat in the overhead compartment on what would be my first and last experience with Amtrak ever (this is another story). I use a Gregory Gpack with no hood so the bag is relatively small and weighed only about 25 lbs for summer hiking. Like the memo from Profile says, it may dependent upon the conductor of the train.

    TRI BES
    without love in the dream it will never come true...

  4. #4
    •Completed A.T. Section Hike GA to ME 1996 thru 2003 •Donating Member Skyline's Avatar
    Join Date
    10-08-2003
    Location
    Luray, Virginia
    Posts
    4,844
    Images
    3

    Default Amtrak inside info

    In addition to overhead storage (where a large backpack might NOT fit), Amtrak's long-distance trains typically have additional storage where larger baggage (and presumably packs) could fit. These shelves are typically near a car's entry point--whether a single-level Viewliner or Amfleet train, or the lower level of a two-level Superliner. Amtrak's "Crescent"--the train that you would take to get to Georgia, would fall into this category of having extra storage capacity.

    One thing you DON'T want to do is "check" your pack as baggage, that would likely end up being stored in a separate baggage car. Not only would you not have access to it for the entire trip, you'd possibly have a rude awakening when arriving at your destination or transfer point. Better that you be able to store it in the car you're riding so you can keep an eye on it, and carry it off at the proper stop yourself.

    Where storage is at a premium is on the corridor trains like Metroliners and Acela (more like commuter trains than long-distance carriers). If taking one of these trains--even just to connect with another train like the "Crescent"--this is where I'd expect you'd have conductor-initiated issues.

    Of course if it really is left up to each individual conductor system-wide, and not based on storage capacity, all bets are off because all it would take is a conductor having a bad day to ruin yours. Even then, tho, if the day can be saved by simply paying more for the oversized baggage (pack), then maybe it would be wise to budget that amount just in case.

    One other possibility is to get an ECONOMY sleeping compartment. Last time I took the train ("Silver Meteor" DC>Savannah) I travelled with my backpack instead of luggage (not because I was heading to or from a trail but because it's just easier than carrying a suitcase). The pack fit inside the admittedly small compartment without much hassle. Sleeping compartments do cost extra, but they also include all your meals on board. The ECONOMY compartments are significantly less than the full bedrooms, and include fold-down beds at night and seats in the daytime, but no showers, sinks, or toilets in the "room" like the more expensive full bedrooms. Those amenities are down the hall. The "Crescent" includes sleeping cars; some other trains do not.

    BTW, like luggage, your pack may be subject to security checks in our post-9/11 world.
    Last edited by Skyline; 12-29-2004 at 11:56.

  5. #5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lilredmg
    What if you packed your gear in a suitcase and mailed the pack to a hostel? Just a thought.
    We do offer that to all hikers (free), most others would allow it as well.

    I hope most do not ever have the problem but we have had some comments from hikers and I assume the ATC got enough to call me.

    I have never traveled by train so i will take all the advice you can come up with.
    Profile '00
    www.hikerhostel.com

  6. #6

    Default Greyhound Bus

    This 50 pound a bag limit applies to Greyhound bus too. Luckily, I pulled backpack out of suitcase and pack some stuff in the backpack, then put suitcase in the compartment and took the backpack with me up in the bus.


    Flash Hand

  7. #7
    Registered User squirrel bait's Avatar
    Join Date
    07-16-2003
    Location
    outer banks nc
    Age
    67
    Posts
    406

    Default

    I took the bus this summer home from my short walk around Roanoke and had no problem with anything. I tightened all the straps, buckled what I could and had my wood staff duct taped to it. They let me load it myself in the cargo hold of the bus and I retrieved it unmolested at Richmond Va on a Saturday night around midnight. I sat in the terminal with my staff and pack and no one ever said anything. Security did'nt pay me any attention and everyone I believe just took me for what I was. A hiker returning home. At Richmond they again let me load my pack and staff with no extra hassle. In fact all seemed to want to ask questions and I even had to prod them a little if they seemed shy to ask. If taking the train, which I have many of times but not yet with a pack and gear, I would consider the connections. Is it a straight through route, maybe you can put it on last. Talk to the conducter of your car ahead of time. I have never been anything but pleased with rail service. Let us know if anyone heres what the latest policy is.
    "you ain't settin your sights to high son, but if you want to follow in my tracks I'll help ya up the trail some."

