Is checked baggage going away?

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Why can't the conductor just hand out bags to detraining passengers and accept and tag bags for boarding customers at the baggage car door?

That could be done, but, it will take time for that to happen and would impact the train's schedule. If the train's original schedule would be adjusted to accommodate that service, I don't see an issue.
 

Bob Dylan

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It depends on the Conduxtor(s) involved and the Load on the Train.

Ive seen Conductors handle Baggage Loading and Unloading, ( especially wheres theres a Coach/Bag Car) but usually the Station Agents handle the Bags, often utilizing a Cart.

The Conductors Job #1 is the Safe Operation of the Train , and ensuring that the Passengees are Boarded and Detrained and that their Tickets are Scanned.
 

joelkfla

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It depends on the Conduxtor(s) involved and the Load on the Train.

Ive seen Conductors handle Baggage Loading and Unloading, ( especially wheres theres a Coach/Bag Car) but usually the Station Agents handle the Bags, often utilizing a Cart.

The Conductors Job #1 is the Safe Operation of the Train , and ensuring that the Passengees are Boarded and Detrained and that their Tickets are Scanned.
The station agent ferries the bags to and from the train, but isn't there also somebody in the baggage car to hand them out and stow them? I don't know whether it's a conductor or some OBS person, but it seems to me that they could deal directly with the passenger, as they do for trainside bicycle checking.
 

railiner

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The station agent ferries the bags to and from the train, but isn't there also somebody in the baggage car to hand them out and stow them? I don't know whether it's a conductor or some OBS person, but it seems to me that they could deal directly with the passenger, as they do for trainside bicycle checking.
Many years ago, there were “Train Baggageman” positions on some trains. The SWC was one of them. At the time, you could check bags to virtually any staffed station on the route. This was a Trainman’s (UTU) Union covered job.
 

jebr

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Or how about a Greyhound type system where baggage is delivered bus-side

Part of the issue for Amtrak is that many platforms are too short to hold the passenger consist + baggage car. Some of them require two stops already if there's both coach and sleeper passengers at the station. In those cases, it'd likely be impossible to have the baggage car plus all relevant passenger cars at the same time. They also wouldn't want to unload passenger baggage first and then the passengers - if there's any unclaimed baggage, now it has to get back onto the train which would add quite a bit of additional workload at an already busy time for the crew. Perhaps the baggage car could be added to the rear of the train so that passengers get off first and then baggage is loaded/unloaded, but that may impact baggage operations at other stations, plus now you've lost that buffer between the engines and passenger cars. Either way, you'd need two crew members involved at any station like that because you'd need one person handling the unattended bags and one person in the baggage car.

As a general note, I'd also consider that many (most?) high-speed lines, even going long distances, don't offer checked baggage service. All baggage is either brought on board or, for particularly large luggage or for more luggage than someone can reasonably carry, shipped ahead. While checked baggage is nice, I'm not convinced that it needs to be a priority for investment, especially if Amtrak can make some modifications to allow a limited number of larger/bulkier items to be stored on board (bikes, skis, etc.)
 

Barb Stout

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I have been making it a habit of checking baggage more often if I get a viewliner sleeper since they don't have the common area luggage rack the superliners do. Sometimes the attendant will let you store an extra bag in a vacant room but if the car is sold out that is not an option and space is a little bit limited for storage in a roomette. I certainly wouldn't expect them too but one time the sleeping car attendant even went back and got my checked suitcase for me out of the baggage car as we were pulling in the station to help me make a connection quicker since the next train did not have checked bags. That was above and beyond but it does show some simple things can really help the service.
Gosh, I had forgotten that the eastern trains have a lot (most?) of their luggage space above my head and therefore inaccessible to me. I'm glad you reminded me about that. I have forgotten the ratio of space in common area luggage rack to above the head luggage space on those eastern trains. Also, is it different between coach and sleeper cars? I will be going coach from Chicago to one of the Ohio stations on either the LSL or the one that goes to/through Cincinnati (Is that the Cardinal? I always get the C trains mixed up).
 

Barb Stout

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As a general note, I'd also consider that many (most?) high-speed lines, even going long distances, don't offer checked baggage service. All baggage is either brought on board or, for particularly large luggage or for more luggage than someone can reasonably carry, shipped ahead. While checked baggage is nice, I'm not convinced that it needs to be a priority for investment, especially if Amtrak can make some modifications to allow a limited number of larger/bulkier items to be stored on board (bikes, skis, etc.)
As a small person, I am convinced that checked luggage needs to be a priority for investment. I strongly resent the airlines charging extra for checking luggage I consider it discrimination and is one of the reasons I don't like to fly.
 

jebr

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As a small person, I am convinced that checked luggage needs to be a priority for investment. I strongly resent the airlines charging extra for checking luggage I consider it discrimination and is one of the reasons I don't like to fly.

