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Roll on, roll off service begins; Connellsville will benefit

| Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, 10:51 a.m.
Tom Bowden waits to secure his bike in a baggage car on the Capitol Limited on Monday, September 14, 2015.
Tom Bowden waits to secure his bike in a baggage car on the Capitol Limited on Monday, September 14, 2015.

Amtrak's roll on, roll off service along the Capitol Limited route, allowing riders to store their bicycles in racks in the baggage cars, has begun.

And Connellsville will benefit from the service.

According to Kimberly Woods with Amtrak media relations, the service officially began Monday on the Capitol Limited.

One train each way daily will carry up to seven bicycles, which can be rolled on and placed in racks on baggage cars on the route. Riders who wish to use the service must make reservations. At that time, they will be able to find out if one of the seven racks is available, Woods said.

Linda McKenna Boxx, a member of a bike rack task force that worked with Amtrak and who is president of the Allegheny Trail Alliance, said the credit goes to “a nice team of people” who gathered feedback from the public.

“It (he feedback) was a stack three inches thick,” said Boxx. “It really got Amtrak thinking.”

“(Monday) was a really good moment,” said Boxx, who went to Washington on Monday for the ribbon cutting. “The perseverance of a lot of people really paid off.”

“Amtrak (seems) pretty excited, too,” said Boxx, adding the route of the Capitol Limited from Pittsburgh to Washington parallels the Great Allegheny Passage, which runs through Connellsville.

Boxx said some have been disappointed at the additional fee of $20.

“They (Amtrak) did come down,” said Boxx of the fee.

Boxx said she foresees a lot of unmet needs with the limited number of racks.

“If one group uses five spots and your group needs four …” said Boxx.

A note on the Amtrak roll on roll off site says some stops are not served. However, Boxx said all of the stops from Washington to Chicago on the Capitol Limited route are served, including stops in Connellsville.

Boxx and Brooke Deason, manager at the Greater Connellsville Chamber of Commerce, said the timing is good, with the autumn season approaching.

“Ridership in the fall should pick up,” said Boxx, adding the service was supposed to kick off in April, but did not.

“We'll have a nice fall season for Connellsville,” said Boxx. “I see it being such a benefit for Connellsville. Connellsville is going to become a real train destination.”

Connellsville is in need of the hotel promised for the city's West Side. Chris Rosselot, project spokesperson with Grant Forbes, developer of the 54-room Cobblestone Hotel, said progress is continuing on the preparation work to begin construction. He was happy to hear about the roll on, roll off program.

Deason said the chamber has received phone calls from people asking about the service and the city.

Boxx said signs for bicycle riders to help them maneuver around the city have been made and should begin to be placed in the next few weeks.

Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-626-3538.

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