Adding Baggage Car Access

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Adding Baggage Car Access

Postby Greg Moore » Sun Mar 03, 2019 5:30 pm

While on my recent trip on the Crescent, I heard the car attendant say something I had not heard before and was wondering if it was new policy or his own initiative, or perhaps should be a new policy.

It was basically to a couple who realized the roomette was smaller than they expected and their luggage larger than perhaps it should have been. He said, "If you want, I can take a bag to the baggage car." Since it was the car right beyond ours, obviously it wasn't difficult for him.

My understanding in the past has been that this was not an option, for various reasons.
But it got me thinking, just like on airlines you can often gate check, perhaps this SHOULD be a formal policy. It would basically be: "once you check into your room or roomette, you can have bags checked to the baggage car. The will NOT be available until before your destination (or at, depending)."


It would be a small thing, but perhaps make things a bit more useful.
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Re: Adding Baggage Car Access

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sun Mar 03, 2019 5:57 pm

Mr. Moore, I foresee potential liability for allowing passengers to access the Baggage Car.

That in itself would be enough to scare One Mass away from any System policy.
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Re: Adding Baggage Car Access

Postby DutchRailnut » Sun Mar 03, 2019 6:13 pm

not to say any others having stuff in Baggage car would object to people roaming around in there ...
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

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Re: Adding Baggage Car Access

Postby Greg Moore » Sun Mar 03, 2019 6:45 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:Mr. Moore, I foresee potential liability for allowing passengers to access the Baggage Car.

That in itself would be enough to scare One Mass away from any System policy.

I think you misread my suggestion. I was not suggesting passengers have access.

I was suggesting updating the policy so that car attendants could formally check bags while en route.
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Re: Adding Baggage Car Access

Postby David Benton » Mon Mar 04, 2019 1:08 am

Done in New Zealand, and I Believe , Australia( at least I observed it in the 1980's there). Only the largest stations have agents, and even there , the OBS crew are in charge of the baggage car. The agent just hands the bags up. Generally a train attendant( they have no specific tasks , they share all work, including been conductor), will head to the baggage car before a stop , and have the departing bags ready by the door.
https://www.greatjourneysofnz.co.nz/nor ... n/baggage/
Bear in mind these are narrow gauge trains of restricted loading gauge. On some trains the baggage area is only 1/2 the carriage ( the other 1/2 been the HEP generator), probably 1/3rd the area of a View baggage , or maybe less. The Northern Explorer had to add a second baggae car to cope with the demand.
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Re: Adding Baggage Car Access

Postby Tadman » Mon Mar 04, 2019 9:44 am

I like the baggage racks downstairs in a Superliner. It allows passengers to drop their large bags, then continue upstairs, while retaining access to their bags.

I think David is referring to New Zealand's secondhand BREL Mk2 brake van coaches. In plain English, this means coach/baggage combos built by British Rail Engineering from the second generation (1965-70) of postwar passenger cars. The baggage section is perhaps one third of the car and passengers load their own bags. NZ Rail bought a few about 20 years ago when the MK2 was mostly phased out (The only in regular UK service that I'm aware of are the seated coach on the Caledonian Sleeper).

Either way one thinks about it, the concept of checked baggage bears further thought. Why check bags? It's either too big to ride with the passenger or too big to wrestle aboard the train, or there are connections and the passenger doesn't want to hump bags up and down stairs at places like NYP or Chicago.

But how many of us really check bags on Amtrak? I almost never do. I much prefer to hand carry my bags. Name all the hubs - NYP, BOS, WAS, CHI, NOL, PHL, SEA, etc... and it's far easier to carry on because the walk from sidwalk to train is so much less than even a small airport like Charleston or Midland.
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Re: Adding Baggage Car Access

Postby Greg Moore » Mon Mar 04, 2019 10:43 am

Honestly, I would check more often, especially if there was a morning baggage service from ALB to NYP to get to points south.

That said, I've seen more than once, especially on Viewliners where 1st time passengers get to their roomette and think "oh wow, this is smaller than I expected! I really wish I could check a bag now."

Honestly, in general, I think checked baggage is one thing Amtrak should be pushing more. BUT, it would, like I suggest above, require trains to actually have it. Anyone coming from north of NYP can't effectively check bags through to the Silver Service, Crescent or other trains. They either need to check the baggage the day before (i.e. the LSL from points north, or 67 points east) or get it into coach and then deal with it.

Same with bicycles. I'd LOVE to be able to take my bike to DC the next time I go. BUT, under the current setup, it's just not practical.

But focusing on the item at hand, this would seem an easy thing to make "official" if it's not already.
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Re: Adding Baggage Car Access

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Mon Mar 04, 2019 1:49 pm

Tadman wrote:I like the baggage racks downstairs in a Superliner. It allows passengers to drop their large bags, then continue upstairs, while retaining access to their bags.

I think David is referring to New Zealand's secondhand BREL Mk2 brake van coaches. In plain English, this means coach/baggage combos built by British Rail Engineering from the second generation (1965-70) of postwar passenger cars. The baggage section is perhaps one third of the car and passengers load their own bags.
The Superliner coach/baggage (from the original Pullman series) is probably the last use of the "combine" concept to date (baggage compartment on lower level).