    Rooster Cogburn.

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by tribes
    I took the amtrak from NYC to Washington DC. And then hopped another train to Harpers Ferry this summer with my pack, poles, etc.... No problem whatsoever. I even had my poles strapped to the outside of my pack. I feared they might make me check it. I was wrong. It sat in the overhead compartment on what would be my first and last experience with Amtrak ever (this is another story). I use a Gregory Gpack with no hood so the bag is relatively small and weighed only about 25 lbs for summer hiking. Like the memo from Profile says, it may dependent upon the conductor of the train.

    TRI BES
    Two different rail systems, DC to Harpers ferry is MARC's Brunswick Line, primarily for commuters. It's the second best way to get from DC to Harpers Ferry. The best is walking the C&O canal towpath from Georgetown straight to the AT, a great 3 day warm up BTW.

  9. #9
    Registered User Peaks's Avatar
    Join Date
    09-04-2002
    Location
    Marlboro, MA
    Posts
    3,056

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by NICKTHEGREEK
    Two different rail systems, DC to Harpers ferry is MARC's Brunswick Line, primarily for commuters. It's the second best way to get from DC to Harpers Ferry. The best is walking the C&O canal towpath from Georgetown straight to the AT, a great 3 day warm up BTW.
    Not necessarily so. MARC runs the commuter trains, inbound in the AM, and outbound in the PM. Amtrack used to run a train going from DC to Chicago once a day each way, with the first stop out of DC at Harper's Ferry. Has this stop been discontinued?

  10. #10

    Default

    in early october i traveled by train from washington, dc, to maine with my pack in a large duffel bag. at the end of october i traveled by train vermont back to dc with my pack in a large duffel bag. i also traveled from new hampshire to vermont during that time on a bus. i never had any problems on any leg of the trip.

    the duffel bag was heavy as a mo' fo', but it did the trick. (on the return trip to dc it was loaded with 60+ pounds of gear). no one ever said anything to me, even when i got on the oversold train from nyc to dc with my body bag.

    if you're not in a hurry, train travel is definitely the way to go.
    Grizzly Adam


    WACphotography | Blog

  11. #11

    Default

    Try United Parcel Service. I sent my pack, gear and food to the AT Lodge in Millinockett. It was there waiting for me when I arrived. $ 24. Be sure to tape the box up good, and insure it.
    Singletrack

  12. #12
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
    Join Date
    09-03-2002
    Location
    Maryville, TN
    Age
    55
    Posts
    14,861
    Images
    248

    Default

    I highly reccomend whenever you fly or ride a bus (never did a train in the US) that you use an old Army duffle bag to protect your stuff inside. Unless you are packing for an Alaskan arctic adventrue, anything you have should fit inside if packed right, and it will protect the expensive stuff from the carlessness of any bagage handler. You can lock it with a pad lock as well. I also know people that have just packed one and put a shipping lable on the bag and shipped it that way. You can get them cheap from a surplus store so that if you only need it for a one way trip, you won't have a lot of cash tied up into it when you throw it away or give it away at your trail head. You could even put it in a box and mail it home or bounce it to the other end on a short trip.
    SGT Rock
    http://hikinghq.net

    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
    -----------------------------------------

    NO SNIVELING

  13. #13
    •Completed A.T. Section Hike GA to ME 1996 thru 2003 •Donating Member Skyline's Avatar
    Join Date
    10-08-2003
    Location
    Luray, Virginia
    Posts
    4,844
    Images
    3

    Default Harpers Ferry Trains

    The "Capitol Limited," a two-level Superliner run by Amtrak between Chicago and Washington, DC, does still stop in Harpers Ferry once per day each way. It is scheduled to stop eastbound (towards DC) at 10:41am, arriving DC 12:24pm. It is scheduled to leave DC westbound at 5:20pm, arriving Harpers Ferry 6:31pm.

