I'll be traveling on the California Zephyr soon. My wife and I will take small bags into the Roomette; however, I'll be leaving a larger bag on the shelves near the stairs on the 1st level (technically, not a "checked" bag).
Is there any way of locking the bag via a cable locking device (like used to lock skis)? Is there a post or anything that I can wrap the cable around?
Yeah, I know, I'm a worry wart! Just would feel safer if the bag is locked to the shelf.
I've personally never seen anyone lock their luggage to the actual luggage rack. Not sure what the sleeping car attendant would say. Sometimes they have to shuffle the bags around in order to use the space most efficiently.
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I just let my wife pack it. No one in their right mind would want to carry that heavy thing. Seriously, I wouldn't worry about it. Anything of value should be in the carry on. If they swipe your underwear, just means you get to do a little shopping. I suppose you COULD lock it to one of the bars on the rack, just please do it in a way that lets others fit their stuff in too.
Keep in mind that the only people who will have access to the sleeping car are other people who have paid many hundreds of dollars (or many thousands of AGR points) to be in a sleeping compartment. They aren't usually the type of people to swipe a suitcase.
Typically, during station stops, the car attendant will be standing by the door, so in the absurdly rare chance that someone tries to jump on and attempt to steal a suitcase, they'll be noticed.
I have taken many long-distance train rides and have had no issues whatsoever with leaving luggage in the lower luggage racks--even in coach. I wouldn't worry about it at all. Just keep electronics in your room (as everyone else has suggested); your socks and underwear will be fine.
The only issue I ever saw was on the Empire builder when someone detrained in the middle of the night and took a similair looking bag by accident and left their own. The lady who was missing the bag was ticked!
I witnessed a similar situation on the westbound California Zephyr. A couple was getting off at Winter Park, CO (in January during a snow storm), and the suitcase they had placed in the common storage area of our sleeper was gone. The crew did a quick but futile search, and finally the train had to leave and the couple was left without their bag. Not good.