Why is checked luggage in particular the priority? My spouse (who's fairly short) prefers to carry-on her luggage onto a plane or train due to concerns about checked luggage getting lost - so for her, I would imagine that having more-accessible onboard storage areas and level boarding (so that luggage wouldn't have to be lifted from platform to train height) would be more useful.
 

zephyr17

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Why is checked luggage in particular the priority? My spouse (who's fairly short) prefers to carry-on her luggage onto a plane or train due to concerns about checked luggage getting lost - so for her, I would imagine that having more-accessible onboard storage areas and level boarding (so that luggage wouldn't have to be lifted from platform to train height) would be more useful.
Well, personally I mostly carry on onboard Amtrak, but I think checked luggage service should be available and I have used it on Amtrak on occasion. There is a lot to be said for not having to wrestle stuff around you do not need onboard.

When flying I almost always check bags. The reason is primarily I always travel with a CPAP and, while I know they are medical exceptions to carry on allowances, I do not want to get into hassles with airline gate dragons (who generally make Amtrak gate dragons look like gate puppies) about it. Plus for longer trips I like to have 7 days worth of clothes before I have to do laundry. I, too, resent the checked baggage fee, although when I fly I tend to use airlines I get free checked bags on (either SWA or ones where I have their credit card which lets me have a free checked bag).

I do not think having an amenity that has long been offered to travelers needs extensive justification. I think, rather, the burden of proof should be on those intent on removing it.
 

jebr

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I do not think having an amenity that has long been offered to travelers needs extensive justification. I think, rather, the burden of proof should be on those intent on removing it.

There's a difference between keeping the amenity as-is (particularly when any additional capital cost is a ways out) and building out significant new infrastructure and/or staffing to expand the service, or when large investments to keep the service come up to question its need at that time. I wouldn't advocate for removing it tomorrow, but I'm also not convinced that long-term it should be a place where capital investment is expended, and as new passenger cars are ordered there should be a focus on making sure luggage storage is available in-car (and not require checking in luggage.) At minimum, the costs should be compared to see what (if any) savings would be found by building train cars with full luggage storage on-board (including additional cars to make up for lost seat capacity as needed) versus operating checked baggage service at different levels of stations having baggage service (including what the current cost is and what the cost would be if we allowed trainside checked baggage at all stations without staffed checked baggage service.) Maybe the cost is more negligible than I think, or the cost difference favors checked luggage options.

There's also a lot of Amtrak trains that currently don't have checked baggage service, especially when you narrow that down to just count trains where checked baggage is carried with the passenger on the train. The NEC has very few trains that carry checked baggage, and none currently go north of NYC, and it's not such a critical feature that Amtrak is obviously hurting because of it. Same with a decent chunk of the state-supported trains. Maybe some of it is self-sorting, and some of those passengers do have the option to check it on a separate train, but I would suspect that having to either drop off luggage many hours in advance or have to head back to the destination station many hours (or even a day) later to pick up luggage would rule it out for everyone but the most adamant users of checked luggage.

All that said, a lot of this is just me rambling and speculating on the internet. It's not something that outside of a rail forum I'd advocate for one way or the other, as I'd rather focus my public efforts on items more important to me like increased frequencies, new routes, or even on-board wifi on the western LD trains (yes, to me that's more important than checked baggage, and I've seen more complaints about that on non-train sites that I frequent than I would've expected.)
 

saxpower

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More years ago than I wish to remember (or admit), I was riding the Silver Star from Richmond, VA back home to Wilmington, DE for a school break when I was in grad school. The station, was of course packed. A customer service person let people know about the checked bag option, noting the train would be packed and checking bags would make things easier. I don't know how many people took the option, but I was glad not to have to deal with my duffel bag on a crowded train. Just letting people know of the option made the difference.
 

amtrakpass

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I find as I get a little older it is nice to be able to check bags. Yes I know a few stations have red caps/assistance to the train etc.... I don't happen to need that kind of help at present but to just check a large suitcase makes it much easier for me and I would imagine it might be helpful for many folks older than me or those with any sort of physical reason carrying on large luggage is difficult to have the option to check baggage.
 

joelkfla

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More years ago than I wish to remember (or admit), I was riding the Silver Star from Richmond, VA back home to Wilmington, DE for a school break when I was in grad school. The station, was of course packed. A customer service person let people know about the checked bag option, noting the train would be packed and checking bags would make things easier. I don't know how many people took the option, but I was glad not to have to deal with my duffel bag on a crowded train. Just letting people know of the option made the difference.
Nowadays, with Amtrak's ridiculous 45-minute to an hour rule, by the time people start showing up at the station, it would be too late to advertise it.
 

Tom Booth

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Yeah, layovers are a good motivator for checking baggage.
I'm traveling on the Zephyr and LSL first starting on the bus from San Francisco. Will. there be enough time in Emeryville to check our bags? It's under the 45 minute limit. One used to be able to check in San Francisco when the Temporary Transbay was operating. Now it's just a Mission ST bus stop.
 
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