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Tandem A-OK on Amtrak California Zephyr

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Tandem A-OK on Amtrak California Zephyr

Old 06-14-19, 11:11 AM
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sapporoguy
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Tandem A-OK on Amtrak California Zephyr [or not? See addendum]

We just got on at Emeryville, destination Denver, with our Speedster in baggage car.
No problem! Totally routine.
Info online is wrong. Amtrak 800-number agents on phone, who gave two different answers, both wrong. Train station phone always busy.
My wife finally went to the station, and an agent assured her tandems were fine as long as we could lift it to the baggage-car door.
Which is exactly how it worked.
We paid $20 to reserve the bike spot when we got tix.
Hope this helps someone.


All aboard! Even tandems!

Last edited by sapporoguy; 06-16-19 at 07:05 AM. Reason: New info
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Old 06-14-19, 11:37 AM
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That is awesome news. Was just researching this recently and had given up hope based on their online FAQ as well as other articles I had read from folks who travel with tandems.

Standard answer was "due to our vertical mounting system, only standard bicycles can be stored on trains. We will adapt trains in future to handle other types of vehicles. Blah blah."

So maybe your route has the new adaptations? Was it stored vertically? or in another area?
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Old 06-14-19, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by unikid View Post
So maybe your route has the new adaptations? Was it stored vertically? or in another area?
I’m not sure. I just passed it up and he happily took it as if it happens all the time. It’s the baggage car so I suspect he strapped it down.
I’ll post again when we get to Denver and report how the bike looks at that end.
Everybody at Emeryville and the guy in the baggage car acted as if it was totally normal. I wish they’d communicate better. I spent considerable mental resources figuring out contingency plans—got there 2 hrs early in case we had to break it down and box it up; had our son drive us to station instead of riding there—that was totally unnecessary. The Amtrak website and the very friendly people on the phone were worse than useless: if we’d paid heed we would have broken the bike down and boxed it. I’m not sure why my wife had to physically go to the station to find it was fine.
YMMV!
But don’t take no for an answer.
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Old 06-14-19, 02:25 PM
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If you don't get the answer you want, talk to someone else! I learned this when flying from SFO to Milan via Frankfurt. Car rental in Frankfurt was $600 less than in Milan ($900 vs. $300 for two weeks in '97) so I canceled my Milan car rental and reserved in Frankfurt. Once we arrived in Frankfurt, we told a Lufthansa ticket agent we weren't taking our connection to Milan. She said, "Nein! Das ist verboten!" (No, that's not allowed!) Baloney I thought, so went to another ticket agent at another counter and she said, "Kein problem!" (No problem!) and arranged to get our luggage off the plane.

So that's when I learned the value of finding the right person to speak with. So glad to hear Amtrak is so accommodating to not only bikes, but tandems too.
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Old 06-14-19, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by sapporoguy View Post
I’m not sure. I just passed it up and he happily took it as if it happens all the time. It’s the baggage car so I suspect he strapped it down.
I’ll post again when we get to Denver and report how the bike looks at that end.
Everybody at Emeryville and the guy in the baggage car acted as if it was totally normal. I wish they’d communicate better. I spent considerable mental resources figuring out contingency plans—got there 2 hrs early in case we had to break it down and box it up; had our son drive us to station instead of riding there—that was totally unnecessary. The Amtrak website and the very friendly people on the phone were worse than useless: if we’d paid heed we would have broken the bike down and boxed it. I’m not sure why my wife had to physically go to the station to find it was fine.
YMMV!
But don’t take no for an answer.
Thanks!
This is one of the first sites I read that stopped me in my tracks: https://www.adventurecycling.org/blo...re-to-find-it/ Maybe you can share your experience in their comments section at the bottom.
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Old 06-16-19, 07:12 AM
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Or maybe not! [addendum]

In Denver, the guy in the baggage car demanded gruffly: “who let you put this on? We don’t take tandems.” I told him Emeryville, that 4 people there said it would as ok as did the train crew person. He said he’d have to contact them. I said why was that the rule and he said he wasn’t sure, but it was the rule.
The tandem fit fine and didn’t seem to hinder anything.
how can we lobby Amtrak to welcome us?
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Old 06-16-19, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by sapporoguy View Post
In Denver, the guy in the baggage car demanded gruffly: “who let you put this on? We don’t take tandems.” I told him Emeryville, that 4 people there said it would as ok as did the train crew person. He said he’d have to contact them. I said why was that the rule and he said he wasn’t sure, but it was the rule.
The tandem fit fine and didn’t seem to hinder anything.
how can we lobby Amtrak to welcome us?
Uh oh - hopefully you don't have problems getting back home again.

This is the site the Denver guy is likely quoting from: https://www.amtrak.com/bikes. And the one we need to lobby/hope gets changed.

Either to get the Checked Baggage size limit increased to a higher number or to wait until they can accommodate tandems in their Carry-On racks.

I was looking to get from SoCal up to Crater Lake using the train with our tandem but would be scared based on what I am reading and what you are experiencing.
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Old 06-16-19, 01:03 PM
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I have several acquaintances who are amtrak employees, 1 engineers and a couple conducters. In speaking with them, amtraks policy is a clear "no tandems allowed" however it is ultimately at the discretion of the conductor running that particular route. They did all concur however that a coupled tandem that was split prior to boarding and could hang from the standard bike racks in the cars, with both captain and stoker having bike reservations, could not be turned away. This idea was recently successfully tested on the pacific surfliner out of san diego.
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