    As a lot can happen to a long distance train's timekeeping for myriad reasons--not all of them controllable by Amtrak--it is best to check with Amtrak about the on-time status of a particular day's train by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL or going to www.amtrak.com. In my experience there would be more of a likelihood of a late train at Harpers Ferry coming from Chicago, than the train coming from DC.

    (The mathematicians among us may note that it takes a lot longer to go from HF to DC than it does to go from DC to HF. This is simply Amtrak's method of being able to state that trains do in fact arrive on time--they add schedule padding to the end of the trip so if the train gets delayed enroute they might still make it to the final destination "on time.")

    As NickTheGreek and Peaks mentioned, there are also MARC commuter trains which stop at HF enroute to/from DC--at the same station Amtrak uses.

  14. #14
    •Completed A.T. Section Hike GA to ME 1996 thru 2003 •Donating Member Skyline's Avatar
    Join Date
    10-08-2003
    Location
    Luray, Virginia
    Posts
    4,844
    Images
    3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by squirrel bait
    If taking the train, which I have many of times but not yet with a pack and gear, I would consider the connections. Is it a straight through route, maybe you can put it on last. Talk to the conducter of your car ahead of time. I have never been anything but pleased with rail service. Let us know if anyone heres what the latest policy is.
    The train that would stop in Gainesville, GA (or Atlanta if that's your choice) is a long distance Amtrak train called the "Crescent." It originates in New York City, and goes through to New Orleans (thus the name, "Crescent.") or vice versa. It runs once each way every day, stopping in these major cities: Washington, Charlottesville, Greensboro, Charlotte, and Birmingham (as well as a number of smaller towns).

    Unless you're originating your train trip along this route, you will likely be taking some other Amtrak train to connect to the "Crescent." You can get an overview of the very extensive Amtrak national system, view actual schedules in PDF format, and even view bus connections, at www.amtrak.com.

    Advice: don't rely on tight connections. Train travel can be a wonderful experience, or not, and like the A.T. you sorta have to be adventurous and go with the flow any given day. If you absolutely must be at your destination on a certain day, relying on a tight connection between trains (of two hours or less) might throw a big kink in those plans. Trains can be late due to equipment failures, weather, a freight train blocking the tracks, rail maintenance issues, a train held in one city beyond its departure time for a different late connecting train to arrive--and more. If it's a corridor train with lots of frequencies maybe not a big deal; but if it's a once-daily train you could miss your connection and be spending 24 (+/-) hours somewhere you hadn't intended. In some (but not all) such cases, Amtrak will put you up in a hotel and give you meal vouchers. Personally, I'd consider this hitting the jackpot, and it's part of the adventure, but YMMV.

  15. #15
    Registered User
    Join Date
    11-20-2002
    Location
    Damascus, Virginia
    Age
    63
    Posts
    31,307

    Default

    I've ridden the CRESCENT 12 times to Gainesville in the past 18 years. Tons of fun!

  16. #16
    American Idiot
    Join Date
    05-27-2004
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Age
    52
    Posts
    1,045
    Images
    3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SGT Rock
    I highly reccomend whenever you fly or ride a bus (never did a train in the US) that you use an old Army duffle bag to protect your stuff inside. Unless you are packing for an Alaskan arctic adventrue, anything you have should fit inside if packed right, and it will protect the expensive stuff from the carlessness of any bagage handler. You can lock it with a pad lock as well. I also know people that have just packed one and put a shipping lable on the bag and shipped it that way. You can get them cheap from a surplus store so that if you only need it for a one way trip, you won't have a lot of cash tied up into it when you throw it away or give it away at your trail head. You could even put it in a box and mail it home or bounce it to the other end on a short trip.
    Heck yeah, that's what I use. They can be worn like a clumsy backpack and have other soft handles too. Maybe throw some paint on the bottom to distinguish yours from the other green blobs. Most folks use luggage so the green blobs are easy to spot anyway.
    How many more of our soldiers must die in Iraq?

