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Et tu, Amtrak? Baggage Fees Coming to Rail

Amtrak is taking a page from the airlines.

No, make that two pages. Starting today it will start charging for bags. And it's telling us this is for our own good.

According to the railroad, passengers have been trying to bring too many large bags onboard. So it will now start enforcing a limit of two carry-on bags. Those who have more bags will incur a $20 fee for each. And if the bag weighs more than 50 pounds, it won't count as a carry-on. The only exception to this rule will be parents with strollers, who will be allowed to bring the baby gear on board, plus two carry-on bags.

Amtrak spokesperson Marc Magliari told USA Today that passengers have been using up too much space on the trains with their luggage. He also added that this was a safety issue. "For a passenger, imagine you're sitting under the luggage rack and someone is trying to wrestle a 75-pound bag up to the rack over you. That's not good for anyone," says Magliari.

OK, raise your hands: how many of you frequent Amtrak riders (a club I'm in) have ever had a problem with people bringing on too many bags? Or with a suitcase falling on them from the rack above?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

Magliari states this move is not a strategy to help the railroad raise funds. Frankly, that's the part of this development that I find irksome.

It's no secret that Amtrak is woefully under-funded by Congress. I would also say that Amtrak performs a vital service; we should all support the railroad. So if it's found a way to make a tad more money without raising fares: it has my blessing!

But come clean about it Maglieri and crew. Don't pretend luggage on trains is an issue when it clearly isn't. You needed some extra cash and Congress won't do the right thing. OK then.

Travelers: you've now been warned. No more steamer trunks on the train, darn it!