VIA has at least one RDC combine still active and on the White River service passengers load either the combine or RDC4 themselves.
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Re: Adding Baggage Car Access

Postby ExCon90 » Mon Mar 04, 2019 2:23 pm

It seems to me to be a very useful idea, particularly for passengers unprepared for the dimensions of their accommodation, provided there is always a means for the attendant to access the baggage car while the train is in motion. Would there be any circumstances, such as a baggage car coupled to a Superliner, that would prevent such access on a particular train? If not, there would seem to be no additional cost to Amtrak, and if adopted should be explained in the fine print in the timetable. (If the baggage car is at the other end of the train it would be more complicated, but Amtrak doesn't seem to have many long trains on some routes nowadays.)
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Re: Adding Baggage Car Access

Postby Tadman » Mon Mar 04, 2019 4:17 pm

Allow me a quick quasi-digression here. A few years ago I was ticketed on Via 2, the eastbound Canadian, from Vancouver to Edmonton. I had a bottom section, which was a pretty reasonable accomodation. All my stuff (two big duffels and a backpack) fit under my seat, barely. A few sections over, a French woman had a roll-aboard that was too big for the under-seat. The train was booked (3 locomotives, 24 revenue cars and 3 deadhead sleepers mid-train) so she couldn't sit the giant suitcase on the other bench. The car attendant volunteered to check the suitcase, and she vehemently opposed. A francophone was found and the ensuing argument was quite rapidfire. After fifteen minutes of arguing (thankfully it takes forever to board a long train) they finally relented and gave her a section in one of the deadhead cars.

As all of Canada is bilingually signed, I don't know how you can completely prevent stuff like this other than throwing her off the train. She's lucky there were deadhead cars.
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Re: Adding Baggage Car Access

Postby David Benton » Mon Mar 04, 2019 4:39 pm

Tad, The ex British rail cars were rebuilt for suburban and long distance commuter service. The "long" distance cars are brand new, NZ built.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Zeala ... 2_carriage
The baggage cars are former guards vans, the former FM class.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NZR_FM_guards_van
Long distance all use ak class carriages . https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Zeala ... s_carriage
However , I see you are right about the baggage cars been made from ex BR class, the 3 made for the Northern Explorer. These are the extra baggage cars I was talking about, I thought they were made from FM vans.
The main point is the restricted loading gauge , if you Think Br mk11 or slightly smaller , that's it . Mk111's were too long for our corner clearances, so wern't brought in , despite been more readily available. I read they are even scrapping mk4's now , at least in Ireland.
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Re: Adding Baggage Car Access

Postby Tadman » Tue Mar 05, 2019 9:32 am

That is correct, it seems the MK4 will not be a long-lived class. Canada is making noise about scrapping theirs, although I'm not sure what they'll be replaced with as the recent Siemens order is only for seated coach, not sleeper. I believe they are favored for removal because they were built to UK loading gauge and not very spacious. I've spent a few nights in a Mk3 sleeper and they are tight. There is very little luggage space, and the corridor is very narrow. Checking a big bag is virtually required aboard a Mk3 not only because the cabins are tight, but it's hard to drag said bag down the corridor.

One thing though, isn't the Irish Mk4 and British Mk4 a separate spec?

Edit: looks like I was wrong, there are a few MK4 sets coach-only running corridor trains, and those are on the short list for disposal.
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Re: Adding Baggage Car Access

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Mar 05, 2019 12:49 pm

Good idea, Greg. Charge a $10 fee for on-train checking (and tip your attendant) for it to make monetary sense for Amtrak to bother.

And aren’t some of the new Amtrak cab cars supposed to be combines too? Something like cab-bag-coach.
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Re: Adding Baggage Car Access

Postby Greg Moore » Tue Mar 05, 2019 4:48 pm

mtuandrew wrote:Good idea, Greg. Charge a $10 fee for on-train checking (and tip your attendant) for it to make monetary sense for Amtrak to bother.

And aren’t some of the new Amtrak cab cars supposed to be combines too? Something like cab-bag-coach.

No, only Bag-dorms. So the OBS folks have a private place to sleep. These will probably end up on routes like 448/449.

I'm not sure I'd even bother with the $10. It just strikes me as a nuisance fee, and since Amtrak doesn't charge for when you check a bag in the station and it has to be brought out to the train and then to the baggage car, I think a 1-2 car length walk with a bag doesn't deserve an extra $10 fee.
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Re: Adding Baggage Car Access

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Mar 06, 2019 8:51 am

Greg Moore wrote:No, only Bag-dorms. So the OBS folks have a private place to sleep. These will probably end up on routes like 448/449.

I'm not sure I'd even bother with the $10. It just strikes me as a nuisance fee, and since Amtrak doesn't charge for when you check a bag in the station and it has to be brought out to the train and then to the baggage car, I think a 1-2 car length walk with a bag doesn't deserve an extra $10 fee.

No, not the V-II bag-dorm, I’m talking about the single-level Regional replacement for the Metroliner and NPCU. Specifically I’m thinking for coach trains that wouldn’t have baggage service, but could offer it

As for the fee, I’d rather start with it and decide to cancel it systemwide later, than not have a few and try to start charging it after offering the service for some time. Specifically I mean for passengers (especially coach passengers) who realize at the last minute that they didn’t need the kitchen sink AND the dishwasher in their overheads, since that is a genuine pain for crew to wrestle.
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