  17. #17
    Registered User whcobbs's Avatar
    Join Date
    10-07-2002
    Location
    Narberth PA
    Age
    77
    Posts
    82

    Default

    "problem arising with Amtrak" -- this is Amtrak's belated response to post 9/11 security concerns. I interviewed various Amtrak personnel at 30th St Station Philadelphia and at their 800 number when the new baggage regulations were posted in November '04. I wanted to carry skis and snowshoes via Amtrak to Amsterdam NY via NYC Penn Station for a February thru-hike. The conclusions (1) I can't carry them as carry-ons, (2) the relevant trains have no baggage cars, so no checked luggage either, (3) the so-called choice was to use "Amtrak Express", i.e. a separate shipment like Railway Express of the old days (4) use the bus--Greyhound/Trailways is far more accomodating. I was disappointed, as I am a regular Amtrak customer and I could have managed the whole trip out of my accumulated bonus points.

    Walt

  18. #18
    Registered User SkipMeister's Avatar
    Join Date
    07-30-2004
    Location
    Lubbock, TX
    Age
    54
    Posts
    10

    Default

    I was just looking to book Amtrak today from Philly to Gainsville and saw the current size regulations.

    50-Pound Limit: Each 'carry-on' bag may weigh no more than 50 lbs.

    Size Limit: Each 'carry-on' bag may not exceed 28 x 22 x 14 inches in size.

    50-Pound Limit: Each 'checked' bag may weigh no more than 50 lbs. We will not accept heavier pieces.

    Size Limit: Each 'checked' bag may not exceed 28 x 22 x 14 inches in size.

    My Kelty Trekker is an external frame and is about 33" tall. It is just a tad to tall to fit into my old army duffel. I would hate to not be allowed on the train, especially when timing is important due to reservations. Checking bags in when the bag is your life is a bad idea. I think to play it safe I will just mail the pack to Profile at the Hiker Hostel and carry a small bag with basic amenities for the trip.

    Amtrak baggage Guidelines

  19. #19
    Registered User Tim Rich's Avatar
    Join Date
    07-08-2003
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Age
    57
    Posts
    471
    Images
    6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SkipMeister
    I was just looking to book Amtrak today from Philly to Gainsville and saw the current size regulations.

    50-Pound Limit: Each 'carry-on' bag may weigh no more than 50 lbs.

    Size Limit: Each 'carry-on' bag may not exceed 28 x 22 x 14 inches in size.

    50-Pound Limit: Each 'checked' bag may weigh no more than 50 lbs. We will not accept heavier pieces.

    Size Limit: Each 'checked' bag may not exceed 28 x 22 x 14 inches in size.

    My Kelty Trekker is an external frame and is about 33" tall. It is just a tad to tall to fit into my old army duffel. I would hate to not be allowed on the train, especially when timing is important due to reservations. Checking bags in when the bag is your life is a bad idea. I think to play it safe I will just mail the pack to Profile at the Hiker Hostel and carry a small bag with basic amenities for the trip.

    Amtrak baggage Guidelines
    Why not just fly to Atlanta? Total cost to take Airtran one way fare Philly to ATL is $94.20 (air fare is $84 plus tax - I assumed a 3/15 departure). It's two hours, door to door, then get a shuttle with Profile from Atlanta. Pick up your fuel and other flammables when you get here and you'll be fine. How much was the Amtrak fare going to be?

    When I used to fly with a large Jansport external frame, I would put all of the contents of the pack in a duffel, along with my boots, then I would take the empty pack and put it in a cardboard hanging box (Delta has them for free at the airport). For the pack to fit in the hanging box, all I had to do was loosen one bar near the top. By doing that, I just checked two items instead of one, still within the baggage limits. Now that I fly each year with an internal frame, the pack and my boots fit entirely in my duffel.

    Good luck,

    Tim

  20. #20
    Registered User
    Join Date
    12-13-2004
    Location
    Newark, Illinois
    Age
    73
    Posts
    160

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by NICKTHEGREEK
    Two different rail systems, DC to Harpers ferry is MARC's Brunswick Line, primarily for commuters. It's the second best way to get from DC to Harpers Ferry. The best is walking the C&O canal towpath from Georgetown straight to the AT, a great 3 day warm up BTW.
    the Capitol Limited is an Amtrak product that runs from Washington DC to Chicago and stops in Harpers Ferry.

++ New Posts ++

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •